Gracie family

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Gracie Family
Current regionBrazil, United States
Place of originScotland; Belém, Pará, Brazil
Connected familiesMachado family
Traditions Judo
Vale tudo
Mixed martial arts

The Gracie family (Portuguese: [ˈɡɾejsi]) is a family of martial artists originally from Belém, state of Pará, Brazil whose ancestors came from Paisley, Scotland. They are known for promoting the self-defense martial arts system of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, commonly known as Brazilian jiu-jitsu,[1] originating from Kano jiu-jitsu (Judo) brought to Brazil by judoka prizefighter Mitsuyo Maeda.[2]

They have been successful in combat sports competitions for over 80 years, representing their self-defense system (Gracie jiu-jitsu) including mixed martial arts (MMA), Vale tudo and submission wrestling events.[2] Several members were involved in the creation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), along with promoter Art Davie.

As a family, the Gracies upheld the "Gracie Challenge", a martial arts challenge intended to showcase the effectiveness of their style of grappling against other martial arts disciplines. Members have an affinity to, and are consanguineously related to, the Machado family.


Gastão Gracie from Rio de Janeiro, the grandson of George Gracie through his son Pedro, married Cesarina Pessoa Vasconcellos, the daughter of a wealthy Ceará family, in 1901 and decided to settle in Belém do Pará.[3][unreliable source?] Gastão became a business partner of the American Circus in Belém. In 1916, the Italian Argentine Queirolo Brothers staged circus shows there and presented Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese judoka and prizefighter also known as Conde Koma (Count Combat).[4][5][6] Gastão was also responsible for helping Maeda establish a Japanese community in Brazil.[7][non-primary source needed] In 1917, Gastão's eldest son Carlos Gracie, saw a demonstration by Maeda at the da Paz Theatre,[7][non-primary source needed], prompting the start of his training by Maeda's apprentice Jacintho Ferro.[8] In 1921, however, following financial hardship and his own father Pedro's demise, Gastão Gracie returned to Rio de Janeiro with his family.[3]

Maeda's teachings were then passed on through local Rio de Janeiro coaches to Carlos and his brothers Oswaldo, Gastão Jr., George, and Hélio. There's a version saying that Hélio was too young and slow at that time to learn the art and due to his medical imposition was prohibited from physically partaking in training, but it is now known that he became a coxswain for the local rowing team[9][non-primary source needed] as well as a competitive swimmer.[10] A common account is Hélio learned the art of jiu-jitsu by watching his older brothers train, but due to his fragile condition instead of using pure strength Hélio learned to use leverage and positioning to defeat his opponents.[11] Though these claims have been criticized and refuted.[12]

For a number of years, the Gracie family ran a competitive monopoly on vale tudo events.[13] Through their competitive rise, the men allocated power and influence with which they sought to promote Gracie family members within the vale tudo community.[13]

With the growing popularity of grappling, members of the family have distinguished themselves in international competition. Roger Gracie won the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship 10 times in various weight divisions (6 times at 100 kg, once at 100+kg, and 3 times in the Absolute division). He also won the Pan-American Championship in the Absolute division in 2006 and the European Championships in 2005 in the 100+kg and Absolute divisions.[14] He was also the first person to be inducted into the ADCC Hall of Fame.[15] Kron Gracie won the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship in the under 77 kg division in 2013[16] and the European Championships in the 82 kg division in 2009.[14] Clark Gracie won the Pan-American Championship in the under 82 kg division in 2013.[17] Kyra Gracie was the first female member of the family to compete.[18] She won the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship in the Women's under 60 kg division in 2005, 2007, and 2011 and the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship four times (three times in the Women's under 64 kg division and once in the Women's Absolute Division).[19] She became the first woman inducted into the ADCC Hall of Fame as a result of her achievements in the sport.[20]

Gracie jiu-jitsu philosophy[edit]

The Gracie mentality extends beyond the straightforward submission of adversaries. The Gracie concept equips practitioners with the skills necessary to lead healthy lives and make the most of their bodies and minds. The philosophy promotes a life free of drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. The reason being that taking care of your body is crucial in reaching your full potential in jiu-jitsu. Staying connected with family and friends is also a must in the family's philosophy, as it develops mental and spiritual strength among practitioners. Jiu-jitsu to the Gracies is a way of life, that had been established by founders of Brazilian jiu-jitsu.[21][non-primary source needed]

Ultimate Fighting Championship[edit]

In the early 1990s, Rorion Gracie collaborated with promoter Art Davie to create an eight-man single-elimination tournament for the purpose of showcasing the effectiveness of Gracie jiu-jitsu against other martial arts. The tournament would be no-holds-barred combat, much like the vale tudo matches the family had participated in for years in Brazil. The event was to be televised and would aim to publicly determine the best martial art.

The inaugural tournament took place on November 12, 1993. Rorion's younger brother Royce served as a combatant in the tournament, representing the family's martial art. Despite being the smallest competitor, Royce was able to win all three of his matches, and was crowned champion.

As more events were held, Royce would go on to win two more early UFC tournaments. His victories brought widespread attention to the family's style of jiu-jitsu, attracting many martial artists, especially in America, to begin training the art that proved so effective against the various styles showcased in the early UFC tournaments.[22]

The Gracie triangle[edit]

The Gracie triangle can be traced back to the first Gracie jiu-jitsu academies which were operated by Carlos and Hélio Gracie. The triangle symbol came into existence when the two brothers Carlos and Hélio were photographed demonstrating a specific technique. The way their bodies were shaped during the demonstration formed a perfect triangle. This same photograph was later used as the cover of the first book written by Carlos Gracie, and featured detailed information about fundamental attacks and defenses in jiu-jitsu. The triangle then became a symbol of the Gracie family and much more. Each side of the triangle represents an element of Gracie jiu-jitsu of which each BJJ athlete must focus: mind, body, and spirit.[23]


Gracie family patriarch Hélio Gracie was a member of the Brazilian movement Integralism, which first appeared in Brazil in 1932.[24] Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro received an honorary black belt from Robson Gracie in 2018.[25]


A 2010 documentary film The Gracies and the Birth of Vale Tudo (Portuguese: Os Gracies e o Nascimento do Vale Tudo), directed by Victor Cesar Bota,.[26]

On July 6, 2023, it was announced that ESPN Films is producing a documentary series about the Gracie family directed by Chris Fuller and produced by Greg O'Connor and Guy Ritchie.[27]

Family members[edit]

Family tree[edit]

Gracie family tree
CarlosOswaldoGastão Jr.GeorgeHelenaHélioMaryIlka
IrosHelioGastãoM. HelenaLianaGeorgeRorionRelsonRicksonRolkerRoylerRoyceRerikaRobinRicciAngelaCarlaJuneRicardo
CarlsonRobsonGeysaRoseSonjaOneicaReysonReylsonRosleyRolangeCarleyRocianCarlionClayrRollsCarlos Jr.KarlaCrolinReilaRilionKirla

Notable members of the Gracie jiu-jitsu family include:[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Inc, Active Interest Media (April 2, 1997). "Black Belt". Active Interest Media, Inc. – via Google Books. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  2. ^ a b Cairus, Jose Tufy. "The Gracie Clan and the Making of Brazilian jiu-jitsu: National identity, Performance and Culture, 1905-1993" – via
  3. ^ a b José Cairus. "The Gracie Clan and the Making of Brazilian Jiu‐jitsu: National Identity, Performance and Culture, 1801‐1993 (Draft)]" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 30, 2012. Retrieved 2015-07-09.
  4. ^ adonnewman (2016-02-06). "Gracie History | Gracie Youngsville". Retrieved 2019-11-07.
  5. ^ Green, Thomas A.; Svinth, Joseph R. (11 June 2010). Martial Arts of the World: An Encyclopedia of History and Innovation. Abc-Clio. ISBN 9781598842449. Retrieved 2015-07-09.
  6. ^ "Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a way of life". Archived from the original on 2012-03-30. Retrieved 2015-07-09.
  7. ^ a b "HISTORY". Kron Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  8. ^ Cairus, José (2011-02-08). "MODERNIZATION, NATIONALISM AND THE ELITE: the Genesis of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, 1905-1920". Revista Tempo e Argumento. 3 (2): 100–121. doi:10.5965/2175180303022011100.
  9. ^ "Helio Gracie". Retrieved 2015-07-09.
  10. ^ "Deconstructing the Gracie Mythology (Part 2) - The Jiu Jitsu Journey". Retrieved 2015-07-09.
  11. ^ Presley, Richard (2019-05-09). "The Gracie Family Tree". Attack The Back. Retrieved 2019-12-11.
  12. ^ Pedreira, Roberto (March 16, 2016). "Top 30 Myths and Misconceptions about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu". Global Training Report.
  13. ^ a b "Pesquisador Fábio Quio fala do TV Ringue Torre". Archived from the original on 2017-12-11. Retrieved 2015-07-09.
  14. ^ a b "IBJJF Results". Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  15. ^ Lindsey, Alex (17 November 2021). "Roger Gracie Becomes First Inductee To ADCC Hall Of Fame". JitsMagazine. Retrieved 10 March 2023.
  16. ^ "ADCC 2013 - Results | ADCC | News Archive". 2013-10-21. Retrieved 2015-07-09.
  17. ^ "2013 PanAm Middleweight Final". Archived from the original on 2021-12-22. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
  18. ^ Burne, Kathrine (February 2023). "10 BJJ Legends Who Paved The Way For Women In Jiu-Jitsu". JitsMagazine. Retrieved 10 March 2023.
  19. ^ "ADCC Submission Fighting World Championship : results". Retrieved 2015-07-09.
  20. ^ Burne, Kathrine (15 December 2021). "Kyra Gracie Becomes First Woman In ADCC Hall Of Fame". JitsMagazine. Retrieved 10 March 2023.
  21. ^ "History". Carlsbad Jiu Jitsu - Gracie Barra. Retrieved 2019-11-21.
  22. ^ Gregoriades, Nic. "A Brief History of Jiu-Jitsu". Jiu-Jitsu Brotherhood - Grappling & Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Videos and Techniques. Retrieved 2019-12-04.
  23. ^ BJJEE (2015-12-03). "The Origin Of The Triangle As A Symbol Of Jiu-Jitsu". Bjj Eastern Europe. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  24. ^ Rae, Steven (2020-08-12). "Helio Gracie linked to 1930's Brazilian fascism movement". THE SCRAP. Retrieved 2021-09-07.
  25. ^ Clements, Averi (2018-10-26). "Far-Right Brazilian Candidate Jair Bolsonaro Given Honorary Black Belt By Robson Gracie". Jiu-Jitsu Times. Retrieved 2023-05-26.
  26. ^ Victor Cesar, Bota (May 2009). Trip Magazine.
  27. ^ Otterson, Joe (2023-07-06). "ESPN Films Sets Gracie Family Docuseries, Guy Ritchie Among Executive Producers (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 2023-05-26.
  28. ^ "Gracie Jiu Jitsu Founders". Retrieved 2019-01-29.

External links[edit]