From this point on, you can explore through exclusive and unprecedented accounts of this historic saga in three parts about the life, routine and mindset of grandmaster Helio Gracie, the greatest living martial arts legend on the planet.
“It was only one round, lasting three hours and forty-five minutes. There has never been and will never again be a fight like that one. Not even animals fight for so long. I had an ear infection, 38 degree (100 degrees Fahrenheit) fever, was 42 years of age and weighed 60kg. He was 23 and weighed 88kg. It was so bad that, in the end, I got dizzy and passed out. Some say he kicked me, others say it was a punch, and my corner threw in the towel".
Over 45 years have gone by since the episode, but its main character talks of the outcome with admirable clarity. It was an historical battle, which marked the end of fighting career of grandmaster Helio Gracie, the man who dedicated over 70 years of his life to Ju-Jitsu’s development. “It’s incredible, I think about this stuff [Jiu-Jitsu} all the time”, the teacher confesses, while sitting on the veranda of his country home, now without his gi on, and even still very willing to teach classes, not only of Jiu-Jitsu on the mats, but of how his profound knowledge of how the gentle martial art is reflected in how he thinks and faces life.
And if the teacher no longer wears 16 gis to teach the almost 40 classes per day he was accustomed to teaching in earlier days, his will power and discipline can be measured by the simplicity with which he carries out his daily routine. It is seven in the morning at the top of the mountain. It is the hour activity begins in that simple house that is “stretched according to the number of children to visit”, and that decorates “Our Valley”, an over 300 thousand meter piece of land located in the most valuable part of Itaipava, in the state of Rio de Janeiro.
They say its worth something around seven million dollars. “I bought this here ranch from the Sul do Brasil real-estate company, which was owned by my in-laws and went bankrupt. It took me 10 years to clear up the paperwork, close the deal and have it as mine. It is the best place in the world, I wouldn't even trade it for Michael Jackson's mansion", he says with pride and without showing any signs of wanting to trade his simple concrete floor for one of granite, or trade the crude finishing he did himself for a finer one.
But regalia would not be appropriate for this general that always takes his position at the front lines of the battle fields, led by a single, sometimes suicidal goal: to prove the effectiveness of the martial art that gave meaning to his life.
At seven in the morning, already the start of his day, the Gracie philosophy is present in the traditional breakfast the instructor prepares for himself and his wife, based on the nutritional guidelines laid out by his brother Carlos. Fruit juices – guava with coconut water, sugar and date palm fruit, for example – accompanied by sandwiches filled with fresh white cheese made by Master Helio himself from the milk of his own cows.
This would be the menu of the substantial meal. “I am gluttonous, but not with anything that will harm my health,” he says, justifying his adoption of the diet that he has followed with discipline for more years than double the number of fingers you have on your hands. The water he drinks is only coconut water or water from the source in the valley itself.
Seasonal fruit, like jack fruit and fruta do conde (a sweet, somewhat perfumed Brazilian seasonal fruit), are stocked in a freezer, so as to last until the next season. The only sophisticated electric domestic appliances are a powerful blender and a centrifugal machine imported under the brand name Champion, which is common to all the family members for over thirty years and without equal in the importance it has in separating seeds from the juice of apples, watermelon and melon.
“The ones that need my Jiu-Jitsu are the skinny, scared, wimpy, insecure, defenseless guys. Not the athlete"
These, besides the grapefruit extract and the already mentioned coconut water, are, separately, the “water” that mixes with all the other fruits to result in exotic juices (“apple, fig and date palm fruit, or fruta do conde with grapefruit juice.
After breaking fast, the eight dogs that guard the property, some Mastiffs, Filas and mutts, except the mild mannered Labrador bitch that is the darling of the grandchildren, are kept behind wire fences that surround the house. So Master Helio rolls up his sleeves and goes out to feed the dogs, check whether the grass needs to be mowed, and do maintenance chores around the property, making sure there isn't a place on the ranch, from the walls to the roof, that doesn't have his personal touch: "Either I built it, or helped the workers.