Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in St. Augustine Florida
Rhalan Gracie, the son of Relson Gracie(bio page) was the first official Gracie
Instructor to teach classes in St. Augustine, Florida. As a Brown Belt, Rhalan spent
about a year introducing the city to his families unique system of Jiu-Jitsu. He exposed
an art with strong & inspiring heritage to a town that is welcoming to deep roots and
tradition. Rhalan, is currently at the Main Gracie Academy in LA finishing out his four
stripe brown belt.
Now that Rhalan has left his mark, 2nd Degree Black Belt Instructor and founder of The
Relson Gracie Austin Academy has taken interest in providing the original Martial Art to
the historic city of Saint Augustine. Phil Cardella has recreated a facility to best harbor
positive growth of Martial Arts, self-defense, competition, wellness, and fitness. It’s a
big task to offer such a variety of Martial Arts and different levels of instruction under
one roof. The St. Augustine Academy has a focused goal of enriching the local
community, creating long lasting friendships, and changing peoples lives. Our doors are
open to meet the communities training needs, mental wellness & fitness goals.
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact date of creation of this diverse martial art. Jiu-Jitsu has
formed through an evolution of grappling styles taken from several different forms of
martial arts and can be traced back to over 5000 years. Most believe it was created out
of necessity around the same time Yoga was invented.
The earliest evidence of grappling shows up in early Greek and Egyptian art in tombs
and on pottery. Certain positions in Jiu-Jitsu were clearly used by samurai warriors.
Gracie Jiu-Jitsu began to take it’s form as we know it today in 1915 after Mitsuyo Maeda
also known as the father of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu arrived in the State of Para’ in the upper
northeast part of Brazil. It was there that Maeda, a promoter of Japanese immigration
to Brazil, met Gastao Gracie. Gastao was an influential businessman who helped the
Japanese establish a settlement in Brazil. To express his gratitude, Maeda offered to
teach Gastao’s oldest son, Carlos, the traditional Japanese art of Jiu-Jitsu.
Carlos Gracie fell in love with the sport and taught his 4 younger brothers Oswaldo,
Gastao, Jorge, and Helio.Carlos was very interested in street fighting, and boxing, and
often modified the original moves learned by Maeda to adapt to the rough “no rules”
streets of Brazil. After a while Carlos and his brothers made a name for the family by
fighting in the streets and in demonstrations. Carlos challenged anyone and everyone,
regardless of size or fighting style (he only weighed 135 pounds.) His style of fighting
was so effective he beat every opponent went undefeated and became legendary in
The youngest brother Helio(bio) was always very frail, he would run up the stairs and
have fainting spells. Nobody figured out why this was happening to him, and doctors
advised him to refrain from any physical activity. Eventually Helio’s mother was
convinced that he was not healthy enough to continue going to school. During hard
financial times the family was split and Helio was sent to live with his aunts. By the time
Helio was 14 he was reunited with his brothers and lived with them in Botafogo Rio De
Janeiro where they taught Jiu-Jitsu lessons. Helio would observe them very carefully
during jiu-jitsu instruction and eventually memorized all of the moves his brothers
One day one of Carlos’ pupils was waiting for a lesson, when Carlos did not arrive on
time, Helio offered to start the lesson. By the time the lesson was over, Carlos arrived
and apologized for his tardiness, the pupil said he did not mind, and would like Helio to
continue teaching him. Carlos agreed, and from then on Helio became an instructor
and marked the beginning of his lifelong dedication to living the Jiu-Jitsu way of life.
As Helio continued to develop his Jiu-Jitsu skills he modified techniques to use more
leverage and counter balance. Through Helio’s enthusiasm, the Gracie brothers
developed techniques that allowed any Jiu-Jitsu practitioner to conquer their opponent
regardless of their size and strength. This became what we know today as Gracie Jiu-
Sticking firmly to his fathers lifelong purpose , Relson Gracie keeps the traditional
martial art of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu alive and true to his fathers roots. Our Instructors are only
one generation from the original source of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Several of our Instructors at
the Saint Augustine Association have been to Brazil for competition and have trained at
the family farm with Grand Master Helio Gracie, and many of the academies in Rio De
Janeiro. Head Instructor/owner, Phil Cardella is a Relson Gracie MMA qualified fighter,
and one of the very first Americans to represent Relson Gracie and his particular style of
Jiu-Jitsu and Self-Defense in professional competition.
History of MMA Striking
The stand up fighting in Mixed Martial Arts world today is a grab bag of amazing stand
up fighting strikes, fakes , set ups and counters. Some of the major influences are Jiu-
Jitsu, Boxing, Muay Thai , and some aspects of traditional Martial Arts and Kickboxing.
Several Mixed Martial Arts techniques will only be discovered during MMA specific
training. In order to get a grasp on how MMA came into existence one must understand
the history of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu(move to top of page).
As Carlos and his brother Helio continued to advance and perfect their unique style of
Jiu-Jitsu in their new academy, Carlos created an extraordinary marketing plan to draw
attention. He began the Gracie Challenge where Carlos and Helio would take in all
challengers in vale-tudo matches regardless of their size or martial arts background.
Rumor of these matches rapidly spread through Rio de Janeiro. As a result, people
craved to see these events and soon the Gracie Challenge popularized and began to be
held in large soccer stadiums, attracting record crowds. The first professional fight was
between Lightweight Boxing Champion, Antonio Portugal and a much smaller and frailer
Helio Gracie. Helio won the match in under 30 seconds, making him an international
When word of the Gracie Challenge spread outside of Brazil, Japanese Martial arts
champions wanted to prove themselves against the Gracies, who they thought were
dishonoring their traditional arts. Helio defeated many great Japanese fighters, and
continued to defend the Gracie name often against opponents who outweighed his 135
frame (often times they were more than double his size.) Repeated Success in
“Anything Goes” fighting in Brazil and Japan proved the effectiveness and techniques of
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. As Helio’s sons and the Gracie family continued to prove their sport,
vale-tudo fighting became so popular it’s ticket sales closely followed Brazil’s Soccer
games. Several different organizations throughout Brazil began to host these popular
Since they were so successful in Brazil, the Gracie family began to branch out into the
United States. Rorion Gracie was hosting The Gracie Challenge that was so popular
back home in California. This time a $100,000 reward went to a challenger that
defeated him or one of his brothers. With the increasing popularity in the United States,
the Gracie Challenge became the launching pad for the creation of the Ultimate Fighting
Relson Gracie Saint Augustine is part of the Gracie Team network, and is a world wide
resource that has been doing MMA since its conception. Our Instruction and training
regimes are a proven scientific approach to victory, encompassing all aspects of
preparation. At our academy, mixed martial arts competition is taken very
professionally, even at the amateur level, and it is done on an invite only basis.
Our Instructors have trained in many world-renowned countries for the striking arts,
such as Thailand, and Brazil. The technical and detail-oriented Instruction we offer will
help build strong fundamentals and a good guard— the most important part of not
getting injured during a fight.
Relson Gracie St. Augustine’s mission is to enrich the lives of the community by instilling the Jiu-Jitsu way of life: taking care of your body, eating well, keeping close family ties and tapping into the most effective use of mental, physical, and spiritual strengths.