According to sources Helio Gracie passed away while sleeping Thursday morning January 29th, at the age of ninety-five.
He was the man who coached his son Royce in defeating giants, a tradition which Helio Gracie himself upheld a few decades ago against the best and biggest technicians Japan had to offer. The splash the Gracie’s made in the Unites States became the UFC, the brainchild of Rorion Gracie who migrated to California and practiced BJJ out of a garage. Rickson and Royler took the art back to Japan were they would cement the status of Gracie Jiu Jitsu.
As the youngest of eight children, Helio became the most skilled and influential Jjiu Jitsu teacher in Brazil, learning the art from his older brother Carlos, who in turn had been taught this once secret art by Conde Koma, Otávio Mitsuyo Maeda a Japanese judoka who had immigrated to Brazil. Helio always challenged himself and fought legendary battles against much bigger men such as Masahiko Kimura and the marathon challenge of former student Valdemar Santana. Gracie never submitted to Kimura despite having his shoulder broken, it was his brother Carlos who threw in the towel. With his much younger student it was a long lesson, although he got KO’d with a kick from the huge man, but Helio most of all proved the power of technique and heart over pure power.
Master Helio is due to be buried today at 5:00 Today at Cemiterio de Petropolis. This is indeed a sad moment for his family and the world, as he was one of the great Brazilian innovators and a giant of an athlete despite his slight build and light frame. For the modern day MMA fan who still doesn’t appreciate this mans influence in the sport, its time to open your heart and appreciate the knowledge that has been passed on.