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Family History
  
Mitsuyo Maeda Koma
Mitsuyo Maeda Koma
       In the early 1900's my grandfather, Gastao Gracie, was instrumental in helping Japanese immigrants establish a community in Brazil. It was at this time that he met a Japanese man named Mitsuyo Maeda Koma. At that time, Koma was recognized as the world champion of Jiu-jitsu. Because of Koma's Jiu-jitsu exploits, he had been awarded a government position by Crown Prince Hirohito.

   Interestingly, Koma was one of five "Guardian" instructors sent by Professor Jigoro Kano to the United States to teach U.S. military men the art of Judo.  These instructors were requested by President Theodore Roosevelt.  Koma had been personally trained by Kano.

   The duties of Koma's position were to oversee Japanese immigration to Brazil.  This is what brought my grandfather and Koma together.  The friendship between them became so strong that Koma decided to do something that was not normally done. He taught Jiu-jitsu to my father, Carlos.  This was about 1918.
 
Carlos Gracie
Carlos Gracie
   My father was the first Brazilian to learn Japanese Jiu-jitsu.  Because non-Japanese were never taught Jiu-jitsu, Koma asked that my father never teach it to the public, only to family members. My father did this for years until he learned of Koma's death in Japan. He made inquiries and found that Koma had died under mysterious circumstances. His food had been poisoned.

   My father then decided that he should share the gift that Koma had given him so that Jiu-jitsu would never die out in Brazil.  This is when the first Gracie Jiu-jitsu Academy was started. (Secrets of the Masters, Sept.1993).

   Carlos Gracie had twenty-one children, one hundred six grandchildren, and one hundred twenty-eight great-grandchildren. Of his twenty-one children, all ten of his sons became black belts. Combined with their ancestors in Scotland and Ireland, the Gracie family could be the largest family in the whole world.

 


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