Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) at FightWorks
Japanese Jiu-Jitsu was introduced to the Gracie family in Brazil around 1914 by Mitsuyo Maeda, who was also known as Conde Koma. Maeda was a champion of Jiu-Jitsu and a direct student of Judo founder Jigoro Kano, at the Kodokan in Japan. He was born in 1878, and became a student of Judo in 1897. In 1914, Maeda was given the opportunity to travel to Brazil as part of a large Japanese immigration colony. In Brazil, in the northern state of Para, he befriended Gastão Gracie, a businessman, who helped Maeda get established. To show his gratitude, Maeda offered to teach traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu to Gastão’s oldest son, Carlos Gracie. Carlos learned for a few years and eventually passed his knowledge to his brothers.
Helio Gracie, the youngest son of Gastão Gracie’s eight children, was always a very physically frail child. At age fourteen, he moved in with his older brothers who lived and taught Jiu-Jitsu in a house in Botafogo, a borough of Rio de Janeiro. He learned traditional jiu-jitsu by watching his brother, Carlos, teach it, but his small frame made it difficult for him to execute the moves. As a result, he adapted techniques to fit his limited physical ability and gave rise to modern-day Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. A modern-day legend, Helio Gracie gained international acclaim for his dedication to the dissemination of the art and is recognized as the creator of Gracie/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He passed away in 2009 at the age of 95.
Master Relson Gracie
Relson Gracie, the 2nd oldest son of Helio Gracie, moved to Hawaii in 1988. He began learning jiu-jitsu at 2 and entered his first competition at the age of 10. He was the Brazilian National Champion for 22 years straight, and during this period went undefeated. He became so popular that he attained the nickname “Campeao” or “Champion” among his friends and fans.
Upon his arrival to Honolulu, it was with great pleasure that Relson introduced the art of Gracie Jiu-jitsu to the Aloha State. Relson along with his brothers Rorion, Rickson, Royler, and Rolker help prepare their younger brother Royce for the first several Ultimate Fighting Championships. This no-holds-barred competition was formed by Rorion Gracie to showcase the brilliant fighting and self-defense style of Gracie jiu-jitsu to the world. What had already been developed and tested in real life competition and fighting since the 1920’s in Brazil has now changed main stream martial arts in the U.S. and the rest of the world forever.
Relson Gracie in his early years was known for his many street fights and the brutal and unpredictable style in which he engaged those fights. Now many years retired from competition Relson’s philosophy reflects his father’s, which is to train for self defense and personal advancement. Relson currently hold the rank of 8th degree red and black belt under Helio Gracie. Relson enjoys teaching classes in Hawaii and has become quite fond of the island life. Relson travels to FightWorks regularly to conduct group seminars, demonstrations and private classes.
Black Belt under Relson Gracie
Dan Wallen is the head instructor at Fightworks and is Relson Gracie’s 39th Black Belt. Mr. Wallen is a veteran of many Jiu-Jitsu competitions. Most recently, as a Brown Belt, Dan took Silver at weight and Absolute Bronze at the CBJJF American National Championships and Bronze at the IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championships. In addition to his studies in Jiu-Jitsu, Mr. Wallen holds a Black Belt in Hap Ki Do under D.C. Song. Checkout this article about Dan on mmaindc.com