Although Gracie or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is the most effective martial art on planet, it is a relatively young martial art. Lacking a standardized curriculum, it is common practice, at BJJ schools around the world, for techniques to be presented in complete randomness. Each day, the instructor shows up to class, having no clue what to teach, and asks the students: “What do you guys want to do?” as if the students know better than he does, as to what should be practiced. Learning in such an unorganized environment can be extremely frustrating and overwhelming. New students almost always feel left behind since the techniques are usually tailored to meet the needs of the more advanced students. In most cases, students experience a sensation known as “Technique Overload” and end up quitting within 3 to 5 months of enrolling, and when they do, the instructor believes that the student’s lack of discipline is to blame. What they fail to realize is that when a student quits, the problem lies not within the work ethic of the student, or the techniques of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but within the format in which BJJ is being taught.
The Gracie University Solution
Realizing that the key to global dissemination of pure Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was the development of a formalized curriculum, Ryron and Rener Gracie dedicated several years to organizing all the techniques in the most logical sequence based on their simplicity and usefulness in combat. Originally, due to its linear nature, the curriculum could only be taught in private lessons. But, after 15 years of experimenting with different training programs, the Gracies developed a curriculum that would enable students to learn all the techniques in a group class setting and still get results that are comparable to those of private classes.
Aside from the unparalleled structure and organization of the curriculum, what makes the Gracie University training programs unique is the way in which we present the techniques. Perfected over three generations, the teaching methodology used at all Certified Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Training Centers allows students to learn at their own pace without feeling overwhelmed or left behind. Furthermore, we conduct all group classes with the utmost concern for safety, and we demand that all students treat each other respectfully regardless of skill level, gender, race, nationality, or creed.
At Gracie University, we don’t just teach people how to fight, we give people the confidence so they never need to.
Philosophy & Programs
We believe self defense starts with the belief that we are worth defending. For this reason, our curriculum is designed with self defense in mind first, not only physical self defense, but mental self defense as well. Our programs include, Gracie Bullyproof (kids program 5-8), Junior Combatives (kids program 8-14), Gracie Combatives (adult beginner program), Women Empowered (women only), Master Cycle (blue to black belt program) and Gracie Survival Tactics for Law Enforcement.
The Founding Principle of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
Grand Master Helio Gracie was introduced to the Japanese art of jiu-jitsu by his brother, Carlos, at such a young age that, as time passed, he no longer remembered many of the techniques in their original form. However, he vividly recalls experiencing great difficulty when he attempted to use the techniques on a larger opponent and, as a result, had to modify nearly everything he had learned to accommodate his frail physique. He points out that, despite the overall effectiveness and value of the Japanese techniques, nearly all of them had one or more limitations that prevented them from being fully useful to him. In most cases, he attributed the limitations to: 1) inapplicability against a striking opponent in a real fight, 2) over-reliance on strength or speed, and/or 3) dependence on body movements that were awkward or uncomfortable for him. Accordingly, he began modifying the art to ensure that every technique was fully street applicable, energy efficient, and based on natural body movements. Using these principles as a guide, he spent several years developing a complete system of self-defense consisting only of techniques that he could successfully apply against larger opponents. Confident in his adaptations, he spent the next thirty years of his life proving his system’s effectiveness by using it to defeat numerous challengers, including several opponents who outweighed him by as much as 100 pounds.
The Gracie Guidelines
After nearly a century of testing in a wide variety of settings, Grand Master Helio Gracie’s system of self-defense remains fundamentally sound and intact. To be sure, three generations of Gracie family members and other equally committed practitioners of the art have evolved the original techniques and added to the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu arsenal. All of these changes, however, strictly adhere to the Grand Master’s requirements for street applicability, energy efficiency, and natural body movement. Today, we call these requirements the “Gracie Guidelines.”
On your path towards Gracie Jiu-Jitsu mastery, your knowledge of the Gracie Guidelines will serve you in two important ways. First, it will enable you to solve problems on your own by modifying techniques in accordance with the guidelines, and second, it will enable you to recognize the multitude of impure techniques that are being developed by instructors who do not know, or choose not to adhere to the founding principles of the art.
- Gracie Guideline #1: Street Applicability
Focus only on practicing techniques that are fully street applicable. Practicing techniques that are not “punch proof” will cause you to develop a false sense of security. By practicing techniques that keep you safe from strikes, you will develop the most important reflexes and avoid habits that could lead to injury in a real fight. If you modify a technique, you must verify that the new variation keeps you safe from all potentially dangerous strikes.
- Gracie Guideline #2: Energy Efficiency
Any technique that relies on speed and power rather than leverage and timing is not energy efficient. In a real fight there is no time limit, so you must learn to save your energy. The only reliable way for you to defeat a larger, more athletic opponent is to utilize techniques that cause your opponent to exhaust energy while simultaneously preserving your own. Before adding any technique to your arsenal, you must verify that it is more reliant on leverage and proper timing than on your athletic capabilities. Do not trust techniques based on strength or speed as they are unlikely to work against a larger, stronger attacker.
- Gracie Guideline #3: Natural Body Movements
Any technique that requires you to move your body unnaturally is likely to fail in the heat of battle. Natural body movement is the best foundation on which to build the instinctive reflexes needed in a real fight.
Violations of Guideline #1
With the demand for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instruction at an all-time high, thousands of self-proclaimed Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructors have opened schools around the world and are creating or modifying techniques at an unprecedented rate. The problem is that most of these techniques violate the first guideline of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu – they are not street applicable. The main reason for the divergence from this foundational principle is that these instructors are creating techniques for sport competition rather than real street fights. Any technique that is designed to work exclusively in a controlled competition with all of their associated rules, weight classes, time limits, safety considerations, and point systems, will give the practitioner a false sense of security since these circumstances are totally non-existent in a real fight.