Jiu-Jitsu is a Japanese martial art and a method of close combat, used for defeating an opponent.

The word “Jiu-Jitsu” can be translated to mean “the gentle art.”  Because striking against an armored opponent proves to be ineffective, practitioners learned that the most efficient methods for neutralizing an enemy comes in the form of pins, joint locks, and throws.  These techniques were developed around the principle of using an attacker’s energy against him, rather than directly opposing it.

The roots of Jiu-Jitsu were said to have originated in the mountains of India 2500 years ago.  It stretched throughout China and about 400 years ago it settled in Japan.  The earliest recorded use of the word “Jiu-Jitsu” happened in 1532 and is coined by Hisamori Tenenuchi, when he officially established the first school of Jiu-Jitsu in Japan.  Mitsuyo Maeda, who studied Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, then brought the sport to Brazil where he was aiding a Japanese immigration colony.  It is in Brazil that Maeda met Gastão Gracie, who helped Maeda get established in his new land.  As gratitude, Maeda taught Gastão’s oldest son, Carlos Gracie, the art of Jiu-Jitsu.  Carlos eventually passed his knowledge on to his brothers.  When the Gracie family spread the art of Jiu-Jitsu to the United States, they coined it as “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.”

Jiu-Jitsu came to international prominence in the martial arts community in the early 1990’s, when Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Royce Gracie won the first, second and fourth Ultimate Fighting Championships. Royce often fought against much larger opponents who were practicing other styles. It has since become a staple art for many MMA fighters and is largely credited for bringing widespread attention to the importance of ground fighting.

Jiu-Jitsu promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using proper technique, leverage and taking the fight to the ground.  Sparring and live drilling play a major role in training and while following a ranking system, progress is based on performance.

As stated above, in 1914, Mitsuyo Maeda was given the opportunity to travel to Brazil as part of a Japanese immigration colony.  In Brazil, he 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.  Carlos learned for a few years and eventually passed his knowledge on to his brothers.

Helio Gracie, the youngest of Gastão’s five sons, was a physically frail child.  He would run up a flight of stairs and feel faint.  At age 14, he moved in with his older brothers who lived and taught Jiu-Jitsu.  Following doctor’s orders, Helio would spend the next few years limited to only watching his brothers teach.

One day, when Helio was 16 years old, a student showed up for class with Carlos. Carlos could not be found, so Helio, who had memorized all the techniques from watching his brothers teach, offered to teach the class.  When the class was over, the student asked if Helio could continue to be his teacher.  Carlos agreed, and Helio became an instructor.

Helio realized that because of his frail physique, most of the techniques he had learned from Carlos were difficult for him to execute.  He began modifying the techniques to accommodate his weak body.  Emphasizing the use of leverage and timing over strength and speed, Helio modified the techniques, and thus created Gracie/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

To prove the effectiveness of his new system, Helio challenged all the reputable martial artists in Brazil. He fought 18 times, including the two of the top fighters at the time.  The only person he lost to, outweighed him by 80 pounds.  And, at 43 years old, Helio and his former student, Waldemar Santana, set the world record for the longest uninterrupted no-holds-barred fight in history, when they fought for an incredible 3 hours and 40 minutes!  Helio was regarded as the first sports hero in Brazilian history.

Helio had nine children, and our lineage continues with his second oldest son, Relson. Relson began learning the art of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu at the age of two.  He began competing at age ten, and he earned his black belt when he was 18.  He was undefeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu National Champion for 22 years.

Although Relson’s techniques are deeply rooted in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, he also emphasizes “street effective” techniques.  Relson’s Jiu-Jitsu has evolved to help people learn to defend themselves in survival situations, where no rules are involved.

On April 7, 2013, Relson was promoted to rank of Grandmaster (red belt), which is the highest possible belt awarded to living individuals in Gracie/Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Relson has also taught self-defense to the U.S. Military, Secret Service, D.E.A., F.B.I., and local law enforcement agencies across the United States.

Steve Hordinski, III, was introduced to Jiu-Jitsu while stationed in Hawaii while he was in the Navy.  Relson Gracie had several Jiu-Jitsu schools in Hawaii, and this is where Steve and Relson first met.  Steve was quickly hooked to Jiu-Jitsu and he and Relson had a strong father-son type bond.  Steve trained with Relson in Hawaii for 11 years, where he spent three of those years as Relson’s roommate.  Steve had a first-hand experience of learning straight from one of the best Jiu-Jitsu sources.

Now, Katharo Training Center is also linked to Master Carlos Henrique Elias, whose nickname is “Caique.” Caique was born on October 30, 1957, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  He became interested with Jiu-Jitsu when he was a teenager, watching his surfing buddy Relson Gracie come out on top of many altercations he came across at their local beach.  Intrigued with the style used by Relson to dispose of his opponents, Caique decided to give Gracie Jiu-Jitsu a try.

Caique first began his Jiu-Jitsu training at the original Gracie academy in downtown Rio de Janeiro, the gym where Rickson Gracie taught under the supervision of his father Helio Gracie.  Being one of Relson Gracie’s closest friends, when Relson opened his own academy in Rio, Caique followed him, training at Relson’s academy before returning to the main academy to continue his work with Rickson. This is where he ultimately received his black belt from Helio.

Jiu-Jitsu remained a hobby to Master Caique, and after he finished his academic career he continued training in his spare time.  He eventually found a place to coach Jiu-Jitsu.  Caique kept teaching while his instructor (Rickson) and his friend (Relson) moved to the US.  In the mid 1990′s, Helio Gracie contacted Caique and asked him to come to the US and help coach at the Gracie Academy in Torrence, CA.  Caique accepted this offer and taught at the academy for five years before he decided to move on with his own endeavor in the Caique Jiu Jitsu Academy in South California.

Currently, Master Caique is a 7th degree Red and Black Belt (under the lineage of Grand Master Helio Gracie and Master Rickson Gracie).

Denver-Area Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Classes

If you’ve been looking for BJJ in Denver, you’ve come to the right place. Gracie Colorado brings the ultimate source of the practice to its students through a direct lineage to Helio Gracie. Strengthen your confidence as well as your body with this empowering practice. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was designed as a technique that would allow even much smaller or weaker individuals to overcome larger, stronger opponents through the use of timing and leverage. The unique skills you will learn here at Gracie Colorado—such as respect, honor, discipline, commitment, and courage—will support you in living a balanced, happy life. Find Your Place with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu