A gym that combines the best of modern jiu-jitsu with an authentic traditional ethos and a direct lineage to the founders of the art, Gracie Humaita is one of the best-known and most respected jiu-jitsu gyms in Rio de Janeiro.
Open since the early 1980s, Gracie Humaita is a direct offshoot of the original Gracie Academy with strong ties to Helio’s side of the family. Owned and operated by Helio’s sons Rolker and Royler, the Gracie Humaita name is internationally known and is one of the most prolific teams in the Rio area. Royler moved to the US a few years ago to oversee the growth of Gracie Humaita in North America, leaving Rolker to head up the original academy by himself.
The head professor is Rolker Gracie, 7th degree black and red belt. While not as immediately recognisable as some of his brothers, Rolker’s pedigree as a teacher and coach is indisputable and he heads up an academy considered by many as among the best in the world.
Rolker speaks a little English but regularly receives guests from overseas, and warmly welcomes people who visit his academy. Classes are taught in Portuguese, but many of the people on the mat will speak English and be able to translate.
The gym is divided into two rooms. The larger main room is where group classes take place, while the other is generally reserved for private lessons or smaller group classes that may be running at the same time, but is also regularly used as an overflow for when the class gets busy.
A Typical Training Session
Classes are busy and it is not unusual to see 50 people on the mat for an evening class. Sometimes there will be no warm-up to speak of, and class will go straight into a technique demonstration. Expect the usual mix of bodyweight exercises and stretches at any other time.
There will be one to three techniques given, with ample time to drill each position. Techniques can range from the ‘simple’, such as a scarfhold escape, to highly-refined guard strategies.
Rolling is both competitive and technical. The high number of black belts (usually over 20 in a session) means the technical level in the room is always high, and the coloured belts are very proficient. There are no easy rolls at Gracie Humaita.
The style found at Gracie Humaita combines the best of the solid old school, fundamental-focused game with the most effective of modern jiu-jitsu. It’s not unusual to see those on the mat seamlessly combining between butterfly guard, X-guard or deep half and “day one” submissions.
The depth of talent at the academy is considerable, and it is with good reason their famous logo is held in such high regard. Black belts of all levels can be found, from 20 year veterans to high-level competitors. Coloured belts tend to be particularly proficient and very game.
Note: Only white or blue kimonos are permitted to be worn in training.
Innumerable decades of experience have led to Gracie Humaita being one of the few schools to represent the old and the new; they maintain the traditional values of the art and while still producing pedigree competitors and practitioners of the art.
Every academy has a different flavour and feel to it, and Gracie Humaita is one of an old-school martial arts dojo as opposed to a fight team, and the people who train there tend to make up the upper echelons of society; expect to meet many well-off professionals such as doctors, lawyers, and even the occasional actor.
This is an academy that would suit anyone with an interest in access to the ‘source’ of jiu-jitsu yet it offers an equal reward to those keen to develop cutting edge competition tactics.
Academy Fact File:
Head instructor: Rolker Gracie
Price: R$180 / month, drop-in fee R$35 for one class
Matspace: Room 1: 70m2 / Room 2: 44m2
Facilities: 2 large matted rooms, ample changing facilites for both sexes, drinking fountain.
Av number of people per class: 40+
Av number of black belts per class: 15-20
Speak English?: Some
Suggested transport: Bus
MMA / no-gi: No
Other martial arts: No
Years open: 29
Titles / champions / championships: Extensive!
Rua Humaita 52,
Humaita, Rio de Janeiro
Tel: 21-2266 6094
Based on the top floor of a prestigious private Catholic school. There are no signs from outside, enter through the gate and let the security guard know you are going to the ‘academia de jiu-jitsu’, he will point you to the entrance at the right of the building. Walk up the stairs to reach the gym.
Open Adult Lessons Mon-Fri: 19.00-21.00