GTR Archives 2000-2021


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 April 12, 2013


Chapter 7. 1925- Academia Gracie, O Sonho Vira Realidade


After getting out of prison, Carlos returned to Rio with George. They stayed at the Hotel Vitória in Catete while Carlos looked for a house that would be large enough for his academy of jiu-jitsu and for his mom, sisters, and brother to live in. His father was off with his other family and didn't contribute any money to the support of his old family. The pressure was on Carlos to come up with something. Fortunately, as Reila explains, he had a fluid imagination and blooming creativity, qualities that are as valuable to artists as they are to con-men everywhere.

Sadly, his financial resources were limited. He had to settle for a house that didn't correspond to his dream. It was located at rua Marquês de Abrantes, 106. The title of the chapter suggests that this happened in 1925, which may be related to the fact that the Gracie Academy logo says "Established in 1925." Reila didn't provide  references or dates for the events that she described in chapter 6, specifically Carlos time in Belo Horizonte, teaching in São Paulo, and his two exhibitions with Geo Omori. If "Academia Gracie" was established in 1925 in Rio, then presumably the previous three events must have taken place before that. But they didn't. We know from reliable sources (see Choque for details), that Carlos was in Belo Horizonte in 1928 (or more accurately, said that he was), that he was teaching the  "policia civil" in São Paulo in 1929, and that the two Geo Omori exhibitions happened in 1930 (see Choque for details). We also know from reliable sources (see Jiu-jitsu in the South Zone chapter 16, for details) that the Academia de Jiu-Jitsu opened in 1930. But it was not established by Carlos, nor was it the "Academia Gracie."1 It was, however, located at rua Marques de Abrantes, 106.  But that is a different story (see Jiu-Jitsu in the South Zone and Choque, for full documentation and details).

Back to Reila's version. It was not only the more respectable and socially conscious side of the family that looked down on fighting, but Brazilian society generally as well. People associated fighting, professional or otherwise, with  people who had to work with their bodies because they lack social connections or were dark. Cesalina complained, "you are from a family of diplomats and you want to go and be fighters? That sucks" [que vergonha!]. But Carlos didn't care, and didn't have any options anyway. From the previous trajectory of his life, it was beginning to look like he would be spending a lot of time homeless, or in jails, or jumping out of windows to avoid armed thugs, or calling on influential friends to bail him out of the legal jams that he had created for himself.  

Although uneducated, Carlos did not lack wiliness and cunning. He seemed to have a good grasp of human psychology, or at least the aspects that he could exploit for his own profit. He believed that all men want to be able to fight. Rich, poor, black, white, red, or yellow, all men want to be able to take care of themselves physically in a confrontation with other men. He also didn't entirely agree with his mom. If being a fighter is such a shameful thing, why does everyone in Belém respect Conde Koma?

Carlos hadn't lost his interest in rooster fighting. Not only did it give vent to his aggressive impulses, but it also offered the opportunity to acquire extra money with which to help sustain the household. In a previous chapter, Reila described how Carlos subjected his rooster "athletes" to a scientific diet and training regimen. When they ran away rather than let themselves get torn to shreds and then eaten for dinner, Carlos only  resolved to increase his knowledge of science.

Carlos bet on himself too. He would provoke fights with naive tough guys, bet on the outcome and invariably walk away with a fistful of  reais [Brazilian dollars]. Being  small and looking young had its advantages. The Manassa Mauler, Jack Dempsey, survived in exactly this same way, in his very early career, according to boxing historian Randy Roberts.

In order to attract new suckers, and to spread the fame of the Gracie name, Carlos put ads in the newspapers, such as this one: “Se voce quer terr sua face esmurrada e arrebentada. Seu traseiro chutado e seus braços quebrados, entre em contato com Carlos Gracie…..” [if you want to have your face punched and smashed, your assed kicked, and your arms broken, contact Carlos Gracie"]. Most likely, this is an example of Carlos Gracie's imagination and creativity. There is no evidence that it happened, and Reila offers none. In reality, Carlos had better and less risky methods for promoting the Gracie name, such as giving demonstrations, writing letters to newspapers, challenging people (on behalf of his brothers), writing more letters, visiting newspaper offices, writing more letters, and when it was possible, promoting his brothers and students in professional grappling contests.

The first brother he promoted was George, but George did not appreciate Carlos's "management" style, which according to George, consisted of putting George's money in Carlos' pocket. George thought he could do better on his own, which he proceeded to do. Oswaldo also stepped up, but he, like Gastão Jr., had whatever it takes to earn a living outside of a ring, which allowed him to keep what he got paid. 

That left "o Caçula".



Chapter 8.Hélio Gracie, O Caçula










1. Carlos began describing rua Marques de Abrantes, 106 as "Academia Gracie" sometime between September 29 and October 27, 1932, at least in  newspaper ads. See CHOQUE for details.


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









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