A History of Carlson Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

The earliest recorded use of the word "Jujutsu" has been found in writings from 1532 and was used by Hisamori Tenenuchi when he officially established the first school of Jujutsu (now commonly spelled "jiu-jitsu") in Japan. The original martial art however, likely developed several centuries earlier as hand-to-hand combat techniques, combining various Japanese martial arts which were used on the battlefield for close combat in situations where weapons were ineffective. Over the years, these techniques were transformed into many different styles and schools of martial art in Japan, and continued to evolve to give us what we know today as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.















Kano Jigoro, born in 1860 in Mikage, Japan is known as the founder of judo, which was the first Japanese martial art to gain international interest. He first began training as a student of jiu-jitsu, but over the years developed his own martial arts style that emphasized self defense and in his philosphy, "Maximum Efficiency in Use of Mind and Body" Kano opened the Kodokan in Japan 1882 and his martial art style rapidly became popular . 

















Mitsuyo (or Esai) Maeda began training in the judo art at the Kodokan under Kano in 1895. He was a champion student of Kano and became an instructor in the Kodokan. Maeda however, wished to fight professionally using the more aggressive style of jiu-jitsu. Esai fought under the nickname given to him in Europe, Conde Koma, and along with other students of Kano, began traveling the world, gaining a reputation for himself and building great interest for both judo and jiu-jitsu.






































Carlson Gracie died on February 1, 2006, in Chicago, Illinois. At the time of his death he was a ninth degree red belt and was referred to as Grand Master. 















Carlson Gracie was the oldest son of Carlos Gracie’s 21 children and was born during the height of the Gracie's clan struggle to establish the Gracie Jiu - Jitsu as one of the most effective martial art disciplines in the world. He began his training with his father and uncles at a very young age and fought his first professional fight when he was 18. Carlson was a champion fighter with a career spanning three decades. 

Carlson Junior carries on his father's passion, teachings, and tradition to this day. Valhalla Academy founder Brian Jones trained under and was awarded his black belt by Carlson Gracie Junior.  Brian continues to train his students in the discipline of Carlson Gracie's BJJ and Vincent Tabscott teaches his young students the same.

Kano Jigoro

Mitsuyo (Esai) Maeda

circa 1910

In 1914,  Maeda immigrated to Brazil in search of their best fighters and to further expand the influence of jiu-jitsu. There, he befriended Gastão Gracie, the father of Carlos and Helio Gracie. In gratitude for the friendship he was shown, Maeda offered to teach Carlos the traditional Japanese art of Jiu-Jitsu.


After moving to Rio de Janeiro in 1921, Carlos taught Maeda's "Kano Jiu-Jitsu" to his brothers and with them founded the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Organization in Rio de Janeiro in 1925. 

Ink Drawing, jiu-jitsu grapplers, by Katsushika Hokusai

Carlos Gracie

The Gracie family developed and added their own signature to Kano and Maeda's martial art, emphasizing the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using proper techniques, leverage and by taking the fight to the ground.


Carlos Gracie (top) and Helio Gracie (standing)

BJJ Exhibition. Carlos Gracie (in the guard) and Helio Gracie (defending)

Carlson  would later depart the founding Gracie group and establish his own schools, with the style of Jiu-Jitsu he taught at his academy being distinct from other versions of "Gracie" Jiu-Jitsu. His uncle Helio emphasized defensive techniques, Carlson leaned more toward the ''warrior" style of BJJ that included more offensive tactics. Carlson opened his first school in 1960's in Rio de Janeiro and went on to train many of the fighters of the new sport of mixed-martial arts in the 1990's. His academy and athletes dominated jiu-jitsu, MMA and Vale Tudo for many years. 

In 1997 Carlson Gracie Junior, a 5th degree black belt, established the first Brazilian jiu-jitsu academy in Chicago, Illinois. Carlos Senior later moved from Rio de Janeiro, joining his only son in passing the art of BJJ to new students. 

Carlson Gracie after defeating Waldemar Santana in 1956

Carlson Gracie Senior

Carlson Junior and Senior

Carlson Gracie Junior 

Brian Jones, left, Valhalla Academy founder, with Carlson Gracie Junior 

Vincent Tabscott, left, Kids' Program Director and Instructor with Brian Jones and students

Mitsuyo (Esai) Maeda


Conde Koma


Carlson Gracie Sr: The Simple Warrior: Part 1

video courtesy of allthingsbjj


The Toughest Man Who Ever Lived: Mitsuyo (Esai) Maeda

video courtesy of Firas Zahabi, Tristar Gym, Montreal Canada

Carlson Gracie Sr: The Simple Warrior: Part 2

video courtesy of allthingsbjj