The Relson Gracie Invasion

Relson came to the U.S. and set up camp in Hawaii. He was reinforcement for a revolution that had already started.Relson came to the U.S. and set up camp in Hawaii. He was reinforcement for a revolution that had already started. Relson was brought in to fight a ground war across the Hawaiian Islands. The recreation and daily life in Hawaii helps build powerful athletes. Hawaiians are raised as warriors and fighting is very much part of their culture. His arrival in 1988 was clearly a mission. The battles were fought on mats. Many family members and training partners helped in the convincing process. Only after much sweating, tapping, and bleeding; respect grew for America`s new sport and form of self-defense.

In order to establish a pecking order, Relson hosted the first Jiu-Jitsu tournament ever in Hawaii. He continued to do this every year. Although Relson never competed on Hawaiian soil, his team has placed first in every competition they devoted their efforts to winning. It`s been over 10 years and Relson`s team still reigns. He has become accustomed to the island life and doesn’t`t mind calling it home.

Hawaii is now a hot bed of talent and established schools. Hawaii was ranked # 2 in the World after Brazil and before the mainland US in a Gracie Magazine listing of best Jiu-Jitsu Athletes. This was accumulated through a count of medals won at the Pan-Am Games and the Mundials. With faces like the Infamous Onzuka twins, Sam Mahi, Steve Hordinski, Ronn Shiraki, Todd Tanaka, Kendall Goo, Malcolm Ahlo, Kofi Debrah, Shane Agena, Rex Barnum, Vinny Scott, Miles Suehiro, the Penn brothers & many more infesting the islands and academy, the revolution is complete.

Relson`s Jiu-Jitsu tournament invasion has been fought on many soils. The next I would like to share with you; Columbus Ohio, where he has been undefeated in his Nationals and The Arnold World Gracie Submission Wrestling Championships. Both of these tournaments come close to doubling in size each year. It might be from the large cash prizes, but each year the tournament seems to draw tougher competitors. I have witnessed first hand, top athletes from all over the world braving dismal temperatures with the hopes of working their way through stacked brackets. Relson has left a permanent mark on the city, Jeff Hudson. Jeff runs the show while Relson is away from the Columbus Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Chapter. Jeff Hudson is an accomplished Black Belt under Relson and a Chiropractor. It`s an odd combination, but I assure you, he will pick your Jiu-Jitsu game apart and realign it. I look forward to the open doors and friendly training before and after the competition. You never know who you`ll see On the Mat.

I have helped plant the seed for the Texas Invasion. I have run Relson`s Austin association for five years. Relson arrived in Dallas, Texas for seminars in Austin and while here, visited a RCJ Machado tournament hosted by Carlos Machado Relson had fun inspecting Carlos`s Jiu-Jitsu progression. It was fun to watch them interact. I have had the pleasure of hanging out with both of them a couple of times. This time we managed to collect so many trophies that we could not fit them all in the car with Relson and luggage. The local troops fought well. Relson hasn`t devoted much time to Texas and hasn`t “imported” any competitors yet. I hope to see this change as the revolution continues. It seems like he just enjoys rest and relaxation and doing seminars in Austin. We have had a couple World Champions stop in for seminars already. I look forward to the day where I can sit back and watch those guys take care of the animals down here in Texas. The grapplers are getting much more technical each year.

I recently managed to help out in the latest Invasion, Brazil. I had only heard stories of competition in Brazil. A fond “Relson story” would be when Kelly Matsukawa and Kendall Goo closed the bracket of their weight division. This is the first time in the history of Mundials (World Championships) that this had happened. Two Hawaiian students that trained under the same roof (at Relson`s Main Academy) closed a bracket at the worlds. Our set up down there was at the Iate Clube Jardim Guanabara, or for Americans, the Guananabara Yacht Club; this was Relson`s original Academy. Relson`s technique still runs strong there. The set up is perfect for training, mats on site, wonderful food, a great gym, and more. Marcos Moraes, Daniel Moraes, Diego Moraes, Cacca, Felipe Varella, and many more would train there with us. Some nights, we would train till 1:30 am. Marcelo Clemente took us in and gave us all the training we could handle almost everyday right around the corner from the Yacht Club. It was the most intense class I saw in Brazil. Relson took the time to invade Marcelo`s school for a seminar and left our crew with the best techniques we learned in Brazil. He honed in one of his vale tudo theories while training with Marcello by smacking him in the face loud enough to be heard down stairs and probably outside. The intensity of training was really high that day.

Early in this year`s trip to Rio, Relson took a small crew of us to Helio Gracie`s house to train. It was a good day; Helio wore his red belt for us. Rhalan (Relson’s son) and Relson reviewed some techniques for Helio and the rest of us. Helio said he would sit quietly and watch until he saw something he needed to comment on. Things were quiet for 5 or 6 minutes; then there was some pretty heated discussions as to where to place the hands for defense. New techniques were introduced and things were okay. Relson commented that today`s Jiu-Jitsu champions were using more power. Somewhere things went wrong and conversation was heated. Helio choked Rhalan for a while Relson and the rest of us watched. By the color of Rhalan`s face, I knew Relson`s invasion on Helio`s house was a success. We trained for close to three hours. We sat around and visited for a while as well. This year at the worlds was a big eye opener for us, the “first timers”. I was glad to watch the team give it their best at the worlds. They won some, lost some, and definitely learned tons. I managed to submit my way to the 4th round before being put out of the competition. At this year`s Worlds, it was Daniel Moreas`s year for our team. Royler and Relson have helped mold this Jiu-Jitsu soldier to soundly beat a 4-time world Champion at age 21. Daniel beat Marcio Feitosa this year to claim the championship! With the celebrations after the worlds, you can easily forget about personal short comings and focus on honing your game and fixing the errors in relaxed classes for an hour or two a day.

I look forward to events, infamous Relson stories, future techniques & champions. The future is bright. Now its` time to get back to the mats.

Phil Cardella Relson Gracie Austin

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Phil Cardella