The Legend of the Gracie Family

Master Renzo Gracie is one of the key reasons Evolve MMA exists today

Anyone familiar with the history of MMA will need no introduction to the Gracie family. For those wondering where this legendary name, which keeps cropping up at Evolve MMA, comes from, here is a quick introduction.

In the early 20th century, a businessman in Brazil named Gastao Gracie befriended a Japanese immigrant who was also an expert at Kodokan Judo. In return for his friendship, the Judoka, Mitsuyo Maeda, gave free lessons to Gastao's son, Carlos. However, it was Carlos’ brother, Helio, who was responsible for refining the Judo skills he had been taught into what we know today as BJJ. A small man, Helio was not particularly big or strong and as a result needed to develop a martial arts system which relied almost exclusively on technique. This was how Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), a key component of mixed martial arts, was born and the techniques have been passed down from generation to generation of Gracies ever since.

Helio became famous in Brazil for competing in no-rules, challenge matches. He fought anyone anywhere, irrespective of size, strength, or background. Helio won almost all of his matches. Before passing away at the ripe age of 95 in 2009, Helio was able to pass on his great legacy to other family members such as Rickson Gracie, Renzo Gracie, Royce Gracie, and many others.

Rickson Gracie is widely viewed to be the most technical BJJ fighter in the Gracie Family. He won several Vale Tudo tournaments in Japan and a movie entitled ‘Choke’ was made about his exploits. Rickson has a flawless, smooth, and technical style of BJJ.

Royce Gracie is probably the most famous Gracie member due to his involvement in the UFC in the early days. He was not chosen to represent the Gracie Family because he was the best or the strongest. On the contrary, he was not the best, the most technical, or the strongest of the Gracie Family. A skinny man with good technique, Royce was chosen to represent the everyday man on the street in the UFC.

Renzo Gracie is widely considered to be the toughest Gracie member in terms of fighting. Renzo possesses a lion heart, excellent technique, and an unbreakable will. His willingness to fight anyone anywhere gained him huge respect in the mixed martial arts world. He traveled all over the globe to face legendary fighters such as Matt Hughes, Dan Henderson, Franks Shamrock, BJ Penn, Kazushi Sakuraba and Pat Miletich. To this day, he is the most experienced Gracie member in terms of vale tudo and MMA.

It is doubtful whether Evolve MMA would even exist were it not for Renzo Gracie. Renzo is responsible for introducing Muay Thai expert Chatri Sityodtong to BJJ in New York City and eventually awarding him his blue belt after 3 years of daily training at Renzo Gracie Academy. Chatri Sityodtong would later then go on to launch Evolve MMA in Singapore with the blessing and help of his BJJ master, Renzo Gracie. It was Renzo who inspired Chatri to open his own mixed martial arts academy and Evolve MMA is still affiliated with Renzo Gracie as an official Renzo Gracie Academy to this very day. In fact, Rafael Gordinho, the former General Manager of Renzo Gracie Academy in New York, is the global head of the BJJ Program at Evolve MMA.

As a result of the friendship between Chatri Sityodtong and Renzo Gracie, several members of the Gracie family regularly travel to Singapore to train at Evolve MMA and also to give seminars. Roger Gracie, an unbeaten mixed martial artist and the most decorated BJJ fighter in history, was at Evolve MMA earlier this year to hone his Muay Thai for MMA. Rising star, Igor Gracie, has also trained at Evolve MMA. When Rolles Gracie fought at Art of War in China in 2009, Chatri was a member of the corner team who witnessed his first round submission win. Gregor Gracie will be competing at ONE Fighting Championship in September and he intends to hold his training camp out of Evolve MMA. Finally, Kyra Gracie a five times BJJ world champion will be here in October to train Muay Thai and to give a seminar.

The ties between Evolve MMA and the Gracie family run deep. Evolve MMA might be one of the top martial arts camps on the planet, but it will never forget where it came from and you can expect to see many members of the Gracie Family training and giving seminars here for many years to come.

Evolve Mixed Martial Arts® is Asia's premier brand of MMA academies. With World Champions in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing, and No Gi Grappling, Evolve MMA is the top martial arts training organization in Asia. It ranks among the best martial arts academies in the world.