History of Royce Gracie Jiu Jitsu
In 1914, a Japanese Jiu-Jitsu and Judo master named Mitsuyo Maeda, (AKA Count Koma) stopped in Brazil during his World Judo tour. Maeda decided to prolong his stay and help a Japanese colony settle in the North of Brazil.
A Brazilian diplomat named Gastao Gracie helped the colony with land and cattle. In return Koma, went against the Japanese tradition and volunteered to teach real Jiu-Jitsu to a non-Japanese, Gastao’s son Carlos.
That was the birth of Gracie Jiu-jitsu. Carlos, who was the oldest of five brothers, became so fascinated with Maeda’s technique that in 1925 he opened the first Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Helio, Carlos’ youngest brother, in spite of his small frame and weight of only 140 pounds, became the mastermind behind the development of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, adapting the techniques of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu so that they depended entirely upon leverage, rather than strength.
That is how he developed this style of Jiu-Jitsu. Though Gracie Jiu-jitsu descended from the ancient Japanese style, the differences are quite apparent. Many of the Japanese facets of the art, which depend on physical prowess and stiff motion, were tossed aside, leaving only pure technique.
Royce Gracie was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Royce is one of nine children, seven of whom are boys. His training in Jiu-Jitsu began at a very early age as a game with his father Helio, Helio never pushed any of the children to take formal classes until they wanted to do so, however they often went to the Academy in Rio after school and on weekends.
Royce began competing in tournaments at age eight. He received his blue belt at age 16 and was promoted to black belt in less than two years, Royce moved to the United States at age 18 to live with his brother, Rorion. They began teaching private classes out of their garage, sometimes for more than ten hours a day. Rorion and Royce opened the Gracie Jiu-jitsu Academy eleven years ago in Torrance, California. Today it is one of the largest martial arts schools in the country.
Royce’s reputable career as a fighter began in 1993 after defeating three opponents in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship. His brother Rorion came up with this innovative challenge as a way to show Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to the world. Discipline after discipline was defeated by the slight 6’1″, 180 pound Royce Gracie.
His opponents consistently outweighed him by more than 50 pounds. He went on to win 3 UFC titles and today is the only man in the history of mixed martial arts matches to successfully defeat four opponents in one night.
Royce is still very active in the fight world with the longest MMA match in history, 90 minutes against Japanese superstar Kazushi Sakuraba in Pride Grand Prix 2000, and total domination of the Olympic Judo Gold Medalist Hidehiko Yoshida in Pride Shockwave 2003.
His largest opponent yet was Sumo Grand Champion Akebono, 6’8″ 468 lbs. Royce vs. Akebono was the main event of K-1 Premium Dynamite New Years Eve show on 12/31/2004. Royce defeated the giant in just 2min and 13 sec with a shoulder lock. Royce’s success has opened the eyes of many disbelievers to the importance of leverage and technique in grappling. In November of 2003, Royce Gracie was the first fighter to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame along with fellow UFC veteran Ken Shamrock.
The legend of the Gracie family began in Brazil with Royce’s father, Helio Gracie.
Today Royce is privileged to spread the techniques perfected by his father all over the world. Throughout his busy fighting career Royce has maintained a rigorous travel schedule of seminars and classes.
His list of students is enormous. Royce has taught many of the big screen greats like Chuck Norris, Ed O’Neal, Guy Ritchie and Nicholas Cage. He has also been very active with the CIA, FBI, DEA, Secret Service, Army Rangers, Army Special Forces, Navy Seals and many sheriff and police departments.
Royce makes his home in Torrance, California with his wife, Marianne and three sons, Khonry, Khor and Kheydon. He maintains an impressive training regimen, which includes running, weight training, cardiovascular activity, meditation and countless hours of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. He is alway up to the challenge and eagerly awaits his next fight.