When talking about the Gracie family one member that doesn’t get enough recognition is Relson Gracie. While many give credit to Gracie's like Royce, Rickson, and Renzo, Relson has also done a lot for Jiu Jitsu.
He is a highly respected instructor that has grown a chain of affiliate schools that are all across the US. For this article, you’re going to learn about one of the unsung heroes of the Gracie family. Everything from growing up in the first family of Jiu Jitsu to receiving his red belt.
Relson's Gracie Early Years
Relson Gracie is the second oldest son of Master Helio Gracie. Naturally being a Gracie, Relson began learning Jiu Jitsu from the time he could walk.
It seemed like he was destined to spend his life practicing and teaching Jiu Jitsu. He did not like school and would ever pay attention in class.
Since Relson had no interest in getting a formal education but his father Helio pushed him towards Jiu Jitsu. From the time Relson was 6, he would compete in tournaments. To keep his son dedicated to Jiu Jitsu, Helio offered Relson $100 for every gold medal he would win.
Even though Relson was forced to constantly train as a kid he was notorious for his wild side. He would spend his time either surfing or playing football like a normal Brazilian kid. Gracie would also get into constant fights and claims to have had over 100 street fights.
Relson's Gracie Journey to Black Belt
Relson’s road to black belt was much more difficult than most of his relatives. Since he was one of the biggest competitors in the family, Helio pushed him harder than the others.
While many of his relatives received their black belts in their late teens, Helio made Relson wait longer. Helio made Relson wait over 7 years at brown belt before he awarded his son with his black belt!
This may have been done by Helio, because he wanted to make sure Relson was mentally ready to hold the title.
Relson Gracie as a Competitor
While many recognize Royler as the most successful BJJ competitor within the Gracie family, Relson wasn’t too shabby either. Relson won numerous world titles during his competitive years before he settled down and became a full-time instructor.
He had the nickname of “campeao”(champion) that many of his friends and family would call him. His friends would constantly prank call his home and ask to speak to the champion.
Relson’s mother would get angry and yell “In this house everyone is a champion! Which one do you want?”
Relson's Journey as a Professor
In 1975, Relson was approached by Senator Artur Vigio with an idea. Senator Vigio was a black belt under Reyson Gracie and friend of the family.
Vigio thought Relson would be a great instructor and should open his own academy. And that’s exactly what Relson did. Gracie would open his first academy in 1975 at the “Ilha Clube Jardim Guanabara.” He would become the founder member of the “Gracie Ilha” that became one of the most known affiliates in Brazil.
Relson would work within his academy for the next 10 years before his Jiu Jitsu journey would take him somewhere else.
Relson Gracie Moves to the US
At the request of Pedro Sauer’s brother, Relson would move to Monterrey, California to teach Jiu Jitsu. He would spend a little over a year and a half teaching at the Eseline Therapy Institute in Monterrey .
After a short stint teaching in California, Relson received another teaching offer. This time to go teach Jiu Jitsu in Hawaii.
Since Relson was an avid surfer and the Hawaiian isles matched his personality, he jumped at the offer. With the help of black belt Carlos Valente, Relson opened Hawaii’s first Jiu Jitsu school in Honolulu in 1988.
On top of the surfing, Hawaii had a vibe that made him feel like he was back home in Brazil. His school grew fast and this led him to organize the first BJJ tournament outside of Brazil there in 1992.
This success would continue for Relson as he would send one of the first foreign teams to the BJJ Mundials.
Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu Affiliation
After growing his school in Hawaii, Relson Gracie jiu jitsu would look to grow an affiliation of schools across the US and Brazil. Today there are numerous Relson schools across both countries that Relson frequently visits to teach seminars all year round.
Relson Receives His Red Belt
In 2013 at the age of 60, Relson was awarded his 9th degree red belt from his brother Rorion. Becoming one of the 50 practitioners that have been awarded the highest possible rank one can receive.
Master Relson Gracie has dedicated his life to Jiu Jitsu and earned everything he has received. He has been learning and teaching Jiu Jitsu for nearly 60 years and shows no sign of stopping!
Relson Gracie jiu jitsu is a very special person and has done so much for the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. If you get the chance to learn from him, you should jump at the opportunity. You’ll have the chance to learn from one of the best Jiu Jitsu practitioners ever and one of the grand masters of the art!