Grandmaster Helio Gracie passes away at age 95
As some of you may or may not know, i have practiced Brazilian Ju-Jitsu for 7 years and Muay Thai for 5. This man is truely one of my heroes and when i just heard the news from a friend who trains with me, it blew my mind. Very sad day for Ju-Jitsu, MMA and sports in general, he was a true pioneer and very responcible for the growing popularity of a the sport, here is a little background for those that dont know him....
Backstory: (And I may have a few things mixed up here and there, but the jist of it is correct, as I read about the history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.)
In the early 1900's, an emissary from Japan sent over some Japanese Judo masters in an attempt to establish a Japanese presence (or colony, or whatever), and they wanted to show or use their trade of Judo as a means or barter or something of the like. There was an older Judo master, very old and fragile, relatively speaking, and a much younger, fit and strong judo fighter with him. The Americans, at that time, were exceptionally doubtful of the claims that the smaller man could beat the bigger man. So they set up a "fight" between the younger judo fighter and an enomous American football player. The football player, obviously, tackled the judo fighter and, after a few minutes, the judo fighter was able to improve his position and defeat the football player. The Americans, after that display, wanted the football player to fight the master. They had assumed that since he was the "master" that he must be "tougher". Which, obviously, isn't the case. Master simply means elder. However, they could not, or would not, object on an honor basis, and the man was simply overwhelmed by the size of the football player, and they (The Americans) assumed that since the "master" had lost, that Japanese Judo was not nearly as superior as the Japanese has touted.
They went back to Japan and the man was sent back to the Americas, and chose a spot in Brazil. The man that was sent was named Maieda. There, in Brazil, he met a man named Helio Gracie. In exchange for assistance in Brazil, he taught Helio the intracies of Japanese Judo.
Helio took this knowledge and simply ran with it. He took the concepts of Japanese Judo and morphed it into an artform that would transfrom the entire world, and the concept of fighting.
First, he came up with the idea of "Active Resisting Opponent" training. In every single martial art in the world, up to that point, in Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Karate (most forms), boxing, when training, you go maybe 40%-60% of as hard as you can, and essentially work until you know the "moves". However, in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which is pure technique, he understood before anyone else in history, the power of working in a controlled environment, at 100%. For example, in practicing a Rear Naked Choke, and the defense/escape, you work with a training partner, but you do it at 100%. You're really applying it with the intent of choking out your partner, and you really try and defend and escape. That way, when a situation does happen in real time, then you're not nearly as panicked, because you've been in that situation before, and your body can respond more naturally, and you're far calmer.
Also, he created an art in which a far smaller fighter can easily defend himself against a much physically bigger and stronger man. This is also an exceptional fighting style for women, who are at a physiological disadvantage in size.
Also, it was him and his son, Rorion Gracie that pioneered the idea of the UFC simply to show how superior his fighting style was to every other known. In the end, a small man, relatively speaking, in Royce Gracie, showed, without question, that technique will always overcome sheer size in defeating much larger opponents with the art of Brazilan Jiu Jitsu.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has continued to evolve, and will continue to do as simply do to the sheer nature of BJJ, to an immensely complex level. It is so sophisticated and effective that it is now mandatory for U.S. Special Forces, U.S. Army Rangers, U.S. Marshals, State Police (In many, if not all, States), and even U.S. Navy S.E.A.L's.
Every single fighter, and anyone who practices a form of martial arts owes a debt of gratidude to this amazing man, who, arguably, is the most important man in the history of Martial Arts.
R.I.P Helio Gracie.
His last words were:
"Fiz da dignidade do esporte uma bandeira. Zelo pelo nome da minha família com carinho e nervos de sangue",
"I made , out of the dignity of the sport, a flag. I care for the name of my family with affection and nerves of blood."
IMHO... and since he is the only one I ever saw with my own two eyes Gōzō Shioda is the most amazing one... the stuff he did was amazing.
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