From Japan to Brazil: The birth of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In the early 1900′s, heavy migration from Japanese colonies took place in Northeastern Brazil. Among the several immigrants, there was a samurai of the time, whose name was Maeda Koma. He was the head of the Japanese immigration for the region. He was also a highly accomplished Jiu-Jitsu champion in Japan, and a well respected master of that art. His effort to settle in Brazil was greatly assisted by a diplomat named Gastao Gracie. Gastao was very instrumental in providing entry visas to Maeda and his group. Maeda became grateful and fond of Gastao’s support.
Gastao was the father of eight children, including four boys (Carlos, Jorge, Osvaldo and Helio). His oldest son, Carlos Gracie, was a skinny and hyper-active child, constantly giving headaches to his parents for his erratic behavior. It did not take long for Maeda Koma to learn from his friend Gastao about the difficulties in raising Carlos. Soon Maeda offered to teach his friend’s son the art of Jiu-Jitsu, a secret only reserved for nationals of Japan. Carlos became the only non-japanese student at the exclusive Dojo of master Koma.
After a few eventful classes, the youngster Carlos Gracie found a new path in his life. Within a few years since he started, he passed to his younger brothers Jorge, Osvaldo and Helio what he knew from Maeda’s teachings. That was the initial step in the building of a saga that transformed martial arts worldwide. The Gracie family eventually became a notorious and legendary clan, the ambassadors of an art they considerably improved throughout five generations. They were the creators of what later became known as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, one of the most revolutionary martial arts systems in the world.
The Machado Brothers
The Gracie Family was the clan that introduced and developed the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in modern times. Carlos Gracie turned from a troubled youth into a dynamic and balanced person. Besides an instructor and fighter, he also was a famous dietician. He fathered 21 children after 4 marriages. Among his nephews were the Machado Brothers (Carlos, Roger, Rigan, Jean-Jacques and John), members of the fourth generation of the family. Among Carlos Gracie’s sons, Carlos Gracie Jr. (eldest son of his father’s 4th marriage) was the main instructor and also cousin to the Machado Brothers. His guidance and teaching contributed to their upbringing.