Carlos Gracie: The Creator of a Dynasty, by Reila Gracie

by Caleb on October 23, 2008

For a long time we Brazilian jiu-jitsu fanatics have relied on Kid Peligro’s wonderful book, The Gracie Way to read about the history of our favorite sport and martial art.

This year Carlos Gracie: The Creator of a Dynasty was published in Brazil. The book is a biography of Helio Gracie’s brother Carlos and was written by Reila Gracie, who is the mother of Roger Gracie.

Some quick stats:

  • contains almost 100 photos of the Gracie family history and jiu-jitsu history
  • 561 pages
  • written in Portuguese
  • contains a giant, sprawling Gracie Family tree to help readers remember who is who among the prolific family (Carlos Gracie had 21 children, and Helio had nine!)

I have not had time to read the book as I just received it on Monday night. But I thought you might like a quick look at the book as it is currently only available in Brazil.

carlos gracie biography book jiu-jitsu

Some people continue to debate whether it was Carlos Gracie or Helio Gracie who contributed more to the development of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In the excerpt below that I have translated from pages 547 and 548, Reila explains:

After the expansion of jiu-jitsu in the United States, mostly as a result of Rorion Gracie’s efforts, there was an attempt to minimize, and in some cases, an attempt to omit the important role of Carlos Gracie in the history of jiu-jitsu in Brazil and in the construction of the family dynasty. The marketing strategy used by Rorion consisted in highlighting the role of his father, my uncle Helio, in a way that augmented, by extension, his own importance and that of his brothers… This book has the aim of telling how things really happened.

As I said, this is still a point of contention for some people in the Gracie family. But I can say for my part, and probably that of most BJJ practitioners out there today, it is irrelevant. We are simply thankful that we have jiu-jitsu in our lives.

The book Carlos Gracie: The Creator of a Dynasty looks like a great read and I look forward to digging into it. Many thanks to my instructor Fabio Santos for loaning me his copy!

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

slideyfoot October 23, 2008 at 6:56 am

Really hoping this is going to get translated into English in the not-too-distant future, as I love BJJ history, and I’m therefore always looking for more sources for my BJJ history post.

Caleb October 23, 2008 at 9:22 am

ha ha, I knew you’d enjoy seeing the book Slideyfoot!

Ciaran October 24, 2008 at 7:29 am

Do you speak fluent portuguese Caleb?

Caleb October 24, 2008 at 10:01 am


I speak fluent Spanish, and have been around Brazilian Portuguese long enough that I understand it most of the time. Reading it is pretty easy for the most part. I don’t know every single word I read but I understand what’s going on from the context…

slideyfoot October 25, 2008 at 9:01 am

In that case, fancy translating 561 pages for your loyal fans? :p

Matt October 26, 2008 at 6:53 am


Jason October 27, 2008 at 12:07 pm

This has to be translated into English. I would love to read it.

rick November 12, 2008 at 12:08 pm

does anyone know where i can get a poster of Carlos Gracie?

Alberto Jose Camara Ramirez January 19, 2009 at 8:28 am

Hola, soy un gran admirador de la familia Gracie y de su Jiu Jitsu, y me gustaria saber si el libro escrito por Reila Gracie “Carlos Gracie, el creador de una dinastia”, esta escrito en español y como podria adquirir dicho libro para mi
pequeña colección.
Sin más un saludo cordial.

Antonio Eduardo Favale February 24, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Buy the Portuguese version if you can read it, or at least if you understand written Spanish. It is easy and comfortable to understand the real words of Reila.

The simple fact that Helio family did not completely accept the book from the early notice that it was to be published is to me enough proof of the great importance of Carlos in developing the discipline itself, to the point it should be noticed that it fulfills the best dreams Dr. Kano had about the developing of its bujitsu-based fighting system (Jujitsu).
When will even the Olympic Commetee recognize the basic role Carlos Gracie had in the developing of Jigoro Kano’s Jujitsu in modern society.

Carlos Gracie Jujitsu is the original and unique dowry he left to Brazil for an astonishing development of an original Japanese art in the world. The brazilian way to Jujitsu, made by the son of a Scot. This is really Brazilian pride of its multi-cultural ethnicity in the present world, when we finally have a black president to guide the U.S.
Carlos Gracie: the “black” president for an international development of an original Japanese system!

Cara Reila, fico muito contente para este livro. Em fim a senhora diceu o que tudo o mundo da luta, de maneira geral, ja sabia: Calos Gracie è em verdade um refundador de uma arte original. Muita Honra a Carlos Gracie!

Swallow April 10, 2009 at 11:06 am

Don’t be lazy!!

Forget about translations into Spanish or English!!

If you practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, read the book in Portuguese!!

carlos figueroa October 21, 2009 at 6:32 am

please someone have to let me know when this book is translate to english please i read the gracie way and i know this one is going to be the oscar and a collector item thanks

Juan Bitar November 1, 2009 at 11:45 pm

where can i buy it!? is there any way the seller can ship it to Ecuador! Thanks!

slideyfoot March 8, 2013 at 2:37 am

For those who are wondering, there is still no English translation, but Roberto Pedreira from Global Training Report is doing a chapter-by-chapter summary and review of ‘Carlos Gracie: O Criador de uma Dinastia’:

I had considered doing that myself, but considering my Portuguese is still rubbish it would have taken me ages. ;)

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