Gracie Barra is an internationally-recognised association with a network that comprises hundreds of jiu-jitsu schools across the world. The team’s name comes from the location of their first academy, namely Barra da Tijuca. This academy is the original Gracie Barra, and is a popular visiting place for many of the association’s international representatives.
Founded by Carlos Gracie Jr in the early 80s, Gracie Barra is one of the most successful teams in BJJ history with an almost endless list of champions and top competitors.
Due to their wide-reaching international association of schools, Gracie Barra is a popular choice for jiu-jitsu practitioners to visit when training BJJ in Rio de Janeiro. There are many jiu-jitsu gyms in Rio but Gracie Barra Rio is probably the best-known of all.
A simple yet huge space, Gracie Barra is located on the top floor of a large health club. The sprawling blue mat is one of the largest in Rio de Janeiro, and it needs to be – evening classes can contain well over 50 students.
Though he remains head of the association, co-founder Carlos Gracie Jr stopped teaching and moved to the USA some years ago. Training at Gracie Barra HQ is now overseen by former world champion Jefferson Moura. It is not uncommon for many Gracie Barra alumni to return to HQ throughout the year, with well-respected Gracie Barra black belts and teachers like Marcio Feitosa and Draculino (who respectively head the Gracie Barra academies in Irvine, California and Houston, Texas) training in the same place they began their long jiu-jitsu careers. Even Roger Gracie, who started his jiu-jitsu journey there, is known to drop by when in Rio.
Visitors are welcome and it is not uncommon for there to be a number of foreigners training at Gracie Barra at any given time. All students must wear an official Gracie Barra gi to train, so if you are not already a Gracie Barra representative you will need to purchase one or more kimonos if you plan to train regularly. Jefferson speaks no English, but some of the other black belts do and there are always at least a few fluent speakers in the class. Classes are taught solely in Portuguese, but there will be people able to help translate technical details.
The warm-ups are strictly regimented and follow a specific curriculum that has been standardised throughout Gracie Barra jiu-jitsu schools across the world. Students will move through a series of exercises including various calisthenics, stretches and conditioning exercises. Counting of reps is done together and the knowledge of 1-10 in Portuguese is essential.
Gracie Barra uses an extensive curriculum of techniques, which determines what will be covered in the class. The class usually begins with a self-defence technique from standing, before moving onto ground techniques – instructors deliver around 3-4 techniques per class. The emphasis is very much on fundamentals that will work for all levels.
The students must line up along the wall to witness the instructors demonstrate the technique, and then will pair off to complete repetitions until time is called. Discipline is paramount at Gracie Barra and the extensive code of etiquette determines how you should behave during class, including bowing on and off the mat, bowing to your partner, and even how you tie your kimono.
The Gracie Barra motto is “Jiu-jitsu for all” so expect a wide variety of people in a session, from white belt part-timers to blue belt competitors and experienced brown and black belts.
There is a reason Gracie Barra is one of the sot powerful names in BJJ, so while some people may disagree with their business practices or way of doing things when training, results speak for themselves. The discipline and order suit some people more than others, but you will certainly find excellent jiu-jitsu here.
Academy Fact File:
Head instructor: Carlos Gracie Jr / Jefferson Moura
Price: R$172/ month, R$30 joining fee. Discounts available for 3/6 month payment terms.
Matspace: Approx 200sqm
Facilities: The jiu-jitsu academy is a separate, very large plain matted room on the top floor of the ByFit health club. There is a gym, a pool, pilots studio, physio rooms and more.
Average number of BB’s at training: 10 each session.
Av number of people per class: 10-20 (AM), 50+ (PM)
Speak English?: Some people, yes.
Location: Barra da Tijuca, 10m from the main street, very easy to find.
Suggested transport: Major bus stop that serves most of the city only 5 min walk away.
MMA / no-gi: Yes.
Other martial arts: Muay Thai.
Years open: 28
Titles / champions / championships: One of the most successful teams in history. GB has produced multiple World, European, Pan-Am, Brazilian and Rio state champions, and won many team championships.
Notable students: The list is almost endless.
Av. Comandante Julio de Moura, 300 (above ByFit health club)
Barra da Tijuca
Rio de Janeiro
Gracie Barra is one block away from the amazing Barra beach, Rio’s longest beach and a major surfing hotspot. The gym is metres away from the street Avenida Olegario Maciel, which has many cafes, bars and restaurants. There is no shortage of places to get açai! There are many nearby hotels; some are reasonable (The Royalty Hotel) while others are at the upper end of the price scale (the Windsor Barra, the Sheraton).
Connection Rio can place visitors in an apartment only one block away from the gym. The apartment is modestly sized and can house a single person or a couple. It is clean and well-kept and on the third floor of a secure building located on Avenida Olegario Maciel, though it is shielded from traffic noise and offers a quiet and comfortable experience.
Carlos Gracie Jr BJJ Heroes Profile