A legendary match between Helio Gracie and Masahiko Kimura took place on October 23rd, 1951 and footage from the event has now been remastered and colourized. Although it was certainly a notable event at the time, none could have predicted how much of an impact the match between these two men would have on the course of martial arts history. The match was held in the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and in front of a 20,000 crowd of spectators that were almost universally supporting the Brazilian grappler.
That was a gigantic crowd for the time and while that might have been intimidating for most competitors, Kimura was didn’t seem troubled at all even though he was egged and insulted on his way into the arena. He defended any takedown attempts from Helio and landed several of his own throughout the first round. Kimura transitioned between different pins and submission attempts and apparently Helio actually briefly lost consciousness at one point, although neither Kimura or the referee noticed.
Kimura threw Helio once again when the second round began, and continued pinning from top position. After a few minutes, he switched to what is commonly known as a gyaku-ude-garami in Judo and attempted to make Helio tap. He refused to give up, so Kimura continued to apply pressure and actually broke Helio’s arm as a result. Kimura kept on cranking and Helio’s arm broke for a second time, which prompted his brother Carlos Gracie to throw in the towel and call off the match.
It was a pivotal moment in the development of BJJ for several reasons, one of which being the fact that the submission that Masahiko Kimura finished Helio Gracie with was almost immediately named after him and retains that name in modern-day Jiu-Jitsu competition. Not only that but it was a moment that echoed throughout time and saw itself replicated almost fifty years later, when Kazushi Sakuraba submitted Renzo Gracie with the exact same submission.
The footage of the legendary match between Helio Gracie and Masahiko Kimura was remastered and uploaded to the official YouTube channel of The Sonny Brown Breakdown:
Or for more of our articles looking into moments throughout BJJ history, visit our throwback archives.