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What is “Gracie Humaitá”?

Gracie Humaitá (pronounced ‘oo-mai-TAH’) is the name of the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy in the world. Founded by Hélio Gracie and his brothers in the 1920s, the Gracie Humaitá team represents the purest and most direct connection to the founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.  Today, the name also represents the network of schools around the world that serve as direct representatives of that lineage and of Hélio’s son, Royler Gracie.

Gracie Humaitá Austin is a key part of the global Gracie Humaitá network.  We are the ONLY school in Austin that is a direct affiliate of the original Gracie Jiu-Jitsu academy in Brazil.  While nearly every Jiu-Jitsu academy can claim at least a distant connection to the Gracie family through their instructors (and their instructor’s instructor), we are proud to be able to represent a direct lineage to the founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.  Our instructor, Donald Park, has ben a long-time representative of the family and received his black belt directly from Royler Gracie in 2009.

A Brief History. . .

In 1925, the Gracie family opened the first Jiu-Jitsu academy in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, taking the first steps in what would be a worldwide revolution that would change the face of martial arts, fighting and self-defense forever.  Working with the roots of Japanese Ju-Jitsu / Judo that they learned, the Gracie brothers (most notably Hélio Gracie) transformed the traditional Japanese martial art into the most effective form of self-defense and fighting in the world – emphasizing leverage and technique over speed and coordination, such that the art could be effective for people of all sizes.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of the art over other forms of fighting, Hélio Gracie and his brothers (Carlos, Oswaldo, Gastão Jr, and George) challenged all comers in Brazil and across the world.  For decades, the family remained undefeated, besting opponents of all sizes and from all backgrounds, utilizing the efficient techniques of what became known as “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu”.  Through these contests, the Gracies proved with devastating effectiveness the dominance of Jiu-Jitsu and helped solidify the art in the consciousness of fighters and citizens across Brazil.  (Decades later, Hélio’s eldest son, Rorion Gracie would create the Ultimate Fighting Championship, spreading worldwide the revelation his father had brought to Brazil.)

As the popularity of Jiu-Jitsu exploded across Brazil, Hélio and his brothers expanded to a new location in the 1960s.  Using this as the headquarters of their efforts, they would refine the art’s curriculum and lay the groundwork for what would one day be more broadly known as “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu”.  This academy was located in the Botafogo district of Rio, and was named simply – Academia Gracie de Jiu-Jitsu.

In years to come, as some of Hélio’s students and relatives would open additional schools, those academies would be similarly named – early offshoots included Academia Gracie de Jiu-Jitsu – Copacabana, and Academia Gracie de Jiu-Jitsu – Barra da Tijuca. Always ones to promote efficiency, these academies became known by their more familiar names – Carlson Gracie Team and Gracie Barra, respectively.  The family’s original academy, having been located on Humaitá Street, became known as Gracie Humaitá.

Today, as if to serve as an enduring example of how effective a small entity can be with the right technique, the academy remains in the same location – 52 Rua Humaitá – on the second floor of a small private school in a bustling district in Rio de Janeiro.

From early family champions Rolls and Rickson Gracie to UFC champion Royce Gracie and his younger brother, Royler, this small academy has produced the greatest champions in the history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  Today, the Gracie Humaitá team represents the purest traditions of the Gracie family, staying true to the original teachings of Hélio Gracie and following in the leadership of his son, Royler (who has taken over his father role as patriarch of the Gracie Humaitá legacy).  There is no more direct lineage to the founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and no legacy as pure and deeply rooted as that of the Gracie Humaitá team.


The Gracie brothers and their father Hélio