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Jiu-Jitsu Books 


Roberto Pedreira












Global Training Report

From Brasil, Thailand, Japan, and Korea

Est. 2000


Book Review

Carlos Gracie: O Criador de uma Dinastia

Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2008

By Reila Gracie

Reviewed by Roberto Pedreira  

Posted March 22, 2013


Chapter 4. Rio de Janeiro, Capital do Brasil

After arriving in Rio in the early part of 1922, Gastão and the family stayed with his mother on rua Paissandu in Flamengo. As soon as he got his hands on some of his inheritance, Gastão rented a house on rua General Polidoro in Botafogo. But the money wasn't as much as he had expected, and after paying off the debts he left behind in Belém, he was soon broke again. He asked his sister Sylvia to give him her share, since she, being a freira [nun] in Romenia, wouldn't be needing it. She gave it to him. He burned through it and was broke again. 

One day after  Gastão finished a telephone conversation with a friend named Afonso and left the house, Cesalina, acting on a hunch, asked the operator to connect with the number that had just been hung up. A woman answered. Cesalina asked to speak with Afonso. The woman said "it's me, speak up" [pode falar, sou eu mesma]. Cesalina answered that she was Gastão's wife and would like to know what kind of relationship he had with this "Afonso." The woman, whose name was Beatriz Afonso, informed Cesalina that she was the mother of five of Gastão's  children [mãe de cinco filhos dele]. 

Cesalina did not like that one bit. The next year, Carlos' sister Mary, then 8 years old, entered  a convent (Sion) to prepare for a life as a nun. Not surprisingly, Cesalina and Gastão's domestic relationship went downhill. To avoid the unpleasantness, Gastão  took Beatriz and their five kids to São Paulo and divided his time between his two families. 

Gastão  Jr., to cheer his mom up, told her that he would take his first holy communion. But in the confessional booth, the padre asked him some "inappropriate" (as we would say today)  questions: Did he want to have sex with his mother and sisters? The only reason  Gastão Jr. didn't belt the padre was because his mother would be displeased. From that day,  Gastão Jr. became anti-Catholic. Later, he would read anti-Church books, but at the time, he couldn't, because he hadn't yet learned how to read. When he wanted to write a note to his girlfriend, he had to ask his sister Mary to do it for him. Ashamed, he decided to go to school to learn how to read and write. His mother had to lie to the school director to explain how the son of an upper-class family could be literally "illiterate" at the age of 16 [the majority of Brazilians at the time were in fact illiterate, but the elites were expected to be able to read and write]. Gastão  entered Instituto Lafayette in Tijuca were he learned to read and write sitting at a desk alongside 7 year old children.

He didn't get far. His father decided to open a gambling casino in the city of Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais state, and took his three oldest sons along to help. Oswaldo could read so he was the accountant,  Gastão Jr.  tended bar, and Carlos was in charge of security. It was here that Carlos learned the ways of women. After a night of passion, one of the French "dancers" told Carlos, "kid, you can really lay pipe" ["meu filho, você fode, hein?!"]. 

Gastão  and the boys were new to town. The big man there was Felicio. Initially, he didn't mind the Gracies cutting into his action--possibly their operation was too small to threaten him--but like big men everywhere, he demanded respect.  As we already know, Carlos didn't take lip from anyone. One day he and Felicio had a "misunderstanding." Felicio told Carlos that he should consider himself dead. Carlos didn't like guns, but Oswaldo did, and confident in Oswaldo's marksmanship, Carlos devised a plan to show Felicio that despite having few hairs on his face, he was not a man who could be intimidated. Carlos's confronted Felicio. Reila speculates that Felicio may have admired Carlos's courage (or what he might have thought was courage, not realizing that Oswaldo was hiding nearby with a revolver pointed at his head) and decided to let him live. 

Gastão was a poor businessman and ending up owing Felicio money. Gastão  and Carlos had a misunderstanding and Carlos was left homeless. Felicio came looking for Carlos to collect. Carlos denied any responsibility for the debt. The next day Felicio's son came looking for Carlos. Carlos jumped out of the window. But Felico's thugs, armed with revolvers, were waiting. Confident about his jiu-jitsu and his superior intelligence, Carlos confronted them. They must have thought Carlos was crazy (Reila speculates), and decided not to provoke him. Several minutes passed without a word being said. Then Carlos turned and walked away leaving Juiz de Fora for ever. 

 Gastão tried again in Poços de Caldas, but without Carlos. He quickly learned that the gaming industry in Poços de Caldas was crooked and got out. As  Gastão Jr. explained in 1998,  Gastão was too honest to be successful running a casino.

After he closed his casino in Poço de Caldas, Gastão  tried his hand running an itinerant circus. He did it alone, without Carlos, who returned to the house of his mother in Rio.



Chapter 5. O Primeiro Amor [The First Love]

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