The “gentle art” of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu taught in our San Jose academy is a modified form of Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, as developed by Ralph Gracie’s grandfather Carlos Gracie, Sr. and as taught by Ralph Gracie here in the Bay Area since 1996. Initially borne in Sao Palo Brazil, the Gracie family spread their knowledge across the United States and worldwide, including to the historic Ralph Gracie Mountain View dojo.
I. Traditional Jiu-Juitsu Introduced in Brazil from Japan
Before being exposed to Brazil, Jiu-Jitsu was developed first Japan as a method of unarmed grapppling and self-defense, along with Judo. It was teh battlefield art of the Samurai. The traditional system of Jiu-Jitsu was not shared during the period of isolation in Japan. In 1914, master of Japanese Jiu Jitsu, Esai Meda Koma, also known as “Conde Koma” traveled to Brazil where he was assisted by a politician in the Gracie family, Gastao Gracie. In return for helping him, Conde Koma spent 1-year teaching Gastao’s Gracie’s eldest son, and Ralph Gracie’s grandfather, Carlos Gracie, Sr. the secret art of Jiu Jitsu. Carlos was young and athletic, so he progressed quickly.
II. Development of Jiu-Jitsu by Gracie Family in Brazil
Armed with this new knowledge, Carlos Gracie moved to Rio de Janeiro and started to teach jiu-jitsu. He began to modify the sport away from the traditional style once Carlos was no longer confined by the strict teachings of Conda Koma along with his youngest, and much smaller brother, Helio. They began experimenting and modifying techniques that did not require as much strength. Members of the Gracie family began to demonstrate the evolving art in a series of challenges against other combat forms. Ralph Gracie was born into this tradition along with brothers Renzo and Ryan. Ralph received his black belt from Carlos Gracie’s son, Carlos Gracie, Jr., at the age of 21.
A more general history of BJJ listed in Wikipedia
III. Introduction of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to the Bay Area
In 1993, Royce Gracie shocked the world by winning the first Ultimate Fighting Championships held in Denver, Colorado, demonstrating the dominance of Brazilian jiu-jitsu over other combat forms and marital arts. Rather than select a more accomplished Gracie fighter, Royce was chosen for his smaller stature to further demonstrate the effectiveness of leverage in Brazilian jiu-jitsu against larger opponents. The sport that Rorion Gracie had been teaching out of a small garage in southern California was poised to explode in popularity.
Ralph, along with other Gracie’s out of Rio de Janeiro, moved to different areas of the United States to teach the craft developed by Carlos Gracie, Sr. For example, Renzo Gracie covered the New York area on the east coast, Carols Gracie, Jr. of Gracie Barra covered the sothern California area, Carlson Gracie, Sr. covered the Chicago area in the midwest, and Ralph covered the norther California area (along with Cesar Gracie and Charles Gracie).
In 1996, the Mountain View academy opened its doors. The Ralph Gracie Mountain View academy would quickly become one of the most sigificant dojos in the United States.
In 2019, the orignal Ralph Gracie academy reolcated to San Jose.