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Born on October 1st 1913, Helio Gracie was the youngest son of Gastao Gracie. There were 9 brothers and sisters, and Helio stood out since the beginning due to his body type; tall and skinny he was the complete opposite of his brothers who were shorter, and much stockier.

Helio’s childhood was a troubled one, his family went bankrupted when he was young and in 1921 they had to move from Belem do Para (his native town) to the big but poorer city, Rio de Janeiro. All these changes in his early life didn’t go without effect and he started suffering from chronic dizziness and his health was precarious, mostly due to his psychological instability.

In the last years of his stay in Belem do Para, his older brother Carlos got to meet Misuyio Esai Maeda (also known as Count Coma ), who was a Jujitsu and Kodokan Judo black belt who had come to Brazil with the intent of divulging the Japanese Martial Arts to the masses. His brother started training regularly with Maeda and rapidly became one of his top students. Everything Carlos would learn in the Jujitsu classes he would then try and pass on to his brothers. They would spar all the time, however, Helio wasn’t allowed to be a part of the actual fighting as he was far too fragile, instead he would stand on the sidelines and try to understand the mechanics behind the Jujitsu game.

A couple of years after the Gracies relocated to Rio de Janeiro, Carlos Gracie the eldest son managed to fulfill his dream of creating the first Jujitsu Academy. To help him in this new challenge he invited his brothers Oswaldo, Gastao, Helio and George, to come and join him (both because he needed help in the academy and because he wanted to take his brothers off their abusive father’s hands).

Helio started rolling (what grapplers call sparring) with his brothers, hiding the fact from Carlos who was over protective of his younger brother and feared for his health. When he found out Helio was already advanced in his techniques and was a good spar for his brothers, Carlos allowed his training to continue and allowed him to attend their normal classes.

George Gracie was an excellent fighter, but lived a wild lifestyle and Helio soon became Carlos star student, so much so that in 1932 Carlos gave him his first no-holds-barred (old school Mixed Martial Arts bouts were almost no rules were involved) Vale Tudo fight. He was 18 years old. The fight was against a boxer by the name of Antonio Portugal and the fight lasted less then a minute as Helio choked his opponent out.

Helio fought several times more throughout the next 6 years trying to promote the Gracie academy together with his brothers. At one point George broke with the academy as he wanted to fight Helio to prove who was the best fighter in Rio de Janeiro and Carlos was opposed to this.

In 1938 Helio’s career came to a hold as he left the rings and the mats to move to a different town for personal reasons. He came back 12 years later at the age of 38 after a challenge was made to him personally. His opponent was Landufo Caribé, the Bahia Jiu Jitsu Champion who had a different lineage from the Gracies, and to prove his point, Helio finished Caribé quickly.

A year later came the opportunity came to fight the mighty Masahiko Kimura, the Jigoro Kano Judo champion of Japan. The opportunity came after he challenged Mr Kimura a few months earlier, a challenge which was flatly refused as Kimura didn’t feel Gracie worthy of the match. Helio was made to fight Kato (Japan’s number 2) in order to get to Kimura. Helio fought him and defeated Kato by means of Cross Choke from the closed guard. Only then did Kimura accept the challenge. In Reila Gracie’s book about the Gracie family, it is stated that Kimura was 35Kg heavier (77 pounds), however it is unknown if this is true or not. Kimura was so convinced of his superiority that he stated to the press that if the fight lasted more than 3 minutes he would consider it a loss.

Masahiko Kimura defeated Helio Gracie by “Kimura Lock” (the submission was renamed  after Masahiro after this match) in 13 minutes far after the 3 minute mark which impressed Kimura who ended the fight congratulating Helio on his toughness. This was a tough blow on the Gracies, and Jiu Jitsu which had earned a good amount of relevance in Rio de Janeiro. With this decrease in popularity, fights were scarce and Helio turned himself to teaching again.

Carlos Gracie had left the Rio de Janeiro gym, and moved to Fortaleza, Brazil to take care of businesses, he left his sons Carlson Gracie, Rolls and Carlos Junior (Carlinhos) to be taught by Helio.

Helio returned to the mats 5 years later after another challenge was raised by Waldemar Santana a former student of Helios and their fight would go to the record books as the longest no holds barred fight ever recorded at 3 hours 42 minutes, Helio lost due to a soccer kick in the head which left him unconscious.

After this it took another 12 years for him to fight again, in the mean time he dedicated himself into teaching his sons and Carlos Gracie’s sons. Legends in BJJ like Rickson, Royce, Carlson, Rolls, Carlinhos, Relson, Rorion, amongst many others. He dedicated himself to the Gracie legacy of Jiu-Jitsu. Along the years many came out against him and his hard nose ideas about BJJ, some of them were close family members like Carlson Gracie. But even with all this turmoil there is no questioning that without him, BJJ would have definitely gone a different way.

Grand Master Helio Gracie died on January 29, 2009 aged 95.

Helio Gracie Documentary (with Subtitles)


Click CC to turn on the captions if they do not appear automatically.

UFC fighter Alan Belcher has released a free video series demonstrating the moves he used on Rousimar Palhares to beat him in their fight on UFC on Fox: Diaz VS Miller back in May of 2012. It is a little known position in grappling unless you happen to be a student of 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu. The position is called The Truck and I’ve been playing about with it in training since I watched Alan’s first video last week and I absolutely love it.

In this exclusive video series Alan breaks down for you his feared “Truck” Position that is perfect for submission grapplers and Mixed Martial Arts fighters to gain an advantage over people who are technically better (read: spent longer on the mats training) than you on the ground. This move is EXACTLY how Belcher beat Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares in The UFC on Fox. Palhares was known as the better grappler, but Alan strategically used this technique to neutralize his attacks and win the fight on the ground against one of the most feared grapplers in UFC (and all of Mixed Martial Arts) Rousamir Palhares. Now you can be dangerous on the ground and beat higher level ground fighters in Mixed Martial Arts or in BJJ and other grappling martial arts!

Alan gives you all his best ways to enter into the position and how to set up this highly effective move from just about everywhere on the ground.  If you are an aspiring MMA figher or just a grappler looking to beat higher level ground fighter then this video is one you definitely need to watch.

Here is the video of him fighting Palhares and actually putting the truck position into practice. He sticks his knee in to begin the technique at 0:29 seconds and transitions fully into the move at 0:44 seconds. Once he is fully into the truck position Palhares cannot leg lock him… which if you follow professional MMA you know is his favorite move!

Video two in the series has also just been posted where Alan demonstrates how to keep control with the position when entering into the Truck. You can see both videos by clicking here.

When super grappler Ryan Hall isn’t winning his MMA fights or dealing with drunk assholes in restaurants he’s competing (and winning) in BJJ. A big part of Hall’s success is his awesome guard. He got a great guard by spending a lot of time working on his flexibility to the point where he was super flexible.

Ryan goes through stretches for the entire body and then finishes off with a series of flow stretches, one stretch right into another stretch into another stretch, etc etc. If you follow this series of videos you will greatly improve leg flexibility, hip flexor flexibility, and arm + shoulder flexibility, making your guard much harder to pass and more importantly making you less prone to injury.

Ryan Hall – Guard Flexibility 1

Ryan Hall – Guard Flexibility 2

Ryan Hall – Guard Flexibility 3

Ryan Hall – Guard Flexibility 4

Ryan Hall – Guard Flexibility 5

I’ve decided to write a series of posts breaking down each martial art used in modern MMA. Starting with each art’s origin & the main people who pioneered it. We then take a look at the main characteristics or the martial art (is it striking or grappling based), do practitioners wear a uniform? Does it stay stood up at all times or can it go to the ground? and finally can it be used as a form of self defence? The idea is to hopefully give you a general idea about what the martial art is about if you are thinking or taking one up to get into shape I hope these articles will help you decide which one is right for you. In the previous post in the series we covered the origins of Judo.

We are continuing our series by taking a look at the Martial Art that gave birth to modern MMA Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

demian maia bjjBrazilian Jiu Jitsu is currently one of the most popular form martial arts around today. This revolutionary form of martial arts has roots that go back to the nineteenth century. Sensei Jigoro Kano took the initiative to create a new dynamic style of judo back in 1882. His new style started gaining popularity within the martial arts world when thirteen out of fifteen fights were won using his style.

Kodokan Judo gained a reputation for being a devastating martial art that could help anyone dominate his or her opponent. No one challenged the effectiveness of Kodokan Judo until the twentieth century. Mataemon Tanable felt that his style of martial art was superior to Kodokan Judo. Sensei Tanable was the leader of a classical form of Jiu Jitsu that was not known to the public. Tanable began to hold exhibitions in various locations. Many martial arts students, experts, and followers began to see that Tanable had a solid point. Tanable’s form of Jiu Jitsu was easy to learn. It also revolved around using techniques that were designed to take an opponent down to the ground with ease.

Mitsuyo Maeda emerged as one of the most exceptional students in the history of Judo. He combined Kodokan Judo and Tanable’s form of Jiu Jitsu. He began to travel around the globe in hopes of introducing his new style to the world. People in Great Britain, The United States, and other countries around the world began to take notice of Maeda’s creation. Maeda’s new style enabled him to remain undefeated throughout his entire fighting career.

Maeda moved to Brazil after he retired from competitive fighting. He proceeded to open a Jiu Jitsu academy. Carlos Gracie became one of Maeda’s students and started his own instructional school back in 1925. Their modified form of traditional Jiu Jitsu became a household name when The Gracie Family moved to The United States. The world was stunned when they witnessed Brazilian Jiu Jitsu dominate The Ultimate Fighting Championships during in the nineties. Royce Gracie became the first recognized champion of The Ultimate Fighting Championships with the aid of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

bj penn brazilian-jiu-jitsu

Jiu Jitsu is ideal for people of all ages. It is also ideal for people of all sizes. Someone weighing less than one hundred sixty pounds can easily dominate a man who weighs over two hundred pounds. Many martial art styles focus on one using his or her strength while applying the techniques. Jiu Jitsu revolves around using techniques that don’t require strength. One simply maneuvers his or her opponent into a vulnerable position.

Jiu Jitsu is mainly a grappling art, but practitioners use strikes on their opponents. The strikes are used to distract or hurt the opponent. One simply takes his opponent down to the ground after a strike is thrown. One or two punches are enough to begin a ground assault.

Practitioners mainly use the jab in order to distract or stun their opponent. Kicks are also used in Jiu Jitsu. For example, Royce Gracie was well-known for throwing a side kick to his opponent’s knees. The side kick kept his opponents at baygsp brazilian jiu-jitsu while he looked for take-down opportunities. Kicks are normally aimed at areas below the waist. High kicks are not endorsed by Jiu Jitsu. High kicks can leave one vulnerable to counterattacks.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an art that concentrates on implementing techniques that helps one gain a significant advantage on the ground using leverage. One is introduced to various locks and choke holds. Very few martial artists from other styles are able to deal with these locks and choke holds effectively. This is the primary reason why Jiu Jitsu practitioners number one priority is taking their opponent to the ground.

Jiu Jitsu practitioners normally wear a uniform in the dojo. They also wear uniforms in competitions. Jiu Jitsu Uniforms come in various colors. Every instructor selects a color that they find suitable for his or her students. The uniforms are very light and comfortable. They do not hinder practitioners from competing or fighting effectively.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a wonderful sport. It is also a wonderful form of self-defense. Criminals normally use tactics that help them get close to their victim. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu helps one to reverse the tables on their assailant. This is the major reason why it’s considered to be the perfect form of self-defense by many martial arts experts.

Jiu Jitsu is one of the most popular forms of martial arts in existence today. This is largely due to the explosion of Mixed Martial Arts. Jiu Jitsu is great for anyone who is interested in staying in shape. It is also great for anyone who would like to learn how to deal with dangerous criminals in the street. It is a revolutionary style that is ideal for people from all walks of life. Size and age will not hinder one from learning how to use these dynamic techniques with proficiency.

Nate Diaz vs Osvaldo Augusto Queixinho BJJ Superfight

Thumbnail image for Nate Diaz vs Osvaldo Augusto Queixinho BJJ Superfight by Brendan

I know I give The Diaz Brothers a lot of publicity here at My MMA Training (how could you not) but I honestly love their style and how they always come ready to fight. As you know I love BJJ as well, so you know I was really excited to watch the Nate Diaz super […]

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Nate Diaz and His Badass Guillotine

Thumbnail image for Nate Diaz and His Badass Guillotine by Brendan

Last night Nate Diaz put his newly earned black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to good use by submitting Jim Miller with a really slick Power Guillotine when Miller shot in for a takedown. It was the first time Miller had been stopped in his professional career. Diaz looked the far superior grappler of the two. […]

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Robert Drysdale Armbar Technique

by Brendan

“Learn Something From Everyone” – Robert Drysdale If you’ve trained MMA or BJJ for more than a month you probably already know how to put on a basic armbar. But Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion and grappling coach for multiple UFC fighters Robert Drysdale demonstrates to Karyn Bryant how to get the armbar from side control […]

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Paul Sass Demonstrates The Flying Triangle

by Brendan

Paul Sass did not earn his nickname “The Sassangle” by knocking guys unconscious with head kicks. The man knows what he is good at and it’s BJJ. His submission game is good, very good. More accurately it is his triangle choke. 8 of his 12 career victories have by way triangle and the other 3 […]

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Arm Bar from Guard

by Brendan

Greg Jackson is the head trainer of Jackson’s Submission Fighting and MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Greg is also the MMA coach of fighters such as Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Carlos Condit & Shane Carwin. I’ve already commented how dominant Jones looks in a previous post and Jackson is a big part of that. Jackson […]

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ARM BAR SWEEP MOUNT

by Brendan

BJ Penn demonstrates a really cool alternative to use when you attempt an armbar from guard and the opponent puts his weight down on you to stop you from finishing the submission attempt, and instead turn it into a sweep to full mount by using the leg nearest your opponents head like a pendulum.

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