In November of 1914 Mitsuyo Maeda, one of Judo founder Jigoro Kano’s top students, arrived in Brazil as part of a large Japanese immigration colony. Maeda was able to get himself established with the help of a local business man, Gastão Gracie, and out of gratitude Maeda taught Gastão’s oldest son Carlos Jiu-Jitsu.
Carlos Gracie was interested in the practical application of what he had learned in the “anything goes” environment of the street and refined Maeda’s techniques through numerous challenge matches. Carlos even took out an add in the local paper challenging all comers to fight regardless of their size or physical advantages. At a mere 135 pounds Carlos was able to utilize his technique to overcome all opponents and was never defeated.
The refinement of technique through actual competition and the willingness to fight any challenger have become part of the Gracie family tradition. Carlos taught his Jiu-Jitsu to his brothers Oswaldo, Gastão, Jorge, Helio and to his older sons. In turn they would go on to teach their sons, nephews, brothers, cousins and friends. Carlos himself had 21 children, creating a fighting dynasty in only a generation.
Today the Graciefighter Team founded by Cesar Gracie continues the tradition of Jiu-Jitsu founded by Carlos by regularly having students compete at the highest levels of Mixed Martial Arts, submission grappling, and sport Jiu-Jitsu.