: There's no doubt that the Gracies more than any other dynasty have put Mixed
Martial Arts on the map. Royce Gracie's legendary performances at the UFC is probably
responsible for more people taking up MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu than anything
and anyone. It's fitting that someone has come up with a book to pay tribute to
the Gracie legacy.
book is an official biography, given the blessing by Royce Gracie himself in the
Foreword. Bear in mind that getting Kid Peligro to write a Gracie bio is rather
like asking Alistair Campbell to write a book about Tony Blair. The Gracies could
not have found themselves a better spin doctor. In that respect, it has a similar
feel to Richard Hanner's book on Ken Shamrock.
The book is
divided into ten chapters, each devoted to one of the following Gracies : Carlos,
Helios, Carlson, Rolls, Rorion, Carlos Jr, Rickson, Royler, Royce and Renzo.
The opening chapters
are excellent, chronicling the birth of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the early Brazilian
Vale Tudo matches. If you have any interest in BJJ then you'll love this. The
plethora of vintage photos add enormously to this experience. As a side note,
BJJ historians amongst you will enjoy the similarities of early BJJ and Judo -
although the book does not mention Judo as the source of Gracie Jiu Jitsu.
chapter on Rolls Gracie seems to mark the transition of the Gracie family from
national legends to international notoriety. Rorion Gracie's role in the metamorphosis
of Vale Tudo into the UFC is reported in detail. And quite rightly. Rorion is
regarded as the mastermind behind the marketing of the Gracie brand outside Brazil,
with his successful promotion of the UFC, Gracie schools, videos and merchandise.
However the split of Rickson and Royce from Rorion are brushed over very quickly.
of the UFC, obviously, was momentus. When Royce handily beat all his opponents
with seeming ease it marked a shift in the martial arts world. Fighting arts would
never be the same again. Royce showed that a skinny, hollow chested, lanky guy
could beat all comers by the triumph of pure technique over brute force and aggression.
He became an instant hero and Gracie Jiu Jitsu the most valuble commodity in martial
chapters relive many of the fights of Rickson, Royler, Royce and Renzo. Again,
all this is delt with from a very pro-Gracie perspective. Which, if anything is
the book's weakness. People are inherently suspicious of being 'sold to' and the
book comes across almost like propoganda at times. This is a shame, although the
book remains very enjoyable, and the Gracies no doubt deserve huge credit for
their innovation, bravery and teaching.
most families, the Gracies have had their share of family feuds (some of you may
remember Rorion allegedly suing other members of his family for using the word
'Gracie'), none of this is covered in any detail. Understandable, but perhaps
a more nitty gritty biography would shed a light on the more human aspect of this
legendary family rather than just deify them.