Count Koma


Gracie Jiu Jitsu originated in Northern Brazil when a descendant of an Irish immigrant, Gastao Gracie, performed a political favor on behalf of his Japanese neighbor, Count Koma. In exchange, Count Koma taught the basics of Japanese Jiu Jitsu to Gastao's sons, Carlos and Helio. Carlos mastered the techniques taught to him by Count Koma and subsequently opened his own Jiu Jitsu academy. However, Helio's small height and incredibly frail physique rendered him incapable of being able to perform the techniques of Jiu Jitsu and therefore Helio was sidelined for several years.


Despite his physical disadvantages, Helio continued to observe his brother Carlos and slowly Helio began to modify and transform his brother's techniques by incorporating timing and leverage to overcome his physical limitations. Helio's modified version of Jiu Jitsu enabled him to confront and defeat opponents that exceeded him in size, strength, and speed and ultimately gave birth to Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

Helio Gracie

Challenge Match


Carlos and Helio moved to Rio de Janiero ("Rio") and opened an academy. Carlos and Helio's aim was to prove that Gracie Jiu Jitsu was superior to all other forms of martial arts. Hence, Carlos and Helio began to place advertisements in newspapers that challenged practitioners of other martial arts in no-holds-barred competition ("i.e. fights") to prove Gracie Jiu Jitsu's superiority.

The Gracie Challenge was a success as Carlos and Helio easily defeated competition that included top-tier practitioners of Judo, Capoiera, Wrestling, Karate, and Luta Livre.

As a result of the Gracie Challenge's success, Gracie Jiu Jitsu became so famous in Brazil that the Brazilian elite - including politicians, ministers, foreign diplomats, and the President - began to take classes and learn Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

The success of Gracie Jiu Jitsu subsequently led to Helio Gracie's recognition as one of Brazil's first national sport heroes.


The Gracie Challenge's success in Brazil inspired Helio Gracie's eldest son - Rorion Gracie - to move to Southern California and start teaching Gracie Jiu Jitsu out of his garage. Rorion's ambition was to spread Gracie Jiu Jitsu to the rest of the world.

Rorion presumed that the use of the Gracie Challenge in America would produce the same widespread success that Helio and Carlos experienced in Brazil. Furthermore, Rorion believed that if Gracie Jiu Jitsu succeeded in America, it's success would spread throughout the world.

At the time, America's mainstream perception of martial arts - as displayed on television and in the movies - was the typical eastern style of punching and kicking such as Kung Fu, Karate, Hapkido, Taekwondo, and Kickboxing; grappling was primarily disregarded.

Upon Rorion's acquisition of his first students, Rorion quickly learned of the criticism and disdain that local martial artists had conveyed to his students. In response, Rorion openly challenged martial artists in the local community in no-holds-barred competition to prove Gracie Jiu Jitsu's superiority. Rorion's only requirement was that each fight be video-taped and that the winner of the fight was awarded the rights to the video. As his father and uncle before him, Rorion easily defeated opponent after opponent and his school expanded exponentially and to the point that his brothers moved to America to help him run the academy.


By the early 1990s, Gracie Jiu Jitsu was firmly established in southern California as the Gracie family remained undefeated against all challengers.

The culmination of Rorion Gracie's ambition to spread Gracie Jiu Jitsu to the rest of the world occurred when he teamed up with Art Davie and John Milius to create a tournament called the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

The tournament was comprised of 8 fighters that each specialized in a different style of fighting. Rorion's youngest brother Royce was chosen to represent Gracie Jiu Jitsu because Royce was physically the smallest and least-intimidating of Rorion's brothers; Royce was also the tournament's smallest competitor. Rorion's intention was to show that despite Royce's size, the effectiveness of Gracie Jiu Jitsu was sufficient to defeat the tournament's other opponents who exceeded Royce in size and strength.

In a total of 4 minutes and 51 seconds, Royce Gracie easily dispatched of IBF Boxing Champion Art Jimmerson, Pancrase Champion Ken Shamrock, and Gerard Gordeau to become the first UFC champion. Royce won 2 more UFC tournaments defeating Kimo Leopoldo and Dan Severn, fighters who exceeded Royce by 80 pounds; Royce Gracie remained undefeated in the UFC until 2006.


Gracie Jiu Jitsu remains a critical element in the sport of mixed martial arts. The majority of prominent fighters in the UFC are experts at Gracie Jiu Jitsu including George St. Pierre, BJ Penn, Benson Henderson, Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz, Jake Shields, Matt Serra, and more!


When Gracie Jiu Jitsu burst into the martial arts world after the first UFC, the U.S. Army contacted Rorion Gracie to develop an intensive course that enhanced solders' hand-to-hand combat skills with techniques in Gracie Jiu Jitsu. In January 2002, the US Army officially adopted Gracie Jiu Jitsu as the foundation of its Modern Army Combatives Program (MACP). Since 2002, Gracie Jiu Jitsu has emerged as the primary martial art in all branches of the military and law enforcement in the United States and around the world.