Helio Gracie–patriarch of the legendary Gracie MMA family–died earlier this year in Rio De Janeiro at age 95. His influence on martial arts, and even more so the sport that is known known as mixed martial arts, is staggering. The Gracie family name will forever be synonymous with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA and the UFC due to the accomplishments of Helio Gracie and his progeny.

Helio Gracie began his training in mixed martial arts early, and by his teenage years was already teaching judo. While he had no problem mastering the theoretical aspects of judo, he found that many of its techniques were less effective for a practitioner with a smaller build. Along with his brother Carlos, Gracie began to work out his own fighting system by adapting many of judo’s techniques and making them more a product of leverage rather than brute strength. This led to the creation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), frequently called Gracie Jiu Jitsu in his honor.

Gracie also had a professional fighting career of his own, taking on champions from other fighting disciplines in an early version of modern MMA. These bouts were arduous, unregulated affairs with arbitrary rules and no time limits. By his own recollection, Gracie fought 15 times against the top opponents of his time. He began his career in’32 by submitting professional boxer Antonio Portugal in just 32 seconds. Later that year, he fought American catch wrestler Frank Ebert to a draw after the ringside doctor ordered the bout stopped after an ungodly fourteen ten minute rounds.

His most famous battle was against Japanese judo legend Masahiko Kimura, resulting in a rare loss for Gracie. Despite the setback, he fought bravely and may have actually enhanced his legend after refusing to submit to a reverse arm bar (the same move that now bears Kimuras name). Only after his arm was broken did his brother Carlos throw in the towel.

Helio Gracie’s impact on fight sports and mixed martial arts would continue through his offspring. Married twice, he had seven sons (Rickson, Royler, Rolker, Royce, Relson, Robin and Rorion) and two daughters (Rerika and Ricci), many of whom went on to make their own mark on the fight sport world. Royce Gracie is well known as the first UFC superstar, while sons Rickson Royler, Renzo have also achieved considerable fame in professional MMA.

The cause of Gracies death was officially given as natural causes. He had been having stomach problems for several days prior to his passing, and was admitted to a Rio hospital for this reason. His seriously epic last words will go down as a fitting envoi to a man who gave so much of himself to fighting:

“I created a flag from the sports dignity. I oversee the name of my family with affection and nerves of blood.

Ross Everett is a freelance writer and respected authority on sports betting Uk marriage visa odds comparison. He writing has appeared on a variety of sports sites including sportsbooks and Uk marriage visa sportsbook directory sites. He lives in Las Vegas with three Jack Russell Terriers and a kangaroo. He is currently working on an autobiography of former interior secretary James Watt.

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