Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Lineage Origins Story


1. The First Gracie Academy

The first Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu School was established in 1925 on Rua Marquês de Abrantes 106, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At the age of 23, Carlos Gracie discovered the advantages of Jiu-Jitsu in addition to the numerous advantages it offered to one’s life. Establishing a school was a huge step in establishing Jiu-Jitsu as a national sport in Brazil. In addition, founding a Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school was a significant step in building Jiu-Jitsu as a national sport. He taught his younger brothers Oswaldo (1904), Gastão (1906), George (1911), and Helio (1913) in addition to his siblings.

When Carlos Gracie was establishing the foundation of Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the Marquês de Abrantes school was not a powerful source of inspiration. Apart from a small house, Carlos could only afford to set up a living room as a training area.

Helio Gracie


The Marques de Abrantes school opened its doors in 1925 when Helio Gracie was still a youngster. Helio was born in Belém in 1913 and was the youngest of Gastao Gracie’s five sons.

At the age of 12, he was too young to help out with the classes or operate the institution. Carlos was already busy running the family business and teaching, so Helio’s Jiu-Jitsu education began with his other brothers Gastão and Oswaldo when he was 16.

Carlos eventually noticed Helio’s talent and began devoting more time to his training. Because Helio’s size and physical condition were not optimal for some of the techniques, Carlos had to develop new Jiu-Jitsu strategies, which worked for him. Leverage and timing rather than strength and speed were the key ideas he discovered.

Helio quickly realized that performing the moves of judo was more challenging than he had initially expected. He adapted Mitsuyo Maeda’s iteration of the martial art, which was already comprised of ground combat maneuvers when he began his training. These tactics enabled those who were smaller and weaker to defend themselves and even gain the upper hand against bigger and stronger adversaries, similar to judo.

Helio learned Gracie Jiu-Jitsu techniques and adaptations through trial and error, resulting in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu’s further development and refinement. Through his brother’s, instructor, and mentor Carlos’, tutelage, Helio fought countless times, including a 3-hour 43-minute battle against Valdemar Santana, a former student. Helio’s bravery, tenacity, and discipline made him a national hero.

As Carlos became more interested in nutrition and exercise as well as his spiritual quest, Helio took charge of the Gracie business and became a real crusader in running the Gracie School. In downtown Rio de Janeiro, the school was larger at this point. 

Because of his dedication and commitment, Helio became extremely involved in running the Gracie School. All four brothers helped to expand Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil in the early 20th century by assisting in the creation of the first Gracie champions.

Masahiko Kimura, one of Helio’s toughest opponents, stated that Helio held a sixth-degree black belt in judo.

Throughout his fighting career, Gracie competed in 20 professional contests, with a record of 10 wins, 2 losses, and 8 draws. He began fighting professionally in 1932, quickly submitting boxer Antonio Portugal in 30 seconds. Later that year, he faced American wrestler Fred Ebert and lost in a 14-round, 3-minute match.

In 1934, Gracie faced Wladek Zbyszko, a wrestler from Poland in a match that went over three, 10-minute rounds. Despite Zbyszko being a former world champion and being nearly twice Gracie’s size, Gracie managed to hold his own resulting in a draw. Later, Gracie defeated Taro Miyake, a judo practitioner and wrestler from Japan. Gracie’s victory was noteworthy as Miyake was an experienced professional fighter.

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was introduced to the United States by Helio Gracie’s son Rorion. Rorion’s brother, Royce Gracie, was the first-ever UFC champion. He received training from Helio for UFC 2 and UFC 1. Helio Gracie passed away in his sleep in 2009 in Rio de Janeiro, due to natural causes. His legacy continues to live on, through the many students and practitioners of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu all over the world.

Helio’s Legacy

  1. 2.Throughout his lifetime, Helio taught dozens of students, many of whom became black belts and started their own academies. Amongst them are Rickon, Robin, Rolker, Rolker, Rolls, Royce, Ryron, Rener and Rorion Gracie, Pedro Valente, Pedro Castro, Carlos Elias, Flavio Behring, Armando Wridt Sr.  
  2. Carlson Gracie

After Helio Gracie’s defeat to Valdemar Santana in 1955, Carlson Gracie (1932-2006) emerged as the top fighter in the Gracie family. At the age of 43, Helio’s physical condition did not allow him to compete at his highest level. The defeat of Helio Gracie by Valdemar, a former student, damaged the reputation of the Gracie family, so Carlson was brought in to restore the family’s name to its previous prestige.

Carlson Gracie defeated Valdemar Santana and became the main fighter of the Gracie family for many years to come. His numerous fights made him a well-known figure and it increased his desire to open his own Gracie school. He established his own branch in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, and began to build his own group of students and fighters.

 Carlson played a significant role in fostering competition in Jiu-Jitsu, which further contributed to the technical development of the art. Being competitive himself, Carlson formed a strong team of young athletes that performed exceptionally well in the 1970s and 1980s in the various Jiu-Jitsu tournaments held in


Rolls Gracie

fter adding an enormous contribution to the development of Jiu-Jitsu, Rolls was another genius who was a link between “old Jiu-Jitsu” and “modern Jiu-Jitsu” practised today, according to Master Carlos Gracie Jr. Rolls was the link between the “old Jiu-Jitsu” and “modern Jiu-Jitsu” practised today, according to Gracie. 

Rolls, in addition to being a genius in Jiu-Jitsu, was a significant player in the sport’s survival in Brazil in the 1970s. Rolls used his talent, charisma, and leadership abilities to persuade an entire generation of young people in Rio de Janeiro to practice Jiu-Jitsu and a healthy lifestyle.

Rolls Gracie was a natural student of Jiu-Jitsu. At the age of 12, he helped his uncle Helio teach classes at the Gracie School. Rolls was also very close to his older brother, Carlson, who taught him a great deal. Rolling was extremely gifted and committed to honing his martial prowess. He was also admired for his tenacity and desire to study anything that might make his art better. Despite his excellent physical stature and impressive fighting techniques, Rolls was also renowned for his strong character and desire to achieve peak proficiency.

During his teenage years, Rolls had the opportunity to visit many different countries and learn Sambo, Judo, and Greco-Roman Wrestling. A Black Belt at the age of 16, Rolls grew into a strong and fit young man with a brilliant vision for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a career as a fighter and professor. To expand the sport, he competed in tournaments as a way to engage more people. 

In 1976, Rolls participated in his first No Holds Barred (Vale-Tudo) Fight. He took the fight after a Karate Instructor questioned the effectiveness of Jiu-Jitsu during a TV show demonstration.

Many matches were scheduled between Jiu-Jitsu fighters and Karate fighters that night. The main event, however, was the encounter between Rolls Gracie and a Karate master. Rolls Gracie applied a beautiful take-down, controlled his opponent’s back, and finished the fight with a rear naked choke. Rolls Gracie also won the night by applying a beautiful take-down, controlling his opponent’s back, and finishing the fight with a rear naked choke. 

Carlson, Roll’s close friend and family member, started the same pattern that many members of the second generation of the Gracie Family would soon follow. Unfortunately, Roll’s work was unfinished, and he died at age 31 in a hang gliding accident.  

After Rolls Gracie passed away, the Gracie Family devoted their energy and resources to spreading Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu since it was the central objective of Rolls Gracie.

4. Carlos Gracie Jr.

Carlos Jr. spent his youth under the signifiant influence of his family of fighters, who taught him the life philosophy and values of Carlos Gracie Sr. In addition to his father, Helio, and Uncle Rolls, Carlos grew up watching and studying the most significant people in his family: Carlos, Helio, and Rolls. In particular, the Teresopolis House, located in Teresópolis, was a huge ranch where Carlos, Helio, and Rolls’ children lived and trained together. 

The family’s significant years were when they lived and trained together in Teresopolis House. Master Carlos is attempting to recreate this lifestyle in a bigger way today, through the same environment that fostered his personal development.

Carlos Gracie Jr, commonly known as Carlinhos, was a highly technical fighter and inherited the open-mindedness of his brother Rolls. His philosophy that a fighter should always rely on technique and be well-rounded was evident from a young age due to his dedication to mastering take-downs from Judo and Wrestling, self-defense techniques, and the many technical developments in Jiu-Jitsu introduced by his brother Rolls, such as the open guard.

Carlos Gracie Jr’s dedication to the sport and lifestyle of Jiu-Jitsu was evident in many aspects of his life. He enjoyed training, teaching, and learning from his brothers and cousins, and also competed extremely well in many Jiu-Jitsu tournaments. He was also deeply interested in the teachings of his father Carlos and became increasingly dedicated to developing the Gracie Diet as a way to support the family’s athletes and to cure diseases. Carlinhos’s curiosity led him to pursue a college degree in Nutrition Sciences to deepen his understanding of the impact of food on the body.

Master Carlos Gracie Jr. taught at the Gracie Downtown school in Rio de Janeiro, just like his brothers, cousins, and nephews. He learned a tremendous amount from his older brother Rolls and cousin Rorion, in addition to his older brother, Rolls, and cousin Rickson, who created the school in Copacabana. After his cousin Rorion moved to the United States, Master Carlos Gracie Jr. was consequently charged with taking charge of the Gracie School after his cousin Rickson Gracie.

Carlos was hit by the devastating news of his brother Rolls’ death after working as his assistant instructor for seven years.

In the weeks and months that followed, the students, in collaboration with Rolls’ spouse, requested him to take on the responsibility of continuing the journey that his brother had started. Carlinhos lingered in Copacabana for approximately four years, after which he decided to relocate to Barra da Tijuca, an optimistic fresh district in the western region of the city that was developing. 

5. Origins of Gracie Barra

In 1986, Carlos Gracie Jr opened a school in Barra de Tijuca and from that school came the phrase “Gracies of Barra” and later shortened to “Gracie Barra”. 

What was unusual about Carlos’ decision was that Barra de Tijuca is a smaller, less populated neighbourhood located far from Rio’s downtown area and many thought this would not be a feasible move. The area is popular with surfers but the gym was able to attract some students reasonably quickly.  At first, the school had roughly 20 learners and grew to almost 200 after the first year. Gracie Barra then transferred the school to a bigger facility in a gym, where it’s still situated today.

After Carlos Gracie Junior moved to Barra da Tijuca, a lot of the individuals he had taught at Rolls Gracie’s institute in Copacabana, including Jean Jacques Machado (who aided in the teaching at Gracie Barra in its early stages), Renzo & Ryan Gracie, and many others, trailed him. Before long, the news spread among surfers and local tough guys that a Gracie was giving lessons in Barra da Tijuca, and the gym filled up quickly.

During the early phases of Gracie Barra, a broad array of talents were cultivated, resulting in a remarkable accomplishment. There was a never-ending list of remarkable grapplers who participated in tournaments regularly, and significantly modified the sport with their technical advances. Nino Schembri was known for his offensive open guard that was quite bendable. 

Roberto Magalhães had an inverted guard, Renzo was famous for his butterfly hooks, Roberto Correa had the half guard and “Tinguinha” with his spider guard. These are just some of the many contributing athletes.

During the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Gracie Barra academy gained a reputation of being a formidable team, winning the World Championships multiple times. 2002 was their most successful year, with 8 gold medals in the men’s black belt event, which cemented their position as one of the greatest academies around the globe.

Despite the team’s major success, some of their most talented members had disputes with the leadership and left the team to form their own. Mauricio “Tinguinha”, Helio “Soneca”, Alexandre “Soca”, and others who disagreed with the team’s path included Roberto Correa (in 2007), one of the leading trainers at Gracie Barra Combat Team (the MMA team of Gracie Barra). 

Correa (or “Gordo”) left the team after a disagreement between Carlos Gracie Junior and Carlo Malta (who managed the GBCT fighters). “Gordo” stood by the fighters and Malta, and parted ways with Gracie Barra to establish “Gracie Fusion.” Eventually, he started his own business, Gordo Jiu Jitsu.

  1. 6.Gracie Barra Moves to the US

Gracie Barra was dedicated to extending its team globally from the very start, having set up franchising models. In 2005, this growth increased exponentially when the squad relocated its headquarters from Rio de Janeiro to Lake Forest, Calafornia, following an invitation from James Lu to open a large gym in the area. 

Master Carlos sought to establish an ideal school, which would be used as a model for other Gracie Barra (GB) schools and instructors around the world. He welcomed the assistance of Black Belt students coming from Brazil to help him with his endeavor. 

This school, beginning in a small warehouse in Lake Forest, eventually developed into a two-story establishment that was 7000 square feet in size and home to hundreds of students in Irvine, California.

  1. 7.The Controversy of the Move

The move aroused some controversy from the start as Mauricio Tinguinha, a former member of the Gracie Barra team, had opened a gym in the same area for some time and was offended by the relocation to his property. He was especially indignant as he was friends with one of the main coaches of the team (Marcio Feitosa) and only found out about the move through the web, which was a topic of conversation on many forums around the globe.

Following their move, the issues regarding Gracie Barra did not stop there. The proprietor of the fitness center where the academy had been located, James Lu, replaced the locks and terminated Carlos Gracie Junior and Marcio Feitosa from their roles as leading instructors due to his individual problems with them. 

Sadly, the students who had signed up with the gym itself and not the Gracie Barra branch were abandoned for a period of time, making the whole episode a difficult period for the academy. Eventually, once the predicament had been settled, Carlos Gracie and his team relocated to Irvine, California and established their headquarters there.

  1. 8.Gracie Barra’s American Development

As the Gracie Barra organization grew in the United States, there was a requirement to develop regulations, processes, and criteria that the Gracie Barra Schools located all over the globe could adhere to. It was impossible for one person to monitor the expansive size of the organization and long-distance communication had become a difficult task. Master Carlos was unable to interact with one of his instructors for years because of the enormous gap between them geographically.

To make the ties between Gracie Barra and the schools more organized and to ensure that the organization was held to a high standard, Carlos established the Gracie Barra Association in 2005. During a gathering, instructors from various areas of the US agreed to official principles and practices that would guarantee uniformity and quality teaching across all GB Schools.

After Master Carlos Gracie Jr. implemented the regulations and standards of the Gracie Barra Association, the emphasis turned to creating resources to ensure that all GB Schools followed their requirements.

With the passing of time, the Gracie Barra Association became a source of data and provided assistance to the Gracie Barra Schools around the world in achieving their goals of expansion and providing quality tuition. 

Master Carlos comprehended that his association could do more than merely inspect the GB Schools to verify if they were following his criteria; it could also be the main source of information that would assist instructors globally to improve their GB Schools, teach excellent students, and assist their communities to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

  1. 9.The Creation of the satellite schools in California

After Gracie Barra America became the main hub of GB, many of its Black Belts flocked to the school to acquire knowledge from Master Carlos and his team of tutors. As the methods of teaching and administration at the school were carefully put down in writing, it was the perfect time to replicate the school in multiple places. 

The surrounding cities such as Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Yorba Linda, San Clemente, Garden Grove and more were chosen by the Black Belts who lived in those areas to open their own schools.  Gracie Barra relied heavily on these black belts, opening up academies all over America with the slogan “BJJ for all”.  This slogan would promote GB’s focus on being a family establishment. This was a great success, as their student base grew exponentially. 

At the present time, there are a multitude of Gracie Barra Schools that are collaborating with one another to propagate Jiu-Jitsu around the area. Similarly to how it developed in Barra, these schools, teachers, and pupils reap the advantages of each other’s endeavors in introducing Jiu-Jitsu to a new area, carrying out voluntary projects in local schools, and preparing for upcoming competitions.

  1. 10.The GB Premium Schools Program

The Gracie Barra Association was determined to ensure that the knowledge gained during the formation of GB America would be disseminated to the teachers setting up offshoot schools.

The close vicinity of the branches to the Headquarters meant that making sure the GB Schools followed the same standards for quality, uniformity, and consistency was especially necessary. What’s more, Master Carlos Gracie Jr.’s teaching style and ideology needed to be precisely reproduced, as well as the same instructor’s training background at every single school.

With the intention of achieving this, the Gracie Barra Association began the Gracie Barra Premium Schools Program in order to provide all the teaching, management, and training resources that GB America uses in an orderly and defined way. This program has been highly successful in aiding the expansion of GB Schools, guaranteeing uniformity and quality education. Moreover, it has developed a novel type of partnership between the GB Association and GB Schools that is mutually advantageous.

  1. 11.Establishment of GB Regional Divisions

Gracie Barra has become a renowned organization on a global scale. Depending on how popular Jiu-Jitsu is in a region and the management of the people who are involved in the sport, its growth may increase rapidly, which then requires for a local office to be established. Although GB is a global organization, the issues that their schools face are local and to help foster the growth of GB Schools all over the world, they are dedicated to setting up regional divisions that work with instructors and students in order to ensure the best growth and quality of instruction. 

Regional divisions have already been established to manage North America, Oceania, Europe, Japan, and Brazil. Master Carlos’ closest students who live in the area are responsible for running the office and dealing with the local schools on a daily basis.

  1. 12.The Gracie Barra Franchise Initiative Is Launched

In March of 2010, Master Carlos Gracie Jr. declared at the significant Gracie Barra Instructors meeting at the organization’s base camp in Irvine, CA that there ought to be one school in each city around the globe.

Even though this ambition appears to be highly aspirational right now, GB’s whole business and its personnel are changing in order to achieve this target in the foreseeable future. The Gracie Barra squad appears to be devoted to conveying the art of Jiu-Jitsu to countless individuals internationally by way of experienced trainers.

Back in 2010, we achieved a major milestone with the development of the GB Franchising Program. This program is complete with a range of systems and tools that will help GB Schools and teachers offer the Jiu-Jitsu Lifestyle to a wide variety of people in their local areas.

The Gracie Barra Franchise Program has grown extensively since it was first introduced in California, and it is now available in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Gracie Barra is determined to keep extending its reach to other countries around the world. There are now over 600 GB schools over the globe.

Some of the most successful BJJ athletes to compete under the GB flag include Andre Almeida, Romulo Barral, Victor Estima, Roberto Gordo, Kyra Gracie, Samuel Braga, Marcio Cruz and Roger Gracie.

  1. 13.The Gracie Barra Split

The expansion of Gracie Barra had a detrimental effect on their competition team; the black belts had to move around and mainly train on their own or with students. This negative  impact led to Gracie Barra’s mediocre performance at the black belt level in the mid-2000s.

Around the middle of the 2010’s, the team began to improve by adding younger members like Felipe Pena and Otavio Sousa, as well as having some of their veteran players return to their former glory. This resurgence has been bolstered with the addition of local talent like Edwin Najmi and AJ Agazarm, among others.

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