Relson Gracie - BJJ Red Belt Grand Master!

Relson Gracie - BJJ Red Belt Grand Master!

1. Relson Gracie’s Details

Relson Gracie’s Details
Name  Relson Gracie
Nickname Campeao (Champion)
Born Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date of Birth March 28, 1953.
Nationality Brazilian
College/University N/A
Last Fight N/A
Last Weight In N/A
Weight Class Peso Medio(Middleweight) - 82 kg/181 lbs.
Weight N/A
Height N/A
Career Disclosed Earnings $ 0
Fighting out of N/A
Foundational style Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Favorite Position N/A
Rank  9th Degree Red Belt in BJJ
Awarded By Rorion Gracie
Lineage Mitsuyo Maeda -> Carlos Gracie -> Helio Gracie -> Relson Gracie
Team/Association Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
Official Facebook Account Official Tweeter Account Official Instagram Account Official Linkedin Account

2. Relson Gracie’s Biography

“As soon as I could walk I was in a gi, on the mat, trying to pass the bar.”
(Relson Gracie)

Whether Relson Gracie is in the academy training his students, in a competition, or giving a casual interview, the grand maestro loves to adorn his Gi wherever he goes. He gave his whole life to Gracie-style Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and in return, jiu-jitsu rewarded him with affection and respect. The 9th Degree Red Belt taught the art of self-defense and inspired lives.

2.1. Relson Gracie’s Early Life & Amateur Fighting

Relson Gracie, a headstrong BJJ fighter, and the second oldest son of the legendary Helio Gracie was born in 1953, a year after Gracies opened Academia Gracie at Avenida Rio Branco, Centro Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Known to break away from the norms of this world, Relson hardly showed any interest in his studies. Luckily, nature had not deprived him of jiu-jitsu. It became evident when Relson started following the footsteps of the Alphas of the Gracie family.

Beginning of Jiu-Jitsu Career

Relson started jiu-jitsu training when he was only 2 years old. As he grew older, his father, who was much concerned about his failing grades and less than remarkable academic career, pestered him to compete in the maximum no. of jiu-jitsu competitions. Helio made sure that his reckless son would be able to earn a living through jiu-jitsu if he could not through his studies.

Relson started competing at the age of six. However, the first big challenge came to him at the age of ten.

In the early 1960s, Helio Gracie held a historic event - World’s First Gracie Jiu-Jitsu competition at Gurilandia Clube, Botafogo. Motivated by his father, the 10-year-old Relson participated in this main event.

Representing Gracies Jiu-Jitsu in Street Fights

There is something extraordinary about the Gracie clan. They all shared their profession - Jiu-Jitsu - however, not a single members’ achievement was damped due to the other Gracies. They all outdid themselves, their Jiu-Jitsu was larger than life, and their distinctive contributions not only gave birth to BJJ but kept it alive.

Relson Gracie was a fine fighter in his own right. Owing to his fiery spirit, he engaged in 100 rough street fights that were over in a matter of mere minutes. No one could stand against him for long except his cousin, Rolls Gracie.

His Love for Rolls Gracie and Surfing

Relson and Rolls shared a deep bond. Unlike Relson, Rolls was a devoted student and though he was the first one in the Gracie family to buy a surfboard, he shared it with Relson. Rolls’ gesture of generosity and Relson’s love for surfing made him the first Gracie to adopt the sport, much to Helio’s dismay.

2.2. Relson Gracie’s Pro BJJ Combat

A Patient Journey to Black Belt

A voracious fighter, Relson became one of the best jiu-jitsu fighters but received his black belt after a long wait. His father kept him at the brown belt level for seven years in an attempt to tame his raging temper before promoting him.

Brazilian National Champion for 22 Years!

Relson ruled the Brazilian National Championship in his weight class and the open division for 22 consecutive years, remaining unconquered for this period. At the pinnacle of his jiu-jitsu popularity, Relson was named Campeao or “Champion.” 

Vale Tudo

The rough streets of Rio de Janeiro were dominated by Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Relson Gracie, along with his brothers, proved that jiu-jitsu is the best self-defense strategy in the survival-based Vale Tudo - the “no holds barred” game.

2.3. Relson Gracie’s BJJ Instructorship

Relson Gracie’s BJJ Instructorship

Founder of Gracie Ilha

In 1975, Manaus Senator Artur Vigilio approached the 22-year-old Relson and encouraged him to establish his own academy. Consequently, Relson established “Gracie Ilha,” a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu affiliate school at the “Ilha Clube Jardim Guanabara.”

After opening his academy Relson reserved the nights of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to coach at the ICJG and took evening classes at the Gracie Academia Hamaita on Tuesday and Thursday.

In 1978, Gracie Academia Gracie moved to Flamengo, Rio.

BJJ Instructorship in the United States

In 1985, life took another turn to uplift Relson’s Jiu-Jitsu career when Carlos Sauer invited Relson to the United States and requested him to teach jiu-jitsu at the Eseline Therapy Institute based in Monterey, California.

Jiu-Jitsu Empire in Hawaii

In 1988, after receiving another invite, Relson moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, introducing Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to the Aloha State. Initially, Relson had to start with only one student because Hawaii had never heard of jiu-jitsu before.

In 1989, Relson started teaching classes in his garage. When the number of students grew exponentially, it became impossible to accommodate them in the garage. Relson expanded his classes to the Athletic Complex of the University of Hawaii and taught there till 1996.

It is said that Royce Gracie’s debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) proved the effectiveness of BJJ and triggered the popularity of jiu-jitsu in Hawaii. Since Royce was trained by Relson, the master rightfully received acclaim in the form of enrollments.

Relson trained the members of the FBI, US Secret Service, fire department, police, and military. With Royce’s continuous achievements in the UFC, Relson’s jiu-jitsu spread like wildfire in Hawaii, and by 1992 he arranged the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition outside of Brazil in Honolulu.

Official Relson Academy in Hawaii

Official Relson Academy in Hawaii

Photo credit: britishkemposociety

In 1996, after living eight years of his life in Hawaii, Relson decided to preserve the techniques of his father’s art and founded the official Relson Gracie Main Academy in Waialae Avenue, Honolulu. Another reason to begin an official academy was the overwhelming influx of students, eager to become jiu-jitsu black belts. After 2000, the Academy changed its location to 844 Queen Street.

Relson Academy Dominates Championships

Under Relson’s guidance, Hawaii produced a team of competitive athletes. In 1997, full of pride, Relson brought his finest fighters to showcase their jiu-jitsu skills in the World Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship. His students Kendall Goo and Kelly Matsukawa made history at the event.

World Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Championship
Student Position Division Year Location
Kendall Goo 1st Adult Blue Belt Pessidissimo 1997 Rio de Janeiro
Kelly Matsukawa 2nd Adult Blue Belt Pessidissimo 1997 Rio de Janeiro

In 2000, Team Relson Gracie and Gracie Hamaita got together to compete at the Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championship in Florida and secured several positions.

Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championship, Florida
Position Division
1st Female
1st Masters/Seniors
2nd Juvenile
3rd Adult

As time passed, Relson’s teachings gravitated towards the original Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that was more focused on street-oriented self-defense. He encouraged his students to master the authentic Gracie Jiu-Jitsu which was getting lost in the crowded world of tournaments and changing rules.

Hosting Championships

The remarkable success of the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition in 1992 encouraged Relson to host more competitions.

In 1997, Relson Gracie’s National Jiu-Jitsu Tournament was held in Columbus, Ohio. The tournament was and continues to be a huge hit among the grapplers and fans. Inspired by this venture, Arnold Schwarzenegger with Relson’s help, inaugurated the Arnold-Gracie World Submission Championship in 2000. The event was held in Columbus, Ohio.

Year Event Hosted Location Host
1997 to date Relson Gracie National Jiu-Jitsu Tournament Columbus, Ohio Relson Gracie
2000 to date Arnold Gracie World Submission Championship Columbus, Ohio Relson Gracie, Arnold Schwarzenegger

Jiu-Jitsu Philosophy

In his interview with MidWeek,Relson concluded that his Jiu-Jitsu philosophy entirely revolves around self-defense.

“My Jiu-Jitsu is for kids, women, people who are weak, skinny, fat. It is designed for defending yourself in a survival situation where there are no rules, to save your life in the streets.”
(Relson Gracie)

Retirement & Current Pursuits

In 2004, he assigned the daily tasks of the Main Academy to his trusted black belts, encouraging them to travel to his other affiliations/academies.

As a retired Jiu-Jitsu fighter, Relson teaches Gracie Jiu-Jitsu around the globe and hosts two prestigious tournaments in Columbus every year. Currently, he has around 50 academies across the globe and he visits every one of them frequently to share his techniques, wisdom, and philosophy. His most renowned academies include:

  • Relson Gracie Tyler Academy
  • Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy Connecticut

His involvement with the game is a testament to his devotion and dedication to combat art and family tradition.

2.4. Relson Gracie’s Championship and Accomplishments


  • Brazilian National Championship


  • Brazilian National Champion

3. Relson Gracie’s Main Achievements

  • He won 22 Brazilian National Championships in a row.
  • With Relson’s efforts, Hawaii has 2nd place in the world with the most no. of medals in the World Championships.
  • He has established 12 Jiu-Jitsu schools in Hawaii and 50 around the world.
  • Relson has promoted 53 students to the black belt level in the USA.

4. Relson Gracie's Main Achievements (Belts)

Year Belt Level Promoted By
2013 9th Degree Red Belt Rorion Gracie

Promotion to Red Belt

In 2013, Relson Gracie was promoted to 9th Degree Red Belt by Rorion Gracie.

5. Relson Gracie’s Video Links

Relson Gracie Documentary

Relson Gracie Promotes His Black Belts

Relson Gracie Promotion to Red Belt

Photo Credit: @gracieohio

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