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Hélio Gracie (Template:IPA-pt; October 1, 1913–January 29, 2009) was a Brazilian martial artist who, together with his brother Carlos Gracie, founded the martial art of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, known internationally as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ).[1] Until his death, Gracie was the only living 10th degree master of that system, and is widely considered as one of the first sports heroes in Brazilian history; he was named Black Belt magazine's Man of the Year in 1997.Template:Citation needed He was the father of the world-renowned fighters Rickson Gracie, Royler Gracie, Royce Gracie, Relson Gracie, and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) founder Rorion Gracie. Gracie also held the rank of 6th dan in judo.[2]

Early lifeEdit

Gracie was born on October 1, 1913, in Belém do Pará, Brazil. When he was 16 years old, he found the opportunity to teach a judo class (at that time judo was commonly referred to as Kano Jiu-Jitsu or simply Jiu-JitsuTemplate:Citation needed),[3] and this experience led him to develop Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.[4] A director of the Bank of Brazil, Mario Brandt, arrived for a private class at the original Gracie Academy in Rio de Janeiro, as scheduled. The instructor, Carlos Gracie, was running late and was not present. Helio offered to begin the class with the man. When the tardy Carlos arrived offering his apologies, the student assured him it was no problem, and actually requested that he be allowed to continue learning with Helio Gracie instead.Template:Citation needed Carlos agreed to this and Helio Gracie became an instructor.

Gracie realized, however, that even though he knew the techniques theoretically, the moves were much harder to execute. Due to his smaller size, he realized many of the judo moves required brute strength [4] which did not suit his small stature. Consequently, he began adapting judo for his particular physical attributes,Template:Citation needed and through trial and error learned to maximize leverage, thus minimizing the force that needed to be exerted to execute a technique. From these experiments, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, later known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, was created.[4] Using these new techniques, smaller and weaker practitioners gained the capability to defend themselves and even defeat much larger opponents.[5][6]

Fighting careerEdit

Gracie had 19 professional fights in his career. He began his fighting career when he submitted professional boxer Antonio Portugal in 30 seconds in 1932. In that same year, he fought American professional wrestler Fred Ebert for fourteen 10 minute rounds. The event was clamied to have been stopped because Brazilian law did not allow any public events to continue after 2:00 AM,Template:Citation needed but in an interview Gracie admitted that he was stopped by the doctor due to the high fever caused by a swelling, and he had to undergo an urgent operation next day.[7]

In 1934, Gracie fought Polish professional wrestler Wladek Zbyszko, who was billed as a former world champion, for three 10 minute rounds.Template:Citation needed Even though the wrestler was almost twice Gracie's weight, he could not defeat him, and the match ended in a draw. Gracie then defeated Taro Miyake, a Japanese professional wrestler and judoka (practitioner of judo) who had an extensive professional fighting record and worked for Ed "Strangler" Lewis in the United States of America.Template:Citation needed

Gracie also fought several Japanese judoka under submission rules. In 1932, he fought Japanese judoka Namiki.Template:Citation needed He defeated the Japanese heavyweight judoka and sumo wrestler Masagoichi via armlock. The fight ended in a draw but, according to the Gracie family, the bell rang just seconds before Namiki would have tapped out.Template:Citation needed Gracie had two fights with Yasuichi Ono after Ono choked out George Gracie (Hélio Gracie's brother) in a match.Template:Citation needed Both fights ended in a draw. Gracie fought judoka Kato twice. The first time was at Maracanã stadium and they went to a draw. Afterwards, Kato asked for a rematch. The rematch was held at Ibirapuera Stadium in São Paulo and Gracie won by front choke from the guard.Template:Citation needed

Kimura versus GracieEdit

File:Masahiko Kimura vs Helio Gracie ude-garami.jpg

In 1955, famous judoka Masahiko Kimura (then 38 years old) defeated Gracie in a submission judo/jiujitsu match held in Brazil.Template:Citation needed During the fight, Kimura threw Gracie repeatedly with ippon seoi nage (one point back carry throw) and o soto gari (major outer reap—Kimura's signature throw). He threw Gracie three times with o soto gari o uchi gari (major inner reap), uchi mata (inner thigh throw), and harai goshi (sweeping hip).

Kimura reportedly threw Gracie repeatedly in an unsuccessful effort to knock him unconscious; Kimura later claimed that the reason for his lack of success was the excessive softness of the mat.Template:Citation needed Kimura also inflicted painful, suffocating grappling techniques on Gracie such as kuzure-kamishiho-gatame (modified upper four corner hold), kesa gatame (scarf hold), and sankaku jime (triangle choke). Kimura was, however, unable to make Gracie submit even though he had claimed in the press that he would finish the fight with the first grip.Template:Citation needed Kimura also claimed that if Gracie could survive three minutes, he should consider himself a winner;Template:Citation needed the fight lasted 13 minutes.Template:Citation needed

Finally, thirteen minutes into the bout, Kimura positioned himself to apply a reverse ude garami (arm entanglement, a shoulderlock). Gracie refused to submit despite his arm being broken.Template:Citation needed At this point, Carlos Gracie interrupted the match because he knew that his brother would not submit.Template:Citation needed In 1994, Gracie admitted in an interview that he had in fact been choked unconscious earlier in the match, but had regained consciousness when Kimura released the choke.Template:Citation needed

As a tribute to Kimura's victory, the reverse ude garami technique was named as the 'Kimura lock,' or simply the 'Kimura,' in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.Template:Citation needed

Kimura describes the event as follows:Template:Citation needed

20,000 people came to see the bout including President of Brazil. Helio was 180 cm and 80 kg. When I entered the stadium, I found a coffin. I asked what it was. I was told, "This is for Kimura. Helio brought this in." It was so funny that I almost burst into laughter. As I approached the ring, raw eggs were thrown at me. The gong rang. Helio grabbed me in both lapels, and attacked me with O-soto-gari and Ko-uchi-gari. But they did not move me at all. Now it's my turn. I blew him away up in the air by O-uchi-gari, Harai-goshi, Uchimata, Ippon-seoi-nage. At about 10 minute mark, I threw him by O-soto-gari. I intended to cause a concussion. But since the mat was so soft that it did not have much impact on him. While continuing to throw him, I was thinking of a finishing method. I threw him by O-soto-gari again. As soon as Helio fell, I pinned him by Kuzure-kami-shiho-gatame. I held still for 2 or 3 minutes, and then tried to smother him by belly. Helio shook his head trying to breathe. He could not take it any longer, and tried to push up my body extending his left arm.
That moment, I grabbed his left wrist with my right hand, and twisted up his arm. I applied Ude-garami. I thought he would surrender immediately. But Helio would not tap the mat. I had no choice but keep on twisting the arm. The stadium became quiet. The bone of his arm was coming close to the breaking point. Finally, the sound of bone breaking echoed throughout the stadium. Helio still did not surrender. His left arm was already powerless. Under this rule, I had no choice but twist the arm again. There was plenty of time left. I twisted the left arm again. Another bone was broken. Helio still did not tap. When I tried to twist the arm once more, a white towel was thrown in. I won by TKO. My hand was raised high. Japanese Brazilians rushed into the ring and tossed me up in the air. On the other hand, Helio let his left arm hang and looked very sad withstanding the pain.

In May 1955, at the YMCA in Rio de Janeiro, Gracie participated in a 3 hour 42 minute fight against his former student Valdemar Santana, with Gracie losing by technical knockout due to exhaustion.Template:Citation needed This fight is the longest uninterrupted MMA fight in history.Template:Citation needed

Later lifeEdit

Gracie's son, Rorion Gracie, was one of the first Gracie family members to bring Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to the United States of America, and later founded the UFC.Template:Citation needed Royce Gracie, Rorion's younger brother, went on to become the first UFC champion in the organization's history; Helio coached Royce from outside the cage at UFC 1 and UFC 2.Template:Citation needed

Gracie died on the morning of January 29, 2009, in his sleep in Itaipava, Rio de Janeiro.Template:Citation needed The cause of death, reported by the family, was natural causes. His last words were: "I created a flag from the sport’s dignity. I oversee the name of my family with affection, steady nerves and blood."[8] Gracie was able to utilize the same Jiu-Jitsu techniques which he helped to develop until his death. He was 95 years old, and was teaching/training on the mat until 10 days before his death, when he became ill.

Gracie had four brothers: Oswaldo, Gastão Jr., Jorge, and Carlos.Template:Citation needed He had been married twice, first to Margarida and later to Vera.[9] He was the father of seven sons (Rickson, Royler, Rolker, Royce, Relson, Robin and Rorion—all BJJ black belts) and two daughters (Rerika and Ricci).[10] Gracie was grandfather to many BJJ black belts, including Ryron, Rener, Ralek, Rhalan, Kron, and others.

Career highlightsEdit

  • 1932: Submitted Antonio Portugal by armlock
  • 1932: Draw with Takashi Namiki
  • 1932: Draw with Fred Ebert
  • 1934: Draw with Wladek Zbyszko
  • 1934: Submitted Taro Miyake by choke
  • 1935: Submitted Dudu by Side Kick to the spleen.
  • 1935: Draw with Yassuiti Ono
  • 1936: Draw with Takeo Yano
  • 1936: Submitted Massagoichi by armlock
  • 1936: Draw with Yassuiti Ono
  • 1937: Submitted Erwin Klausner by armlock
  • 1937: Submitted Espingarda
  • 1950: Submitted Landulfo Caribe by choke
  • 1950: Submitted Azevedo Maia by choke
  • 1951: Draw with Kato
  • 1951: Submitted Kato by choke
  • 1951: Defeated by Masahiko Kimura by Kimura lock
  • 1955: Defeated by Valdemar Santana by KO (fight duration 3h 42min)
  • 1967: Submitted Valdomiro dos Santos Ferreira by choke
  • 10-3-8


  1. [1]
  2. According to Masahiko Kimura in his book "My Judo", Helio Gracie was a 6th dan judo at the time of his fight with Kimura in 1951 ( see extract]). There is no Kodokan record of Hélio Gracie having any dan grade in judo, but it is not unusual for a foreign judoka's actual grade to be higher than that officially granted and recorded by the Kodokan, as Kodokan ranks are maintained independently and have much more strict requirements.
  3. Template:Cite news
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Template:Cite news
  5. Template:Cite news
  6. Template:Cite book
  7. Template:Cite journal
  8. - "Master Helio Gracie has passed away: Jiu-Jitsu loses its icon."
  9. Gracie Family Tree. Retrieved on 2009-01-30.
  10. Knapp, Brian; TJ DeSantis (2009-01-29). Helio Gracie Dead. Retrieved on 2009-01-30.

External linksEdit

Template:Gracie familyfr:Hélio Gracie nl:Hélio Gracie ja:エリオ・グレイシー no:Hélio Gracie pt:Hélio Gracie sv:Hélio Gracie