The Legendary Rickson Gracie: An Untouchable BJJ Phenom

Black and white photo of Rickson Gracie

In every sport there are winners, champions, and then there are legends who transcend the game itself. Rickson Gracie is one such legend in the world of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. But who is the man behind the myth?

Rickson Gracie was born in 1958 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil into the preeminent Gracie family that pioneered BJJ as we know it today. The son of Hélio Gracie himself, Rickson began training at the tender age of 6. 

Under his father’s tutelage, Rickson displayed prodigious ability from the start. By age 15, he received his black belt and won his division at the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships. This marked the beginning of his reign of domination.

For over two decades, Rickson competed around Brazil and Japan, crafting a larger than life persona with his unmatched skills. He would take on multiple opponents consecutively, manhandling fighters twice his size effortlessly. 

Rickson amassed over 400 victories, with his last official loss occurring in 1977 when he was just 18. He went on a 25 year undefeated streak until his retirement from competition.

The definitive statistic that encapsulates Rickson’s excellence is his record in Vale Tudo matches, the precursors to modern MMA. He fought three matches and submitted all opponents in under 11 MINUTES combined.

While strictly adhering to his family’s traditional jiu-jitsu style, Rickson also cross-trained judo, wrestling and worked tirelessly on physical conditioning. His balanced approach made him essentially unstoppable.

Today Rickson heads his global Jiu-Jitsu Federation, promoting the self-improvement virtues of BJJ. Thanks to seminars and instructionals, he continues to share his wisdom.  

At 63 years old, Rickson remains the gold standard that all BJJ strivers aim to emulate. But perhaps his undefeated record and technical wizardry was merely a vehicle to transmit BJJ’s life changing teachings worldwide.