Then, a few years ago, the loss of a plane ticket turned the martial arts community on its ear, like nothing before. Rorian Gracie was visiting
relatives in Los Angeles from Rio de Janerio and he lost his airplane ticket. He was befriended by someone that found out that Rorian was a martial
arts Jiu Jitsu instructor in Brazil. In exchange, Rorian agreed to show him some of his skills and a new era in martial arts was born. Rorian was the
grandson of a Scotsman that went to Brazil to live. A Japanese master taught Rorian's ancestor how to do judo and
jiu Jitsu. After the Japanese
master left, the Scotsman used his head to utilize and improve what he had learned to be effective in real street fights. As I related in the story
above of my high school days, boxers and fist fighters never respect grapplers and the elder Gracie was challenged many times, always
unsuccessfully. His opponent would take a punch, Gracie would duck and grapple him to the floor and proceed to put him into submission holds.
What he had learned was that if you choke someone for 8 seconds, they will pass out. There is nothing more debilitating that to wake up and see
you opponent hovering over you. Gracie also perfected the arm bar, where you grab a guys hand, put your feet over their shoulder and lean back
and try to wrench their shoulder socket apart. Chokes and arm bars have a common denominator -- they hurt bad enough such that the opponent
will give up-- no matter how big they are, and how small you are.
The Gracie family started conducting national tournaments in Brazil, where there were no rules and no pads, except that you couldn't poke in the
eyes or bite. The Gracie school took on challengers year after year. No matter how many times they won, there would always be a
puncher/striker that would think that they could beat the Gracie boys, who usually weighed under 180 pounds.
When Rorian published his no-rules challenge to ANY martial artist in the Black Belt magazine, many people came to his dojo to accept the
challenge. One kick boxer was so humiliated that he required that his face be blacked out on the video tape. Then, Art Davies got involved with
the Gracies and helped promote The Ultimate Fighting Challenge (UFC). The UFC would be conducted inside of a 20 foot octagon shaped ring with
fenced in walls 5 feet tall. Two opponents would enter the octagon and fight until one gave up or was knocked out. The entire tournament
consisting of 16 contestants was conducted in one night, which might mean that the winner might have to fight several of the bare-knuckle fights
in a two hour time frame. Also, there was no weight limit - there were contestants from sumo, judo, boxing, karate and the weights ranged from
175 pounds to 400 pounds. Ironically, the fighters that weighed over 375 pounds usually were defeated within seconds. In the first four UFC
tournaments, Rorian's younger brother, Royce Gracie won with either chokes or arm bars.
When you see Royce Gracie, you feel sorry for him. He has skinny arms, almost no chest and his butt is not big enough to keep his belt up. What the Gracies do to make up for this lacking of size is capitalize on
leverage. Archimedes said that if he had a lever long enough, he could lift the moon. The Gracies have become masters in arranging their bodies
into levers such that their chokes threaten to squeeze their opponent's head off and arm bars or leg bars provide the same pain at the racks did in
medieval times. I outweighed Royce by 40 pounds but he was able to play around with me like a baby, without using a lot of effort. When I felt
his choke or arm bar, I would have to tap out immediately.
But working out with the Gracies is a pleasure. If any of the Gracie
brothers spot a newcomer, they immediately come over and introduce
themselves. Also their students are very hospitable.
above, were taken in the Gracie's dojo on Carson St. in the Los
Angeles CA area. They have very large dojo with an entire upstairs
workout area larger than 4000 square feet. This area is sanitary
clean with padding on all walls.