The History of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Brazilian/Gracie Jiu-jitsu is the fastest growing martial art today. It is now being taught all over the world to people from all walks of life from average everyday working citizens to police officers, Army special forces, Seals, etc.
A man by the name of Count Koma from Japan, went to Brazil to establish a Japanese colony in Brazil. He spoke little Portuguese and had trouble communicating with the Brazilian's. It was then that he met Gastao Gracie, a Brazilian who spoke Portuguese and Japanese. Gastao Gracie Befriended Count Koma and helped him est. his Japanese Colony.
Count Koma also happened to be one of the top Black Belt masters of Japan in Ju-jitsu (the way the Japanese spell THEIR art) at that time. As a way of showing his gratitude he offered to teach the eldest son of Gastao traditional Japanese Ju-jitsu (this was something that was forbidden at the time...to teach a non-Japanese person, Ju-jitsu).
So for four years Count Koma taught Carlos Gracie (the eldest son of Gastao) his traditional Japanese Ju-jitsu. After Count Koma left Brazil, Carlos began teaching his other brothers with the exception of his youngest brother, Helio (pronounced Elio in Portuguese; the H is silent).
When Helio would try and train he would often times pass out from exhaustion. His doctor said that he should not practice Ju-jitsu because he was too frail and sick. So, instead of training, Helio would attend his brother's class and sit on the side and just watch. He did this for two years until one day a student of Carlos came to the school for a private lesson and Carlos wasn't there to teach.
Helio offered to teach the man in place of his brother's absence. The man asked, "what do you know". To which Helio responded, "Here I'll show you". Towards the end of the private lesson Carlos returned to the school and began to offer his appologies. The man said, "don't worry about it. In fact, I like what this kid taught me today. From now on, I'd like to take my private's with him if that is ok." Carlos agreed and from that day forward he became Helio's first student.
As time passed, Helio found difficulty applying the techniques that his brother had taught him. He found that many of the traditional Japanese techniques required strength to work. Something that he had little of. So, Helio began to find ways to make the techniques work for him (a smaller guy). He began to explore new methods of leverage to replace the strength needed in the traditional method. Before long, he began to develop new techniques altogether based on leverage.
It wasn't long before Helio was tapping out (submitting or making them quit) all of his brothers in class with his newfound techniques. Helio Gracie had just invented a new martial art form. The birth of Brazilian/Gracie Jiu-jitsu (the way the Brazilian's spell it) had just begun.
Helio went on to teach his seven sons his new art form as well as many students. The popularity of this new art form florished in Brazil at that time until equal to the national sport of Soccer in that country.
(Btw, the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Gracie Jiu-jitsu are one in the same. The only difference being that a student of Gracie Jiu-jitsu can trace a direct lineage back to the Gracie family, whereas Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has come to represent the vast number of other Jiu-jitsu schools from Brazil. Their lineage can be traced back to the Gracie family as well, but along a more indirect path. Usually the student of a student of a student of a student of a Gracie family member, etc.)
Then the eldest son of Helio, Rorion Gracie (Pronounced Horion in Portuguese; The R at the beginning of a word sounds like an H) came to America to try and spread the word of his father's art to the rest of the world by forming the Ultimate Fighting Championship to showcase the effectiveness of Gracie Jiu-jitsu on national t.v. To do this effectively, he decided to put his youngest brother, Royce Gracie (pronounced Hoyce in Portuguese) into the championship to showcase their art form. He chose Royce for several reasons. He was the youngest fighting member of the Gracie family at that time (proving that anyone can do it) and he was the smallest (weighing in at 181 lbs at 6'1"; he was a very tall, yet skinny young man).
In the UFC the world would watch as Royce took on much bigger and stronger opponents from various martial arts disciplines from around the world. Not just random practictioners from other styles, but Black Belt Masters in their various disciplines. One-by-one the would step up to the challenge and one-by-one the were defeated. These were 8-man elimination tournaments where there were no gloves and no rules.
During those early days of the UFC (which you can still rent at your local video store. Just ask for UFC 1, 2, 3, and 4) Royce proved the effectiveness of his family's art form and almost immediately the world began to seek out the Gracie family to learn their most effective and efficient art form.
Royce proved the effectiveness of Gracie Jiu-jitsu, but he was by no means the best fighter in the Gracie family. That right belonged to his older brother, Rickson (pronounced Hickson in portuguese). With over 500 fights under his belt to date, Rickson Gracie is the undisputed, no-holds-barred, heavy weight champion of the world. And today, he still remains undefeated.
Shortly after the world saw the effectiveness of Gracie Jiu-jitsu 1st hand as Royce demonstrated its effectiveness on national tv in the UFC, Rickson created the Rickson Gracie American Jiu-jitsu Association when quickly grew into the Rickson Gracie International Jiu-jitsu Association.
Mr. Scott Naugle became a member of Rickson's Association back in June of 1997. Mr. Naugle is committed to spreading the word of Rickson's teachings here on the east coast. Mr. Naugle makes regular trips out to LA to train at the Rickson Gracie Jiu-jitsu center to further his training and knowledge.