Like thousands of others, I was exposed to "Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu" as "Gracie Jiu-Jitsu" via the promotion of Rorion Gracie and the UFC. A majority of BJJ practitioners who I have trained with credit Helio Gracie as he largest contributor to BJJ as far as the evolution of the style from its Japanese counterpart. But there are people who point to others within the Gracie clan as the true keystones of the development of BJJ.
Carlson Gracie is a man who has been frequently mentioned as a pioneer. Some say the real originator, others dub him a close second to Helio. I have heard stories about challenge matches, the Carlson Gracie fight team, BTT, adopting Vitor, all the way up to this 23 year old kid he took to Rio to challenge fighters. Currently I train with one of Carlson's black belts, and I must say that Carlson certainly knows how to create a hell of a competitor.
Is Carlson the center of the evolution of BJJ? Is the belief that Helio is the originator of BJJ just clever marketing by Rorion? Or, is it true that Helio was the person who developed BJJ as we know it and his brothers learned from him? Alternatively, is it possible that all of the brothers worked together to create the art, and that no one brother can truly be cited as the one main epicenter?
I myself am first and foremost just happy that BJJ was developed in the first place since it has become such an important part of my life. I am not attempting to promote any mudslinging. I am just curious about the origins and history of BJJ as we know it. There are many different viewpoints out there and right now, I am interested in exploring the views and history surrounding Carlson Gracie.