- Full Name: Rolls Gracie
- Birthday: March 28, 1951
- Affiliation: Georges Mehdi, Bob Anderson (Wrestler) Carlos Gracie
Rolls Gracie (born March 28, 1951) is widely regarded as one of the best if not the greatest fighter of the Gracie family. Rolls was the illegitimate son of Carlos Gracie and was primarily raised by his uncle, Helio Gracie. Rolls learned Jiu-jitsu under both his Uncle Helio and his father. Rolls was a successful Jiu-Jitsu competitor as a child. As Rolls got older, he felt constrained by Jiu-Jitsu as it was known and being taught at the time by his Uncle Helio. Jiu-Jitsu as taught to him by his Uncle Helio was said and considered to be a complete system. Thus Helio didn’t allow for the introduction of new techniques. Rolls parted ways in order to cross train in Judo, Sambo, and Freestyle Wrestling. This helped to revolutionize his techniques and ability.
Rolls would seek out individuals who were top former fighters, who became coaches to train him. One such individual was former Brazilian Judo champion George Mehdi, who took on Rolls as his student. This was despite Mehdi’s animosity with the senior members of the Gracie clan. Rolls also took on well-known American Wrestling athlete and Coach Bob Anderson to teach him the sport of wrestling. Rolls would learn techniques and go on to instruct and quickly dominate many trained BJJ practitioners including his younger cousin, Rickson Gracie.
Rolls was instrumental for turning BJJ from a closed system where newer techniques were dismissed (under Helio) to an open system, where newer techniques were introduced and accepted. This helped to change BJJ, as it was taught by the Gracie’s. Rolls would be a strong advocate of the use of conditioning to improve BJJ. The conditioning was via various sports including swimming, soccer, and surfing. Rolls improvements, in technique, and the opening up BJJ would make him legendary amongst the Gracie clan.
Rolls would not simply train; he would go out and prove his innovations. At the weight of 141lbs (similar to the alleged weight that Helio fought at), Rolls would become a successful competitor in Brazil for Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling and Sambo. Rolls would promote six individuals to black belt who are ironically known as the Famous Five. These individuals included Marcio “Macarrao” Stambowsky, Maurício “Maurição” Motta Gomes, Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti (founder of Alliance BJJ), Nicin Azulay, Paulo Conde, and Mario Claudio Tallarico.
Rolls Gracie died in 1982 (age 31), as a result of a hang gliding accident a huge hole was left in the heart of members of the Gracie family. Some of Rolls’ students would choose to never train again.