Gracie: O Criador de uma Dinastia
Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2008
by Roberto Pedreira
A Difusão do Jiu-Jitsu no
Since arriving in Fortaleza Carlos had been teaching private lessons and
also instructing the Special Police. His first son with Geni was born August 17,
1943. He was Reyslon. Two months later the directors of the Leme Beach Club
asked him to give a demonstration of "jiu-jitsu." It was a success,
which opened up a new perspective on the diffusion of "jiu-jitsu" in
the city. As part of his demonstration he offered free lessons to
people who passed his test of flexibility and agility.
of the young guys who expressed interest was Pedro Hemetério. Pedro had never
heard of "jiu-jitsu" much less the "Gracie family"
when he read about the free lessons. He was curious. He was 20 years old,
weighed 65 kilos, and stood 168 cm tall. In addition to Pedro, 76 other guys
showed up to listen to Carlos talk about jiu-jitsu. Carlos then performed ten
exercises of flexibility and agility, which he asked the guys to also do. Only
six of the 77 guys could do them, Carlos selected them for the free lessons.
Pedro was one of them. Carlos took Pedro and Luciano Ponto to Guaramiranga for
training. The other four guys couldn't or didn't want to go.
In Pacoti Carlos submitted his pupils to
rigorous training. Pedro never forgot what Carlos said during his third lesson:
"Hemetério, if you don't lose interest in training, you will be the
jiu-jitsu champion of Brazil in a few years." [The fact that there was no
such thing as a jiu-jitsu champion of Brazil didn't faze Carlos. Maybe by the
time Pedro was ready, there would be?]
After 45 days, Luciano went to Fortaleza
for Carnaval. Luciano never came back. Pedro remained and he and Carlos became
After the rigorous training, the two
friends returned to Fortaleza and gave a demonstration at Sede Azulina of
the Beach of Iracema. First, Pedro demonstrated his flexibility. [Although
jiu-jitsu was marketed as being for anyone regardless of flexibility, Carlos
also emphasized that one of the benefits of jiu-jitsu is that it increases
flexibility. And as experienced martial arts marketers know, naive wannabe
potential students are usually impressed by irrelevant feats of physical prowess
and gimmicks of other sorts.] They then demonstrated self-defense techniques
against stick, dagger, punches and other aggressions. This was the first time
that the people of Ceará had seen such a thing and they were suitably impressed
with the resources that jiu-jitsu offered.
Having access to such a malleable and
physically impressive assistant, Carlos suggested that he continue training with
him in Pacoti. This time Carlos would pay the expenses. Pedro agreed. At the end
of the training period, Pedro's father, for financial reasons, arranged a job
for him. Carlos disapproved because he didn't want Pedro to be distracted from
his training. As a solution he offered Pedro half of his salary as instructor of
the Special Police. Pedro would help with the teaching.
In Rio de Janeiro the press forgot about
the Gracies but in Fortaleza the names of Carlos and Hemetério were
always in the news. After the exhibition at the Beach Club, Carlos organized a
night of fights between his Special Police students. Pedro fought Manuel Mendes
and defeated him with ease. The referee was Fernando Gentil, now a doctor. He was
one of the sons of Carlos' friend João Gentil. Fernando and his brother Luiz had
taken private lessons from Helio in Margarida's apartment in Flamengo [one room
in which was the "Gracie Academy"]. Luiz had suffered from polio
as a child and had a withered leg. But he trained normally and was considered an
excellent fighter. He wanted to train in Fortaleza too and Carlos accepted him
as a student, adopting the posture of a pioneer in the universe of fights and
sports, proving that jiu-jitsu could be practiced even by physically challenged
Jiu-jitsu gradually became fashionable in
Fortaleza. The Ceará Sports Club opened a center of jiu-jitsu and invited
Carlos to be the director. Carlos brought along Pedro as an assistant
instructor. In this new academy, they taught everyone of any age, fathers and
sons together, among whom were the president of the club and his 9 year old son.
Chapter 23. Geni
(c) 2013, Roberto Pedreira. All rights reserved.