One of the more interesting features of our school is the wall we dedicated to the founders of the art of Jiu Jitsu. Master Carlos Gracie, Charles Gracie’s grandfather, and Master Helio Gracie, his brother, who, together with many members of the family, spread the art over the last century to the far corners of the globe. They created , literally, a major sport in Mixed Martial Arts. From the very beginning of the modern era of MMA the Gracie family always respected and publicly recognized the genesis of their art, which occurred in Japan. That body of skills was transported to Brazil by Matsuo Maeda a student of the Master Judoka Jigoro Cano. Once the Gracie family learned Maeda’s skills, they expanded the skills he taught them, to include many tweaks, and full emphasis of ground based techniques and submissions, which at that time was less relevant in the judo schools in Japan.
What we felt was one of the most important aspects of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was that philosophy of Master Carlos which intended Jiu-Jitsu to be primarily for those who were small of physical stature and less capable of defending themselves against the bigger foe.
From the day Alex and I discussed the building of our academy with Charles Gracie, I was determined to include the Historical connection of our school to the History of the Art of Jiu-Jitsu. The Gracie family bestowed a great gift upon us and I felt that to include that history in our culture would be what I had always wanted in giving our students something that very few Dojos can offer. A real Historical element to the skills they are learning. In designing this mural, my only intention was to come up with a condensed, symbolic, story of the origin of the art of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu only came from one place, and it only came at a certain time in History. The art was brought to Brazil from Japan, in 1915. Japan itself has been known, not just recently, but for centuries, as the “Land of the Rising Sun”. It still is today. The Mural is a story of the origin of the art we are teaching, and I felt it important to give credit where credit was due.
The design, which first occurred to me 10 years ago, included an action photograph Carlos and Helio had made in the 1950s, is one of the iconic pictures of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and, in my opinion, best demonstrated the spirit of the masters and the origin of Jiu-jitsu in a very condensed image. Emerging from “the sun” of Japan; it birthed the two masters, who then spread its knowledge, its History, its concept of Bushido (The way of the Warrior), and even its nutritional concept of diet, were spread as the rays of light would to the whole world. I created the design concept ten years ago when I had researched the history of Jiu-jitsu. My goal was to connect our students with the History of the art. It will eventually have the image of Matsuo Maeda in the small window on the right of the building because Maeda, a student of Jigoro Cano at the Kodokan in Tokyo, was the man who originally taught the Gracie brothers.
The artist who actually brought my idea to life is Fred Goykhman Fred Goykhman CODAME ART+TECH
Fred Goykhman CODAME ART+TECH (link: www.crimson22.com)
Fred specializes in Murals and has several around San Francisco and the Bay Area. The morning Alex and I discussed doing a mural was the same day fate sent Fred to knock on our door. Amazing. He also watched as I drew out the rough concept and came back in just a couple days with what you see on our wall.