Nahum Rabay is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu red belt (9th degree) and a student of one of the Gracie Jiu Jitsu founders, George Gracie. Aside from being an important musician and a highly regarded figure in Sao Paulo’s BJJ, Nahum Rabay, curiously, was directly involved in the first case of “creontagem” in Jiu Jitsu (a student leaving an instructor or team for a direct rival), wich happened in 1954, when the Helio Gracie student, Guanair Vial, decided to abandon the Gracie Academy to move to George Gracie’s camp after being dominated by the smaller Nahum Rabay at an important Jiu Jitsu challenge.
Nahum Rabay Jiu Jitsu
Full Name: Nahum Luiz Rabay
Main Achievements: n/a
Favourite Position/Technique: n/a
Weight Division: n/a
Team/Association: Nahum Rabay Team
Nahum Rabay Biography
Nahum Rabay was born in Fortaleza (Ceará) in 1935, though he moved to Rio de Janeiro when he was very young. Rabay’s uncle was a professional wrestling promoter, and Nahum grew up watching the fake fights of Wrestling. Having become interested in fighting, Nahum Rabay picked up free-style wrestling with coach José Paulo Sarmento when he was around 17 years old.
After seeing an advert by George Gracie showcasing his academy, Nahum decided to start taking private Jiu Jitsu classes with the Gracie instructor. Competitions started early and by 1954 (two years after Nahum started his Jiu Jitsu training), Rabay was being noticed as a credited member of the academy, earning an invitation to compete in the under-card of one of the biggest fighting events of the year, the Vale-Tudo fight between Carlson Gracie and Waldemar Santana. Nahum Rabay was invited to fight in a submission only grappling match (with the kimono) against one of Helio Gracie’s top students, Guanair Vial. The fight was very important for both gyms as George Gracie (Nahum’s coach) and Helio did not get along (despite being brothers), and had severed ties a while back.
Guanair Vial was considered the heavy favourite, much more experienced then Rabay, Vial was the next big thing out of the Gracie Academy, on top of that, Guanair weighed in at 73kg (160lbs) against Nahum Rabay’s 63kg (138lbs). The fight lasted for 3 rounds of 5 minutes, and with the bell announcing the end of the match, the fight was declared a draw due to the submission only rules that were agreed upon. The draw, however, did not mirror what had gone through on the mats, and the press as well as the audience strongly believed Nahum to be the victor after the utter dominance displayed by the George Gracie pupil. The press and the audience weren’t the only ones in disagreement with the official result, Guanair Vial was of the same opinion, he was so shocked with the slickness of his opponent’s technique that he decided to switch from Helio Gracie’s gym and move to George Gracie’s academy, becoming the first famous case of gym desertion in BJJ, an act that Carlson Gracie would later nickname “creontagem”.
In around 1959 Nahum Rabay took over George Gracie’s academy as the Gracie moved away from Rio. Nahum took over the classes while training regularly with Takeo Yano, a Japanese master from the Jigoro Kano school who was friends with George Gracie. Nabay didn’t spent too much time as the instructor of George’s school as his career as a musician was now fully underway, being the natural career choice for Nabay.
A few years would pass before Rabay would re-join with his old instructor, and when he did, it was completely by chance. In 1963, Rabay used to help in his father’s firm as a debt collector, he often had to travel to small towns around the area to recover debts. On one of these trips out to a city named Catanduva, the locals heard he was a Jiu Jitsu guy and mentioned a Gracie instructor was living in the area, turns out that instructor was George Gracie.
A few years passed and Nahum Rabay began working at the town hall in Sao Paulo as a secretary of sports, from his position he met and befriended several BJJ coaches who were starting their work of spreading Jiu Jitsu in the region, through his connections Nahum managed to organize the first Jiu Jitsu competition in the area (in 1972), this competition had some of the very first Jiu Jitsu schools in the region. His work in the development of Jitsu in the Sao Paulo region continued for many years, having served positions on both the Sao Paulo federation and the national federation.