Friday, January 30, 2009

Helio Gracie, Promoter of Jiu-Jitsu, Dies at 95

Helio Gracie, one of the main creators of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a form of mixed martial arts that gained worldwide popularity, died Thursday. He was 95.

His death was announced in a short statement posted on the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy Web site, which said he was buried in the mountain resort town of Petropolis, near Rio de Janeiro.

The Agencia Estado news service said the cause was pneumonia.

Gracie introduced a series of adaptations to traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu that emphasized leverage and position as a way to compensate for size differences among opponents.

More than 40 sons and grandsons of Gracie and his brother Carlos helped popularize Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu around the world.

One of Gracie’s sons, Rorion, was a founder of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, an organization that promotes mixed martial arts as a combat sport in the United States, where it is seen as a more exciting alternative to boxing and wrestling.

Gracie is survived by his wife and nine children.

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