Helio Gracie Interview - ValhallaGroup

Helio Gracie Interview


February 2001

In the realm of martial arts, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is undoubtedly synonymous with the Gracie name. Mapping the extensive Gracie family tree is a daunting task, with the enormous clan of Helio Gracie, the sole living patriarch at 88 years old, estimated to comprise around 150 members. "I don't know even half of them," he admits. Helio is credited with devising techniques that revolutionized jiu-jitsu, bringing his family not only wealth but also fame and success.

Helio Gracie fathered three world-class jiu-jitsu champions: Rickson and Royce, who reside in the United States, and Roiler [Royler], who owns an academy in Rio de Janeiro. However, some family members have less reputable reputations. For example, Helio's nephew, Ryan Gracie, was imprisoned in February of the previous year [2000] for allegedly stabbing a seller and fellow jiu-jitsu fighter Marcus Vinicius Rosa at a lambaerobica party in Rio.

Helio has been accused of making generalizations by groups advocating for homosexual rights, who argue that the Gracie family exhibits aggressive and prejudiced attitudes towards lesbians and gays. While condemning violence, Helio is clear about his stance: "I consider homosexuality to be an aberration of nature." This is just one of the many "great truths" espoused by the affable man, who often writes down his main thoughts and keeps them safe in a briefcase, recording them whenever a contentious topic arises.

Helio's views tend to irritate proponents of political correctness, asserting that "a woman is only independent if she has a cowardly man." However, his critiques are not limited to traditional views; even jiu-jitsu practitioners receive his blunt remarks. He once claimed that less intelligent students learn jiu-jitsu techniques better and more quickly because "intelligent people think too much before executing."

PLAYBOY sent Dalila Magarian to interview Gracie at his small farm in Itaipava, Rio de Janeiro state, where he has lived in retirement for the past eight years. Dalila recounts her three encounters with Professor Helio, describing the lively conversations on the veranda overlooking a vast green pasture. During the interview, Helio surprised her with his quick wit and unwavering opinions, expressing his dissatisfaction with the current direction of jiu-jitsu in Brazil. Despite holding unpopular opinions on topics such as sex, Helio remains unafraid to voice his thoughts, stating that "sex is only valid for making children."



PLAYBOY: Have you beaten up a lot of people?

HELIO: I had a bad temper in my adolescence. [laugh], But I was also foolish. At times I would challenge someone who wasn't anyone to me there. On one occasion I was convinced that a citizen was looking at me strangely at the ball. I approached him closely and asked if he was a fag. From that moment he looked at me as if he saw me for the first time and I perceived that he was a clown. Another time, I took a terrible thrashing from a guy who had 1,80 meters in height. I wasn't prepared. These two occasions taught me a lesson. I discovered that being brave and being a thug are different. I teach this in my classes.


PLAYBOY: What is the difference between the jiu-jitsu you teach and the traditional jiu-jitsu?

HELIO: I adapted the jiu-jitsu to my characteristics. I was weak and awkward, light [with 1,75 meters of height, and never passing more than 63 kilos (138.6 lbs.)]. I could not manage to do what my brother [Carlos] did, because his jiu-jitsu depended on strength and ability. I had neither the one nor the other of those. Then I made that which is known today. I perfected the flawed technique of my brother on behalf of weaker people, using the principles of physics, like force and the leverage. You, for example, can not lift a car with the strength of your two arms, but with a jack you can lift a car. That's what I did. I discovered techniques of leverage that optimize the force. These modifications made a form of jiu-jitsu that is superior to the jiu-jitsu that existed before that, and today the jiu-jitsu that the entire world knows is my jiu-jitsu. 


PLAYBOY: Then, to fight in jiu-jitsu it isn't necessary to be strong?

HELIO: No, you are right. If you understand my method of jiu-jitsu, you can give a thrashing to any man over there [laughs]. It isn't a matter of ability or strength, but of knowing how to use correct leverage in a technique. With one finger, I have the capacity, even at my age, of putting a man on the floor. You for example [he rises and puts me to be in front of him. Then he makes it that I have two hands around his neck. Two seconds later, I fall prey to an arm-lock.] {laughs]. It is a kind of mouse trap. A mouse trap doesn't chase the mouse. But when the mouse puts his claws in the cheese, the trap closes. Every form of aggression has a defense. It is the type of aggression that defines what is the proper type of defensive technique. 


PLAYBOY: What are the most common types of aggression?

HELIO: There aren't ten different types of aggression. It can be a punch, a kick, a head butt, a stick, a knife.....In jiu-jitsu there are 100 types of defense for these aggressions. For each type of attack, there are 3 or 4 types of defense. Even me, who never weighed more than 63 kilos, have put on the floor men who weighed 120 kilos [264 lbs.]. And this is what my son Royce demonstrated in his fights in the Ultimate Fight [UFC}.


PLAYBOY: The Ultimate Fighting is one of the inventions of the Gracie Family?

HELIO: Absolutely. The Ultimate Fight was invented by my son Rorion. Everyone in the world who practices a martial art says that it is his and is the best. So to know what is really the most effective, my son decided to create the Ultimate. My other son, Royce, defeated all challengers. He is the undefeated champion [this interview was published February 2001].This impressed the Americans so that today everyone in the world knows our jiu-jitsu, even the Japanese, who invented fighting [laughs]. My family still has a strong tradition of jiu-jitsu.


PLAYBOY:  By the way, what is the origin of the Gracie Family?

HELIO: My great grandfather, James Gracie, was Scottish.  He had a misunderstanding with the government there and moved to Brazil. .His son, my grandfather Pedro, was a banker in Rio de Janeiro and had 18 children, including my father. Almost all of them were diplomats. My father Gastão, spoke five languages was going to begin a job as a diplomat in Central America, but before he left for Belém do Pará, he fell in love with my mother, Cesalina and so he stayed where he was [and established himself as an importer of dynamite]. They had five sons [Carlos, Oswaldo, Gastão Jr., Jorge, and HELIO] and three daughters [Mary, Helena, and Ilka]. After the death of my grandfather they left Belém and came to Rio.  


PLAYBOY: Diplomacy and passion, it seems something from the movies. But where did jiu-jitsu enter the scene?

HELIO: My brother Carlos [died in 1995 at age of 94 years], learned fighting with a Japanese teacher in Belem named Mitsuyo Maeda, also known as Conde Koma, a former champion of jiu-jitsu [and a commercial attaché from his country to Brazil]. He was a friend of my father and knew of his concerns about his older sons' involvements in street fighting. Maeda taught techniques to Carlos and began giving lessons to his friend at the Bank of Brazil. He finished doing this as a profession.


PLAYBOY: You were also a student of Maeda?

HELIO: No I was the youngest brother. I wasn't old enough yet. I also didn't take lessons from Carlos even though I considered him my second father. I was a student at the Colegio Diocesano of Rio, and suffered from dizziness and fainting. So that no one would know about that I managed to convince my mother to take me out of school. It was the third year of primary school.. For close to 14 years I passed the entire day overhearing my brother giving lessons to others. After one and a half years, I seemed like a parrot and could repeat everything that he had explained to his students.. One day Carlos was absent from the academia and I taught the classes in his place.  Then I resolved to adapt jiu-jitsu in my own way.


PLAYBOY]: Another part of the Gracie Family attributes the success of jiu-jitsu to your brother Carlos. Were the two lines of fighting different?

HELIO: Lines can not be drawn. It is liking comparing an airplane of Santos-Dumont to a supersonic of today. Who today would want to fly in an airplane of Santos-Dumont? Or who would want to ride in a Ford made in 1930? What I mean is that I didn't invent jiu-jitsu. But I took a piece of junk like a Santos-Dumont airplane. You're not going to fly from here to that corner in that. There is no jiu-jitsu that invented; I just improved it.. 



PLAYBOY:  How came about your debut in the ring?

HELIO: I was 17 years old a fought with a Brazilian boxing champion, Antônio Portugal. I beat him in 30 seconds. The boxer threw a punch, I blocked, took him to the ground, mounted, and applied an army-lock. 


PLAYBOY: What other fights do you have to your credit? 

HELIO: One of them was against a Japanese, I. Ono, from an academy in São Paulo. I was 37 at that time.  The challenge was for 20 minute rounds. When the first round was finished, I couldn't see anything, I practically was fainted. My brother gave me ammonia to smell. In the 2nd and 3rd rounds, I recuperated.  The Japanese ending up in a bad position and I kept him there. But he was lucky because the gong sounded and I let him go. He spent the rest of the rounds running away from me in the ring. There was no winner and no time regulation but the fight made me famous.    


PLAYBOY: You fought with the Japanese champion Yukio Kato in 1951 in a fight that is still popular. How was that?

HELIO: A Japanese newspaper [Asahi Shimbun] sponsored three Japanese champions to come to Brazil. One of them was Kato, who challenged me. The first fight happened at Maracanã and didn't have a winner after three rounds. The next time it was in Pacaeembu [in Sã o Paulo] and I won in the second round. After him came Masahiko Kimura who weighed 98 kilos [215.6 lbs.] and was undefeated in 50 years. The President of the Republic Eurico Gaspar Dutra watched the fight. Kimura said that if he didn't beat me within 3 minutes, the title would be mine. I fought him for 15 minutes. 


PLAYBOY]  And took the title?

HELIO: I didn't win because my brother [Carlos] threw in the towel for me when he saw that I had fallen victim to an army-lock. Kimura tried to leave the ring. A judge asked me and I confirmed, because I knew my brother had thrown in the towel and it would have been dishonest to deny it. But I didn't consider that [Kimura] had really beaten me [não me considerei verdadeiramente vencido].  


PLAYBOY: If you fought with the boxer Acelino da Silva o Popó, would it be an easy fight?

HELIO: Popó is a colossus and I admire and respect him. But for a good jiu-jitsu fighter there aren't any adversaries practicing other fighting styles. He [Popó] would fall in  2 minutes. In a fight against jiu-jitsu, it is robbery. He would be finished quickly, because I, withstanding his punches, would have my hour. The resources of jiu-jitsu are many. 


PLAYBOY: Have you been hurt in a fight.?

HELIO: Never. In compensation, I fell down off the roof of my house while making some repairs and broke 4 ribs. [laughs]. And I fractured my leg when I had a bicycle accident. [laugh]. My first official fight in Rio was in 1934 when I was 20 years old.  It was a vale tudo with punches and kicks. My adversary weighed 100 kilos [220 lbs.]. But I won [laughs].


PLAYBOY: What is the difference between jiu-jitsu and vale tudo?

HELIO: Jiu-jitsu has rules with regard to weight, belts, and time limits. A vale tudo is a brawl, where you can do what you want. But it's apples and oranges. Jiu-jitsu is personal efficiency to protest the weaker, which anyone can do. It is the force of leverage against brute force.


PLAYBOY:  And in a street fight, you were never hurt?

HELIO:  No [laugh]. One day my brother Carlos was at the window of the academy and threw a piece of bread at a seller of chickens. It was a prank, but he got annoyed and Carlos sent me down to deal with the guy.  I applied a choke and he stayed on the sidewalk unconscious. When he regained consciousness he didn't remember anything that had happened. When a person faints due to insufficient blood to the brain a collateral effect is a type of amnesia. The person remains out of it for a while [fica um tempo meio bobo]. 


PLAYBOY: Do you have any more memories about street fights?

HELIO: I didn't have many because I was a fighter in the ring, not a street fighter. But one other time a taxi driver blocked my way in the street by the entrance to the door. . Or maybe I blocked his way. Anyway, the discussion was finished.. We got out of the cars and I left him sleeping on the sidewalk, with a strangle technique. I got in my car and left. 


PLAYBOY]  You had only little fights like this?

HELIO: I had one other in Petropolis [the highland region of Rio de Janeiro]. I was driving (or directing) a serviço de operários in a building (construction site?) and a truck driver got out of the cab of his vehicle wanting to fight after some abuse and insolence. I also put him to sleep.


PLAYBOY: You never had fear of killing someone with a choke?

HELIO: No. I know the exact point where to stop. Before dying the subject will faint. He will die only if you keep the pressure on his throat after than point. Chokes are my specialty. For this I was famous in Japan. Due to my weak physical constitution I had to nail my opponent quickly. When your throat is grabbed no one is brave. Everyone sleeps very fast [laughs].


PLAYBOY: When is it valid to use jiu-jitsu techniques?

HELIO: It is when after trying to have a civilized conversation, the other person starts to get aggressive. You don't have to strike the first blow. If you know it doesn't happen, you have another chance to avoid a confrontation.  Now, if he's already become violent, you don't have a choice. It is self-defense so you will be supported by the law. 


PLAYBOY:  Was this what led to your being placed under arrest?

HELIO: It was 66 years ago. that I was involved in my biggest trouble. A famous fighter in Brazil [a former luta livre champion] Manoel Rufino dos Santos said that he was going to show the world that we Gracies were nothing. It was at the Tijuca Tenis Clube of Rio that I gave my answer to him. I arrived and said "I came to answer the declaration that you made". He throw a punch and I took him to the ground, with two fractures of his head, and a broken clavicle, and blood spurting out. But it was a foolish act that I did. Today I would never repeat such a thing.


PLAYBOY: And what happened?

HELIO: Criminal proceedings were started and I was sentenced to 2 and a half years in detention. An appeal was made to the Supreme Court [Supremo Tribunal]. My lawyer was Romero Neto. The sentence was upheld, and the court said "today it was with Manoel Rufino dos Santos. Tomorrow it will be us".


PLAYBOY: How long did you stay in jail?

HELIO: I never was in jail. Two hours after the supreme court confirmed my sentence, Getúlio [the President of Brazil [Getúlio Vargas] pardoned me. One of our students, Rosalina Coelho Lisboa, whose brother was an ambassador, was very close to Getúlio and intervened, saying that it was unjust for such a youngster to be going to jail because of a street fight. He was a good person and pardoned me. The Supreme Court was demoralized [laughs]. After that I met Getúlio several times. And I taught his son, Maneco.  


Playboy: Your great nephew Ryan has also had problems with the law, when he beat up a man and stabbed someone in a Rio nightclub in February of last year, isn't that right?

HELIO: Considering everything it is lamentable. No one is ignorant of the fact that currently the Gracie family is divided into two parts. The first arises from Carlos Gracie, my brother, a man of great qualities, bravery, tolerance, and unshakeable morality. His only mistake was to have 21 children with five different women, producing an enormous clan of more than 150 people, today without a leader who can counsel, control, and orient. I don't understand that. In a family with many people, there are people of every type. The second part of the family is my part. with nine children, who ended up sending Brazilian jiu-jitsu to the world. Now, to sell more copies (of magazines and newspapers), anything that happens to anyone with a famous last name gains distinction in the media. The editors are not concerned with whether or not they are going to be implicating innocent people who happen to have the same last name.


PLAYBOY: That isn't the question. The case was news because it really was news. Ryan was accused of attempted murder and was arrested and put in jail. 

HELIO: My children have never been mixed up in activities outside the law. More than that, I don't know how to respond.


PLAYBOY: Are you the type that doesn't make abuse in the house?

HELIO: I'm the type of person who "doesn't let even a shrimp through the net". If someone says something that I disagree with, or that I don't like or that isn't true, I call them on it.

[Prof. Helio use the expression "não deixe passar camarão pela malha" which means to pay the attention to even the small things.]


PLAYBOY: Give an example.

HELIO: My wife, has several times that I don't remember more. Someone said something about me that was in error, I request proof. Today you have so many people talking bullshit about the Gracie family without knowing anything that it is difficult to correct all lies.  


PLAYBOY: Going to a more agreeable subject, is jiu-jitsu favorable to sex?

HELIO: I can say that I've never had sex with a woman without the purpose of reproduction. I also taught that to my sons and various grand-sons. Never were fags  When I was younger I could have had a big succession of women, I was considered a national celebrity, and all young girls were interested in me. I would give them a little kiss, a hug, go around with them but I wouldn't go too far. I always had will power.. When they wanted to get more heavy, I would quickly ask them if they wanted to have my children, because for me that was all I wanted  were children. That stopped them right away [laughs]. 


PLAYBOY: Where do you get the force of will to resist?

HELIO:  It came from my convictions and my respect for nature. I dominated the impulse for pleasure by a question of morality. I learned this from my brother Carlos, who was a spiritualist.


PLAYBOY: Do you think sex is bad?

HELIO: I have nothing but approval for sex and love between two people who want to do it.. But sex for the sake of sex is an unnecessary expenditure of energy. The worst things is to have sex without fulfilling nature's purpose. In other words, sex is the instrument of procreation. I had a sister who was a nun [Mary, 85 years old] who lived in the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, in São Paulo. That infuriated me. I would have preferred that she had been a bum. To complete her mission on earth as a women. What does it serve to be a virgin? A women with breasts, ovaries, who was born normally, should have children. Not to do it goes against nature.


PLAYBOY: How many times have you had sex  in your life?

HELIO: [Pauses]. Look, I was a world champion who did it only a little. In my estimation, I could have had sex with all of the women in Brazil. But I never had relations with more than 10 women. And I only did it with women who accepted the idea of having children.


PLAYBOY: So, according to your account, if you have nine sons, you did it a little more than nine times.

HELIO: It wasn't like that either. There were times when I did it all night long, because God didn't cooperate. So I did it as many times as I wanted until [she] became pregnant, or when she requested it.  I proved best my abstinence by the number of women I had sex with. There were ten women in total in my life. That was my merit. I had 30 girlfriends, but I didn't give a kiss here a kiss there. 


PLAYBOY: So to check, then did you depend on condoms?

HELIO: [Emphatically]. My God! I never used condoms. There is no women in the world with whom I would ever use condoms. Not even if she was the last women on earth. I would rather die without doing it. My kids also don't use them and I have 28 grandkids. 


PLAYBOY: I mean, are you and your sons immune to AIDS?

HELIO: [Indignantly]. This business of AIDS is for those who are involved in depravity and filth. None of my kids pretend to be Don Juans {Exasperated]. Those who fear AIDS are those who have sex with anyone. And those know have sex with just anyone, are in my opinion, nothing more than dogs.


PLAYBOY:  Have you ever been unable to get it up? [O senhor ja broxou alguma vez?] 

HELIO: No, that has never happened.


PLAYBOY: It is forbidden to have sex before a fight? 

HELIO: Even a great champion can't maintain his performance after a night of sex. Any champion suffers the effects of sex.. It represents a great expenditure of energy. If sex serves to make a human being, how much energy must be involved in that. It isn't forbidden to have sex after a fight, but it can't be said to be recommended. It is a question of good sense.  


PLAYBOY:  How many wives did you have you had?

HELIO: Two. I lived with my first wife, Margarida, for 50 years. She had three sons [Rorion, Relson, and Rickson]. When she died, I married my second wife Vera {who is 32 years younger than Helio]. She gave me six more children. I am not a man who leaves women.


PLAYBOY: Why do all of your children's name begin with the letter "R"? (Rorion, 50; Relson, 48, Rickson, 42, Rolker, 36, Royler, 35, Royce, 34, Rherika, 32; Robin, 29; Ricci, 23).

HELIO: Because "R" is a strong letter. It is the most powerful letter. Which would you think is stronger, "Orion" or "Rorion"? "Rorion" of course, I think the same as my brother Carlos. His children have names that begin with "R", "C", and "K".


PLAYBOY: Which of your sons is the best fighter?

HELIO: Technically they are all the same. Today Rickson is introduced as the leader of the family because he is the strongest, and weighs almost 90 kilos [198 lbs.}. Rorion was also strong, but doesn't fight now but instead administers the academy and career of his brother [Royce]. In the family everyone is a champion.


PLAYBOY: None of your sons entered professions?

HELIO: Rorion is also a lawyer and a good administrator. But all the rest finished school  and immediately devoted themselves to jiu-jitsu.


PLAYBOY: Rorion is writing a book in your honor. What do you desire to transmit with your history?

HELIO: The truth about jiu-jitsu. I have a grand niece, Reylla, who is writing a book about my brother Carlos. I think that it is very strange, because she was born when he was already almost 65 years old. She is going to end up writing a book without fundamentals. listening to people who also don't know the facts. The only one who is still living is me..  I believe that my book will be more truthful.  My book will try to do that.43

PLAYBOY: Do you intend to read her book? 

HELIO: I intend to, in order to read the nonsense that she puts in it. 


PLAYBOY:  This seems a little like envy (jealousy).

HELIO: It isn't like that. The truth is that Carlos didn't put on his quimono to give classes to his children. The one who taught them was me. Reyla is writing a book about a man who she didn't know. It is very vague to write a book by interviewing people who didn't know my brother. Each one talks, wants, thinks, but no one supplies anything. She wants to use the Gracie name, but she doesn't know anything about jiu-jitsu. 



PLAYBOY: Rorion registered a patent for the name Gracie for your jiu-jitsu in the United States. Is that still valid?

HELIO: He registered  a patent for the name Gracie as a method of teaching  years before, to avoid that Americans would trick other people by using our name. This patent is in force for a long time but can't be renewed.  The American government denied renewal in consideration that today jiu-jitsu is a new martial art. I agree, because this that is a recognition of my technique. I received a certificate from the U.S. government acknowledging me as the creator of the jiu-jitsu that is practiced there.  


PLAYBOY] Today, for self defense is it better to go armed, or to learn jiu-jitsu?

HELIO: A revolver is a two-edged sword. If a robber finds your weapon he can take it and use it against you. But the robber can't see your jiu-jitsu and you run no risk of being disarmed. Never use weapons.

[Prof. Helio uses the expression "uma arma de dois gumes".] 


PLAYBOY:  How would you defend against an assault?

HELIO: It depends. If it's just one guy, from a reasonable distance, I'd take his revolver with one technique. But if it's several armed assailants, I'd hand over everything that I had on me at the time, because I'm not stupid. In these cases, it is foolish to resist, because you are going to die. A thief is afraid, who doesn't believe in himself, he only has his revolver. Any reaction and he shots you right then and there. The danger of a Brazilian robber is his fear. In my case, if I wanted to assault someone, I wouldn't need a revolver. It would be enough to grab the victim's neck and take everything right away.  


PLAYBOY: After jiu-jitsu, what sport is most effective for self-defense?

HELIO: Boxing. It has only one defect. It takes a long time to be able to knock out an adversary {to develop the skills]. You have to hit him first. But a good boxer, in a fight, is excellent. Now, to be a boxer you have to train a lot. In jiu-jitsu, 40 classes with me are sufficient, two times a week, to subconsciously assimilate everything..  


PLAYBOY: What kind of student is the most work to train?

HELIO: Without any question, intelligent students [are most difficult].



HELIO: Because the intelligent student tends to get lost if thought before executing the technique. With this preoccupation, he ends up lost in thought and can't function.  I want to give the student good reflexes. The method that the crafty person wants to know is that which hinders his reflexes. When he thinks that he understands, he is going to want to do it the way he thinks it is supposed to be, not the way that I taught. I mean, he will do everything wrong. A baby, a young girl, an idiot are going to learn more quickly than an intelligent person. A baby will just do it, not ask questions.


PLAYBOY: The, to be a good jiu-jitsu fighter, you need to be stupid?

HELIO: It isn't that! [Angry]. Learning jiu-jitsu is something for the subconscious, not for the consciousness. I don't teach so that the student can know jiu-jitsu, I teach so that he can execute jiu-jitsu. There is a difference. If I teach something to an intelligent person, she will learn quickly because she puts it in memory. But the good student can execute his jiu-jitsu without thinking.. If he stops to look for what I knows in his memory, he is lost. It doesn't deal with decorative movements, but rather with exact reflexes when an aggression occurs. And aggression always occurs by surprise. 


PLAYBOY: How do you resolve this kind of impasse. I mean, how do you teach an intelligent student?

HELIO: I show them in practice that the power of their intelligence won't serve them for nothing. I put them quickly on the ground to let them know that the best way is to execute without  stopping to think.


PLAYBOY: And being human, by nature, he likes to fight?

HELIO: Men are born to be warriors. They fight while studying, working, supporting their family. But women were not born to fight. Nowadays, women women fight in life because they don't have a men to take care of her. It is for a woman to take care of the house. A man was born to fight in life, a a women was born to take care of her warrior.


PLAYBOY: What do you think about feminine independence?

HELIO: Wait a minute [Helio gets up a comes back with a briefcase from which he takes out a manuscript and begins to read]: "For me it is easy to diagnose the men who prefer independent women: pimps [cafetões], effeminate, lazy men and individuals with weak and cowardly personalities, are the ones who want to be taken care of by women rather than taking care of women. Nature did not create men and women by mistake, but for each one to do his or her part. The man takes care of the woman and the woman takes care of the children, who will be the men of tomorrow [returns the paper to the briefcase]. The problem with men's values nowadays is that women, poor things, have no other option than to try to be independent. 

PLAYBOY: Isn't that extreme machoism?

HELIO: I don't consider it machoism. I am a man. Machoism is a fashion. A man who isn't macho isn't a man, in the same way a women who isn't feminine isn't a women. Machoism, as far as I'm concerned, is simply what it is to be a man.


PLAYBOY:  And what about women who can do more?

HELIO: I'm not in favor of it. A women should take care of her man. Now, when I look at a nude woman, I analyze everything together, to see if she is well put together and in good health. I am not thinking about sex, no. And to appreciate the natural beauty. [pause]. The jiu-jitsu magazines lately are putting naked women in together with sports. I don't approve. That is nothing to look at in a fight. No girlfriend of mine would ever pose nude.  Only if I was a coward. [Helio picks up a jiu-jitsu magazine and open to a foldout of  Feitceira,] Her boyfriend must have been a coward.


PLAYBOY:  Her boyfriend was Vitor Belfort.

HELIO: Sad. He is a beginner in jiu-jitsu. He only knows about fighting with rules. One time I had a talk with him on the telephone.



HELIO: He talked bad about my son Royce. I called him and asked him if he was disposed to test himself against my son. He replied that he only fought for money and that is not my style. His response did not please me. He demonstrated that he didn't have the conviction of what he could do. He fights well, but he isn't an efficient fighter. He was thinking like that until he had a sufficient number of fights. 


PLAYBOY: Who were some famous people who passed through your academy?

HELIO: Mario Andreazza, ex Minister of Transport in the gestao of President Medici, also former President of Brazil João Baptista Fiqueiredo when he worked in the National Information Service [SNI] which served the military dictatorship, and  Roberto Marinho........


PLAYBOY:  They were good fighters?

HELIO: More or less [smiles condescendingly]. These men were always very busy, without time to train. They were also very anxious. 


PLAYBOY:  Which of them was your best student?

HELIO: Roberto Marinho was a reporter at that time and was not truly dedicated to jiu-jitsu. He did it because it was a fashion, due to a projection. .At that time in Brazil we didn't have many important sports like we have now. At that time the press spent an entire month talking exclusively about jiu-jitsu and Roberto wanted to be in the middle of it.


PLAYBOY: And Figueiredo? How did he do?

HELIO: He was brought in by Mario Andreazza, also because of the projection. He was full of enthusiasm when he began learning jiu-jitsu and then he brought in all of the officials of the SNI, including Figueiredo. He was a very strong man, but very tense. He took 40 classes regularly and he left reasonably good. But I didn't know him outside of the academy. I never had social contact with him. At times he would say, "Helio I'm going to send for you to come to a party at my house". But he never did. I think he forgot about it. He was very busy. 


PLAYBOY: Your family became rich from jiu-jitsu?

HELIO: We weren't rich. My children worked hard, here and there, without a rest. We live well but we don't have a lot of money. The expenses of the academies were also great. If we made 200,000, half of that went to taxes. My small farm (with 320,000 square meters located in Itaipava in the hill country of Rio) was bought at a time when land was cheap. I paid 400 reis.. Today it is very expensive but no one has the money to buy. Therefore, we weren't then and still aren't rich. 


PLAYBOY:  Despite the fame and success, you declared that you would like for your sons to quit fighting. Why?

HELIO: In my youth I was filled with enthusiasm about with my discoveries and began to fight to prove that they were good. I wanted every Brazilian to know about jiu-jitsu. Today, it isn't necessary to fight for idealism. I have nothing more to prove about the validity of my techniques. So I advised my sons to stop fighting. They are the ones who will decide. If they want to continue to fight in order to make money, that's fine with me. Today even jiu-jitsu has become commercial. 


PLAYBOY:  You have referred to academies that are preparing thugs who always walk around with pit bulls at their side.

HELIO:  These academies should not be open. It is the government's fault, who doesn't examine the real conditions of the schools. Today you can open an academy of jiu-jitsu without any problem, and many times the owner doesn't even have a diploma.


PLAYBOY: These people help to associate jiu-jitsu with violence?

HELIO: Absolutely. A real jiu-jitsu fighter does not go around beating people down. Our defense is made to neutralize aggression. This is a type of counter-advertising that uses the name of our jiu-jitsu. Any nonsense that is done nowadays will soon be given the name of the Gracie family.


PLAYBOY:  Do you like to watch the films of Jean-Claude Van Damme?

HELIO: It's pitiful.. He's only an artist, not a fighter. But in a movie, a fight is beautiful. In movies, fights are all choreographed, there is nothing to see with jiu-jitsu. My sons have already taught actors like Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, and Mel Gibson. I like to watch. I don't have to think, the story is always the same.  When watching the "bang-bang" movies, the young hero always beats the bad guys.


PLAYBOY: What is the secret of your long life and good health?

HELIO: I always say I am old but not used up.. I am 88, but I wouldn't trade places with a man of 50. I never had bad habits like smoking, drinking, or snacking between meals My palette is also educated. I eat fish, cold cheese, fruits, and legumes, I only have bread once a day. I don't mix cereals and I don't get fat from sugar. I learned that from my brother and I haven't had a cold for 15 years. I never had sex more than was necessary for reproduction.  Nature is not stupid. If you break the rules you will pay interest and penalties.  When the age is advanced it comes the time to calculate the debts. Those who lacked will power will be with the donkeys in water [burros n'agua].


End of Interview with HELIO GRACIE


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