Carlson Gracie – The Ultimate BJJ Grandmaster

Carlson Gracie – The Ultimate BJJ Grandmaster

1. Carlson Gracie’s Details

Name Carlson Gracie
Pro MMA Record 12-01-05 (Win-Loss-Draw)
Nickname Carlsao / Champion
Born 13-08-1932
Died 01-02-2006
Age 73
Height 5’11”
Weight 67-72 kg
Brith Place Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Nationality Brazilian
Last Fight N/A
Weight Division Welterweight
Career Disclosed Earnings N/A
Fought out of Rio de Janeiro Chicago, Illinois
Foundational style Gracie Jiu-Jitsu / Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Rank 9th Degree Red Belt in BJJ
Lineage Mitsuyo Maeda –> Carlos Gracie –> Carlson Gracie
Team/Association Carlson Gracie Team/ Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
Favorite Position/Technique N/A

2. Carlson Gracie’s Biography

“Always enter like a kitten and leave like a lion. But NEVER enter like a lion and leave like a kitten. Always be humble.”

(Carlson Gracie)

Carlson Gracie was a member of the prestigious “Gracie Family,” recognized for founding Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He was Carlos Gracie’s eldest son and Helio Gracie’s nephew.

Carlson Gracie was one of the most influential figures in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He and his students revolutionized the Jiu-Jitsu world by creating numerous innovative strategies and techniques.

Carlson was also a pioneer of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and participated in various Vale Tudo matches during the 1950s and 1960s. His academy, Carlson Gracie Academy, was one of the first to offer specialized training in MMA.

Many of Carlson’s students became world champions and created their own academies. His legacy will continue to live for years to come as most of the world’s top grappling teams, such as American Top Team (ATT), Nova Uniao, Brazilian Top Team (BTT), and many more, are directly tied to Carlson’s lineage.

2.1. Carlson Gracie’s Early Life and Amateur Fighting

Born on August 13, 1932, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Carlson Gracie started his Jiu-Jitsu journey at the mere age of five. Carlson began by competing in an open Jiu-Jitsu  and Submission Wrestling Tournament referred to as “Campeonato Aberto de Jiu-Jitsu e Luta Livre.”

The renowned Gracie was never a particularly good student. However, much of his academic failure was due to the long excursions he and his uncle used to take across the country in search of ways to promote their family’s Jiu-Jitsu  legacy. Owing to this frequent travelling , Carlson Gracie left school at the age of 15 and decided to focus solely on fighting.

At the age of 17, Carlson won Rio de Janeiro’s first  State Championship ever, “the Campeonato Carioca de Jiu Jitsu”

2.2. Carlson Gracie’s Pro BJJ Career

Carlson Gracie competed in a total of 18 official Vale Tudo fights in his career, losing only once to Euclides Pereira.

Carlson's first professional fight took place at the age of 18, against Judo master Sakai, who weighed 92 kgs to Carlson’s 67 kgs. That match followed  grappling rules, meaning no strikes were allowed.  Thus,  it ended in a draw because both combatants  were unable to pin  each other within the given time limit.

Carlson issued a press note following the fight, challenging anyone in the country to fight him. It was stated that the revenue from this bout would  go to a charity fund for victims of the drought that had devastated the Northwest region of the country. (With which the Gracie family had strong ties).

Luiz Cirandinha Aguiar, a Capoeira fighter weighing 100 kilograms, accepted the challenge. The match was held on March 17, 1953, where Carlson defeated Cirandinha via submission due to mounted strikes after a tough fight.

Carlson Gracie went on to compete in various fights from there on, always attempting to enhance his skill set.

In May 1954, Carlson faced Wilson Gouveia, with  the fight ending  in  a draw.

In March 1955, Carlson had a rematch with Wilson, which became  the longest fight of his career. The match continued for five 30-minute rounds and Carlson  finally won by submission in the last round.

The most renowned fights of his career were  his matches against Waldemar Santana, who had beaten his uncle Helio in May 1995.

The first match against Waldemar was held in October 1955, ending  in a draw. Carlson won the next matches against Waldemar in 1956 and 1957. Their last fight in 1959 again resulted in a draw.

Carlson ruled as a World Champion for nearly three decades (30 years covering the 50s, 60s, and 70s).

Carlson was known for being a unique fighter and a creative teacher. He would go to the beach in Rio and dare people to fight him. The competitors could use any method they wanted (kicks, punches, head butts, etc.), but Carlson Gracie would only use his grappling skills. He used to skillfully wear them down until they surrendered.

2.3.  Quitting Gracie Academy

After several years of teaching, Carlson Gracie ended his relationship with Gracie Academy due to conflicts with his uncle, Helio. He occasionally disregarded Helio’s coaching methods.

Carlson felt that the only way to progress was to put yourself to the test, and the only way to do so was to share your knowledge with others.

2.4.  Formation of Carlson Gracie Academy

Carlson then opened his own Carlson Gracie Academy, where he began teaching the first group lessons in Jiu-Jitsu. The style of Jiu-Jitsu Carlson taught at his academy was different from Helio’s Academy.

Helio’s style was focused more on defensive techniques,” which aimed to enable a weaker person to defeat a  stronger opponent .

Meanwhile,  Carlson along with his brothers, Carley and Rolls, adopted a more active “Warrior Style” that encouraged physical prowess through a series of attacks.

Carlson also made  his gym more accessible to the lower class, allowing students to train for free in exchange for full devotion and participation in competitions.

In the process, Carlson Gracie put together one of the best teams ever in the history of BJJ practitioners, with fighters like Andre Pederneiras (Founder of Noa Uniao Academy), Ricardo Liborio, Murilo Bustamante (founder of BTT and former UFC middleweight champion), Vitor Belfort (former UFC light-heavyweight champion), and many more.

2.5.  Splitting of Carlson Gracie’s Team

In the early 2000s, the team at the Carlson Gracie Academy broke up since Carlson spent most of his time in the United States, relegating the Rio de Janeiro squad to a secondary stage.

The majority of the Brazilian students decided to create their own academy, though a few remained loyal to their teacher. The students who left were called Creontes by Carlson Gracie due to their perceived disloyalty.

2.6.  Carlos Gracie’s Death

Carlos Gracie died on  February 1, 2006, in Chicago due to heart failure, apparently caused by complications of his kidney stones and maybe his pre-existing diabetes.

His death came as a shock to the Jiu-Jitsu community. He was a 9th-degree red belt and known as Grandmaster by the time he died.

On August 12, 2019, a bronze statue was installed in front of Carlson’s gym in Rio de Janeiro in his remembrance.

2.7.  Carlson Gracie’s Historic Fights

2.7.1. Carlson Gracie Vs Waldemar Santana

Fight 1: 1955

The most historic fight of Carlson’s career took place in 1955 at the age of 23 when he faced one of the most recognized  fighters, Waldemar Santana.

Waldemar already had a knockout win against Carlson Gracie's uncle, Helio Gracie.  Carlson’s father, Carlos Gracie, went on the record saying that if Waldemar could withstand his son’s superior technique, he would give him 300,000 real (a handsome amount in those days.)

Unfortunately, Waldemar fought defensively and successfully held off Carlson's attacks, resulting in the fight being declared a draw and the prize money going to Waldemar Santana.

Fight 2: 1956

Another fight against Waldemar Santana took place in 1956 at a sold-out 40,000-seat Maracanãzinho in Rio de Janeiro. This time, Carlson was able to secure the victory he so desperately desired to save his family’s honor. He defeated Waldemar with strikes from the mount in front of thousands of people.

Fight 3: 1959

Both competitors fought again a few years later in 1959, but the buzz and expectation from the first two fights had faded, and the third battle was once again a mediocre draw.

3. Carlson Gracie’s Main Achievements

  • 9th Degree Red Belt in BJJ
  • Founder of Carlson Gracie Academy
  • Pioneer of Mixed Martial Arts
  • Author of the Book: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu : For Experts Only
  • Coach to many World Champions
  • Awarded black belt to 111 BJJ athletes

4. Carlson Gracie’s Professional Record Breakdown

Total Wins  Losses Draw
18 Matches 12 01 05

5. Carlson Gracie’s Fight History

Note: Some of the matches are missing in the table due to out dated fights.

Year Event Opponent W/L/D Method
1970 Vale Tudo Waldemar Santana W Points
1968 Carlson Gracie Vs Euclides Euclides Pereira L Points
1963 Carlson Gracie Vs Ivan Gomes Ivan Gomes D Decision
1959 Vale Tudo Waldemar Santana D NA
1958 Carlson Vs Passarito 3 Wilson Gouveia W NA
1957 Vale Tudo Valdemar Viana W Submission
1957 Vale Tudo Waldemar Santana D Decision
1957 Carlson Gracie vs. Leão de Portugal Leão De Portugal W RNC
1956 Vale Tudo Waldemar Santana W NA
1955 Vale Tudo Waldemar Santana D Decision
1955 Desafio Gracie Wilson Gouveia W Submission
1954 Desafio Gracie Wilson Gouveia D Decision
1953 Vale Tudo Luiz Aguiar W Punches
1949 Vale Tudo Samuel Capoeira W Punches

6. Carlson Gracie’s Black Belts

Carlson Gracie published a list of his black belts before passing away in 2006. The purpose of this was to avoid false claims in the future and prevent people from promoting themselves by using his name.

  1. Aaron Laponte
  2. Alberto dos Santos
  3. Alexandre Nascimento de Oliveira
  4. Alexandre Macedo
  5. Alexandre Derizans
  6. Allan Goes
  7. Amaury Bitetti
  8. André Mendes
  9. André Pederneiras
  10. Anselmo Montenegro
  11. Antônio Cláudio Correia Leite Buchaul
  12. Antônio Gadelha “Tony Malone”
  13. Antônio Ricardo Bittencourt Cavalcanti
  14. Antonio Ricardo Jardim Liborio
  15. Antônio ‘Tuninho” Rodrigues
  16. Armando “Maninho” Alves Gonçalves Filho
  17. André Mendes
  18. Arthur Vírgilio Neto
  19. Ary Galo
  20. Bráulio Carsalade
  21. Cassio Cardoso
  22. Carley Gracie (Brother)
  23. Carlos “Penão” Alexandre Conceição
  24. Carlos Antônio Rosado
  25. Carlos “Bagana”
  26. Carlos Henrique “Caíque” Vieira Cavalcanti Gomes de Oliveira
  27. Carlos Rollyson
  28. Carlson Gracie Júnior
  29. Carlson Guimaraes
  30. Cássio Cardoso
  31. Christian Kennedy Grandi
  32. Clayton de Souza
  33. Clóvis de Souza
  34. Crézio de Souza
  35. Daniel Cristoph
  36. Djalma José de Santana Filho
  37. Edyr Moreira da Silva “Monge”
  38. Edson Carvalho “Baiano”
  39. Elair Gilberto da Silva Reis
  40. Élcio Figueiredo
  41. Fábio Macieira
  42. Felipe Fígalo Barbosa
  43. Fernando Carlos “Nutri-Baby” Carvalho da Silva
  44. Fernando “Pinduka” Melo Guimarães
  45. Fernando Rosenthal
  46. Francisco “Grego” Trivelas
  47. Francisco “Toco” Albuquerque Neto
  48. Gustavo Gussem
  49. Gutenberg Mello
  50. Henrique Chvaicer
  51. Isaias De Souza
  52. Francisco “Grego” Trivelas
  53. Jerônimo Dix-Huit Rosado Ventura
  54. João Antônio Fernandes Filho
  55. José de Oliveira
  56. José Eduardo Vieira Cavalcanti Gomes de Oliveira

  • 57. José Mário Sperry
  • 58. Júlio César “Foca” Nunes
  • 59. Léo D’Ilha
  • 60. Luis Fernando “Nando” Da Costa
  • 61. Luís Carlos “Manimal” Mateus
  • 62. Luiz “Bebeo” Duarte
  • 63. Luís Carlos Vallois
  • 64. Luís Cláudio Isaías de Souza
  • 65. Luís Fernando “Nando” Costa
  • 66. Manoel Maria “Maneco” Cardoso Neto
  • 67. Marcel Laguna Duque Estrada
  • 68. Marcelo Allonso Duque Novais
  • 69. Marcelo Alonso
  • 70. Marcelo Pache
  • 71. Marcelo Procópio
  • 72. Marcelo “Bocão”
  • 73. Marcelo Saporito
  • 74. Marcelo Tadeu Domigues de Oliveira
  • 75. Marco Aurélio Kühner de Oliveira
  • 76. Marco Aurélio Lisboa Valladares
  • 77. Marcos “Parrumpinha” Da Matta
  • 78. Marcos “Flexa” Neves Mello
  • 79. Marcus Vinícius de Macedo Soares
  • 80. Marcus “Conan” Vinícius Figueiredo da Silveira Júnior
  • 81. Mário Cupertino
  • 82. Marvin Swhab
  • 83. Mauricio “Saddam”
  • 84. Miguel Kelner
  • 85. Miguel Monteiro de Carvalho
  • 86. Murilo Bustamante
  • 87. Orlando Saraiva
  • 88. Oswaldo “Paquetá” Gomes da Rosa
  • 89. Oswaldo Viana
  • 90. Otávio Augusto “Peixotinho” de Oliveira
  • 91. Paulo “Mamão” de Albuquerque Martins Pereira Filho
  • 92. Paulo Leite Filho “Paulão“
  • 93. Pedro Paulo de Secco Freire
  • 94. Renato Tavares
  • 95. Ricardo de La Riva Goded
  • 96. Ricardo Jucá Santos
  • 97. Ricardo Luis Moraes “Rey” Diogo
  • 98. Ricardo Luiz Perrone
  • 99. Ricardo “Kiko” Velloso
  • 100. Rinaldo Santos
  • 101. Rocyan Gracie (brother)
  • 102. Rodrigo Medeiros
  • 103. Sérgio Abimerhy
  • 104. Sérgio “Bolão” de Souza
  • 105. Sérgio Íris de Almeida
  • 106. Wallid Farid Ismail
  • 107. Walter “Soldado” da Silva
  • 108. Walter Guimarães
  • 109. Wander de Souza
  • 110. Vauvernargues Xavier Vicentini
  • 111. Vitor Belfort

7. “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: For Experts Only” by Carlson Gracie

On August 1, 2004, Carlson Gracie published his book “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: For Experts Only.”

In his book, Carlson detailed 101  positions that can be used in a complete match full  of sweeps, guards, and submission. Moreover, he explained the innovative BJJ moves that he had taught to his students, including Murilo Bustamante, Vitor Belfort, Amauri Bitteti, Mario Sperry, Wallid Ismael, Kevin Costner, and Mickey Rourke.

This book is specifically designed for advanced-level BJJ practitioners where they can learn the tips to differentiate between greatness and competence. However, students can also find aggressive techniques to expand their skillset.

8. Carlson Gracie’s Personal Life and Family

Carlson Gracie had three kids: Karen, Rosane, and Carlson Gracie Jr. He also had two grandkids: Carlson III from Carlson Jr. and Julia from Karen.

Carlson Gracie was a close friend of Wing Chun Grandmaster, Samuel Kwok. They used to travel and attend seminars together before his untimely demise.

Photo Credit: @leoramosbjj & @wikimedia

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