ABOUT THE ACADEMY
At a very young age, Helio Gracie learned traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu techniques from his older brother, Carlos. In the late 1920s, he began to modify these techniques to accommodate his frail physique with the objective of developing a system that would enable him to defend himself against larger opponents. After years of refinement, he proved his art’s effectiveness by routinely defeating larger and stronger opponents, some of whom outweighed him by as much as 100 pounds. As a result, Helio’s techniques quickly became the new expression of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil and set the stage for a worldwide revolution in martial arts.
In 1967, under Grand Master Helio Gracie’s guidance, jiu-jitsu practitioners established the first Federation of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil to host recreational competitions in which they could test their self-defense skills in a safe setting. An unintended by-product of this development was a shift from jiu-jitsu for self-defense purposes to sport-focused techniques and applications. The excitement and fun of competition, coupled with the prestige that accompanied tournament victories, drove the vast majority of jiu-jitsu instructors to focus entirely on preparing their students for tournaments. They dedicated their training sessions to developing techniques that would lead to victory based on the point system, rules, and weight classes that governed sport jiu-jitsu. Unfortunately, the tournament epidemic had dire consequences. It undermined the art’s effectiveness because most sport jiu-jitsu techniques had little or no applicability in a real fight. Worse, by perfecting the sport techniques, a student often developed reflexes that could be disastrously counter-productive in a street self-defense situation. Unwilling to compromise on the foundational principles of his art, Helio resigned from the Federation.
In 1978, Rorion Gracie, Helio’s eldest son, left Brazil and came to the United States to share his father’s techniques with the rest of the world. Upon his arrival, he immediately noticed that most Americans had no appreciation for jiu-jitsu’s effectiveness. Even those with knowledge of martial arts confused his family’s system with the traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu that had been in America since the 1950s. In order to emphasize the distinction between the two disciplines, Rorion trademarked the name “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.”
Rorion spent several years teaching out of his garage while leading a one-man campaign to open the eyes of American martial artists to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu’s simplicity and effectiveness and concluded that, despite his tireless and constant efforts, he needed a more powerful and visible way to demonstrate the superiority of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu over all other martial arts. To accomplish this, he created the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). This pay-per-view television spectacle shocked the martial arts world as his brother Royce used the simple techniques of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to repeatedly defeat larger, more athletic opponents armed with a wide variety of martial arts skills.
The success of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in the UFC spurred many sport jiu-jitsu practitioners to leave Brazil in order to capitalize on the increased demand for Gracie Jiu-Jitsu instruction. Due to legal restrictions on the use of the trademarked name “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu,” these instructors began using the name “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu” as an alternative.
The influx of sport jiu-jitsu instructors, many of whom were members of the very large extended Gracie family, led to the establishment of numerous jiu-jitsu schools all across the United States. Nearly all of these schools claimed to teach the same jiu-jitsu that Grand Master Helio Gracie had created and Royce employed in the UFC. In fact, most of them were teaching a version of the art modified specifically for sport competition. Students hoping to acquire the realistic self-defense skills they saw in the UFC flocked to these schools and often trained for several years before they came to the disappointing realization that what they were learning had very limited street applicability.
The worldwide demand for Gracie or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instruction continues to grow at a phenomenal rate – without regulation. As a result, many jiu-jitsu practitioners with widely varying skill levels have opened schools to capitalize on this demand. At best, these self-proclaimed instructors are competent sport jiu-jitsu practitioners. At worst, they are marginally skilled, lack depth of knowledge, or are simply poor instructors. To counter this disturbing trend, the Gracie Academy has launched the Global Training Program aimed at perpetuating the techniques and principles of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in their purest form – as a method of self-defense.
To watch a very Renergized video of Rener explaining the principles of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and the difference between street and sportive practice, click here.
The application of traditional Gracie Jiu-Jitsu transcends the application of chokes, joint locks, immobilizations, throws, and strikes. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is a way of life. Beyond the mat, members of the Gracie family live balanced, healthy lives based on the same philosophy that governs their unique self-defense system. Grand Masters Carlos and Helio Gracie believed that the principles of efficiency, patience, and control held the key to success in all aspects of life.
Efficiency, the ability to achieve maximum output with minimum input, is a core principle of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. At the Gracie Academy, we assume that your attacker will always be larger and more athletic than you. Our students quickly learn that the only reliable way to succeed is to exhaust your attacker while conserving your own energy through the use of leverage-based techniques and natural body movements. In life, as in a fight, a student who learns to expend energy efficiently will achieve maximum results with minimal effort. For example,
- Eating healthily is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
- Being honest/respectful to others is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
- Being a hardworking/morally correct business person is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
All of these are examples of ways to achieve maximum results with minimum effort.
Patience is often the key to success in a struggle against a larger opponent. Usually, it is not the person who attacks the most, but the one who exhausts the least who will win. Acting impulsively, aggressively, or without focus wastes energy. Patience also applies to timing. Even a perfectly executed technique will fail if attempted at the wrong time. In life, too, patience and timing enable you to “make your own luck” by calmly watching and waiting until the right moment when you can apply your energy most efficiently.
- Being patient with your friends and loved ones, as well as your enemies, is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
- Allowing impulses to pass before acting is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
- Taking a deep breath and considering all alternatives before committing is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
Patience and timing allow you to know when to commit while efficiency ensures that you have sufficient energy to achieve your objective when the time is right for action.
The final objective in a fight is to impose your will on your opponent. Nothing achieves this more quickly than physical domination after which surrender usually follows. Physical domination means controlling your opponent. Without control, you risk losing the fight. In life, control applies not only to a simple contest between you and an opponent, but also to the struggle within yourself. Self-control reflects your personal discipline and is the foundation for every decision you make in life. Without self-control, you risk a lifetime of poor choices that invariably lead to tragic consequences.
- Refraining from using drugs or alcohol is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
- Choosing healthy, nutritious food over junk food is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
- Having the discipline to engage in regular exercise and rest is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
THE GRACIE TRIANGLE
The Gracie Triangle, the widely recognized symbol of the Gracie Academy, has evolved over the years. Today, it appears on the storefront of every martial arts school that is committed to teaching the techniques and philosophy of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in its purest form. The triangle represents the stable base possessed by a Gracie Jiu-jitsu master. Regardless of which side it rests on, the Gracie Triangle always has a strong base. The three sides represent the mind, body, and spirit – the three components of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu mastery. The slight inclination near the top of the triangle forms the letter “G” for Gracie. The two fighters on the inside represent all the practitioners of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu who seek to master themselves in mind, body, and spirit – on and off the mat.