The Birth of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
Helio soon realized that due to his frail pyhsique, most of the techniques he had learned from watching Carlos teach were particularly difficult for him to execute. Eager to make the techniques work for him, he began modifying them to accommodate his weak body. Emphasizing the use of leverage and timing over strength and speed, Helio modified virtually all of the techniques and, through trial and error created Gracie/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In order to prove the effectiveness of his new system, Helio openly challenged all the reputable martial artists in Brazil. He fought 18 times, including matches aganist onetime world heavyweight wrestling champion, Wladek Zbyszko and the #2-ranked Judoka in the world at the time, Kato, whom Helio choked unconscious in six minutes.
His victory aganist Kato qualified him to enter the ring with the world champion, Masahiko Kimura, the best jiu-Jitsu fighter Japan has ever produced, and who outweighed Helio by 80 pounds. Kimura won the match but was so impressed with Helio’s techniques that he asked Helio to go teach in Japan claiming the techniques Helio presented during their bout did not exist in Japan.
It was the recognition by the world’s best to Helio’s dedication to the refinement of the art. At 43 years old, Helio and former student Waldemar Santana, set the world record for the longest uninterrupted no-holds-barred fight in history when they fought for an incredible 3 hours and 40 minutes! Widely regarded as the first sports hero in Brazilian history, Helio also challenged boxing icons Primo Carnera, Joe Louis, and Ezzard Charles. They all declined. A dedicated family man who exemplified a healthy life-style he was the epitome of courage, discipline, determination, and inspiration to people everywhere. A modern-day legend, Helio Gracie gained international acclaim for his dedication to the dissemination of the art and is recognized as the creator of Gracie/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.