Judo is our root. Jigoro Kano, a Japanese educator, founded Judo at the end of the 19th century. Some of his students traveled abroad and spread the technique, which became known worldwide.
One of Kano’s student, Mitsuyo Maeda, arrived in Brazil by the end of 1914 and settled in Belem, northern Brazil.
There Maeda met Gastão Gracie, the owner of a circus in the city and father of 8 children. One of them, Carlos Gracie, started training with Maeda. A few years later the family moved to Rio de Janeiro and opened an academy there. Carlos also taught his brothers and Helio was very enthusiastic about the technique. The brothers started working together and transformed the knowledge they received from Maeda.
Helio Gracie is the biggest responsible for the future that is to come. Helio had not trained jiu-jitsu until he was 16 years old. But he was an enthusiast and followed the lessons that his older brother, Carlos, taught. On a certain day Carlos was late for a private lesson and Helio volunteered to teach in his place. The student was surprised by Helio's knowledge and asked Carlos to have Helio teach him.
Helio soon realized that his physical condition was not an advantage since he was shorter and lighter than the average person. Hence he developed a whole curriculum of techniques based on body locks and chokes on the ground. The Gracie brothers focused on the grappling techniques from Japanese judo and revolutionized the worlds of the martial arts.
They promoted jiu jitsu by presenting fights to prove the technique they developed was unbeatable. Helio became the fighter of the family and they challenged martial artists from different backgrounds to no rule fights, today known as MMA.
Helio became the most famous fighter in Brazil in the 40’s. Some of his fights are available on the internet and it’s possible to see that even the fights that he could not win he fought in equal conditions despite the difference of weight.
The second generation of the family followed the path of their ancestors. Every boy who was born, eventually became a fighter and was ready to represent jiu jitsu and to defend the honor and the name of the family. The Gracie family was a family of fighters.
Rickson, Royler, Royce and Renzo kept proving the efficiency of the technique developed by Carlos and Helio. They fought everywhere in the world and proved that anyone who wanted to be a good fighter had to learn the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
In the 80’s, Rorion, Helio’s first born son, migrated to the USA and started teaching the technique there. A few years later he created the UFC, the renowned competition of Mixed Martial Arts. His brother Royce was the one chosen to represent the family on the event. He was not the strongest, nor the heaviest or the most well prepared. In spite of all this, he won the first, second and fourth event. The third one he left after feeling exhausted after a very hard fight. He had no strength to continue.
The Gracies proved that they developed the best martial art and self-defense system of our times.