|Oswaldo Baptista Fadda|
|Born||Oswaldo Baptista Fadda
January 15, 1921
Bento Ribeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
|Died||April 1, 2005
Bento Ribeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
|Other names||Mestre Fadda|
|Style||Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu|
|Rank||Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu9th degree red belt in|
|Years active||1937 – early 2000s|
Oswaldo Baptista Fadda (January 15, 1921 – April 1, 2005) was a practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, reaching the rank of "nono grau", a ninth grade red belt. He is known for being one of the highest ranked non-Gracie black belts and also for teaching students from the poorer areas of Rio de Janeiro, where jiu-jitsu was regarded as an upper-class sport. Fadda's lineage, the most prominent second to the Carlos Gracie lineage, still survives through his links with today's teams such as Nova União, Grappling Fight Team, as well as Deo Jiu-Jitsu (Deoclecio Paulo) and Equipe Mestre Wilson Jiu-Jitsu (Wilson Pereira Mattos).
Fadda was born in Bento Ribeiro, a suburb in the north of Rio de Janeiro to a family of Italian immigrants. At the age of seventeen, while in the Brazilian Marines, he began to study jiu jitsu under Luiz França and a black belt under Mitsuyo Maeda. Maeda was an expert judōka with direct lineage to the founder of judo, Kanō Jigorō, who had travelled around the world as a prize fighter while also teaching the locals his self-defence techniques. After settling in Belém in 1917, Maeda had continued to teach jiu jitsu to a select group of students (including França and Carlos Gracie).
By 1942, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was becoming well known in Brazil, although the price of tuition was too high for most residents of Rio. Fadda had received his own black belt from França and soon started teaching jiu jitsu free of charge in unorthodox locations such as public parks and beaches, often without the aid of crash mats, aiming to spread the art of jiu-jitsu to the poorer folk. Fadda also saw jiu-jitsu as a way to help people with physical or mental disabilities, especially the city's numerous polio victims. With no real income from his teaching he was forced to advertise in the obituary section of the local newspaper.
Despite being regarded by the Gracie family as an outcast, Fadda managed to open his own academy on the outskirts of Rio on January 27, 1950. He and his students began specialising in the use of footlocks, an often ignored part of the jiu-jitsu curriculum. The next year, Fadda felt confident that his school was ready for the next step and issued a challenge to the Gracies through the media: "We wish to challenge the Gracies, we respect them as the formidable adversaries they are but we do not fear them. We have 20 pupils ready for the challenge".
Hélio Gracie accepted the challenge and the two teams fought at Gracie's academy. Fadda's team emerged victorious, making good use of their knowledge of footlocks, in which the opposition was lacking. José Guimarães, one of Fadda's pupils, choked Gracie's "Leonidas" unconscious. Oswaldo himself became the first man to beat Hélio in competition. After the challenge, Fadda gave an interview for the "Revista do Esporte" (sport magazine) "We put an end to the Gracie tabu". Also Hélio Gracie in an interview with the newspaper said "All you need is one Fadda to show that Jiu-Jitsu is not the Gracie's privilege". The Gracies had previously derided the holds as a "suburban technique" but were quick to applaud Fadda's win as a sign that jiu jitsu was for everyone, not just the well off. The result of the challenge was well publicised across Brazil and many new students arrived at Fadda's school seeking tuition. The added notoriety of the win also attracted local hard men who wanted to challenge Fadda themselves. This was such a regular occurrence that time was set aside every week specifically for this purpose. A long standing belief is that Fadda and his students never lost a fight.
Oswaldo Fadda attained the rank of ninth degree red belt, the highest possible BJJ honour for a non-Gracie. Ever humble, he lived out the rest of his life in his Bento Ribeiro suburban home, suffering from Alzheimers in his later years. He died of bacterial pneumonia on April 1, 2005 at the age of 84.
The Fadda family
Oswaldo Fadda's brother Humberto was also a jiu-jitsu instructor and ran the Cascadura branch of Academia Fadda. The Fadda family is represented in today's jiu-jitsu by Master Hélio Fadda, the son of Humberto Fadda who was named after Hélio Gracie. In 2009, an event was held in Paracambi in honour of Hélio Fadda.