Many people don’t realize that Chuck Norris was one of the catalysts in spreading the word about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the Gracie family in the United States.
Chuck Norris began studying Jiu-Jitsu under the Machado family (notably Carlos Machado) in the 1980s, and introduced the Gracies on a full scale to the UFAF (Norris’ Tang Soo Do organization) in 1988 during their annual seminar.
In this seminar footage shot by one of Chuck Norris’s top instructors, Danny Lane, you see a full lineup of the Gracie clan, including Rorion, Relson, Rickson, Royce, Rilion, Rolker, Renzo (?), Carlos Machado, and Royler, sharing their art to a room full of Tang Soo Do black belts.
Lane explains how the seminar came about.
"Chuck Norris and Bob Wall visited the Gracie family in Rio, Brazil, and experienced the training first hand, and were impressed so much that Chuck wanted his black belts in the UFAF to learn the system," wrote Lane. "In 1988 they flew to Las Vegas and taught for the first time. That was the beginning of American acceptance that the skill the Gracies and BJJ had was different than the Japanese jiu-jitsu."
In the opening, Norris suggests that merging his striking art with jiu-jitsu would be formidable. It took the world a while to catch up to that concept.
The video below shows one of the first times the effectiveness of Jiu-Jitsu really was understood in the USA. Rickson goes up against Chuck Norris, and it doesn't last very long. There is no shame in that, as Rickson is actually a mind-reading, 400 lb anaconda.
In 2015, Norris earned a 3rd-degree black belt in jiu-jitsu, under the Machado brothers' lineage.
Rickson Gracie, son of Helio Gracie, received his black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at age 18. At 20, Gracie won his first victory against the famous 230-pound (104 kg) Brazilian brawler Rei Zulu (father of Zuluzinho). With this victory, Rickson gained immediate national acclaim. Five years later Zulu requested a rematch and lost to Rickson again, in Maracanazinho before an audience of 20,000 spectators.
Author Jacob C. Stevens is a lifelong athlete and cerebral martial arts enthusiast who is also skilled in the art of linguistic manipulation. His published work, Afterthoughts and Handgrenades, can be found here…