Thursday, January 29, 2009

Helio Gracie

Helio Gracie, the Gracie family patriarch and instrumental figure in the rise of early mixed martial arts, has passed away at the age of 95.

With his older brother Carlos, Helio, who died early Thursday is Rio de Janiero, helped create what we know today as Brazilian jiu jitsu.

With a slight build and weighing no more than 150 pounds, Gracie adapted traditional Japanese jiu-jitsu principles so that leverage and position could make up size differences between opponents.

Called Gracie jiu jitsu, which son Rorion used to help launch the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993, the fighting style would soon prove dominant. Another one of Helio's nine sons, UFC hall-of-famer Royce, successfully implemented the strategies in early UFC events despite facing significantly larger opponents.

Royce's and the fighting style's success sparked the explosion of modern jiu jitsu among the martial-arts world.

The discipline, now better known as Brazilian jiu jitsu, remains a key foundation in any MMA education.

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