Monday, April 26, 2010

Fadda Jiu Jitsu

Grand Master Fadda

In 1915 a Japanese man called Mitsuyo Maeda (aka Conde Coma) arrived in Brazil.
Maeda was a grand master in Jiu Jitsu and Kodokan Judo. A year after his arrival in Brazil he met with Gastao Gracie, father of Carlos, Jorge and Helio Gracie. Back in that time Helio Gracie was prohibited by his father to participate in Maeda's class because of his health conditions. In this "little" group of students Maeda was also teaching the Ono brothers and Luiz Franca who had grand knowledge of this art. Master Franca died happy in the country side of Brazil knowing that he taught everything he knew without secrets to his student Oswaldo Fadda.
It was the start of 1937 that Fadda wore a Jiu Jitsu Gi for the first time. After only one year of training, Master Franca commented that Fadda had big promise in Jiu Jitsu.

Black Belt

In 1942 Fadda gained his Black Belt and started taking classes. In 1943 all the Gracie family left Rio de Janeiro to move to Fortaleza - Ceara (north of Brazil) and stayed there until 1951. When they came back to Rio, Fadda Academy was already popular. Master Fadda tried to promote Jiu Jitsu to everyone no matter who they were. He would do demonstrations of the art in favelas (slums), schools, circus, churches, clubs and public parks. He used Jiu Jitsu as a cure. A lot of people at the time suffered from Poliomyelitis. Master Fadda had a Jiu Jitsu program to help these people.
On 27 January 1950 Fadda opened his own academy in Bento Ribeiro a suburb town of Rio de Janeiro where he was born and grew up. Every week he had visitors, tough looking people with bad backgrounds who felt threatened by this new Jiu Jitsu club come to the academy looking to fight. They were worried that if people learnt how to fight at the academy they would lose their own tough reputation. This led Master Fadda to promote a "show" separate from training. Every week after the class Fadda used to close the only door in the academy where dozens of memorable fights happened. They had "tough" guys vs Jiu Jitsu, Capoeira vs Jiu Jitsu, Boxing vs Jiu Jitsu, Karate vs Jiu Jitsu. Always the visitors went home without doubt of the supremacy of Jiu Jitsu.
The capoeira people was constantly visiting Fadda's academy but without any luck the result was always the same. Because of this the Fadda academy became even more popular with capoeira fighters, boxers and other "tough looking guys" joining the club.


Master Fadda wanted to prove that Jiu Jitsu wasn't solely dominated by the Gracie's. In 1954 he sent a letter to the newspaper inviting the Gracie's to a challenge. In the newspaper letter Fadda said: "We want to challenge the Gracie's, we respect them as our opponents but we don't fear them. I have about 20 students for the challenge." Helio, impressed by Fadda's gentlemanly invitation, accepted and opened his academy doors for the challenge. Gathering a lot of public attention, there were many in attendance. Contrary to most expectations, Fadda Academy overcame the Gracie Academy by showing different levels of techniques, amazing the Jiu Jitsu community. The highlight submission of the day was Jose Guimaraes leaving Leonidas, one of the Gracie fighters unconscious on the mats.
In that same year Fadda told the papers "We are finished with the Gracie taboo". Helio Gracie, impressed with the technique of the suburban fighters acknowledged that Jiu Jitsu was not exclusive to the Gracie Family and to the same paper said "All you need is one Fadda to show that Jiu Jitsu is not the privilege of the Gracie".

Master Fadda died 1st April 2005. Three years before his death in 2002, during a trip to Brazil, Minol had the privilege of meeting Master Fadda at his home and received his brown belt from the Master himself, one of the last certificates he signed. On the same day Rocha received his sixth degree on his black belt.