One of the newspapers with the largest circulation in Brazil, O Globo featured Jiu-Jitsu this Tuesday. The article signed by Daniela Kresh covering nearly an entire page of the sports section comments on the explosion of the modality in Israel, highlighting renowned black belts Royce Gracie and Ricardo de la Riva.
According to the article, Israel currently boasts approximately twenty academies and an estimated two thousand Jiu-Jitsu practitioners and growing. In a nation that lives the conflict of the Middle East, the gentle art is even a sort of escape valve.
“The tension here makes a lot of people want to escape through the martial art for its relation to Brazilian culture, admired in Israel for its joy of living,” remarks Isaac Benasulin, an Angolan who lived part of his life in Brazil.
But what awoke the interest in the style developed by the Gracie family was actually the MMA performances of Royce Gracie, who has branches of his academy in the country. That was how Ido one of the most well-known fighters in the country, Ido Pariente, found out about the style. After watching the Gracie perform in the UFC in 1993, he fell in love with Jiu-Jitsu.
“I thought to myself: ‘What is that? I need to learn it!’ My friends and I started imitating what we saw on tape. At the time, no one knew what Jiu-Jitsu was in Israel. These days there isn’t a European Championship where Israel doesn’t win medals.”
Lastly, Gidon Sagher, a Ricardo de la Riva black belt, sees a promising future.
“Jiu-Jitsu is without a doubt the martial art that is growing most here. It has what it takes to be more famous than krav maga, the local fighting style.”
When in Israel, here a tip from our GMA in the country:
Renzo Gracie Academy