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Rorion Gracie

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Rorion Gracie
Gracie in 2022
Born (1952-01-10) January 10, 1952 (age 72)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
ResidenceTorrance, California
StyleGracie Jiu-Jitsu
Teacher(s)Hélio Gracie
Rank9th deg. BJJ red belt[1]
SpouseSilvia Gracie
Notable studentsRener Gracie, Ralek Gracie, Chuck Norris,[2] John McCarthy, Ed O'Neill, Michael Clarke Duncan, Eve Torres, Javier Vazquez, Tito Ortiz

Rorion Gracie (Portuguese: [ˈʁɔɾjõ ˈɡɾejsi]; born January 10, 1952) is a Brazilian-born Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Grand Master, a prominent member of the Gracie family, writer, publisher, producer, lecturer, lawyer and the co-founder of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He is the oldest son of Hélio Gracie[3] and one of the few people in the world to hold a 9th degree red belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu,[1] and is widely recognized as one of the men responsible for introducing Gracie/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to the United States and the world.

Early life and education[edit]

Rorion started Jiu-Jitsu at a young age, doing demonstrations and classes. He spent his youth learning how to teach under the tutelage of his father, Grand Master Hélio Gracie.[3] In December 1969, he travelled to the United States for a vacation returning to Brazil in the end of 1970.[3][4] He attended the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, graduating with a degree in Law.[3][4]


In 1978, Rorion Gracie moved to Southern California where he worked as an extra in movies and television. Attempting to spread Jiu-Jitsu culture, he laid some mats in his garage in Hermosa Beach and invited people he met to try the sport.[3][5][6] In 1985, Rorion invited his 18-year-old brother, Royce, to move to America.[3]

In America, Rorion and his brothers continued the tradition of Gracie Challenge, where they would invite fighters from different martial arts in order to challenge them in a no-rules Vale Tudo match in order to promote Gracie Jiu-Jitsu as the superior martial art, and to get new students to join them.[7]

Rorion was a technical adviser for the 1987 movie Lethal Weapon providing training to actors Mel Gibson and Gary Busey. The director Richard Donner wanted Gibson's character to have a unique style of fighting never seen onscreen before with the second assistant director Willie Simmons, who was interested in unusual forms of martial arts, choosing BJJ and two other martial arts styles to use in the movie.[8][4][9]

In 1988, Rorion produced the documentary Gracie Jiu-Jitsu In Action, the documentary contains footage of fights using jiu-jitsu, especially from Gracie Challenge and Vale Tudo fights.[10] In 1989, Rorion with brothers Royce, Rickson and Royler, opened the first Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Torrance, California.[6] In 1991, he produced The Basics of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, a five volume training video series together with a special edition volume.[11]

Rorion was also a technical advisor, a fight scene choreographer for Lethal Weapon 3 in 1992, providing training to Rene Russo together with martial artist Cheryl Wheeler-Dixon and a Karate instructor. The Karate instructor immediately went on to rehearse spectacular ura-mawashi high kicks, which resulted in Russo pulled groin muscles the very first day, and was so frustrated with learning the technique, that Richard Donner asked Gracie not only to teach her, but also to attend the film set for filming sequence as a technical advisor. Gracie was so proficient and pliable in an uke role, that Russo refused to do the throw with whoever else excluding Gracie, and insisted him to step into the action as a stuntman for a fight scene.[12][9][4]

In 1993, inspired by countless exhibition matches termed the "Gracie Challenge", a tradition that started with his uncle and Gracie jiu-jitsu co-founder Carlos Gracie, Rorion teamed with promoter and business executive Art Davie in the creation of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Davie had always dreamed of an inter-discipline contest, pitting various martial arts against one another to determine the most effective. Rorion was only interested in showcasing his father's style, and demonstrating its dominance.[13] Through this pay-per-view spectacle, he hoped to show that, in a "no time limit - no rules" setting, Gracie jiu-jitsu was the only system of self-defense that would give someone a realistic chance of defeating a larger, more athletic adversary.[3] Davie recruited seven martial artists of different styles to participate in a single-elimination tournament. Rorion enlisted his brother Royce to represent the family style in the competition. Due to his smaller frame and relatively low body weight, Royce was the smallest competitor, making an excellent example of the powers of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.[14]

In 1994, following UFC, a small group of high-ranking military personnel, from the most elite unit in the US Army Special Operations Forces, contacted Rorion and asked him to develop an objective hand-to-hand combat course based on the most effective techniques of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.[15][6] The result was the Gracie Combatives military course that was taught to US Special Operations Forces, conventional US military units and the CIA.[15] In January 2002, the techniques were the foundation of the official US Army Modern Army Combatives Program (MACP).[15] The Gracie Resisting Attack Procedures for Law Enforcement (GRAPLE) was also concurrently developed with the combatives course, following a similar request from law enforcement for a defensive tactics training course, that was adopted by virtually all US law enforcement.[15] The two courses were later merged to create the Gracie Survival Tactics (GST), a combative and defensive tactics course, for both military and law enforcement.[15]

Personal life[edit]

He is the father of martial artist Rener Gracie.


On July 6, 2023, it was announced that ESPN Films is producing a documentary series on the Gracie family directed by Chris Fuller and produced by Greg O'Connor and Guy Ritchie.[16]


Rorion wrote and published the book The Gracie Diet in 2010.[17]


The Basics of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu® (video series)[18]
Volume Title Subtitle
Volume 1 Get Close How to Close the Distance Between You and Your Opponent.
Volume 2 Get Them Off How to Escape from the Mounted Position.
Volume 3 Scissors How To Pass the Guard.
Volume 4 Headlocks How to Escape From Headlocks.
Volume 5 Finishing Holds Arm Locks and Chokes.
Bonus Tape How to Handle Stand Up Aggression (Non Instructional.)

Awards and honors[edit]

Black Belt Magazine named Rorion Gracie the 2006 Instructor of the Year.[19]

Instructor lineage[edit]

Kano JigoroTomita TsunejiroMitsuyo "Count Koma" MaedaCarlos GracieHelio Gracie → Rorion Gracie

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Rorion Gracie". On The Mat. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015.
  2. ^ MMANationDotCom (4 December 2012). "Chuck Norris talks about his first time training with the Gracies". Archived from the original on 2021-12-22 – via YouTube.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Rorion Gracie". Gracie Academy. Archived from the original on May 2, 2017. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d Williams, James; Pranin, Stanley (1994). "Interview with Rorion Gracie". Aikido Journal. ISSN 1340-5624. Part 1 issue 101 & Part 2 issue 106. Archived from the original on 22 November 2007.
  5. ^ Intro to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Part 1 - The History. Art of Manliness. 3 October 2014. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  6. ^ a b c "Timeline". Gracie Academy. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  7. ^ Black Belt. Active Interest Media, Inc. April 1992.
  8. ^ O'Neill, Terry (1987). "Lethal Weapon Terry O'Neill interviews Mel Gibson". Fighting Arts International. No. 44. England. pp. 10–14. OCLC 500109467. Archived from the original on 26 November 2001.
  9. ^ a b Wheeler-Dixon, Cheryl. "Lethal Wheeler Still Using Her Weapons". Black Belt. Vol. 30, no. 6. Rainbow Publications. p. 11. ISSN 0277-3066. June 1992.
  10. ^ Gracie, Rorion (1988). Gracie Jiu-Jitsu In Action (Videotape). Torrance, CA: Gracie Jiu Jitsu. OCLC 19660633.
  11. ^ Gracie, Rorion; Gracie, Royce (1992). The Basics of Gracie jiu-jitsu (Videotape). Torrance, CA: Gracie Videos. OCLC 26925307. Produced by Brajitsu.
  12. ^ Amazing Rorion Gracie Teaching Demo (Excerpt from ICP Lesson 21: One-on-one Retention)
  13. ^ Davie, Art (2014). Is This Legal?: The Inside Story of The First UFC from the Man Who Created It. Ascend Books. p. 272. ISBN 978-0991275649.
  14. ^ Cruz, Guilherme (12 November 2013). "Rorion Gracie and the day he created the UFC". MMA Fighting. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  15. ^ a b c d e "Gracie Survival Tactics". Gracie Academy. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  16. ^ Otterson, Joe (2023-07-06). "ESPN Films Sets Gracie Family Docuseries, Guy Ritchie Among Executive Producers (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 2023-05-26.
  17. ^ Gracie, Rorion (2010). The Gracie diet : what Grand Master Carlos Gracie discovered about eating after 65 years of research and experimentation. Torrance, CA: Gracie Publications. ISBN 9781450741552.
  18. ^ Black Belt Magazine
  19. ^ "Hall of Fame Inductee Directory". Black Belt. Archived from the original on 28 January 2010.

External links[edit]