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Born on October 1st 1913, Helio Gracie was the youngest son of Gastao Gracie. There were 9 brothers and sisters, and Helio stood out since the beginning due to his body type; tall and skinny he was the complete opposite of his brothers who were shorter, and much stockier.

Helio’s childhood was a troubled one, his family went bankrupted when he was young and in 1921 they had to move from Belem do Para (his native town) to the big but poorer city, Rio de Janeiro. All these changes in his early life didn’t go without effect and he started suffering from chronic dizziness and his health was precarious, mostly due to his psychological instability.

In the last years of his stay in Belem do Para, his older brother Carlos got to meet Misuyio Esai Maeda (also known as Count Coma ), who was a Jujitsu and Kodokan Judo black belt who had come to Brazil with the intent of divulging the Japanese Martial Arts to the masses. His brother started training regularly with Maeda and rapidly became one of his top students. Everything Carlos would learn in the Jujitsu classes he would then try and pass on to his brothers. They would spar all the time, however, Helio wasn’t allowed to be a part of the actual fighting as he was far too fragile, instead he would stand on the sidelines and try to understand the mechanics behind the Jujitsu game.

A couple of years after the Gracies relocated to Rio de Janeiro, Carlos Gracie the eldest son managed to fulfill his dream of creating the first Jujitsu Academy. To help him in this new challenge he invited his brothers Oswaldo, Gastao, Helio and George, to come and join him (both because he needed help in the academy and because he wanted to take his brothers off their abusive father’s hands).

Helio started rolling (what grapplers call sparring) with his brothers, hiding the fact from Carlos who was over protective of his younger brother and feared for his health. When he found out Helio was already advanced in his techniques and was a good spar for his brothers, Carlos allowed his training to continue and allowed him to attend their normal classes.

George Gracie was an excellent fighter, but lived a wild lifestyle and Helio soon became Carlos star student, so much so that in 1932 Carlos gave him his first no-holds-barred (old school Mixed Martial Arts bouts were almost no rules were involved) Vale Tudo fight. He was 18 years old. The fight was against a boxer by the name of Antonio Portugal and the fight lasted less then a minute as Helio choked his opponent out.

Helio fought several times more throughout the next 6 years trying to promote the Gracie academy together with his brothers. At one point George broke with the academy as he wanted to fight Helio to prove who was the best fighter in Rio de Janeiro and Carlos was opposed to this.

In 1938 Helio’s career came to a hold as he left the rings and the mats to move to a different town for personal reasons. He came back 12 years later at the age of 38 after a challenge was made to him personally. His opponent was Landufo Caribé, the Bahia Jiu Jitsu Champion who had a different lineage from the Gracies, and to prove his point, Helio finished Caribé quickly.

A year later came the opportunity came to fight the mighty Masahiko Kimura, the Jigoro Kano Judo champion of Japan. The opportunity came after he challenged Mr Kimura a few months earlier, a challenge which was flatly refused as Kimura didn’t feel Gracie worthy of the match. Helio was made to fight Kato (Japan’s number 2) in order to get to Kimura. Helio fought him and defeated Kato by means of Cross Choke from the closed guard. Only then did Kimura accept the challenge. In Reila Gracie’s book about the Gracie family, it is stated that Kimura was 35Kg heavier (77 pounds), however it is unknown if this is true or not. Kimura was so convinced of his superiority that he stated to the press that if the fight lasted more than 3 minutes he would consider it a loss.

Masahiko Kimura defeated Helio Gracie by “Kimura Lock” (the submission was renamed  after Masahiro after this match) in 13 minutes far after the 3 minute mark which impressed Kimura who ended the fight congratulating Helio on his toughness. This was a tough blow on the Gracies, and Jiu Jitsu which had earned a good amount of relevance in Rio de Janeiro. With this decrease in popularity, fights were scarce and Helio turned himself to teaching again.

Carlos Gracie had left the Rio de Janeiro gym, and moved to Fortaleza, Brazil to take care of businesses, he left his sons Carlson Gracie, Rolls and Carlos Junior (Carlinhos) to be taught by Helio.

Helio returned to the mats 5 years later after another challenge was raised by Waldemar Santana a former student of Helios and their fight would go to the record books as the longest no holds barred fight ever recorded at 3 hours 42 minutes, Helio lost due to a soccer kick in the head which left him unconscious.

After this it took another 12 years for him to fight again, in the mean time he dedicated himself into teaching his sons and Carlos Gracie’s sons. Legends in BJJ like Rickson, Royce, Carlson, Rolls, Carlinhos, Relson, Rorion, amongst many others. He dedicated himself to the Gracie legacy of Jiu-Jitsu. Along the years many came out against him and his hard nose ideas about BJJ, some of them were close family members like Carlson Gracie. But even with all this turmoil there is no questioning that without him, BJJ would have definitely gone a different way.

Grand Master Helio Gracie died on January 29, 2009 aged 95.

Helio Gracie Documentary (with Subtitles)


Click CC to turn on the captions if they do not appear automatically.

UFC fighter Alan Belcher has released a free video series demonstrating the moves he used on Rousimar Palhares to beat him in their fight on UFC on Fox: Diaz VS Miller back in May of 2012. It is a little known position in grappling unless you happen to be a student of 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu. The position is called The Truck and I’ve been playing about with it in training since I watched Alan’s first video last week and I absolutely love it.

In this exclusive video series Alan breaks down for you his feared “Truck” Position that is perfect for submission grapplers and Mixed Martial Arts fighters to gain an advantage over people who are technically better (read: spent longer on the mats training) than you on the ground. This move is EXACTLY how Belcher beat Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares in The UFC on Fox. Palhares was known as the better grappler, but Alan strategically used this technique to neutralize his attacks and win the fight on the ground against one of the most feared grapplers in UFC (and all of Mixed Martial Arts) Rousamir Palhares. Now you can be dangerous on the ground and beat higher level ground fighters in Mixed Martial Arts or in BJJ and other grappling martial arts!

Alan gives you all his best ways to enter into the position and how to set up this highly effective move from just about everywhere on the ground.  If you are an aspiring MMA figher or just a grappler looking to beat higher level ground fighter then this video is one you definitely need to watch.

Here is the video of him fighting Palhares and actually putting the truck position into practice. He sticks his knee in to begin the technique at 0:29 seconds and transitions fully into the move at 0:44 seconds. Once he is fully into the truck position Palhares cannot leg lock him… which if you follow professional MMA you know is his favorite move!

Video two in the series has also just been posted where Alan demonstrates how to keep control with the position when entering into the Truck. You can see both videos by clicking here.

If you watch MMA and haven’t heard of Shinya Aoki then firstly shame on you and secondly you have clearly have been living under a rock for the last four years. Shinya Aoki is a Japanese mixed martial artist, grappler, and former police trainee who is noted for being the DREAM Lightweight Champion, ONE FC Lightweight Champion, former WAMMA Lightweight Champion and former Shooto Welterweight Champion. He is a black belt in Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and his submissions are technical and awesome.

All of his fights under the DREAM banner are listed below. Also a video of all of his fights edited together into a two and a half hour video is at the bottom of the post.

Shinya Aoki Dream Fights

Gesias Cavalcante – Dream 1

Gesias Cavalcante – Dream 2

Katsuhiko Nagata – Dream 4

Caol Uno – Dream 5

Joachim Hansen – Dream 5

Todd Moore – Dream 6

Eddie Alvarez – Dynamite!! 2008

David Gardner (Hello Japan) – Dream 7

Hayato Sakurai – Dream 8

Vitor Shaolin Ribeiro – Dream 10

Joachim Hansen – Dream 11

Mizuto Hirota – Dynamite!! 2009

Tatsuya Kawajiri – Dream 15

Marcus Aurélio – Dream 16

Rich Clementi – Dream Fight For Japan

Rob McCullough – Dream 17

Antonio McKee – Dream 18

Kettlebells are quickly becoming a popular fitness trend in the western world, especially in the Mixed Martial Arts community. The reason it has become so popular is due to it’s versatility and the effectiveness in helping those who use a kettlebell loose weight and put on lean muscle. Kettlebells really are a magnificent way to get in shape and burn off all that unwanted body fat. A kettle looks like a bowling ball with a handle attached to the top of it, this shape allows the person to perform ballistic exercises that combine cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training into compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups of the body at the same time. Kettlebells are traditionally measured in poods. One pood is the equivalent to 16 kilograms in metric weight.

The History Of The Kettlebell

The kettlebell (or Girya as it is known in Russian) was originally designed as a counterweight for Russian farm equipment. Farm workers who worked with them everyday noticed that they became fit and strong and thus they became a favoured fitness tool. Russian started lifting and throwing kettlebells for fitness and fun at local fairs which led to Kettlebells becoming a sport. By the 1940′s they had become a national sport.

The former soviet union recognized that kettlebells were such an import piece of fitness equipment it created a committee with the sole purpose of helping to promote its use. The reason for this is because the soviet union could see that kettlebelling would help keep the populous fitter and lower health care costs which would have the benefit of increasing the populations work capacity.

Kettlebell Exercise

kettle-mmaUnlike dumbells that have a tight center of gravity and involve only push and pull exercise (which only work a couple of muscle groups) kettlebells mimic real life situations due to being an odd shape coupled with the mass in a kettlebell being off center cause the individual to use more muscles which burn for calories than machines or free weights. This is due to the inertia and momentum created during workouts. The kettlebells allow for entire sets of fluid movements without stopping. They allow the individual to get a cardio vascular workout while simultaneously building full body strength. Kettlebells are the weights of choice by most professional MMA fighters.

The Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is an idea exercise because it is low impact and burns fat like no other exercise I have ever come across. You can also build some functional lean muscle (if the weight you are swinging is heavy enough) while also improving your cardiovascular strength and endurance. This is why professional Mixed Martial Arts fighters and other cambat athletes should be swinging a kettlebell like it is going out of style. The swing is the 100 metre sprint of weight lifting. Just look at the physique of professional sprinters like Usain Bolt. The swing is your destination for incredible fat loss coupled with a healthy heart and some lean functional muscle.

The swing the muscles in the arms, shoulders, pecs, abs, lats, hamstrings, glutes, hips, and grip. It is an incredibly simple and effective way of incorporating a very athletic movement safely while also burning a crap load of calories. The swing is an awesome way to burn stubborn belly fat while also preserving muscle.

So what are you waiting for? GET SWINGING!

To learn how improve your grappling for Mixed Martial Arts by visiting the Pedro Sauer Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu website.

Ryan Hall – The Dangers Of Hero Worship

Thumbnail image for Ryan Hall – The Dangers Of Hero Worship by Brendan

I don’t want this blog to turn into some sort of Ryan Hall fan site but the guy is a talented BJJ (and now MMA competitor) and he always has something wise, insightful and well thought out to say. His post is regarding the topic of hero worship which exists in the Martial Arts community […]

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Flexibility For Mixed Martial Arts

Thumbnail image for Flexibility For Mixed Martial Arts by Brendan

When super grappler Ryan Hall isn’t winning his MMA fights or dealing with drunk assholes in restaurants he’s competing (and winning) in BJJ. A big part of Hall’s success is his awesome guard. He got a great guard by spending a lot of time working on his flexibility to the point where he was super […]

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Georges St-Pierre – Training Regimen

Thumbnail image for Georges St-Pierre – Training Regimen by Brendan

TV show E:60 gets a rare look at the training regimen of UFC superstar Georges St-Pierre. It also explores how St. Pierre was bullied as a child which was the catalyst that caused him to take up martial arts and eventually find his way into Mixed Martial Arts after watching Royce Gracie win UFC 1 […]

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What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Thumbnail image for What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? by Brendan

I’ve decided to write a series of posts breaking down each martial art used in modern MMA. Starting with each art’s origin & the main people who pioneered it. We then take a look at the main characteristics or the martial art (is it striking or grappling based), do practitioners wear a uniform? Does it […]

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Nate Diaz vs Osvaldo Augusto Queixinho BJJ Superfight

Thumbnail image for Nate Diaz vs Osvaldo Augusto Queixinho BJJ Superfight by Brendan

I know I give The Diaz Brothers a lot of publicity here at My MMA Training (how could you not) but I honestly love their style and how they always come ready to fight. As you know I love BJJ as well, so you know I was really excited to watch the Nate Diaz super […]

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What is Judo?

Thumbnail image for What is Judo? by Brendan

I’ve decided to write a series of posts breaking down each martial art used in modern MMA. Starting with each art’s origin & the main people who pioneered it. We then take a look at the main characteristics or the martial art (is it striking or grappling based), do practitioners wear a uniform? Does it […]

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