The road to bring Gracie Jiu-jitsu to the Fresno area has been through three continents, taken over
100 years and involved some of the most famous instructors in the history of the martial arts.
In the early 1900‘s Gastao Gracie was instrumental in helping Japanese immigrants establish a
community in Brazil. It was at this time that he met a Japanese man named Mitsuyo Maeda Koma, who
was recognized as the world champion of Jiu-jitsu. The duties of Koma‘s position were to oversee Japanese
immigration to Brazil, and Gatao helped Koma greatly. The friendship between these two men became so
strong that Koma decided to do something that was not normally done. He taught Jiu-jitsu to Gasteo‘s
oldest son, Carlos. This was about 1918.
In 1925, the family moved to Rio de Janeiro and opened the first Brazilian Jiu-jitsu academy in the
world. Determined to prove the effectiveness of already developed Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Carlos issued an open
challenge to anyone who would take him on in a no-rules-match. He went on to beat all takers. Carlos also
fought in many public events. As he got older, Carlos concentrated more in managing the academy leaving
the instruction and fighting for Helio, his 11 years younger brother. Helio adapted the style of Jiu-jitsu for
his smaller frame and emphasized the use of leverage. Helio also was victorious in numerous no rules fights
and is recognized as the first sports hero in Brazilian history.
Royce Gracie is one of Helio‘s nine children. He moved to Los Angeles at the age of 18. His career as
a fighter began in 1993 after defeating three opponents in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship. His
opponents consistently outweighed him by more than 50 pounds. He went on to win 3 UFC titles and today
is the only man in the history of no holds barred matches to successfully defeat four opponents in one night.
Royce has also been very active with and has taught the techniques of Gracie Jiu-jitsu to the CIA, FBI, DEA ,
Secret Service, Army Rangers, Army Special Forces, Navy Seals and many sheriff and police departments.
One of Royce‘s top students in Los Angeles was Tosh Cook. While Royce was training for his fights
against Sakuraba and Yoshida he worked and sparred with Tosh, who was inspired to follow his mentor‘s
footsteps in the cage. After moving back to his birthplace in Fresno, Tosh set up a school that was one of
the first in the world to be officially licensed by Royce Gracie. Thus Royce Gracie Jiu-jitsu of Fresno was born.
To understand Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, you must understand the difference between a grappling art and a striking
art. Grappling arts (such as Jiu-jitsu and Judo) use wrestling-like holds to control an opponent, while striking
arts (such as karate) use kicks and punches to incapacitate an opponent. Striking arts work best when you know
an opponent is there and can launch an attack before he is close. Grappling arts are designed for close contact,
so even if you have been attacked from behind or caught in a clinch you will have a range of responses at your
Gracie Jiu-jitsu famously turned the martial arts world upside-down by showing that, when flat on his back with
his opponent on top of him, a skilled Jiu-jitsu practitioner was still in an extremely favorable position. Having
an instant and effective reaction to an attack makes all the difference in the outcome, and the Gracie self
defense system places much emphasis on the element of surprise.
Jiu-jitsu is a martial art and combat sport that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting with the goal
of gaining a dominant position and using joint-locks and chokeholds to force an opponent to submit. It promotes
the principle that a smaller, weaker person using leverage and proper technique can successfully defend
themselves against a bigger, stronger assailant. BJJ can be trained for self defense, sport grappling
tournaments and mixed martial arts competition. Sparring and live drilling play a major role in training,
and a premium is placed on performance, especially in competition.