The ‘baiana’, is the name given by Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioners to a takedown move, which is called the ‘double leg’ in wrestling and ‘morote gari’ in judo. The baiana was popularized during the heyday of vale tudo (NHB) in Brazil, by the fighter Waldemar Santana, becoming a synonym of the jiu jitsu style in NHB during the 1950’s and 1960’s period, prior to the inclusion of the ‘sparwl’ to the sport in the 1970’s. The Baiana is performed by grabbing the opponent with both arms around the opponent’s legs (or one arm on waist) while driving forward, and using this momentum to force the opponent to the ground.
The History of the Baiana
This way of taking an opponent to the floor is one of the oldest in the world, being seen all around the planet in some of the most ancient forms of wrestling. In judo, and although it can be seen in old footage of the style, it was only officially added to the list of Kodokan techniques on October 1982, which leads BJJ Heroes to believe that the double leg takedown might have entered Brazilian jiu jitsu through catch as catch can or freestyle wrestlers that often battled jiu jitsu men on the ring during the 1930’s and 1940’s decades.
In jiu jitsu, the double leg was somewhat of a game changer, it fit perfectly into the athletic styles of Carlson Gracie and Waldemar Santana, two men who loved to work from the top position on the ground. It was due to Santana’s prowess with this takedown that the position started being called ‘Baiana’. The reason being that Waldemar’s birthplace was Bahia (Salvador) and Santana was nicknamed Baiano (a native of Bahia), for this reason the jiu jitsu men of the time started calling the takedown ‘Baiana’, the feminine way of saying Baiano as a takedown (queda) in portuguese is a feminine word.
The baiana reigned supreme as the weapon of choice for grapplers around Brazil for two decades before the contact with wrestling during the 1970’s opened competitors eyes to the efficiency of the sprawl, a major breakthrough to stop the success of the double leg, though it still remained as one of the most common takedowns in the sport, especially without the the kimono (No Gi jiu jitsu).
As jiu jitsu opened its horizon towards the US in the mid 2000’s, where wrestling is a major sport, the ‘baiana’ name became sometimes applied to a sloppier version of the double leg, as if to say there were two ways of applying the same technique, the ‘old school’ Brazilian way and the wrestling way. This is not necessarily the truth as many jiu jitsu ‘old schoolers’ were extremely successful against high calibre wrestlers, a perfect example of this would be Ricardo Arona, Paulo Filho or Rickson Gracie.
NOTE: Banner picture taken by Ivan Trindade for GracieMag.
- Waldemar Santana
- Carlson Gracie
- Ricardo Arona
- AJ Agazarm
- DJ Jackson
- Pablo Popovitch
- Marcus Almeida ‘Buchecha’
- Delson Heleno ‘Pe de Chumbo’
- Gilbert Burns ‘Durinho’
- Jake Shields
- Paulo Filho
Baiana Takedown Videos
Waldemar Santana vs Carlson Gracie takedown highlight
Keenan Cornelius vs Murilo Santana
Ricardo Arona, master of the Baiana highlight
Chris Wells baiana instructional