End of an era - Helio Gracie passes on

One of the two creators of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (along with his older brother Carlos), the 95 year old Helio Gracie passed away last week. Because of his smaller size (< 150 pounds), Helio was forced to adapt the traditional Japanese judo he learned from his brother.

He emphasized leverage and technique to overcome superior strength and size. It was effective. His son Royce used the Gracie techniques to win three of the first four UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) contests, routinely defeating opponents 40-50 pounds heavier than he.

Helio was no stranger to overmatched contests. In a classic martial arts battle from 1951, he fought Masahiko Kimura, the undefeated All Japan Judo champion for the past 13 years. Kimura, who outweighed Gracie by over 40 pounds, had declared that the match would not go over 3 minutes. It took 13 minutes, but in the end with Helio's arm injured by a "kimura" arm lock, his brother Carlos threw in the towel to end the match.