Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Team History, Fighter Stats, Biographies and News

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Gran Master Helio Gracie

Helio Gracie is arguably the most important figure in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. One of the first Gracie Jiu Jitsu representatives in the 1930′s and 1940′s he was also the father and master of many fighters who carried the name of BJJ to Martial Arts’ main stream in the early 1990′s, competitors such as Royler, Rickson and Royce Gracie. His lineage and legacy are among the strongest in Jiu Jitsu and he is regarded as one of the fathers of the Brazilian grappling art.

Helio Gracie Jiu Jitsu

Favorite Technique: Cross Choke.

Weight Division: Aprox. 65kg (139lbs)

Main Achievements:

  • #1 ranked fighter in Vale-Tudo (NHB) for most of his competitive career.

Team/Affiliation: Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

Helio Gracie Biography

Born in October 1st 1913, Helio was the youngest son of Gastao Gracie, a third generation Scotsman. There were 9 brothers and sisters, and Helio stood out since the beginning due to his body type; tall and lanky he was the complete opposite of his brothers who were shorter, and stockier.

Helio’s childhood was a troubled one, his family went bankrupted when he was young and in 1921 they had to move from Belem do Para (his native town) to the big city, Rio de Janeiro. All these changes in his early life didn’t go without effect and he started suffering from chronic dizziness and his health was precarious, mostly due to his psychological instability.

In the last years of the Gracies stay in Belem do Para, his older brother Carlos got to meet Misuyio Esai Maeda (also known as ‘Count Coma’), Maeda was a Kodokan Jiu Jitsu/Judo expert who had come to Brazil with the intent of divulging the Japanese martial art. His brother started training regularly with Maeda and rapidly became one of his top students. All Carlos learnt in the Jiu Jitsu classes he would then try and pass on to his brothers. They would spar regularly, however, Helio wasn’t allowed to be a part of the actual fighting as he was to fragile, instead he would stand aside and try to understand the mechanics of the Jiu Jitsu game.

A few years after the Gracies moved to Rio de Janeiro, in 1925, Carlos Gracie – the eldest, managed to fulfill his dream of creating the first Jiu Jitsu Academy in Rio. To help him in this new challenge he invited his brothers Oswaldo, Gastao, Helio and George, to come and join him, it was said in Reila Gracie’s Biography of Carlos, that he brought his brothers in because he needed help in the academy and because he wanted to take his brother out of their abusive father’s grasp.

Helio started sparring with his brothers Oswaldo, Gastao and George, hiding the fact from Carlos who was over protective of his younger brother and feared for his health. When he found out Helio was already advanced in his techniques and was a good spar for his brothers, Carlos allowed his training to continue and accepted him in their normal classes.

George Gracie was an excellent fighter, but lived a wild lifestyle and Helio soon became Carlos star pupil, so much that in 1932 Carlos gave him his first vale tudo/no-holds-barred. Helio was 18 years old. the fight was against a boxer by the name of Antonio Portugal, the bout lasted less then a minute as Helio choked his opponent out.

Helio fought several times throughout the next 6 years trying to promote the Gracie academy together with his brothers. At one point George broke with the academy, according to the aforementioned book of Reila Gracie, the reason why George left was because he wanted to fight Helio to prove who was the best fighter in Rio de Janeiro and Carlos opposed to this.

In 1938 Helio’s career came to a hold as he left the rings and the mats to move to a different town for personal reasons. He came back 12 years later at the age of 38 after a challenge was made to him personally. His opponent was Landufo Caribé, the Bahia Jiu Jitsu Champion who had a different lineage from the Gracies, to make a stand, Helio finished Caribé quickly.

A year later came the opportunity to fight the mighty Masahiko Kimura, the Jigoro Kano Judoka champion of Japan. The opportunity came after he challenged Mr Kimura a few months earlier, challenge which was refused as Kimura didn’t feel was Helio worthy of the match. Helio was made to fight Kato (Japan’s number 2 ranked judoka) in order to get to Kimura. Helio fough him and defeated Kato by means of Cross Choke from the closed guard. Only then did Kimura accept the challenge. It is often stated that Kimura was 35Kg heavier (77 pounds), however we were unable to confirm this 100%. Kimura was so convinced of his superiority that he stated to the press that if the fight lasted more than 3 minutes he would consider it a loss.

Masahiko Kimura defeated Helio Gracie by “Kimura Lock” (the submission was named after Masahiro after this match) in 13 minutes (far after the 3 minute mark) which impressed Mr Kimura who ended the fight congratulating Helio on his toughness. This was a tough blow on the Gracies, and Jiu Jitsu which had earned a good amount of relevance in Rio de Janeiro. With this decrease in popularity, fights were scarce and Helio turned himself to teaching again.

Carlos Gracie had left the Rio de Janeiro gym, and moved to Fortaleza to take care of businesses, he left his sons Carlson Gracie, Rolls and Carlos Junior (Carlinhos) to be taught by Helio. Helio returned to the mats 5 years later after another challenge was raised by a former student, Waldemar Santana was his name and their fight would go to the record books as the longest no holds barred fight ever recorded (3hours 42minutes), Helio lost due to a soccer kick in the head which left him unconscious.

After this it took another 12 years for him to fight again, in the mean time he dedicated himself into teaching his sons and Carlos Gracie’s sons. Legends in BJJ like Rickson, Royce, Carlson, Rolls, Carlinhos, Relson, Rorion, among many others. He dedicated himself to the Gracie legacy, Jiu Jitsu. Along the years many came out against him and his hard nose ideas about Jiu Jitsu, some of them were close family members like Carlson Gracie. But even with all this turmoil there is no questioning that without him, BJJ would have definitely gone a different way and he will always be remembered as Grandmaster Helio Gracie, 10th Dan in Jiu Jitsu and founder of this amazing martial art that so many around the world practice and love.

Gran Master Helio Gracie passed away on January 29, 2009 (aged 95).

Helio Gracie Grappling Record

8 WINS
  • BY POINTS
    0 (0%)
  • BY ADVANTAGES
    0 (0%)
  • BY SUBMISSION
    8 (100%)
  • BY DECISION
    0 (0%)
  • BY PENALTIES
    0 (0%)
  • BY DQ
    0 (0%)

8 SUBMISSIONS WINS

#214eb8
Cross choke
50
4
#86e620
Armbar
38
3
#5AD3D1
TKO
13
1
8
(100%) SUBMISSIONS
2 LOSSES
  • BY POINTS
    0 (0%)
  • BY ADVANTAGES
    0 (0%)
  • BY SUBMISSION
    2 (100%)
  • BY DECISION
    0 (0%)
  • BY PENALTIES
    0 (0%)
  • BY DQ
    0 (0%)

2 SUBMISSIONS LOSSES

#214eb8
Kimura
50
1
#86e620
TKO
50
1
2
(100%) SUBMISSIONS

Helio Gracie Fight History

ID Opponent W/L Method Competition Weight Stage Year
17Masahiko KimuraLKimuran/aAbsoluteSuperfight1951
19Waldemar SantanaWaldemar SantanaLTKOn/aAbsoluteSuperfight1955
2Antonio PortugalWArmbarn/aAbsoluteSuperfight1932
3Takashi NamikiD---n/aAbsoluteSuperfight1932
4Fred EbertD---n/aAbsoluteSuperfight1932
5Wladek ZbyszkoD---n/aAbsoluteSuperfight1934
6MiyakeWCross choken/aAbsoluteSuperfight1934
7Olando SilvaWTKOn/aAbsoluteSuperfight1935
8Yassuiti OnoD---n/aAbsoluteSuperfight1935
9Takeo YanoD---n/aAbsoluteSuperfight1936
10MassagoichiWArmbarn/aAbsoluteSuperfight1936
11Yassuiti OnoD---n/aAbsoluteSuperfight1936
12Erwin KlausnerWArmbarn/aAbsoluteSuperfight1937
13Landulfo CaribeWCross choken/aAbsoluteSuperfight1950
14Azevedo MaiaWCross choken/aAbsoluteSuperfight1950
15Yukio KatoD---n/aAbsoluteSuperfight1951
16Yukio KatoWCross choken/aAbsoluteSuperfight1951
18Artur EmídioD---n/aAbsoluteSuperfight1954

Helio Gracie Documentary

This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil)

4 Comments

  • Daniel Borges says:

    Job well done mate! Really like the site and find the info quite useful.

    Congratulations.

  • Talia Vaughan says:

    man i might be a girl but helio gracie made me love jiu jitsu as much as i love anything else. having all this info helped me understand how helio became a amazing jiu jitsu fighter. i miss him with all my heart and promise to keep training and be the one girl tht can kick guys asses !!! may helio gracie rest in peace.

  • Kimura's first name was Masahiko not Masahiro.

  • Jorge Pereira says:

    MESTRE HELIO FOI E SERA PARA SEMPRE A INSPIRACAO DO VERDADEIRO SAMURAI !!! OBRIGADO MESTRE POR TER ME DADO A CHANCE DO SEU CONVIVIO RICO EM ENSINAMENTOS , E VERDADEIROS EXEMPLOS !!!

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