Oswaldo Fadda

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Oswaldo Baptista Fadda
Osvaldo Fadda.jpg
BornOswaldo Baptista Fadda
August 1, 1920[1]
Bento Ribeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
DiedApril 1, 2005(2005-04-01) (aged 84)
Bento Ribeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Bacterial pneumonia
Other namesMestre Fadda
StyleJudo, jiu-jitsu Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
TeamAcademia Fadda
Teacher(s)Luiz França
Rank     10th deg. BJJ red belt (Grandmaster[2])
Years active1937 – early 2000s

Oswaldo Baptista Fadda (August 1, 1920 – April 1, 2005) was a practitioner of jujutsu and developer of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, reaching the rank of "nono grau", a 9th degree red belt.[3] In 2014, he was posthumously awarded the 10th degree ("décimo grau").[2] 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 brazilian 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,[4] as well as Deo Jiu-Jitsu (Deoclecio Paulo) and Equipe Mestre Wilson Jiu-Jitsu (Wilson Pereira Mattos).


Early life[edit]

Fadda was born in Bento Ribeiro, a suburb in the north of Rio de Janeiro to a family of immigrants from Ardauli, Sardinia. At the age of seventeen, while in the Brazilian Marines, he began to study jiu jitsu under Luiz França, 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.

Challenge to the Gracie school[edit]

In 1955, 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. What transpired at the challenge, however, is a cause of dissension among sources. According to a newspaper, 14 fights took place, with 7 wins for Gracie's academy, 4 draws and 3 wins for Fadda's academy.[5] According to other sources,[6][7] among them Reila Gracie's biography of Carlos Gracie,[8] Fadda's team emerged victorious, making good use of their knowledge of footlocks in which the opposition was lacking. Also, José Guimarães, one of Fadda's pupils, choked Gracie's "Leonidas" unconscious.[6]

Second challenge to the Gracie school[edit]

The next year, at the low card of the event which hosted one of the matches between Valdemar Santana and Carlson Gracie, the two schools competed again against each other.[9] This time, the Gracie students were wary of their footlock expertise, shouting derisively "sapateiro!" ("shoemaker!") whenever a Fadda student tried one of their foot techniques. Nonetheless, the Fadda academy won the contest without controversy.[7] After the challenge, Fadda said an interview for the Revista do Esporte: "We put an end to the Gracie taboo".[10]

Later life, death and legacy[edit]

Oswaldo Fadda attained the rank of 9th degree red belt. Ever humble, he lived out the rest of his life in his Bento Ribeiro suburban home, suffering from Alzheimer's disease in his later years. He died of complications brought on by pneumonia on April 1, 2005 at the age of 84.

On September 20, 2014, he was posthumously awarded the 10th degree red belt, a feat for a non-Gracie lineage.[2]

The Fadda family[edit]

After immigrating from Ardauli, Sardinia to Minas Gerais, Brazil, Oswaldo's father, Battista Fadda, Brazilianized his name to João Baptista Fadda; and added the "Baptista Fadda" to all his children's names.

Oswaldo Fadda's brother, Humberto Baptista Fadda, was also a jiu-jitsu instructor and ran the Cascadura branch of the Academia Fadda.

The Fadda family is represented in today's jiu-jitsu by Master Hélio Fadda (son of Humberto Fadda), who was named after Hélio Gracie.[11] In 2009, an event was held in Paracambi in honour of Hélio Fadda.[11][12]


Kano JigoroTomita TsunejiroMitsuyo MaedaLuiz França → Oswaldo Fadda

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Historia Fadda".
  2. ^ a b c Serrano, Marcial (2014). O Livro Proibido Do Jiu Jitsu Vol. 4. [S.l.]: (pag. 494), Clube de Autores. 504 pages.
  3. ^ www.fjjrio.com.br Archived 2014-12-30 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Jiu Jitsu, BJJ Heroes
  5. ^ Academia Gracie vs Academia Fada: the actual results at Diario da Noite, January 24th, 1955.
  6. ^ a b "Oswaldo Fadda". BJJ Heroes. Retrieved 2012-06-10.
  7. ^ a b Marcial Serrano, O Livro Proibido do Jiu Jitsu Volume 3
  8. ^ Reila Gracie, Criador de uma Dinastia - Carlos Gracie Sr., 2008
  9. ^ Extracted from O Globo
  10. ^ Headlines of the event
  11. ^ a b Hélio Fadda é homenageado no Rio at Revista Tatame
  12. ^ Alexandre Paiva at BJJ Heroes