The site of the Jiu-Jitsu academy in Rio De Janeiro that Helio Gracie taught his children the martial art in is now reportedly scheduled to be demolished. It’s a sad day for anybody interested in the history of the sport as it would have been a fantastic landmark for someone to visit. The vast majority of BJJ practitioners around the world can trace their lineage back to one or more members of the Gracie family and many of them got their earliest lessons at this location. While it hasn’t been used for the purpose of teaching BJJ for quite some time, it’s still been standing regardless and anybody visiting Rio De Janeiro would have been able to see it.
That won’t be the case for much longer though, as the location is due to be demolished in order to free up land for a real estate development. It’s a common theme throughout history really, as many important older locations have been removed in order for new buildings to be put in their place. Preservation is still possible of course and public landmarks have already been dedicated to members of the Gracie Family, so it’s a shame that this historic location couldn’t be preserved in some fashion too.
Combat sports journalist Marcelo Alonso first announced the news that the Jiu-Jitsu Academy that Helio Gracie taught his family in was to be demolished in a recent post to his official Instagram account (Translated from the original Portuguese):
“Received this photo this morning from my friend (Carlao Barreto) A very important piece of the history of martial arts in Brazil, the Padre Antônio Vieira school, where since the 80s it worked on the third floor the Gracie Academy, being demolished to make way for another real estate enterprise in Humaitá. For those who don’t remember, besides being the HQ where Helio trained almost all his children and where Rorion gave his last training before moving to the USA and beginning the process of creating UFC, Gracie Humaitá was also the stage of important Jiu Jitsu clashes and Wrestling in 1988. It was in the courtyard of this school that the clashes between Hugo and Rickson and Eugene and Royler took place (photos 3, 4 and 5 by Luis Prado).”
“It was in this dojo that I photographed and interviewed master Helio and his sons so many times (photos 2, 7, 8 and 9). It was there that Carlinhos (Carlos Gracie Jr) made the first selection for the Pan Americano in 1995. Curiously, shortly before I received the photo I was reading the news on R1 that the small house where Jeff Bezos created an Amazon is being sold for RS 11.4 million. A place that should certainly be acquired by some visionary entrepreneur who will make a lot of money turning that place into a museum, multiplying investment with tourism and, in turn, celebrating a symbol of American entrepreneurship.”
“The statue of Carlson Gracie was a great first step and has shown public power that martial tourism is worth investing in. Thank God (Marcelo Saporito) was able to recover the Carlson Gracie temple and keep the dojo in the historic Figueiredo de a Magalhães 414. What few people know is that the remains where the first Gracie Academy (Abrantes Brands 116) operated in the 1930s is still standing and today serves as a clothing store. Who knows one day that very important piece of wrestling history won’t be turned into a museum. Nothing more fair given the thousands of Jiu Jitsu and MMA practitioners who visit the cradle of Jiu Jitu and MMA annually and return disappointed with the almost total absence of attractions relating to the history and origins of the sport they love so much.”