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Jiu-Jitsu for Everyone

Heritage

2000 BC – The Origins of Jiu-Jitsu

2000 BC The Origins of Jiu-Jitsu - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAIt’s difficult to say precisely when or where Jiu-Jitsu originated exactly. Despite the efforts of historians and evidence that points to Buddhist monks in India, basic elements of grappling is traced back to places like Greece, India, China, Rome, and even Native America. Jiu-Jitsu, as we understand it today, is a natural, intuitive fighting style that has rudimentary manifestations in various cultures in different historic moments.

356 BC – Jiu-Jitsu in India

356 BC Jiu-Jitsu in India - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAThe Buddhist value system of deep respect for all forms of life allowed development of such a system of self-defense that aimed to neutralize aggression without necessarily harming the aggressor. Wrapped around important Buddhist principles of acting non-harmfully and the pursuit of self-mastery and enlightenment, Jiu-Jitsu served well the self-defense needs of monks and spread throughout Asia towards China and later Japan.

1700 – Jiu-Jitsu in Japan: Golden Age and Decline of the Gentle Art

1700 Jiu-Jitsu in Japan: Golden Age and Decline of the Gentle Art - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAWhile it is safe to assume that rudimentary versions of Jiu-Jitsu appeared in many cultures at different points in time, the feudal Japan of the second millennia A.C. when the art encountered a fertile environment, allowing it to flourish and establish itself as a widespread style of combat.

Jiu- Jitsu became a necessary fighting skill for combat survival. The term “Jiu-Jitsu” (jujutsu) was not coined until 17th Century A.C., when it became a blanket term for a wide variety of grappling-related disciplines.

Jiu-Jitsu evolved among the samurai as a method for defeating an armed or armored opponent without using weapons. Because striking against an armored opponent proved to be ineffective, practitioners learned that the most efficient methods for neutralizing an enemy took the form of pins, joint locks and throws. These techniques developed around the principle of using an attacker’s energy against him, rather than directly opposing it.

However, with the Meiji Restoration, a political movement that put an end to the Japanese feudal system and triggered the industrialization of that country, the prestigious class of the samurai lost its primary importance.

The radical political, cultural, and social transformations that took place in Japan in the 19th century made Jiu-Jitsu gravitate from a reputable art of combat to illegal practice, as the government tried to reprimand the bloody combats taking place from the jobless former samurais and their disciples.

1882 – Kano Jiu-Jitsu

1882 Kano Jiu-Jitsu - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAJigoro Kano (1860-1938), member of the Japanese Ministry of Culture and Martial Artist, played an important role in rescuing Jiu-Jitsu’s reputation in times of peace.

Kano understood how Jiu-Jitsu can serve not only as a combat tool, but also as an effective way to allow men and women to embrace a more balanced lifestyle by developing their potential. In other words, Kano realized Jiu-Jitsu could be used as a powerful educational tool to support the development of any human being and envisioned it supporting the Japanese’s goals of social and economic development.

Complementing updated training philosophy, Kano made an effort to adopt new training methods and remove dangerous techniques. These changes allowed practitioners to engage in safe, intense training drills with full resistance, developing into what we know as sparring or live training today.

This new philosophical and methodological approach to the practice of Jiu-Jitsu created a very positive impact on the Japanese society. It helped Jiu-Jitsu regain its social status that had been declining since the Meiji Restoration. The new approach became famous as Kano Jiu-Jitsu and later on, Judo.

In conjunction with Kano’s deep training philosophy and innovative training methods, many rules were introduced in order to redefine the focus of practice.

That created an interesting paradox: while Kano’s reforms contributed tremendously to the survival of a millenary martial art tradition, the focus on take downs created a fragmented fighting style that lost the connection with the essence of Jiu-Jitsu and the reality of real combat. In parallel to the regained reputation of Jiu-Jitsu in Japanese society, came a decline of ground fighting, the most powerful set of skills Jiu-Jitsu had to offer.

Among Kano’s remarkable students, though was Mitsuyu Maeda, a fighter who benefited from Kano’s innovations, but who had his roots in other Jiu-Jitsu schools that emphasized ground fighting and self-defense skills under real combat situations.

Maeda, who later became famous as Count Koma, had above average skills and was sent overseas to help spread Jiu-Jitsu to different cultures in the world. After traveling to many countries including the US, Central America, and Europe, Maeda landed in Brazil in 1914. There he would meet a young boy named Carlos Gracie and plant the seed that would keep alive the essence of Jiu-Jitsu.

1914 – Jiu-Jitsu arrives in Brazil / Maeda meets Gracie / Count Koma

1914 Mitsuyu Maeda - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAA champion in his own right and student of Jigoro Kano, Maeda began to travel abroad with a group of men who participated in challenge Jiu-Jitsu matches around the globe. In 1914, Maeda landed in the northern state of Para, Brazil, and helped establish the Japanese colony in that region.

Settling down in Belem do Para, Maeda made use of his outstanding fighting skills in demonstrations, shows, & circuses as a way to make a living and spread the Japanese Culture.

The first time Carlos Gracie met Count Koma was at one of the demonstrations. Carlos was in awe of Koma’s ability to defeat opponents who were bigger and stronger than him.

Carlos Gracie was a wild kid, slipping out of control and away from his father, Gastao & mother, Cesalina. Energetic and rebellious, Carlos gave his parents a lot of trouble. Knowing that Maeda had recently started a Jiu-Jitsu training program, Gastao took Carlos to learn from the Japanese, so that he would calm down and improve his discipline.

1916 – Carlos Gracie and Jiu-Jitsu

1916 Carlos Gracie and Jiu-Jitsu  - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAMitsuyu Maeda introduced Carlos to Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 14, and Carlos became an avid student for a few years. The studies under Maeda had a profound impact on the shaping and development of his mind. He had never before sensed the level of self-control and self-confidence that Jiu- Jitsu practice helped him experience.

The connection he felt with his body during each training session allowed Carlos to gain a deeper understanding of his nature, limitations, and strengths, and brought him a sense of peace that he had never felt before.

Carlos’ times with Maeda did not last for long. Less then 5 years after he started, Carlos was forced to move to Rio de Janeiro with his parents and siblings.

Arriving at the then capital of Brazil at the age of 20, Carlos had trouble adapting to a normal life and working a regular job. Even though he worked in governmental institutions, Carlos had a wild spirit that would not allow him to settle down. He had a burning desire to teach the art he learned from Maeda, so he decided to go after it.

The profession of martial arts instructor at the beginning of the 20th century in Brazil was not exactly the most promising. People’s awareness about the profession was practically nonexistent, making it difficult to find students who were willing to pay tuition in exchange for the martial arts instruction.

The only people who saw value in what Carlos Gracie taught were law enforcement officials. An opportunity arose for Carlos to teach outside of Rio de Janeiro, in the state of Minas Gerais.

The passion for Jiu-Jitsu and Koma’s dedication to making him a Champion allowed Carlos to discover new meaning in life. From then on, Carlos started used and saw Jiu-Jitsu as a tool that helped him find his way through the world. With time, he elected Jiu-Jitsu as an ideal worth fighting for and embraced it with strength and determination.

Reila Gracie had good opportunities to make a living. After a few years in Minas, Carlos decided to move to Sao Paulo and then back to Rio. His free spirit and faith in the great things Jiu-Jitsu could do for common people seemed to make it hard for him to restrict his teachings to police officers and members of law enforcement agencies.

1925 – The First Gracie School is Founded / The Gracie Clan

1925 The First Gracie School  - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAThe first Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu School was founded in 1925 at Rua Marquês de Abrantes 106, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At the age of 23 years old, Carlos Gracie well understood the unmatched benefits Jiu-Jitsu could bring to one’s life. Founding a school was a very important milestone in his decision to grow Jiu-Jitsu Gracie as a national sport in Brazil.

The Marquês de Abrantes school was not the pioneer powerhouse of Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as one would expect. With limited resources and concerned with the well-being of his younger brothers, Carlos could only afford was a small house, with the living room turned into a training area.

In that house, Carlos united his brothers and engaged them in his life project. He knew it would be impossible to accomplish such a gigantic task alone and started to teach his younger brothers, Oswaldo (1904), Gastao (1906), George (1911), and Helio (1913) the art of Jiu-Jitsu.

The first generation of Gracie brothers living and working in the same house helped forged the family spirit which flowed down generations and has been so important to the extraordinary success the Gracie Family has achieved over the years.

1932 – The Helio Gracie Era

1932 The Helio Gracie Era  - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAHelio Gracie was just a kid when the Marques de Abrantes school opened in 1925. At age 12, he couldn’t help with classes or the running of the school.

Carlos was busy teaching and managing the family business, so Helio’s first lessons in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu were delegated to Gastao and Oswaldo, his other brothers. Later, Carlos started to notice Helio’s talent and dedicated more time to teach and train him.

Helio’s small size and relatively weak physical condition made it difficult to execute some of the positions properly, and in order to progress and earn the attention and admiration of his older brothers, especially Carlos, Helio researched alternate Jiu-Jitsu methods, which worked for him. His discoveries emphasized leverage and timing over strength and speed.

The adaptations of techniques Helio learned from his brothers were mastered through trial and error with the end result being the further development and refinement of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Under the tutelage of his brother, instructor, and mentor Carlos, Helio participated in countless fights, including a 3 hour 43 minute fight against former student Valdemar Santana. Helio’s courage, tenacity, and discipline made him a national hero.

As Carlos grew older and became more dedicated to his research in nutrition and exercise and to his quest for spiritual enlightenment, Helio took over the family business and became really involved in running the Gracie School. At this point, it was a much bigger facility located in downtown Rio de Janeiro.

Carlos, Gastao, Oswaldo, and Helio built the first generation of Gracie fighters. Although Carlos and Helio ended up being really close and spending decades working and living together, all four brothers made enormous contributed in the growth of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil over the first half of the 20th century.

1955 – The Carlson Gracie Era

1955 Carlson Gracie Era - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CACarlson Gracie, born 1932, emerged as the family’s number one fighter right after Helio’s defeat of Valdemar Santana in 1955. Helio was now age 43 and could not maintain the physical level required to compete at his best. The reputation of the Gracie family was hurt when Valdemar, a former student, defeated Helio Gracie, so Carlson was called upon to bring the family name back to the top.

Carlson defeated Valdemar Santana and moved to become the main fighter of theGracie family for decades. His many battles made him a famous young man and fueled his desire to start his own Gracie School. He established his branch in Copacapana, Rio de Janeiro and started to build his own group of students and fighters. Carlson had a very important role in stimulating the competitiveness in Jiu-Jitsu that further contributed to the technical development of the art. Very competitive himself, Carlson built a strong team of young athletes with a remarkable performance in the 70s and 80s at the already many emerging Jiu-Jitsu tournaments, which were held in Brazil.

1970 – The Rolls Gracie Era

1970 Rolls Gracie Era - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CARoles, as friends and family called him, was another Jiu-Jitsu genius who added an enormous contribution to the development of the art of Jiu-Jitsu. Master Carlos Gracie Jr. said that Rolls was the link between the “old Jiu-Jitsu” and the “modern Jiu-Jitsu” which we practice today.

Rolls played a key role in maintaining Jiu-Jitsu as an important sport in Brazil. In the 70s, the country was under turbulent political times, established by the military dictatorship, and Jiu-Jitsu was losing its glamour due to lack of media coverage. Using his talent, charisma, and leadership abilities, Rolls influenced an entire generation of young people in Rio de Janeiro to begin the practice of Jiu-Jitsu and a healthy lifestyle.

Rolls started training Jiu-Jitsu as a little kid. At the age of 12, he started to help his Uncle Helio with classes at the Gracie School. Rolls was really close to Carlson, his older brother, whom he learned from a great deal, as well.

Extremely talented and committed to training to achieve his full potential as a fighter, Rolls Gracie had a very open mind and strong desire to learn whatever he could to make his Jiu- Jitsu better. What impressed many was not only his physical quality and sharp techniques, but also his strong character and commitment to becoming the best he could possibly be.

During his teenage years, Rolls had the opportunity to visit many different countries. He learned Sambo, Judo, and Greco-Roman Wrestling. Rolls was a black belt at the age of 16 and grew into a solid and cut young man with a great vision for Jiu-Jitsu and his career as a fighter and instructor. One of the ways he found he could grow the sport was by competing in tournaments, as a way to engage more people in the sport. In 1976, Rolls participated in his very first No Holds Barred (Vale-Tudo) Fight. He took that fight after a Karate Instructor challenged him by questioning the effectiveness of Jiu-Jitsu during a TV show demonstration.

The challenge was promptly accepted and many matches were arranged between Jiu-Jitsu fighters and Karate Fighters. All Jiu-Jitsu fighters won that night, but the main event certainly caught the most attention. Rolls Gracie and the Karate Master fought for a few minutes with Rolls applying a beautiful take down, controlling his opponent’s back and finishing the fight with a rear naked choke.

Rolls started his own Gracie School, which was following a pattern created by Carlson that would soon be followed by many members of the second generation of the Gracie Family. Rolls shared the same facility with Carlson, where they would teach on alternate days.

Unfortunately, Rolls had a lot left to do, but he was unable to finish it all. His legacy still lives strong, though. At the age of 31, Rolls Gracie passed away in a hang gliding accident on the mountains of Rio de Janeiro.

1983 – Master Carlos Gracie Jr. Becomes Head Instructor

1983 Master Carlos Gracie Jr. Becomes Head Instructor  - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CACarlos Gracie Jr. was born in January, 1956 and grew up under the strong influence of his family of Jiu-Jitsu fighters. Carlos was very connected with the life philosophy and teachings of his father Carlos Gracie Sr. Carlinhos, as friends and family called him, grew up observing and learning from Carlos, Helio, and Rolls, some of the most influential characters in the sport from the Gracie family.

The most important years of his childhood and early teenage years were spent at the famous Teresopolis House – a huge ranch with several rooms where most of Carlos’ and Helios’ son lived and trained together for many years. There, Carlos Gracie Jr. learned how to live in a community in which all members needed to get along, share, and learn from each other. This seems to have become an ideal for him. In many ways, Master Carlos is replicating that lifestyle on a larger scale today, through the same environment that nurtured his personal development at the old Teresopolis House.

Carlinhos was a very technical fighter with the open mind of his brother Rolls. His vision was that a fighter should always rely on technique and be well-rounded, and he made it clear at a young age by showing his dedication to mastering take-downs from Judo and Wrestling, self-defense techniques, and, of course, the many recent technical Jiu-Jitsu developments introduced by his brother Rolls, among them was the ‘open guard’.

Carlos Gracie Jr.’s dedication to the sport and lifestyle of Jiu-Jitsu went side by side. He enjoyed training, teaching, and learning from his brothers and cousins, as well as competing in many Jiu-Jitsu tournaments. But he was also really intrigued by the teachings of his father, Carlos, and was becoming most dedicated to developing the Gracie Diet, as a means to support his family’s athletes and to cure diseases. Carlinhos’ curiosity led him to pursue a college degree in Nutrition Sciences, in order to deepen his understanding about the influence of food on one’s body.

Master Carlos Gracie Jr. began to teach at the main Gracie school in downtown Rio de Janeiro, similar in path to many of his cousins and brothers. He worked alongside his older brother Rolls and Cousin Rorion, both from whom he learned a lot. Eventually, Rorion decided to move to live in the United States, and Rolls established a Jiu-Jitsu school in Copacabana, and Carlos Gracie Jr. was called upon to assume the responsibilities of running a Jiu-Jitsu school with his cousin Rickson Gracie.

After two years as one of the main instructors at the main Gracie Jiu-Jitsu school, Carlos joined forces with Rolls, since his school was closer to the university he was attending for his Nutrition Sciences degree. After working as Rolls’ assistant instructor for seven years, Carlos was hit by the news of his brother Rolls’ death.

During that situation, all of the students got together and, together with Rolls’ wife, asked him to assume the responsibility of continuing the path that his brother Rolls had begun.

1986 – Gracie Barra is founded

1986 Gracie Barra is Founded - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAAfter working for many years as an instructor at his Uncle Helio and then his brother Rolls school, Carlos wanted to pursue the dream of having his own school. But it was not until 1986 that Gracie Barra was officially founded – on the same building that it stands today.

Carlinhos stayed in Copacabana for approximately four years, after which he decided to move to Barra da Tijuca, a promising newer neighborhood in the western part of the city. The city originated the expression “Gracies of Barra,” and eventually, as we are called today, “Gracie Barra.”

The Gracie Barra school originally had about 20 students, and it grew to almost 200 after its first year. Gracie Barra then moved the school to a larger space inside of a gym, in which we are still located today.

Gracie Barra was a unique school from the beginning. Carlinhos developed a very special teaching style and philosophy that supported the development of students to their potential. Although his team grew to become the most competitive and accomplished ever, collecting multiple world titles, to him, this was never the main goal.

Many great athletes, doctors, engineers, surfers, and other people from different backgrounds found the Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school to be a friendly and supportive environment where not only could they learn exceptional Jiu-Jitsu, but they would also be influenced and mentored by Carlinhos with his strong lessons about healthy habits and a balanced lifestyle.

Master Carlos Gracie Jr. continues to be very active at Gracie Barra. He is fully involved in mentoring and giving direction to the Gracie Barra Leadership Team, built by some of his closest students, who run the organization on his behalf. One can easily find Carlinhos training daily at our Headquarters. His simplicity allows him to blend in with the rest of the students, and only a trained eye would be able to find him wearing his Gracie Barra uniform with a red and black belt around his waist.

1990 – Jiu-Jitsu Becomes a National Sport

1990 Jiu-Jitsu Becomes a National Sport - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAThe roots of the sport of Jiu-Jitsu can be traced back to the first generation of Jiu-Jitsu fighters in the Gracie Family. While Carlos and Helio remained mainly in Rio de Janeiro during their prime years as instructors, Oswaldo and George moved to different states within the country and started their own branches of the Gracie School. With time, each one of these branches naturally generated new instructors and the schools continued to pass along their Jiu-Jitsu knowledge.

That process continued and was accelerated as the second generation of Jiu-Jitsu fighters from the Gracie Family started their own schools, mainly Rolls and Carlson, in the 70s. By the last few decades of the 20th century, enough schools were formed with enough competitors to have numerous tournaments, with most of them taking place in Rio de Janeiro under the tutelage of the Jiu- Jitsu Federation of that State.

During the 70s and 80s, Jiu-Jitsu tournaments stimulated students’ commitment to training, learning, and excelling in the art of Jiu-Jitsu. The rivalry among schools fueled the motivation of young students, which helped the growth of the schools and the sport of Jiu-Jitsu.

In 1994, Carlos Gracie Jr. launched a strong initiative to gather support to start the Brazilian Jiu- Jitsu Federation, which created uniform rules for tournaments and also organized the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Nationals Championship.

The work of the Jiu-Jitsu instructors, the Brazilian confederation, and the state level federations to organize tournaments, defined a common set of rules, and institutionalized Jiu-Jitsu as a national sport in Brazil, which was crucial to maintain the identity of the sport and keep Carlos Gracie Sr.’s legacy alive.

1993 – The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Revolution

1993 The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Revolution - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAWhile Jiu-Jitsu evolved to never before achieved levels of technical development in ground fighting in Brazil, all the other disciplines like Karate, Tae Kwon Do, and Judo became popular due to Hollywood and the Olympics. While those martial art styles have great techniques, they are restricted to just only one aspect of real combat and only work under a set of rules that only have certain the circumstances in which the techniques are effective. Generations of martial artists spend many years learning one aspect of fighting (i.e. striking, take downs, or pinning), believing that would be sufficient under real combat situations.

In 1993, that assumption faced its most challenging test when Rorion Gracie put together the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) as a contest between athletes of different martial art styles. The world was shocked when the lighter and “apparently” weaker Royce Gracie defeated all of his opponents by fighting mostly on the ground, using choke holds or joint locks that forced his opponents give up the fight.

Suddenly, martial artists from all different backgrounds realized if they did not know Brazilian Jiu- Jitsu, they knew fighting against a Jiu-Jitsu fighter was impossible. That realization triggered what many call the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu revolution in martial arts, and suddenly, a big shift of focus and training towards ground fighting was present in the martial arts community.

2000 – Globalization of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

2000 Globalization of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CASuch an impact in the martial arts world caused a high level of demand for Jiu-Jitsu instruction all over the world. Qualified Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belts were invited to many different countries to teach seminars to those who were interested in the dominating fighting style that they had never seen or heard about before.

By this time, Gracie Barra had dozens of Black Belts who were built through a program that valued all aspects of training: self defense, take downs, and a ground game. The well-rounded Gracie Barra instructors and athletes were offered opportunities to teach abroad and many of them accepted them, settling down in many different countries.

One of the first Gracie Barra instructors to teach abroad was Master Roberto Maia in Boston, Massachusetts. Others followed like Master Marcio Simas to Orlando, Florida, and Professor Eduardo Lima to Tampa, Florida.

Later, many Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belts contributed to the globalization of our sport. It is important to also note the contributions of Professor Marcelo Resende in Australia, Professor Ze Radiola, Masters Mauricio Robe and Frederico Pimentel, Professor Vinicius Dracolino Magalhaes, Braulio Estima in Europe, and Professor Nao Takigawa in Japan.

2001 – Birth and development of Gracie Barra Association

Carlos Gracie Jr. taught Jiu-Jitsu as a means to instill a healthy lifestyle in his students, and he knew so well how much the art could add to one’s character. He understood that in order to continue the legacy of his father, uncles, brothers, and cousins, he needed to build leaders who were prepared to live up to the values, principles, philosophy, and techniques being passed on to them through the art and its lifestyle.

As his Black Belts were graduating, it was natural for them to want to continue their paths in Jiu-Jitsu, embrace the challenges of becoming instructors, and do for their students what Master Carlos Gracie Jr. had done for them.

As they came to Master Carlos to ask for his permission to teach under Gracie Barra, they not only got his consent, but his support, too. Carlos encouraged all of them to start their own schools in different places across the world.

Without formalities, but with a strong intent and personal commitment, what we understand today as the Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Schools Association was born. Gracie Barra instructors continue to travel to many different places to establish schools and keep the Gracie Barra legacy alive.

2005 – Gracie Barra Moves Headquarters to the United States

2005 Gracie Barra Moves Headquarters to the U.S. - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAIn 2005, Master Carlos Gracie Jr. decided to make an unexpected move. Realizing the great potential Jiu-Jitsu had in the United States, he moved the Gracie Barra headquarters from Rio de Janeiro to the city of Lake Forest in California. Arriving in the U.S., Master Carlos Gracie Jr. had the opportunity to start from scratch again, but this time, with all the knowledge he had acquired while building one of the most accomplished Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools in history.

With the help of Black Belt students sent from Brazil, Master Carlos embraced the challenge of creating, what he believed to be, the perfect school -a prototype to serve as a lab experiment for the best training, teaching, and management practices, and as a reference for Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools and instructors all over the world. Gracie Barra America grew from a small warehouse in Lake Forest to a large two-story facility with over 7,000 square feet and several hundred students in Irvine, CA.

2006 – Gracie Barra Association Is Formally Founded

2006 Gracie Barra Association Is Formally Founded - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAAlong with the development of the Headquarters in the U.S., there was a strong need to create rules, procedures, and standards for the Gracie Barra schools spread all over the world to follow. The organization grew too big for only one man to control and communication was a challenge. Master Carlos wasn’t able to meet one of his instructors for years due to the geographical distance between them.

In order to formalize the relationship with the schools and set standards to ensure Gracie Barra continued to be represented on the highest level, Carlos founded the Gracie Barra Association in 2005. Many instructors from different parts of the United States were called for a meeting in which they committed to basic standards and procedures to create consistency and quality instruction at all Gracie Barra schools.

Once Master Carlos Gracie Jr.’s expectations were set by the rules and guidelines of the Gracie Barra Association, the focus shifted to developing support tools to facilitate the schools’ compliance with their obligations.

As time went by, the Gracie Barra Association became a source of information, and it helped support Gracie Barra schools all over the world in achieving their potential growth and providing high quality instruction. Master Carlos realized that the association could be more than only a regulating body that investigated schools’ compliance with his standards; it could also be a source of knowledge to support instructors all over the world with growing their schools, building great students, and helping their communities embrace a healthy lifestyle.

2007 – Development of Satellite Schools in California, USA

2007 Development of Satellite Schools in California, USA - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAOnce Gracie Barra America established itself as the Gracie Barra headquarters, many Gracie Barra Black Belts settled at the school to meet and learn from Master Carlos Gracie Jr. and the team of instructors. As the school’s teaching and management systems became well documented, the time came to start replicating that school in surrounding cities in the region like Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Yorba Linda, San Clemente, Garden Grove, and many others, which were chosen by the Gracie Barra Black Belts living locally as cities to start their own schools.

2008 – The Gracie Barra Premium Schools Program

2008 The Gracie Barra Premium Schools Program - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAThe Gracie Barra Association wanted to make sure that the lessons learned during the development of Gracie Barra America were getting to the instructors who were establishing satellite schools.

The proximity between the branches and the Gracie Barra headquarters made the need for uniformity, high standards, and consistency among the schools even more important. Additionally, Master Carlos Gracie Jr.’s teaching methods and philosophy had to be replicated in the very best way possible, along with the same instructor’s training experience at each one of the schools.

To accomplish this, the Gracie Barra Association launched the Gracie Barra Premium Schools Program, focused on making available all teaching, management, and training tools used by Gracie Barra America in a clear, consistent manner. The program has been very successful in supporting the growth of schools, along with ensuring consistency and quality instruction. It has established a new type of relationship between the Association and the schools that is even more beneficial to both parties. The premium program began to be replicated in other states in the U.S. and other countries.

2009 – Establishment of Gracie Barra Regional Divisions

2009 Establishment of Gracie Barra Regional Divisions - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAGracie Barra is now a worldwide organization. Although it is a global organization, the reality of each school is local, and so are the challenges they face. To better support the growth of local schools all over the world, Gracie Barra created regional divisions that work closely with the instructors and students for the optimal growth of the schools and quality instruction. Gracie Barra has regional divisions in North America, Oceania, Europe, and Brazil. Some of Master Carlos’ closest students live locally and run the office, helping the schools on a daily basis.

2010 – Gracie Barra Franchising Program Begins

2010 Gracie Barra Franchising Program Begins - Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage - Rohnert Park, CAOne school in each city is what Master Carlos Gracie Jr. said at the end of one of the most important Gracie Barra Instructors Meeting held at our Head Quarters in Irvine, CA in March, 2010.

While this vision may sound ambitious, our entire organization and people are adapting in the pursuit of this goal for the many years to come. The Gracie Barra team is dedicated to bringing the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide through the hands of qualified instructors.

The establishment of Gracie Barra’s Franchising Program in 2010 was one of the most important accomplishments in our recent history. Through the systems and tools of this program, we are able to provide the kind of support schools and instructors need to hundreds of people within their communities with the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lifestyle.

The Gracie Barra Franchise Program started in California and is now available for schools in 38 different states in the US including Texas, Florida, Hawaii, New Mexico, Louisiana, Tennessee, Misouri, and many others. We are working hard to expand its reach to many more areas in the United States and worldwide.

This is just the beginning… ~ Master Carlos Gracie Jr.

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