Gracie: O Criador de uma Dinastia
Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2008
by Roberto Pedreira
July 26, 2013
Social relations and behavior in Ceará
were determined by a hierarchy during the time that Carlos was there. He didn't care. He did
what he thought was the right thing to do which is to say he did what he wanted
to do. His ideas and actions struck many people as odd. Combining foods
according to their chemical composition, wearing only white pants, avoiding
talking to the first person he met, and only living in houses whose numbers were
associated with positive vibrations were a few of his eccentricities.
He was very concerned with
avoiding his brothers to get sick, because they were fighters. He became a
vegetarian at the end of the 1920's. He read books on anatomy and physiology and
nutrition to discover which foods had the necessary composition required by
humans. In Fortaleza he began formulating methods for treating diseases using
herbal medicine and foods.
His occult studies permeated
all of his activities. He was like a sorcerer or shaman in his quest for
the secret knowledge of health. His mystical beliefs didn't follow a scientific
path. His dream, common to the natural medicine advocates of his time, was to
find a way to extend the human life span to 150 years. After all, some species
of tortoise lived 200 years. Therefore, he reasoned, people could too. Carlos
and his natural medicine contemporaries saw humans holistically.
The central idea of Carlos'
theory was that when foods are ingested, their chemical components come into
physical contact and provoke an acidic or alkalinic reaction in the blood. Too
much acidity was bad, he thought. Also, bad fermentation provoked by incorrectly
combined foods could compromise the digestive process, giving rise to substances
which would leave the organism vulnerable to various diseases and disorders. His
ideas were inspired by those of the Argentine author Juan Esteve Dulin, whose
book Filosofia a Prática do Naturismo, published in 1914, played an
important role in the defense of vegetarianism in the quest for longevity.
Combining the right foods in the right way was the key to health and a long
life, Carlos believed. He needed to find out what were the right foods, and
then, what were the correct combinations. He spent a good part of his life on
It was difficult to actually
practice the "Gracie Diet" out in society. Other people didn't care
for his theories. They liked foods that were cheap, convenient, and tasty.
Carlos had to be content with imposing his theories on his family, or at least
those who he could dominate, such as his children, his wives, and Helio, and of
course his spiritual brother Oscar Santa Maria. He banished pork, alcohol,
pepper and spices, and vinegar, but everything else was permitted if combined in
the correct way. Fruit juice, tea, and milk were ok, but only without sugar
added. Cakes were ok too, but only if they were made with fruit juices and not
with fat added. Chocolate never entered Carlos' house.
Carlos was self-taught. He
learned from books. He also talked with Oscar Santa Maria, who had a medical
education. Oscar, Helio, and Margarida followed Carlos' dietary recommendations.
Carlos adopted the role of the doctor of the family and when anyone came down
with a symptom of strange digestion, he would analyze the problem and prescribe
a dietary solution. In the case of more serious problem, he didn't hesitate to
call on the latest discoveries of traditional medical science, such as
penicillin. Carlos thought that penicillin was a miracle but he never
relinquished his dream of finding natural cures (foods and herbs) for every
Carlos believed in the power
of food, especially vegetables. "Os animais carnivoros são violentos,
nervosos, mas não têm resistência nenhuma" he used to say [carnivorous
animals are violent and nervous but don't have any endurance]. To prove his
point, he adduced the example of the lion, who can't run 500 meters, while herbivorous
animals can run kilometers.
Carlos was also influenced
by Alexis Carrel, the French man who won a Nobel Prize in medicine in 1912. His
book O Homem, esse Desconhecido was very popular when Carlos was
conducting his research. Carrel warned of the dangers of moderinzation that
removed man from nature. Carrel foresaw the obesity epidemic that would come to
characterize mass consumer societies, the United States being the foremost
Chapter 23. A Difusão do Jiu-Jitsu no
(c), 2013, Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.