We continue with the 3rd part of the history of BJJ, the Helio lineage and how they incorporated Brazilian Jiu-jitsu into the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) events.
Relson is the second oldest son of Helio Gracie and a retired professional Brazilian Jiu-jitsu fighter. He along with his father and uncle, Carlos Gracie are known to be the ones who evolved the Kodokan Judo into what we today call Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, sometimes also known as ‘Gracie’ Jiu-jitsu.
He was only two years old when he started training and was competing by the time he turned ten. Relson was 18 when he earned his black belt and was the undefeated champion of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu National Championship for the next 22 years.
He is known to emphasize on techniques that are effective for street fights as he realized that people need to know how to defend themselves in situations outside of the dojo. As there are no rules when fighting on the streets, Relson evolved BJJ in his own way to teach survival when faced with unfavorable odds. Knowing how to defend in such situations is one of the essentials of Relson’s BJJ training.
When the Ultimate Fighting Championship organized its first ever event, Relson was the one who helped train Royce Gracie for the fights. The UFC rules at that time allowed Relson to train his younger brother in a way that would give him the advantage in such type of fighting. Royce was able to win three of the first four Ultimate Fighting Championships. With the new Unified Rules of MMA however, Relson’s techniques were no longer effective as the focus was changed towards grappling.
Relson has been awarded the rank of Grandmaster (Red Belt), the highest possible belt awarded to any BJJ practitioner. He has also trained the members of the local law enforcement agencies across North America.
The Gracie family had earned much fame due to the famous Open Challenge matches that pinned their BJJ art against other martial artists. This encouraged them to showcase their talents and their family’s art on a larger stage, the world.
It was in 1993 when the world first got to witness the Gracie family art in the first ever Ultimate Fighting Championship. It was a way for them to portray the effectiveness of their family’s art. This is why they chose the gentle submissive looking Royce Gracie to be the first BJJ fighter to represent the family on world stage of the UFC. Even though Royce’s opponent outweighed him by a massive 80 pounds, he was able to defeat him, winning the first ever UFC.
This marked the success of BJJ and got many martial artists around the world to learn its ways. The techniques of how a smaller and weaker person can defeat a larger stronger opponent is something desired by many. Even though the BJJ fighter lost their edge in the Mixed Martial Arts world due to fighters incorporating other martial arts, coming up with hybrid styles to fight in the UFC.
Brazilian Jiu-jitsu remains, and will continue to do so, a key component for any fighter who wants to excel at mixed martial arts. In fact, most of the ground submissions and positions MMA fighters learn originated from BJJ.
From the great Helio Gracie to his sons and BJJ practitioners worldwide, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu remains one of the best ways for people to learn self-defense. It does not matter whether you are a man or a woman, old or weak, the Gracie family, through their hard work and practice, has showed the way how every single person can learn to defend themselves and find physical and spiritual peace in the ways of this great martial art. Visit us at Arashi Do Martial Arts in Edmonton and learn the ways of Helio Gracie’s amazing martial art, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.
Come down to Arashi Do Edmonton and try out one of our great Brazilian programs like Fundamental BJJ, Women’s Only BJJ or Children’s BJJ for ages 4-7 and 8-14.
All those and you get a 30 DAY FREE TRIAL! As well as our 30 minute Fast Fitness program for FREE!