Carley Gracie: “The Founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is Carlos Gracie Sr.; Helio Gracie Was his Assistant”

Carley Gracie: “The Founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is Carlos Gracie Sr.; Helio Gracie Was his Assistant”

The founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is considered to be Carlos Gracie Sr.. Carlos, along with his brothers Gastão, George, and Helio, studied Judo under Mitsuyo Maeda beginning in 1914. Maeda, a Japanese judo master, taught the Gracie brothers the fundamentals of judo. However, they adapted it and shaped what would become Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Carlos Gracie was the oldest brother and the first to study under Maeda. He is credited with developing and systematizing the techniques he learned from Maeda into an art form that focused more on ground fighting and submissions. Under Carlos’ leadership, the Gracie family opened the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy, called “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu,” in 1925. This academy became the foundation for spreading Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu around the world.

While Helio Gracie is often credited as the founder and popularized Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, story pushed by the Helio Gracie side (Rorion, Rener, Ryron etc…) due to his numerous challenge matches, it was Carlos Gracie who organized the techniques, established the first academy, and laid the groundwork for what would become the global growth and popularity of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Therefore, most historians and BJJ practitioners recognize Carlos Gracie as the true founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for taking judo and transforming it into the unique martial art and sport it is today.

Carley Gracie, is a 9th degree Red Belt and son of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu founder Carlos Gracie. Carley is the father of Clark Gracie. He is the oldest member of the Gracie clan still donning a gi and stepping on the mat to teach.

Carley made his way to America from Brazil, fought challenge matches, and built up his school and the family name over the next several decades.

Carley has had his share of feuds with Gracie Family members. His cousin Rorion Gracie was his biggest rival. He even had a fist fight with his uncle Helio Gracie!

In this recent interview, Carley tells the story in more detail and about the aftermath:

“I went to apologize to my uncle Helio Gracie after beating him up and my father (Carlos Gracie Sr) told that I shouldn’t have said sorry to him…”

“My uncle Helio started training other fighters specifically to beat me in Jiu-Jitsu…”

He was also asked a direct question: Who is the founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, to which he replied without hesitation:

“It’s Carlos Gracie Sr. He was the Pope of Jiu-Jitsu. Helio Gracie, as the youngest brother, learned Jiu-Jitsu from Carlos. Helio Gracie was his assistant, until the day Carlos was alive. ”