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Pedro Hemeterio

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Pedro Hemetéro was the first non Gracie to achieve the rank of red belt in jiu jitsu. Born and raised in the remote state of Ceará, Hemetério became one of Gracie jiu jitsu’s top fighters in the 1940’s and 1950’s era, much like a gatekeeper to the main family champion, Carlson Gracie. He passed away on the 11th of October 2009 at the age of 86, leaving a great void in jiu jitsu.

Pedro Hemeterio Jiu Jitsu

Full Name: Pedro Hemetério de Araújo

Nickname: “Homem-Quiabo” (translating to Okra-Man). The name was given to him by the media after a fight in Sao Paulo against the Japanese fighter Akio Hyoshiara, because every time Akio tried to grab a hold of Hemeterio, he would find a way to slide out. Due to his slipperiness, the name made sense and was picked up by friends also.

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Pedro Hemeterio

Main Achievements: n/a

Weight Division: n/a

Favourite Technique: n/a

Team/Association: Gracie Jiu Jitsu

Pedro Hemetério Biography

Pedro Hemeterio’s life in jiu jitsu starts with the Second World War. At a the time when Europe was struggling to find supplies of food and coal, many Brazilian entrepreneurs found the opportunity to provide these goods to the Europeans and earn large sums of money through this trade. This was the case for Carlos Gracie and his business partner and best friend Oscar Santa Maria, who made a fortune selling coffee beans and Babassu coconut abroad. In 1942, trying to find a way to invest some of this money, Carlos Gracie decided to move to Fortaleza (state of Ceará) to look for real estate. The warm weather for which the place is known for also weighed in his decision.

As Carlos reached Fortaleza, his charismatic ways soon earned him many friends. He was invited to teach Jiu Jitsu to the special forces of the police department there, Carlos also made friends at a local club called “Clube Praia Leme” who thought jiu jitsu could spice things up a little. They decided to sponsor a 3 month intensive course with Master Carlos Gracie, all expenses paid, to 4 men who would be willing to step forward. After they advertised the course, 77 men showed up for the trials, a 20 year old Pedro Hemetério was one of them. The group was put up through a series of coordination and physical tests and 4 men were selected, though only two would proceed with the course, Pedro Hemetério and Luciano Porto.

After 45 days of intensive jiu jitsu work, Luciano Porto decided to abandon the project, leaving Pedro Hemetério as the only student to finish the course. Upon his return to normal life, Pedro’s parents got him a job. Carlos Gracie had grown fond of Hemeterio and wanted his pupil to continue studying jiu jitsu, as a solution he offered half of his salary at the police academy to make Hemeterio his right hand man, the solution worked and Hemeterio’s parents allowed him to continue.

After Helio Gracie found out about this formidable jiu jitsu student through his older brother, Carlos, Helio invited Pedro to travel to Rio de Janeiro to train with the rest of the family. Hemeterio ended up staying for 4 years in Rio, fighting many times for the Gracies and even fighting against a Gracie (George), defeating him. At the time of the fight George had left the Gracie academy a long time ago to form his own and had somewhat of a bitter relationship with brothers Carlos and Helio.

Pedro Hemeterio went on to become one of the most respected jiu jitsu masters of all time, receiving the honour of being the first Gracie student to achieve the grade of red belt (9 degree). He also had great influence in Sao Paulo, where he spent much of his time, helping to make jiu jitsu an organized sport in the region, being instrumental to the formation of the first Sao Paulo jiu jitsu federation (FPJJ).

After a prolonged disease of the myocardium and spending two months hospitalized at Hospital Santa Casa in São Paulo, Master Pedro Hemetério passed away, at the age of 86.

Bernardo Faria BJJ Foundations


  • Tartaruga says:

    Thank you BJJ Heroes for the incredible work of publishing the biography of our pioneers . Many jiu-jitsu practitioners know who is the reigning world champion but has no idea who started it all.
    Master Pedro Hemetério was a true Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend and deserves to be known worldwide.



  • Prof Reco Ph says:

    Eu tive o prazer de conhecelo pessoalmente, e treinar tbm c ele und dias, c um conhecido meu, q me mostrou o Jiu-Jitsu.
    Dae num desses dias q eu fui lah, (na Av 9 xe Julho), q era o local q ele ensinava a "Arte Suave", peguei a camera e fiz varias fotos c ele, e tnm uma mini-entrevista, nessa enfrevista fiz varias perguntas a ele, e uma delas foi essa; " Se ele tinha fikado sentido, pq o filho dele n se dedicou tbm ao Jiu?", e ele me resp: N!. Ele nunca foi ligado ao Jiu-Jitsu, e n posso fazer c ele seja, soh pq eu kero!.
    Mas me recordo mto bem, q ele me resp c uma certa tristeza.
    Pena q eu me mudei e n acho o cartao de memoria q eu gravei essa entrevista.
    Mas foi legal pq qdo eu peguei a camera pra tirar as fotos, olhei pra ele e perguntei? Posso filmar uma das lendas do Jiu-Jitsu e fazer umas 3 perguntas? E ele me olhou deu uma risadinha e perguntou? " Pra q vc ker isso?", e eu resp; pra guardar…, jah q toh começando nessa arte.
    Ae o meu amigo q me levou, flw assim; " Desculpa Mestre! eh soh pra tirar foto msm!" , dae o Mestre Hemeterio resp c akela voz grossa dele: " dxa! Td bem!….., liga isso ae rapaz!, dae fiz as perguntas e qd terminou…, ele me olhou e flw…., " vc deveria ser reporter!.
    Vlw homem quiabo!!!!

  • Tartaruga says:

    Também me recordo de perguntar ao mestre sobre posições novas criadas nos últimos anos e de sua resposta imediata:

    “- Golpe bom é mata leão!”

    Se referindo à importância de ter os fundamentos básicos do Jiu-Jitsu bem sólidos, antes de se preocupar com qualquer outra coisa.

  • Joe Jackson says:

    Does any one know a student under Master Pedro Hemetério named Micheal Fletcher?

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