The Teaching Philosophy of Master Carlos Gracie Jr.

Translated from a conversation in Portuguese, Carlos Gracie Jr. shares the history behind his philosophy of teaching jiu-jitsu and the 3 most important influences in his mentality.


Here are some excerpts.

“I think it’s very important for the life of the students to have a professor with an open mind with whom they can learn and receive enough material that they can learn their right game.

Having good direction so they can give the most of themselves, developing the best style for their body types, for the way they train, and face all these teachings it is very important to have professors who can show them that journey.

I was lucky in life. I had a father who was a very positive man and gave me a very important philosophy about life, who was Carlos Gracie. The man who knew how to lead with a mentality which benefited many people in the world.

I had another great influencer – my uncle Helio who worked with my father and was the professor who used to coordinate the schools teachings for all of those who were training. He could directly influence the teachings and guidance those people would receive.

And my brother Rolls who was closer to my age with whom I had a very strong connection and we were very close. He had a skill and a direct influence on who he taught and I was greatly influenced by him.

And from all.of that, analyzing this trilogy my father opened my mind to look at the world in some way and with a very open perspective. My uncle was focused on that mindset that you had to be a samurai training and dedicating yourself disciplined within the principles of the martial arts. My brother Rolls had the mentality of developing a combative game in which you could attack the most the opponent would have no option to defend himself, let alone attack you and using several techniques. Rolls was a person, who being influenced by my father to have an open mind started to go out into the world and engage with other martial arts.

And he believed that an individual should learn everything. So the jiu-jitsu that I practice today has a lot of his influences and teachings.

Although all three have a similar mind set of having complete jiu-jitsu. But Rolls always looked for… My uncle Helio was a little closed when it comes to the knowledge that he would teach as if you could only train that, if you could be really focus on that should be enough to prepare yourself for any fight.

Rolls had a more open view, that if you could look for other things that could enrich your jiu-jitsu that would make your jiu-jitsu better. So I had all.of these influences and in fact they were all very important to my life because my father philosophically opened
my mind about having no limits about where you could get to.  My uncle taught that you need to train hard, focused and determined on that on your ability and the more you dedicate yourself, the more focus that you have, you end up being unbeatable.

Rolls brought that learning experience on which if you can enrich your game with external things which could work well with it, you will always improve yourself. Then I started to use those 3 ideas and I built my own mind based on what I understood from what they meant.

My jiu-jitsu style was the unification of those 3 concepts which brought to me the following way of thinking. Jiu-jitsu is a mechanism for helping others. This came a lot from my father – about something the works for humanity. The idea that we are working for humanity.

To train to be a focused individual, a determined one, sacrificing to their maximum to achieve their goals – that was the contribution of my uncle (Helio). Because he said he used to practice all day, he used to teach all day. He would think only about it, and even as skinny as he was, he could achieve some unimaginable goals.

All thanks to this training oriented mind set, of this radicalism for training and to the focus of what he wanted.

So I put it into my day to day teachings as well. And from my brother Rolls the idea of having an open mind. Of learning everything that I could. Both with people outside and with my own students.

So I implemented a broad jiu-jitsu with no borders, where I could include whatever could be adapted and would be good for it. And based on that the curriculum for my school and for Gracie Barra never mentions that you can not teach new things.

For example you are having a guard passing class. The technique, the way you will pass the guard can be your creation. You will create it, you can search for something, You can imitate something. You can do whatever you want. But you must teach a class on guard passing. This will not constrain your creativity to improve your guard passing techniques. You do not need to show this or that guard passing move.”


See also on Gracie Barra : Great Instructors

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam
Instagram: @bjjmarkmullen