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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 29, 2013


Chapter 5. O Primeiro Amor

Back in Rio, Carlos enjoyed a comfortable family life for a change. His brothers and sisters were together, but divided into two blocs. The four oldest (Carlos, Oswaldo, Gastão Jr. and Helena) formed one bloc, the four youngest (George, Helio, Mary, and Ilka) another. Mary and Ilka pampered and petted George and Helio. Helio liked his sisters to tickle (or scratch) him. For many years after he would continue to demand from his nieces and daughters the same treatment that he did from his sisters when he was a child. Coy like a cat, he liked to be stroked and petted. According to Reila, many of his nephews and sons inherited this same preference, which became a characteristic of the Gracie family. 

Carlos was used to spending his time with prostitutes and up to this time had never known a girl from a good family. He knew love only from novels and poems that he liked to read. But one day he met Illona, the daughter of  Spanish couple who were friends of Gastão. She reciprocated his interest and they began to "keep company." In those days there were no such things as "friends with privileges." Young people did not "hook up" at "clubs," or film depraved sexual acts on cell phones and then post them on Facebook or tube sites. It was a conservative time.1 Carlos and Illona had to be content with exchanging  glances, or at the most, holding hands. 

Carlos was sure that he had found the woman in his life. This romance was for real. But just when they began making plans for marriage, Illona came down with typhus [tifo].2 Because typhus was contagious, Illona was quarantined. As though being alone and separated from Carlos weren't bad enough, her hair was also falling out. She was profoundly depressed. One day, her fever went above 42 degrees, and delirious, she jumped out of a window to her death. 

Carlos was terribly upset by the news of his girlfriend's suicide3 and became obsessed with the idea of joining her in death. Concerned that he might kill himself, his mother didn't take her eyes off of him for a minute. If she had to leave the house, she assigned one of the sisters to watch him. 

This went on for several weeks. Carlos bought a bottle of poison and brought it home. He lay down on his bed deciding whether or not to end it all. Just then, his mom came in a gave him an affectionate kiss on his forehead. Her motherly gesture gave him pause. He began to wonder how she and his brothers and sisters would react to his suicide and how they would survive without him. He decided that it wouldn't be right to just die and leave them without his protection and orientation, which he, as the oldest son, felt a responsibility to provide. He threw the bottle of poison in the trash and never again thought about suicide. But the loss of Illona gave him a consciousness of death, and his interest in health and nutrition stems from that experience.




1. On the other hand, men sometimes had two families at the same time so it wasn't completely conservative. Or rather, it was conservative in a different way from 2013.

2. Sadly, Illona may have been misdiagnosed, and the quarantine unnecessary. "Temperatures greater than 41.0o C are usually not infectious and result from drug fevers, malignant hyperthermia, heat stroke, and central nervous system fevers" (Gates, Robert H. Infectious Disease Secrets, 1998).

3. If Illona jumped due to delirium, suicide might not be the correct word, but it is the one that Reila used. [suicidado]. On the other hand, she clarifies that Carlos was "informed" that Illona had committed suicide, leaving open the possibility that he had been misinformed.



Chapter 6. O Jiu-Jitsu Como Profissão [Jiu-Jitsu as a Profession]

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(c), 2013, Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.






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