GTR Archives 2000-2021

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Jiu-Jitsu Books 

by 

Roberto Pedreira

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Who was Oscar Gracie 

and who taught him Jiu-Jitsu?

By Robert Drysdale 

Special to GTR, February 13,  2018  

Updated August 17, 2020 (JST)

 

Did Carlos Gracie learn the gentle-art of gjiu-jitsuh under the auspices and intimate gpaternal supervisionh of Mitsuyo Maeda, aka Conde Koma, as he and his supporters claimed (and still do), invariably without any substantiating evidence. 

A recent discovery throws important light on the question.  

In 1921, an event took place in the Campo da Recreativa in the city of Belém do Pará in the Brazilian Amazon. It was announced in the June 26 edition of the local newspaper Estado do Pará. It read as follows: gterminado esse numero seguir-se-ão jogos de jiu-jitsu entre os srs. Donato Pires dos Reis e Oscar Gracie, alumnus do prof. Jacintho Ferro. Servirão de arbitros nessa lucta os profs. Conde Koma, Jacintho Ferro e dr. Matheus L. Pereira.h [gc at the end of this act, Jiu-Jitsu games will follow between Mr. Donato Pires dos Reis and Mr. Oscar Gracie, students of the Professor Jacintho Ferro. The Referees for this fight will be Professors Conde Koma, Jacintho Ferro e Dr. Matheus L. Pereirah.]

The article is relevant for several reasons. First, it is the first time that a gGracieh was ever associated with the practice of Jiu-Jitsu. Second, there was no gOscarh in that generation of the Gracie family, raising the question gwho was Oscar Gracie?h More precisely, could he have been Carlos Gracie, possibly due to the sort of editorial errors that were very common during that period? Most likely it was Carlos. The other Gracie brothers were either too young, and in fact, with one highly atypical exception, none of them ever claimed to have trained with Maeda or even denied it. 

Another reason for suspecting that Oscar was actually Carlos was a comment later made by one of Jacintho Ferrofs students, who trained with Oscar (Carlos) Gracie at the same time, namely Donato Pires dos Reis, to the effect that gsome peopleh exaggerated their training with Maedah. By gsome peopleh Donato was clearly referring to Carlos. A short time later, Donato clarified that Carlos not only did not receive a diploma from Conde Koma, he had never even met him. [1

The article is also relevant because it refers to both Donato Pires dos Reis and gOscar Gracieh as galumnos do prof. Jacintho Ferroh [gstudents of Jacintho Ferroh] and not Mitsuyo Maeda gConde Komah, despite the fact that he was present at the event.

Based on the evidence available, Carlos Gracie was a student of Jacintho Ferro who, in his turn, was a student of Mitsuyo Maeda. Carlos may have taken a few classes from Maeda during his stay in Belém, although there has never been any evidence of it. At present, the best available evidence indicates that Carlos Graciefs jiu-jitsu teacher was fellow countryman Jacintho Ferro.  

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Update August 30, 2018: " In 2013 Marcial Serrano referenced the news article discussed above,  in O Livro Proibido do Jiu-Jitsu Vol. 1. Serrano insisted that the switch of names between gOscarh and gCarlosh was ginconceivableh if Carlos Gracie had been in Rio de Janeiro since 1918, a possibility for which he offered no evidence. According to Reila Gracie, Carlos and the family moved to Rio early in 1922, making Serrano's interpretation highly implausible.

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Notes

1. See Myths and Misconceptions, # 5.  Donato's clarification was published in O Globo, September 2, 1931, as follows: "...Sr. Gracie nunca foi diplomada por Conde Koma (que nem ao menos o conhece)". The author wishes to thank Fabio Quio Takao for bringing this article to his attention.

© Robert Drysdale, 2018. All rights reserved.

Edit History:

Updated August 30, 2018.

Updated November 22, 2019.

Updated May 23, 2020.

Updated August 17, 2020 (date that Carlos arrived in Rio de Janeiro was (according to Reila 2008, p. 43) early 1922, not December 13, 1921 (Reila claimed that the family left Belem because Carlos' grandfather Pedro Gracie died in Rio on December 13, 1921. However Reila was mistaken about that: Pedro died on February 13, 1921 (consult Craze 3 (forthcoming 2020 or 2021, by Roberto Pedreira chps. 5 and 7 for details).

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Other articles by Robert Drysdale:

Remembering George Mehdi

Reflections on the Evolution of BJJ

I was Skeptical

Selling Self-Defense

Rickson Gracie is Wrong

Rev. of book by João Alberto Barreto

Maeda Promotes Five Brazilians

Science and Sanity in BJJ

Jiu-Jitsu in Cuba

Is Oswaldo Fada Jiu-Jitsu a Non-Gracie Lineage?

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GTR Archives 2000-2021

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