Rickson Gracie is a universally respected competitor in BJJ due to the fact he was widely considered most talented by his peers in the Gracie family.
Roughly two years ago, he penned a book with the help of a co-writer and revealed many surprising things including that his mother was a servant at the house and not Helio Gracie’s wife as was previously thought.
But along the way, Gracie made many startling admissions that play a little too out there for many.
A thread compiling the list of insane excerpts from the book recently went viral on twitter. We’ve compiled some of the relevant stories verging on fiction:
“I COME FROM A LONG LINE OF PROUD AND PUGNACIOUS PEOPLE that I can trace back to Scotland, home of one of the world’s great warrior cultures. The Romans invaded Scotland (Caledonia) several times in the first three centuries AD, but the fiercely independent clans fought back with a fury that impressed even the mighty legions.”
“My distant relative Archibald Gracie filled a ship with precious cargo, sailed it to New York City, made a small fortune, and started a shipping business with American founding father Alexander Hamilton. ”
” I know this might sound like an exaggeration, but Hélio Gracie was to Jiu
Jitsu what Albert Einstein was to physics. ”
“My uncle Carlos was a very eccentric guy. He almost always wore white linen, walked around barefoot, and claimed that he had a direct, personal relationship with a benevolent spirit who gave him extrasensory perception (ESP). He often rose before dawn to meditate under the sun’s first rays, and he sunbathed naked because he believed doing so would help him sire strong children. My uncle talked about biorhythms, nutrition, digestion, food combining, but rarely traditional religion. He believed that the letters R, K, and C were powerful ones, which is why so many of my family’s names begin with them.”
“After the two loves of his life died, Carlos Gracie decided to father as many children, preferably boys, as possible, and he encouraged my father to do the same. Their goal was to create a clan of fighters. Between 1932 and 1967, Carlos and Hélio fathered thirty children with eight different women; twenty-one of them were boys. When Margarida, my father’s first wife, the woman I consider my mother, was unable to get pregnant, my uncle came up with a plan. My father, with my mother’s knowledge and consent, would impregnate our African Brazilian babysitter, Belinha, who gave birth to me and my older brothers Rorion and Relson. The whole thing was an elaborate ruse. Margarida wore a fake belly during Belindha’s pregnancies and when the time came for her to give birth, she went to the hospital and came home with a baby. Not even her best friends knew! When I was young and looked at myself in the mirror and saw my freckles, I thought they were from my Scottish blood. Little did I know that I was half African Brazilian!”
“Even though Margarida was passionately in love with him, their relationship was one-sided. Hélio was ice cold and didn’t care how anyone felt other than my uncle Carlos. He was old-fashioned Brazilian macho and believed that women belonged in the nursery and the kitchen. He even went so far as to say that he never loved a woman, because love was a manifestation of weakness, and that he had sex only for the sake of procreation. In his mind, his mission was bigger than these kinds of sensitivities. ”
“When I was born, in 1958, Carlos was well into his fifties and played no role in my martial-arts training. He was our family’s nutritionist and philosopher. ”
“. I grew up thinking that eating chocolate was like drinking rat poison! Coca-Cola? Poison! Cake and cookies? Poison! As kids, we were amazed by how much longer Uncle Carlos took to finish his meals; he would chew each bite for over a minute, and it would take him more than an hour to eat a small plate of food.”
“Both my dad and uncle believed in reincarnation, and Hélio thought that he had been a Japanese warrior in a previous life. Once, a spiritual medium, who claimed she could see past lives, came to our ranch with a family friend to pay a social visit. When the medium met my father, she began to cry in a series of convulsions and then said, “You were a bloody shogun in Japan!” ”
“The judoka outweighed my dad by eighty pounds and threw him around the ring like a rag doll but could not finish him. At one point, my dad went unconscious, but because he didn’t tap, Kimura thought his choke wasn’t working and released it, and Hélio regained consciousness.”
“My dad later said he got his samurai spirit from Kimura and named the bent-arm lock (ude garami in Judo) the kimura”
“As in his 1951 loss to Kimura, Hélio conceded that Santana had beaten him in a fair fight, but he was proud of the fact that he never quit and never considered himself defeated. This became a very important distinction for Gracies. From a very young age, it was drilled into us that there was no shame in losing but there was shame in quitting or not fighting. ”
“My father and uncle attempted to instill us with courage even as babies. One Gracie family tradition was to throw male babies into the air before their first birthday to build confidence and trust between father and son. The process is gradual. You start by just bouncing the baby in your hands. If he laughs, you bounce him a little higher. Next, you throw the baby a few inches in the air and let him fall back into your hands. Next, you throw him a foot in the air, and then another foot. My dad and uncle were able to play catch with some babies, like me and my brother Rolls. Not every Gracie baby rose to this challenge, and I believe that they used this as a test to determine which of us would be “game” fighters.”
“One day he said, “C’mon, boys, today we will go see Christ.””
There’s an actual picture of Helio Gracie playing catch with Rolls Gracie.
” Hélio now managed the property and had recently cut off water to some of the tenants because of a billing dispute. ”
“Even though the goons had threatened to kill my dad if he went to the police, after he got his wounds treated, Hélio went straight to the police station and reported the crime.”
“I REALLY BEGAN TO UNDERSTAND HOW DIFFERENT MY FAMILY WAS at the age of seven when I went to school for the first time. I was shocked when my mother dropped me off and I saw my classmates clinging to their mothers’ legs, crying, and pissing in their pants like babies. When the teacher asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, the other students gave the usual answers: fireman, nurse, cop, teacher. When she got to me, I said without hesitation, “A fighter! A champion!” I wanted to be just like my dad”
“One day, a classmate was bragging that he had five brothers and sisters. I laughed and told him that my uncle had twenty-one kids and seven wives!”
“Rolls was Uncle Carlos’s son from Claudia, an eighteen-year-old woman who worked for my family. Because my mother, Margarida, could not have children, Uncle Carlos gave Rolls to my dad to raise as his own son when he was a baby. ”
“I was embarrassed that I tapped while Rolls had watched. I got home and asked him to roll me up in the carpet for ten minutes and not to let me out no matter how loud I screamed or begged. It was summertime and very hot in Rio. The rug stank. During the first few minutes inside the carpet cocoon, I thought I might suffocate and die. Once I resigned myself to my fate and embraced the discomfort, my breathing slowed and I lost all sense of time. The next day my brother rolled me up for fifteen minutes, and by the end of the week I had conquered my fear.”
Read the original thread at
This thread is for me to post insane stuff from Rickson Gracie’s book. It’s the best book ever written because someone let Rickson write whatever he wanted and didn’t fact check him or edit him. pic.twitter.com/6oBOlkJH2q
— matt b posting from inside mel’s hole (@Boco_T) May 22, 2023
John Davis is a dedicated practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, having first started training in the martial art in 2011. Despite facing significant knee issues that have sidelined him for a period, John remains passionate about the sport and continues to follow all the latest developments in the BJJ community.