Rio De Janiero, Brazil
“Legendary Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu Grandmaster leaves behind a Legacy”
January 29th, 2009: Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu Grandmaster Helio Gracie dies of pneumonia at age 95, leaving behind an impressive legacy among the world’s martial arts community.
Gracie, the father and grandfather of several highly respected and successful BJJ/NHB fighters, is credited for his unique approach towards the development of the art.
Now considered the pioneering “Innovator” of Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu, Helio Gracie was actually born a frail child stricken with a rather fragile constitution. However, this soon changed after he started learning Jiu-jitsu from his older brother Carlos. With his health improved, as a teenager, Helio assumed much of the teaching at his brother’s school.
Helio Gracie’s slight physical appearance, weighing only around 145 pounds, belied his actual fighting abilities. Due to his outstanding and innovative technical skills, he went on to defeat nearly all of his challengers for years, as his reputation as a fearsome competitor continued to grow to an unparalleled status in Brazil.
As his accumulative knowledge grew, Helio began to complete the development of his own personal approach towards the original Japanese version of Jujitsu that he’d learned from his older brother, emphasizing greater leverage, revised techniques and precise postioning, until his own adaptations made it apparent that it then stood apart entirely.
It was Gracie’s contributions that would eventually change forever the way ground-fighting was approached throughout the entire martial arts community.
Intending to distinguish his style of Jiu-Jitsu from the increasingly popular sport form of BJJ, Helio began to refer to his family’s version of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu”, eventually gaining worldwide recognition soon after his son, Royce, won his first Ultimate Fighting Championship, which was actually created by another Gracie, Rorion, the founder of the now hugely popular martial-arts combat sport.
In his last few years of life, the senior Gracie became somewhat dissatisfied with the sport of BJJ, claiming that the sport became too commercialized. He claimed that the particular rules and timed rounds were becoming futile. Helio thought that his vision of BJJ was designed for a smaller person to be able to apply leverage and technical positioning against a larger or physically stronger opponent, instead of being resigned to compete within a regulated “weight-class” that had become determined by a sanctioning body or governing commission.
According to Gracie ...
"This favors the stronger, heavier and better trained fighter. The Jiu-Jitsu that I created was designed to give the smaller and weaker fighters a good chance at defeating their bigger and stronger opponents".