Known for his mercurial temper and tough as nails style of fighting, Ralph Gracie is a known figure not only in BJJ but also in MMA. Apart from his aggressive approach in jiu jitsu, Ralph Gracie is also considered jiu jitsu royalty. Born on May 25, 1971, Ralph Gracie is a son of Robson Gracie’s sons. He is a brother to 11 other children including notable Gracie names such as Renzo Gracie, Charles Gracie, and the late Ryan Gracie.
Growing up, he was raised doing jiu jitsu. Despite being grounded by his parents when he was young, jiujitsu wasn’t taken away from him as one of his privileges. Even at a young age, Ralph Gracie is known for his strength. Similar to Renzo Gracie, Ralph was trained under his uncle who is Carlos Gracie Junior. This was the same period during the early days of Gracie Barra.
Mixed Martial Arts
In 1995, Ralph Gracie debuted in the Battlecade Extreme Fighting Championship’s card. He won fights against Makoto Murauko, Steve Nelson, and Ali Mihoubi during the formative years of mixed martial arts. Ralph Gracie was an exceptional mixed martial artist with his longest match lasting for around one minute and thirty-four seconds.
Extreme Fighting Championship was a short-lived No-Holds-Barred organization. It had one successful card done in the US before deciding to go to Canada and conduct their show in an Indian Reserve. Unfortunately, the Extreme Fighting Championship was deemed illegal and everyone including the fighters was ordered to get arrested. The authorities needed to wait for everyone to return to their hotel rooms before doing the arrest since they can’t enter the premises of the reserve.
What made Ralph Gracie unique and a stand out among other Gracies is the fact that he showcased his aggressive style which is a contrast to what Royce Gracie is known for. It’s because of this aggressive style in MMA that he gained the nickname “The Pitbull”.
He had a hiatus in fighting only to return in 2003 to fight against some of the modern-day MMA fighters that gained success in major organizations. One of his notable wins was against Dokonjonosuke Mishima. Ralph Gracie had a decisive victory against Mishima. The next year, Ralph Gracie fought against top Pride fighter Takanori Gomi. Gomi stopped Gracie in just six seconds via knee strikes to the head. Gracie then bowed out of the MMA world after his match with Takanori Gomi.
Ralph Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
Apart from being known as an MMA fighter, Ralph Gracie is a successful BJJ school owner. In the 1990s, he also started his BJJ school. Today, He has four affiliates in the San Francisco Bay Area alone plus two more in Orange County. Ralph Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academies can be found in San Francisco, San Jose, Berkeley, and Dublin in the Bay Area and in Anaheim and Chino Hills in Orange County.
Ralph Gracie had some notable black belts who taught under his affiliates including Luis Fraga has headed the Berkeley Academy and Kurt Osiander who eventually started his school in the same area.
Ralph Gracie’s Involvement in Controversies
Ralph Gracie isn’t someone new to BJJ drama. After 25 years of teaching in Ralph Gracie’s academy, one of Ralph Gracie’s notable black belts, Kurt Osiander decided to open Empire Jiu Jitsu along with Jake Scovel. This stirred quite some friction between the two.
Ralph Gracie claimed that Kurt Osiander left the academy. However, Kurt Osiander has a different version of the story saying that he was fired. Based on some rumors, the problem started when Ralph Gracie sold his San Francisco gym to Gracie Barra. It was later known that Ralph Gracie didn’t sell his academy to Gracie Barra.
One day, Joao Filipe “Jerry” Oliveira, a Gracie Barra black belt, walked in and fired long time instructor Jake Scovel. Next, he implemented different rules in the gym including no music, no swearing, and everyone has to wear shirts every time. He then didn’t want Kurt Osiander to teach his classes and hired another person to cover.
Ralph Gracie, however, clarified that he didn’t sell his gym to Gracie Barra and Kurt Osiander wasn’t fired from his teaching post in the academy. He even said that even offered Kurt Osiander a spot to teach in a new location. Osiander is one of the charismatic black belts under Ralph Gracie’s academy known for his Move of the Week Channel.
Months after, Ralph Gracie was involved in another controversy. This time around, Ralph Gracie was caught on video attacking Flavio Almeida. Flavio Almeida is also a black belt under Carlos Gracie Jr. He used to train along with Ralph and Renzo.
The incident took place in the 2018 Nogi World Championship. While Almeida was coaching one of his students, he was approached by Ralph Gracie and got elbowed. Almeida was knocked down to the ground and received a few more strikes. This attack resulted in 3 broken teeth. There were also reports where another person is involved who kicked Almeida while he was already in the ground. The video was accidentally captured on video by Dan Lukehart while he was filming a match.
The main reason for the scuffle was left unknown. However, there were rumors about the territorial dispute between Gracie Barra and Ralph Gracie Academy. In addition to this, there were also said to be a bad history between Ralph Gracie and Almeida over the years.
Renzo Gracie supported his brother’s actions. He even called the current Gracie Barra “weak”. Gracie Barra, on the other hand, released a statement saying that it was a “collision of two different ideologies: The old fashioned thug mentality focused on personal gain through fear and intimidation, against a philosophy of respect and professionalism”
In November last year, it was reported that Ralph Gracie rejected the plea deal. The case then moved to the second pretrial before going to the trial itself. If Ralph Gracie accepted the deal, he would’ve been given six months in Orange County jail. And also, he would’ve been given three-year probation. Since it is a felony charge, it would’ve translated to strike under the state of California’s three-strike law. Renzo Gracie was in attendance during the hearing to support Ralph.
Though there were no new reports regarding Ralph’s legal trouble, the hearing was scheduled for another pretrial in January.