Gracie Humaita is one of the most traditional Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academies, which is deeply connected to the founders of the art, being also one of the juggernauts of BJJ in its competitive scene. The name Gracie Humaitá emerged in the mid 1980’s as a way to differentiate the newly opened academy in the Humaitá neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro from other BJJ schools led by Gracie men, such as the Carlson Gracie School or the Barra Gracie.
The Gracie Humaita academy has had a tremendous amount of talent in its coaching roster, such as Rickson, Rolker and Royler Gracie as well as a fantastic competition team with the likes of the Ribeiro Brothers, Leticia Ribeiro, Marcus Norat, Megaton, Renato Barreto, Rafael Lovato Junior, Omar Salum to name a few.
Gracie Humaitá History
To start describing the beginning of Gracie Humaita we need to go back to 1925 when Carlos Gracie decided to open up a Jiu Jitsu academy in Rua Marques de Abrantes, in the Flamengo area of Rio de Janeiro. There him and his brothers (George, Helio, Oswaldo and Gastao) transformed the landscape of martial arts forever, perfecting the art that had been taught to them by the Japanese Mitsuyo Maeda. A prosperous “Academia Gracie” moved to the city centre in the 1960’s, taking over two (2) floors of building 151 of the Rio Branco Avenue. Helio Gracie was the main coach there, but he was often helped by a few others, such as Joao Alberto Barreto as well as his sons and nephews.
After a few set backs in the 1980’s, the academy moved from it’s luxurious setup in Avenida Rio Branco to the Vasco da Gama club (1981) in the Lagoa area, a residential neighbourhood located around the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon. The Gracie Academy was in Lagoa for 4 years before moving to the Padre Antonio Vieira College in the rich burg of Humaitá with Helio Gracie and Rickson Gracie at the lead of the team.
|Team Lineage:||Academia Gracie/Gracie Humaita|
|Current Instructor:||Rolker Gracie|
|First Black Belt:||n/a|
|HQ Address:||Rua Humaitá, 52 Botafogo Rio de Janeiro – Brasil|
The Early Days at Gracie Humaitá
In the early years at Gracie Humaitá, the academy’s main coach was the aforementioned Rickson Gracie. The team already had strong roots in Jiu Jitsu and took off quickly in the competition scene with Royler Gracie, one of the best featherweights in the history of the sport, leading the way. The academy also became a regular training ground for many of the sport’s veterans who used to train with Rolls Gracie and had joined the Gracie Academy since the tragic loss of their instructor and master, such were the cases of Fabio Santos or “Jacare” Cavalcanti.
The Gracie Humaita team grew divided between the more traditionalist views of the Gracie clan’s patriarch, Helio Gracie, and the sporting drive of Royler Gracie, one of the family members who most competed with a gi (kimono), more so after the departure of Rickson Gracie to the United States. Unlike the self defence coaching style methods applied by his father or his older brother Rorion at the Gracie Academy in the United States, Royler (now at the helm of the business) followed a more competition driven approach which paid dividends for the team and in the very first World Jiu Jitsu Championship, the Humaita academy managed to leave the venue with 5 medals in the black belt category, closing two weight divisions.
With Royler Gracie thriving as both a competitor and a coach, Gracie Humaita started getting great results world wide. Soon, the team’s affiliate academies in Manaus (Monteiro brothers) and in the Tijuca neighbourhood (Gracie Tijuca) began producing more high end talent and big names such as Omar Salum, Fredson Alves and especially Saulo Ribeiro emerged to the Jiu Jitsu scene. Saulo Ribeiro, one of the sport’s all time best, was of tremendous importance as the team lacked a strong presence within the heavier weight and absolute divisions.
With the success of several Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coaches in the United States in the early 2000’s, more of the team’s big names started migrating towards the northern hemisphere, and it wasn’t long until two of Humaita’s biggest stars, Alexandre and Saulo Ribeiro set camp in the USA. The brothers, with the help and approval of their Master Royler Gracie, started the University of Jiu Jitsu in 2007, opening the doors to many more team mates that followed, including Royler who moved to to San Diego in 2010, leaving his brother Rolker Gracie leading the team in Rio de Janeiro.
Leticia Ribeiro is on the IBJJF Hall of Fame and is widely regarded as one of the best grapplers of her generation, on top of her tremendous list of achievements, Leticia has also been instrumental in the development of the female side of the sport. The former student of Vini Aieta created her own space inside the team (aside from her sporting accolade) by developing a group of fierce competitors, through her strong coaching skills, producing fighters like Bia Mesquita, while helping develop the games of many seasoned veterans such as Penny Thomas, Michelle Tavares and many others who sought out Leticia and her female team camp. The concept of a females only camp was a breakthrough idea that brought not only more competitors to the team, but also strong results. Through these female BJJ camps (and the results that came with them), the Gracie Humaita gained world wide recognition as one of the top female teams in the world.
On May 2013, Leticia Ribeiro opened her own large academy in San Diego, California, making her mark in a area strongly represented by the top BJJ academies in the world.