The Gracie style was created in Brazil in the early part of this century by Brazilian jiu-jitsu pioneer Carlos Gracie, who studied traditional Japanese jiu-jitsu as a teenager under the great Japanese champion, Mitsuyo Maeda (known in Brazil as Conde Koma — the “Count of Combat”).
Carlos Gracie, who was interested in street self-defense, quickly modified the classical techniques he learned from Count Koma to meet the demands of real, “no rules” fighting in the streets of Brazil. The young Carlos Gracie then tested and refined his system through constant matches, open to all comers, constantly working to make it more effective. At one point, he even advertised in newspapers and on street corners for new opponents upon whom to practice and further refine his art. He fought anyone and everyone who was willing, regardless of size, weight or fighting style. Even though he weighed a mere 135 pounds, his style was so effective that Carlos Gracie was never defeated and became a legend in Brazil.
This tradition of open challenge is a part of the heritage of the Gracie style of jiu-jitsu. Carlos Gracie taught his style of jiu-jitsu to his four younger brothers (Oswaldo, Gastão, Jorge and Helio) and to his sons, and they in turn taught their brothers, sons, nephews and cousins. After Carlos retired from the ring, he managed the fight careers of his brothers and sons, continuing to challenge fighters of all styles throughout the world. This tradition of open challenge has been continued by his sons, grandsons, brothers, nephews, and students, who have consistently demonstrated the superiority of the Gracie style in real fights and minimum-rule matches in rings throughout the world.
Carlos Gracie had 21 children and his youngest brother Helio had 7 sons, creating a virtual dynasty of Gracie fighters and instructors who dominate the world of “no rules” fight contests today. In these events, Gracie representatives have consistently demonstrated, in open competition against title holders from other martial arts styles, that the Gracie style of jiu-jitsu is the most effective fighting art in the world today. It is no small wonder that the Gracie style of jiu-jitsu is the “hottest” item in martial arts today.