​Japanese Jiu-Jitsu (practiced as Judo) was introduced to the Gracie family in Brazil around 1914 by Esai Maeda.  Maeda was given the opportunity to travel to Brazil as part of a large Japanese immigration colony and there befriended Gastão Gracie, an influential 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.

Helio Gracie, the youngest son of Gastão was a physically frail child and limited to watching his brothers teach. One day a student showed up for class when Carlos was not present, and having memorized all the techniques Helio offered to teach. When the class was over and Carlos showed up to apologize for his delay, the student answered, "No problem. I enjoyed the class with Helio very much and, if you don't mind, I'd like to continue learning from him."

Helio soon realized that due to his physique, most of the techniques he had learned from watching Carlos were challenging. To make the techniques accommodate him, Helio emphasized the use of leverage and timing over strength and speed thus creating Gracie/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

In order to prove the effectiveness of his new system, Helio openly challenged all reputable martial artists in Brazil. He fought 18 times, including matches against one-time world heavyweight wrestling champion, Wladek Zbyszko and the #2-ranked Judoka in the world at the time, Kato. This victory qualified him to enter the ring with the world champion, Masahiko Kimura, the best Jiu-Jitsu fighter Japan has ever produced. Kimura won the match but was so impressed with Helio’s techniques that he asked him to teach in Japan. 

Master Sauer


Master Pedro Sauer is a legendary 8th degree master of Gracie Jiu Jitsu and received his black belt from the one and only Helio Gracie himself in 1985. He currently has several affiliated schools across the country, and visits them on a regular basis to give intensive instruction to the students and instructors. He is one of the most highly sought after instructors in the U.S.