Our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Heritage
Jiu Jitsu, or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as it is commonly named outside Brazil, is a grappling orientated martial art/combat sport that evolved from its Japanese roots in 1920′s Brazil, and continued to evolve for many decades after until its present format. This style though previously established in its native country, became highly popular within the northern hemisphere after a series of performances from BJJ fighter Royce Gracie in the early UFC’s (Ultimate Fighting Championship) where he battled against competitors from many different martial arts backgrounds in the no holds barred tournament, becoming the fighting promotion’s first champion. This event proved Jiu Jitsu’s efficiency and helped raise awareness all around the world, becoming one of the reasons behind the sport’s growth (but not the only one).
2000 BC - The Origins of Jiu-Jitsu
It is difficult to say precisely at what point in time or where exactly Jiu-Jitsu originated. Despite the efforts of many historians and evidence pointing to Buddhist monks in India, basic elements of grappling can be traced back to places like Greece, India, China, Rome, and even Native America.
When trying to understand the ultimate source of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, one must avoid the simplification of attributing its creation to a person, group, or period in time. Jiu-Jitsu, as we understand it today, is a natural and intuitive way of fighting that has rudimentary manifestations in various cultures in different historic moments.
A martial art is comprised of more than just techniques or fighting strategies. The philosophy that defines the purpose of practice, and the moral code of the practitioners, is a powerful element that determines not only the direction of technical development, but the survival or death of the art itself.
356 BC - Jiu-Jitsu in India
Looking from that point of view, it then makes perfect sense to associate Buddhist monks in India around 2,000 B.C. with the origins of Jiu-Jitsu.
The Buddhist value system of deep respect for all forms of life allowed the development of such a system of self-defense that aimed to neutralize an aggression without necessarily harming the aggressor. Wrapped around important Buddhist principles like acting in a non-harmful way, and the pursuit of self-mastery and enlightenment, Jiu-Jitsu served well the self-defense needs of monks and spread throughout Asia towards China and later Japan, following the Buddhism expansion on that continent.
1700 - Jiu-Jitsu in Japan: The Golden Age and Decline of the Gentle Art
While it is safe to assume that rudimentary versions of Jiu-Jitsu appeared in many cultures in different points in time, it was the feudal Japan of the second millennia A.C that the art encountered a fertile environment, allowing it to flourish and establish itself as a widespread style of combat.
In a country fragmented by the feudal system, with each feud having its own set of warriors – the samurai – Jiu- Jitsu became a necessary fighting skill for combat survival. But the term “Jiu-Jitsu” (jujutsu) was not coined until the 17th A.C century, after which time it became a blanket term for a wide variety of grappling-related disciplines.
Jiu-Jitsu evolved among the samurai as a method for defeating an armed and armored opponent without weapons. Because striking against an armored opponent proved ineffective, practitioners learned that the most efficient methods for neutralizing an enemy took the form of pins, joint locks, and throws. These techniques were developed around the principle of using an attacker’s energy against him, rather than directly opposing it.
However, with the Meiji Restoration, a political movement that put an end to the Japanese feudal system and triggered the industrialization of that country, the prestigious class of the samurai lost its primary importance.
The radical political, cultural, and social transformations that took place in Japan in the 19th century, made Jiu-Jitsu gravitate from a reputable art of combat to illegal practice, as the government made efforts to reprimand the bloody combats that were taking place from the jobless former Samurais and there disciples.
1882 - Kano Jiu-Jitsu
Jigoro Kano (1860-1938), member of the Japanese Ministry of Culture and Martial Artist, played an important role in rescuing Jiu-Jitsu’s reputation in times of peace.
Kano understood how Jiu-Jitsu could serve not only as a combat tool, but also as an effective way to educate the individual and allow men and women to embrace a more balanced lifestyle by developing their potential. In other words, Kano realized Jiu-Jitsu could be used as a powerful educational tool that could support the development of any human being and envisioned it supporting the Japanese goals for social and economic development.
Complementing his updated training philosophy, Kano made an effort to adopt new training methods and remove dangerous techniques. These changes allowed practitioners to engage in safe, but intense training drills with full resistance – what we know as sparring or live training today.
This new philosophical and methodological approach to the practice of Jiu-Jitsu created a very positive impact on the Japanese society. It helped Jiu-Jitsu regain its social status that had been declining since the Meiji Restoration. The new approach became famous back then as Kano Jiu-Jitsu and later on as Judo.
In conjunction with Kano’s deep training philosophy and innovative training methods, many rules were introduced in order to redefine the focus of practice. The ground fighting – the backbone of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – was minimized and restricted to a few moves.
That created an interesting paradox: while Kano’s reforms contributed tremendously to the survival of a millenary martial art tradition, the focus on take downs created a fragmented fighting style that lost the connection with the essence of Jiu-Jitsu and the reality of real combat. In parallel to the regained reputation of Jiu-Jitsu in Japanese society, came a decline of ground fighting, the most powerful set of skills Jiu-Jitsu had to offer.
Among Kano’s remarkable students, though was Mitsuyu Maeda, a fighter who benefited from Kano’s innovations, but who had his roots in other Jiu-Jitsu schools that emphasized ground fighting and self-defense skills under real combat situations.
Maeda, who later became famous as Count Koma, had above average skills and was sent overseas to help spread Jiu-Jitsu to different cultures in the world. After traveling to many countries including the US, Central America, and Europe, Maeda landed in Brazil in 1914. There he would meet a young boy named Carlos Gracie and plant the seed that would keep alive the essence of Jiu-Jitsu.
1914 - Jiu-Jitsu Arrives in Brazil
Maeda meets Gracie – Count Koma
A champion in his own right and student of Jigoro Kano, Maeda began his travels abroad with a group of men who participated in challenge matches across the globe. In 1914 he landed in the northern state of Para, Brazil, to help establish the Japanese colony in that region.
Settling down in Belem do Para, it was natural for Maeda to make use of his outstanding fighting skills in demonstrations, shows, and even circuses as a way to make a living and spread the Japanese Culture.
The first time Carlos Gracie met Count Koma, was at one of these demonstrations. Carlos was amazed by Koma’s ability to defeat other opponents who were much bigger and stronger than him.
Carlos Gracie was a wild kid who was slipping out of control and away from his father, Gastao and mother, Cesalina. Energetic and rebellious, Carlos was giving them a lot of trouble. Knowing that Maeda just started a Jiu-Jitsu program in town, Gastao decided to take Carlos there to learn from the Japanese as a way to calm down and discipline his son. Carlos was a troubled teenager that Maeda took under his wing and taught his style, though Carlos wasn’t the only student taught by Count Coma, nor was he the only one to develop his own Jiu Jitsu School. One other student of Maeda also spread his seed into Jiu-Jitsu’s landscape, Luis França. There were other Japanese Jiu Jitsu masters teaching Jiu Jitsu in Brazil who were lesser known, though still relevant to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu today, people like Takeo Iano in the North of Brazil and Kazuo Yoshida in Bahia.
1916 - Carlos Gracie
Mitsuyu Maeda introduced Carlos to Jiu-Jitsu, at the age of 14. He became an avid student for a few years. The studies under Maeda had a profound impact on his mind. He never before sensed the level of self-control and self-confidence Jiu- Jitsu practice allowed him to experience.
The connection he felt with his body in each training session allowed Carlos to gain a deeper understanding about his nature, limitations, and strengths, and brought him a sense of peace that he never felt before in his life. The times with Maeda did not last for long, though. Less then 5 years from the day he started, Carlos had to move to Rio de Janeiro with his parents and siblings.
Arriving at the then capital of Brazil at the age of 20, Carlos Gracie had difficulties adapting to a normal life and working at a regular job. Even though he worked in governmental institutions, Carlos’ wild spirit would not allow him to settle down. His desire to teach the art he learned from Maeda was already burning and he decided to go after it.
The profession of Martial Arts instructor at the beginning of the 20th century in Brazil was not exactly the most promising. People’s awareness about it was practically nonexistent, making it really hard to find students who would be willing to pay a tuition in exchange for instruction.
The only people to see value in what Carlos Gracie had to teach were Law Enforcement officials. An opportunity finally arose for Carlos to teach outside of Rio de Janeiro, in the state of Minas Gerais.
The passion for Jiu-Jitsu and Koma’s dedication to make him a Champion, allowed Carlos to discover a new meaning in his life. From then on, Carlos started to use and see Jiu-Jitsu as a tool to help him find his way through the world. More than that, with time, he elected Jiu-Jitsu as an ideal worth fighting for and embraced it with strength and determination.
Reila Gracie had good opportunities to make a living. After a few years in Minas, Carlos decided to move to Sao Paulo and then back to Rio. His free spirit and faith in the great things Jiu-Jitsu could do for common people seemed to have made it hard for him to restrict his teachings to police officers and members of law enforcement agencies.
1925 - The First Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu School is Founded by Carlos Gracie
The first Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu School was founded in 1925 at Rua Marquês de Abrantes 106, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At the age of 23 years old, Carlos Gracie understood well the amazing benefits Jiu-Jitsu could bring to one’s life. Founding a school represented a very important milestone in his decision to grow Jiu-Jitsu Gracie as a national sport in Brazil.
The Marquês de Abrantes school was not exactly what one would expect as the pioneer power house of Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. With limited resources and concerned with the well being of his younger brothers, all Carlos could afford was a small house where he turned the living room into a training area.
In that house Carlos united his brothers and engaged them in his life project. He knew it would be impossible to accomplish such a gigantic task alone and started to teach his younger brothers, Oswaldo (1904), Gastao (1906), George (1911), and Helio (1913).
The first generation of Gracie brothers living and working in the same house seems to have forged the family spirit that flowed down through generations and was so important to the extraordinary success the Gracie Family achieved over the years.
1932 - The Helio Gracie Era
Helio Gracie was just a kid when the Marques de Abrantes school opened its doors in 1925. At 12 years old, he was too young to help with the classes or in the running of the school.
Carlos was really busy teaching and managing the family business, so Helio’s first lessons in BJJ were delegated to his other brothers, Gastao, Oswaldo and George. It was not until later that Carlos started to notice Helio’s talent, and dedicated more time to teach and train him.
Helio’s small size and relatively weak physical condition made it difficult to execute some of the positions properly. In order to progress and earn the attention and admiration of his older brothers, especially Carlos, Helio had to research alternate jiu-jitsu methods, which worked for him. His discoveries emphasized leverage and timing over strength and speed.
The adaptations of techniques Helio learned from his brothers were mastered through trial and error with the end result being the further development and refinement of the Jiu-Jitsu Gracie.
Under the tutelage of his brother, instructor, and mentor Carlos, Helio participated in countless fights, including a 3 hour 43 minute fight against a former student, Valdemar Santana. Helio’s courage, tenacity, and discipline turned him into a national hero.
Though Helio became possibly the most famous family member of the Gracie brothers, it was George Gracie the one that held the family’s name highest competitively from that first generation of Gracie combatants. Helio Gracie did compete successfully also, but his two most famous fights were also his worst defeats, to Masahiko Kimura and Waldemar Santana, two fights he lost when he was already reaching his 40’s against bigger and younger men.
As Carlos Gracie got more involved with the business side of the family and George’s wild ways separated him from his brothers chain of thought, it was Helio that took responsibility in keeping the school a tight unit. Helio Gracie was also given the responsibility of raising most of Carlos Gracie’s household, teaching them the family martial arts trade. Since the 1920’s the Gracie family has been able to produce consistent talent through every generation, making it one of the strongest martial arts lineages in the world and the strongest amongst Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Carlos, Gastao, Oswaldo, George and Helio built the first generation of Gracie fighters. Although Carlos and Helio ended up being really close and spending decades working and living together, all five brothers had an enormous contribution to the growth of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil in the first half of the 20th century.
Important Figures in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Jiu Jitsu has not lacked charismatic and meaningful people people in it’s history, here is a small capture of some important figures in chronological order:
Carlos Gracie: The founder of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, Carlos was the visionary behind the movement that became the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Carlos opened the first Gracie Jiu Jitsu school and taught Jiu Jitsu to all his brothers.
The Gracie family’s first champion, George fought in several different styles (Jiu Jitsu – with kimono), Luta Livre (grappling), Wrestling and Vale Tudo (no holds barred). He fought for over two decades; he would also break his bond with his brothers and even compete against them in the end of his career.
He had his first no holds barred fight in 1932 when he was 18 years old – win by choke within a minute. Helio would put a 12 year break in his career in 1938 at his prime due to personal reasons. He returned to run the Gracie school and also to compete, having two of his toughest career defeats in this second career turn (Santana and Kimuta), but also one of his proudest wins (against Kato).
One of Carlos Gracie’s most prolific students, the man from the Ceará region of Brazil fought and defeated numerous competitors in the name of Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He would also help develop the sport in the state of Sao Paulo in the 1950’s.
The son of Carlos Gracie was indeed one of the sports greatest icons both competitively and as a coach. He raised the bar of Jiu Jitsu competing for several decades. He was also a visionary coach, being the first instructor to have group classes rather then the one-on-one style of coaching utilized by his predecessors. His team would become one of the strongest in both MMA and BJJ in the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s.
Fadda was one of the first coaches outside Rio de Janeiro leaving behind one of the strongest non Gracie Jiu Jitsu lineages in the country with links in teams such as Nova Uniao, GF Team and many others.
He had a strong Judo pedigree which helped raise awareness of this aspect of grappling amongst the Gracies. His technical knowledge was of great importance, and his close contact with Reyson and Rolls Gracie in the 60’s and 70s’ would help further develop the sport. He has also taught several BJJ world champions.
One of the first “Vale Tudo” men to cross train in different martial arts, Ivan was a fierce competitor that helped elevate the Jiu Jitsu name. He was considered Carlson Gracie’s toughest opponent by Carlson himself. The two would open a BJJ academy together years after their bout.
The big name of the decade and one of the biggest names in the sport, period. His ideas on cross training in Judo, Wrestling and Sambo were visionary at the time, and they helped set the pace of the sport in the right direction while also developing it technically. He was a tremendous competitor and the family’s champion during the 70s and his BJJ lineage has left its mark and is one of the strongest in the world with Alliance, Gracie Barra, Checkmat and Brasa medalling consistently in tournaments around the world. His death came very prematurely and his relevance could have been even bigger if he had lived until today an age.
Carlos Gracie, Jr.
After the death of Rolls Gracie, Carlinhos took the helm of his academy; he would later launch a Gracie Academy in what were the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro in the neighbourhood of Barra da Tijuca. This team would become one of the larger players from the 1990s onwards. Carlos Gracie Jr also became the president of the largest Jiu-Jitsu’s federation and really put Jiu-Jitsu’s name on the map at an international level.
The Gracie family stud in the 1980’s and for the most of the 1990’s, Rickson is famed for his invincible record. After the disappearing of Rolls Gracie left a big whole in the family and the sport, Rickson was of tremendous influence, keeping the flame alive while bringing the sport’s awareness in other parts of the world such as Japan and the United States.
The legendary Rickson Gracie disciple was a tremendous student of the game, being considered throughout his career as the number 2 ranked fighter in the world (pound for pound), second only to Rickson Gracie. Though his death was a tragedy to the sport, his legacy lived on and the wealth of knowledge he brought to Sao Paulo helped develop the sport in that region (which is today arguably the strongest in the world when it comes to BJJ).
Ricardo De La Riva
A creator and developer of positions, De La Riva was one of the strongest competitors of his generation having also contributed to the technical development of BJJ.
The leader of the Alliance team was one of the strongest competitors of his generation; he was also of great importance to BJJ with his win over Denilson Maia at the Jiu Jitsu vs Luta Livre challenge. In the 1990’s he went from fierce competitor, to defender of Jiu Jitsu’s pride and founding member of one of BJJ’s most important schools.
Already an important figure of Jiu Jitsu in the 1980’s, Royler a Gracie champion of his own merit, setting the record for World Jiu Jitsu Championships and ADCC gold medals. Royler was the first king of the featherweight division and the first truly dominant BJJ’er in the new CBJJ/IBJJF era.
Royce probably brought more awareness to Jiu Jitsu then anyone on the planet. His wins at the early UFC’s put Jiu Jitsu on the cover of most martial arts magazines in the world.
The Carlson Gracie champion made headlines numerous times throughout the decade. His wins over Gracie family members Ralph, Renzo and Royce helped put his name and the name of his academy on the map, but it was his back and forth antics with Ryan Gracie rea0lly kept the press working over time. Wallid was also one of Carlson Gracie’s most loyal students.
Roberto Correa, Nino Schembri, Roberto Magalhaes
Roberto Correa/ Nino Schembri / Roberto Magalhaes: 3 very important figures for Jiu Jitsu, all 3 were world champions; however it is in the development of the technical aspect of the sport that they will always be remembered. Correa is regarded as the father of the half guard, having helped develop that position tremendously. Schembri also developed several important positions from the guard including the gogoplata and will always be remembered as one of the sports most creative fighters, while “Roleta” Magalhaes developed the inverted guard (today also called tornado guard), another important position that came as a true puzzle when it was first introduced in the competition circuit.
Waldomiro Perez, "Junior"
Waldomiro Perez "Junior": Waldomiro Perez Junior is a historical Jiu Jitsu figure in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo. A black belt in BJJ underMarcelo Behring and a Judo black belt under Olympic bronze medallist Shiak Ishi, Waldomiro Perez has graduated important fighters such as Roberto Godoi, Jorge Patino and Max Trombini. He was among the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts to embrace cross training with other fighting systems which led to his role as the grappling coach for the famous MMA reality show “The Ultimate Fighter” on (TUF7 and TUF10. He was also the founder of Cia Paulista, one of the most important BJJ academies in Sao Paulo, that currently has academies in over 40 countries and more than 500 black belts. Junior is a 2x Pan American gold medalist (2001, 2003), 2x Pan American silver medalist (1996,1999) and a Pan American bronze medalist (2000).
Fernando "Terere" Augusto
Most likely the first star in sport Jiu Jitsu, the flamboyant black belt under Alexandre Paiva was one of the big stars at the turn of the millennium. He was always a very athletic fighter who loves a challenge, including fighting 4 weight categories above his weight class (in 2004) at the Word Championship, earning a silver medal for his effort. He also made a significant impact as a coach raising the games of Andre Galvao and Luca Lepri.
Godoi is a black belt under Cia Paulista's Waldomiro Perez, "Junior" and was one of the top competitors of his generation as well as one of the big names to come out of the Sao Paulo grappling circuit. Godoi massed more than 15 national and international titles from 2000-2010 and drew more attention to the Cia Paulista and G13 teams in Sao Paulo. Godoi was the founder of one of the strongest teams in the region, The Macaco/Godoi (today G13), Godoi is also famed for his bitter break up with his team partner Jorge “Macaco” Patino in 2001, a break up that made the headlines of many magazines and turned into a heated rivalry on and off the mats. Their rivalry was on display at tournaments and MMA events.
Saulo Ribeiro, Xande Ribeiro
The Ribeiro brothers together have 11 world BJJ gold medals and 4 ADCC first spots; they have competed and won against the best fighters of their generation. They have also developed a fair share of interesting black belt talent through their academy in California.
A BJJ phenomenon, this multiple time world champion in Jiu Jitsu has proven his worth numerous times with and without the gi. His charisma has also gathered a legion of fans around him, and he is regarded as one of the most talented fighters to have ever competed in BJJ.
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza
Anther amazing competitor that came from the city of Manaus (like the Ribeiro Bros), “Jacare” as he is known annihilated his opposition before turning to MMA.
There is only one Roger Gracie and in BJJ there are no adjectives that can quantify this man’s greatness within the sport. The amount of titles could speak for themselves, but the emphatic fashion in which he managed to pull off his wins is of tremendous significance. If it has been said that there was a time before Rolls Gracie and a time after Rolls Gracie, the same can be said about Roger Gracie.
The Atos standout really made a mark as the most dominant featherweight of his generation, establishing that status at the age of 20. He also developed (alongside his Atos camp) several positions, being the 50-50 guard the most significant.
Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida
Before completing his twentieth birthday Buchecha was already revered as the “Next Big Thing” in grappling, a claim he confirmed with successive podium achievements in the black belt divisions, including a double win (weight and open weight division) at the 2012 , 2013, 2014 and 2015 world championship, having become in the process, only the second man to win 3 open weight world championships (the other being Roger Gracie), and the first to win 3 in a row.
Another important reason why Jiu Jitsu has grown so fast since the 1990s has been the competition side that has been regulated by a governing body (IBJJF), there are different organizations spread thought the world with slightly different rules, though these (on this list) are broadly considered the biggest ones on the calendar.
The World Jiu Jitsu Championships (Mundial): The biggest tournament in the world has been running steadily since 1996, run by CBJJ/IBJJF.
The Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship (Pan American): The second most important tournament in IBJJF calendar, it has grown from strength to strength.
World Professional Jiu Jitsu Championship (World Pro Cup): One of the newest competitions to be added to the curriculum, this UAE based tournament gathers the top competitors in the world through a series of trials held in the majority of continents. It also has the advantage of awarding a large prize money to it’s contestants.
Brasileiro de Jiu Jitsu (Brazilian National Championship): One of the oldest and the most prestigious competition still held in Brazilian soil. The “Brasileiro” is a big opportunity for some of jiu jitsu’s elite to showcase their skills, specially those that cannot get a visa to enter the USA where the Mundial and the Pan are held.
European Open Championship: The best chance European “Jiujiteiros” have to showcase their skills to the broader public, this event is held in Lisbon, Portugal every year in January and it marks the opening of the CBJJ/IBJJF calendar for the year.
Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC): Not made specifically for Jiu Jitsu, it is the largest and most prestigious submission grappling event on the planet. BJJ practitioners have been the most successful style within the ADCC rule set.
The BJJ Rules:
The rules of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are not simple; in fact refereeing has been a touchy subject because of this. In order to leave the sports essence intact while trying to preserve it’s competitors from serious risk there have been many unconventional rules added to the manual throughout the years. Different tournaments also may apply different rules (as we see happening with the World Pro Cup and the ADCC). One of the hardest and one of the most controversial rules to judge has been the “reaping of the knee” rule, still the basic concept behind the rules of Jiu Jitsu is, if you advance/improve your positioning you get awarded points, if you force your opponent to tap (give up) due to a choke or joint lock pressure you immediately win the contest.
The Main Points Are:
“Queda” – Throw or Takedown: If both challengers are standing, and one initiates and succeeds at taking the other to the mat, he is awarded 2 points.
“Raspada/Raspagem” – Sweep: If your opponent is within your guard (any kind of guard) and you invert the position (you landing on top and your opponent on the bottom) you are awarded two points.
“Passagem de Guarda” – Guard Pass: If you are inside your opponents guard and manage to escape that position, still maintaining top position, you have improved your position and therefore are awarded 3 points.
“Pegada de Costas” – Back Mount: Regardless of where you are, if you manage to take your oponents back and place both feet around the inside of your opponent thighs (hooks), controlling him that way, you are awarded 4 points (you will need to place the hooks, body triangle will not score points).
“Montada” – Mount: On top position with both legs around the opponent’s torso with knees on the ground, 4 points.
The bouts in the adult black belt division are 10 minutes long, and the opponent with the most points at the end wins the fight.
Celebrities who train(ed) BJJ
In hitting main stream, several celebrities have embracedBrazilian Jiu-Jitsu, some even reaching the degree of black belt. Here are a few names of famous people that have joined in:
Chuck Norris (Actor): Black belt under Jean Jacques Machado
Spencer Pratt (Celebrity)
Heidi Montag (Celebrity)
Ashton Kutcher (Actor): Trains with Rigan Machado and trained with Ricardo De La Riva
Eve Torres (Professional Wrestler)
Nicolas Cage (Actor): Training under Royce Gracie
Chris Conrad (Actor): Training under Jean Jacques Machado.
Jim Carrey (Actor)
Steven Daniells-Silva (Dancer): Training under Andre Pederneiras
Michael Clarke Duncan (Actor, Former Bodyguard): Trains at Gracie Academy in Torrance, CA.
Michael Dudikoff (Actor)
Sean Patrick Flanery (Actor): Black belt under Shawn Williams (Renzo Gracie).
Olivier Gruner (Actor, Kickboxer)
Steve Irwin (Deceased) (Wildlife Expert/Television Personality)
Kevin James (Actor)
Milla Jovovich (Actress/Model/Fashion Designer/Singer)
Richard Norton (Martial Artist/Actor/Stuntman): Black belt under Jean Jacques Machado.
Ed O’Neill (Actor): Black belt under Rorion Gracie
CM Punk (Professional Wrestler and current holder of the World Heavyweight Championship in Professional Wrestling
Guy Ritchie (Director): Training under Renzo Gracie and Waldomiro Perez, Jr.
Joe Rogan (Comedian/Actor/Sports Commentator): Training under Eddie Bravo
Jason Statham (Actor)
Paul Walker (Actor/Model): Training under Ricardo “Franjinha” Miller.
Mario Van Peebles (Actor/Writer/Director)
The Undertaker (Professional Wrestler)
Alexandre Frota (Brazilian Actor)
Raul Gazola (Brazilian Actor)
Mauricio Mattar (Brazilian Actor): Black Belt from Gracie Barra
Anthony Bourdain trains under Renzo Gracie
Tim Tebow under Ralek and Ryron Gracie
Michael Clark Duncan (Green Mile) trained under Ryron and Rener Gracie
Mel Gibson trained under Rorion Gracie
Ulises Bella (Musician):
Harley Flanagan (Musician): Training under Renzo Gracie.
Rakaa Iriscience (Musician): Training under Ryron and Rener Gracie
Tommy Lee (Musician)
Herman Li (Musician)
Maynard James Keenan (Musician): Training under Rickson Gracie.
Alex Varkatzas (Musician): Training under Cleber Luciano
Rikki Rockett (Musician): Black belt under Renato Magno.
Ben Granfelt (Musician.): Training under Alexandre Paiva.
Zack Roth (Musician): Training under Mike Mrkulic.
Bruce Williams (Blues Musician): Training under Mike Mrkulic.
Ice T (Rapper/Actor)