On October 1st, Helio Gracie would have turned 103 years old. He was born in 1903 and died in 2009, but his legacy remains alive and well.
One of the fathers of BJJ alongside his brother Carlos, Helio influenced millions of people worldwide. A fighter, teacher, coach, philosopher and champion of a healthy lifestyle, Grandmaster Helio left many a valuable lesson. We set aside ten of those to celebrate his birth anniversary, and we dug up a photo gallery produced in April 2005 that shows some of his intimate moments.
1. In all he did, from buying fruit to going on a trip, Helio prioritized technique and effort economy. All in order to take advantage of maximum efficiency and avoid frustration. Copy him and try to make life less complicated.
2. A tough fighter, Helio never hit his children nor his brother’s children, no matter how they misbehaved. He educated based on morals and led by example — never by violence.
3. Helio always tried to give healthy tips to those surrounding him. That way he helped build a better environment around him and get his friends out of trouble. Give good advice.
4. Despite being a highly versatile fighter (even with his elbows), he taught us that every practitioner must have at least one strong move to fall back on when the going gets rough.
5. Every day upon waking up, Helio sought to step on his own vanity. Even after so many wins, so many front pages of newspapers, so many illustrious students, he liked wearing the blue belt and talking about his losses, his early days as a weakling and his human side. And his sense of humor was never absent.
6. If Helio came across a really challenging opponent, he moved right toward him. That was the only way his BJJ would get tested and evolve. Think about this as you face that tough training mate.
7. As he watched the UFC, Helio could not understand when an athlete would growl really loud straddling the fence after winning a little fight. “Why, did he think he was going to lose?” he’d say. Enjoy your wins, but keep composed and don’t be overwhelmed by euphoria. Success is, after all, a long journey.
8. Whenever possible, spend some time surrounded by nature. You will notice that your mind, body and soul will thank you.
9. Try to always say yes or no in life, without dodging our fearing.
10. Finally, it’s like Helio asked before he died in 2009, or changed ZIP codes, as son Rorion puts it: Before coaching a student to win championships, first teach them not to get caught defenseless at school and on the streets.