Rickson, third son of Helio Gracie, was born into Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. At six years old he began competing, at fifteen he started to teach the art, and at eighteen he received his black belt. At age twenty, Rickson won his first awe-inspiring victory against the famous 230-pound Brazilian brawler, Zulu, who until that time had enjoyed a 140-match, undefeated record. With this victory, Rickson gained immediate acclaim as the nation’s top free-style fighter, leaving his mark on the history of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and the Gracie Challenge. Five years later, Zulu requested a rematch and lost to Rickson again, in Maracanazinho Stadium before an audience of 20,000 spectators (this match can be seen on Gracie Jiu-Jitsu In Action 1).
In 1989, he came to America to help his brothers – Rorion, Royce, and Royler – establish the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Torrance, California.
Rickson is a 8th degree black belt whose technique many consider to be the finest expression of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in the world. His innate talent and early mastery of the sport have resulted in an impeccable undefeated record in more than 400 fights, including Jiu-Jitsu tournaments, free-style wrestling, Sambo, open weight free-style competitions, and no-holds-barred challenge matches and recreational sparring. Rickson is a two-time Brazilian Champion in free-style wrestling, a Gold Medal Winner in Sambo, and for almost two decades he has been the middle-heavyweight and open weight division World Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Champion. In 1994 and 1995, he conquered Japan’s premier fighting tournament, the Japan Open Vale-Tudo, winning it all both times. During that period, the Japanese fans acknowledged Rickson for possessing the “Samurai Spirit.”
At the 1997 Pride 1 Vale-Tudo match in Japan’s Tokyo Dome (before 47,860 spectators), he defeated Japan’s top-ranked fighter, Nobuhiko Takada, in 4:47 of the first round. A year later, in a highly anticipated rematch in front of 50,000 spectators at Japan’s Tokyo Dome, Rickson defeated Takada once again. A few years later, at the Colosseum 2000 event also held at the Tokyo Dome, Rickson fought Japan’s number one fighter, Masakatsu Funaki. 30 million television viewers watched as Rickson defeated his opponent with a rear naked choke in 11:46 of the first round.
Rickson has proven himself to be as accomplished a teacher as he is a competitor. He has been teaching his family’s martial arts style for over 30 years and his array of students have included FBI Agents, SWAT Teams, Navy Seals, military personnel, martial artists of various styles, athletes and actors. He presently teaches on special tours and seminars