Written by Travis Baumgardner, Sustainability Officer
Hélio Gracie passed away today peacefully in his home in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro at the full age of 95. He leaves behind his wife and 9 sons.
He was a living martial arts legend who pioneered together with his brother Carlson, the special Brazilian style of Jiu-Jitsu. He gained worldwide fame and recognition for developing a unique fighting style which allowed him to defeat opponents almost twice his size with relative ease, despite being mostly vegetarian and only weighing around 140 lbs during his professional fighting career.
Hélio also spent his entire life dedicated to promoting his family’s healthy lifestyle through sport and the Gracie diet, which had açaí as one its main superfood staples. The diet is based on three concepts, not poisoning the body, taking care of the body and respecting in one meal the adequate chemical combinations of different types of food. Food is viewed instead as a remedy that can nourish and cure the body.
Though many know very well Helio’s Jiu-Jitsu legacy, many do not know that Hélio was a native Amazonian, a “Paraense”, raised in the heart of the world’s açaí epicenter. His cultural upbringing consisted of eating açaí every day together with rice, beans and fish.
Many credit the brothers Helio and Carlos for bringing açaí outside of the Amazon to southern metropolitan regions of Brasil like Rio de Janeiro. At fourteen his family moved to Rio de Janeiro and subsequently created the açaí bowl and diffused the healthy eating habit throughout the Jiu-Jitsu community. The Gracie family’s Açaí Bowl is the same thick smoothie like frozen mixture made of açaí puree, Guarana Syrup, Banana and Granola that we all have come to love today and which first became popular in juice bars of Rio de Janeiro.
God bless you Hélio for bringing us açaí and inspiring us to live better and healthier lifestyles!