Choque, The Untold Story of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil Volume 2, 1950-1960 By Roberto Pedreira
Available from Amazon UK £14.53 paperback (£6.49 Kindle Edition) Amazon USA: $22.20 ($9.95 Kindle)
Writer Roberto Pedreira continues his Choque series of books with volume two, covering the history of jiu jitsu in Brazil between 1950 and 1960. As with volume one of Choque (1856-1949), Pedreira charts the events, names, places, incidents and stories via exhaustive research through Brazilian newspaper and magazine archives.
The 1950’s proved a tough time for the early development of jiu jitsu in Brazil. During this period, judo’s rise as an international sport came at the expense of jiu jitsu. Pedreira documents the efforts that Carlos and Helio Gracie went to in order to keep the art in the public eye, including Helio’s infamous ring fight against Masahiko Kimura in 1951 – a fight he lost when Carlos Gracie stepped in to halt the fight.
If there is to be one star of the book, of the decade, then it most definitely falls down to one individual, Carlos Gracie’s eldest son, Carlson. Choque Volume two follows all of Carlson’s numerous ring fights and his long time rivalry against former Gracie Academy student, Waldemar Santana. Carlson, like Helio before him, refused to take part in fixed fights (as was the norm with many fighters at the time). The fights may not have been as crowd pleasingly fun compared with rigged matches, but they cemented his reputation as a pure fighter, ready to meet any challenge.
Another notable, though far quieter and less celebrity hungry star over this decade is Oswaldo Fada, who learned his jiu jitsu from Luiz Franca, a student of Mitsuyo Maeda. Fada’s academy taught everyday working folk and was less prone to publicity seeking compared with the Gracie Academy. Despite this, he led a popular school and taught students who were eager to compete in jiu jitsu rules tournaments. In 1955 the Fada academy challenged the Gracie Academy to a club v club tournament. Of the fourteen matches, the Gracies won 7, lost 3 and drew 4 – worth noting when reading some reports on the internet that exaggerate the scoreline in Fada’s favour.
As the decade draws to an end, the television show Heróis do Ringue (Heroes of the Ring) presented to a mass Brazilian audience a showcase of jiu jitsu, lutre livre, wrestling and judo. The program aired for a year before finally closing down in 1960. One curious line in the book mentions a female beauty contestant and vale tudo fighter known as Paula Chianca de Caravalho. Nothing more is mentioned of her or her fight but surely she would be one of the earliest female vale tudo fighters of the time?
Choque volume two follows much the same style of writing as found in volume one. There are numerous fight reports, which can get a little repetitive, but each finding and fact is backed up by a reference to the newspaper or magazine in the appendix at the back. Volume two improves on volume one as a reading experience mainly because there is more material for Pedreira to work with and that material is written by reporters who have a better understanding of jiu jitsu and the fighters. Pedreira concludes with a titillating teaser for his next book: “all the elements of a blockbuster Hollywood movie, including sex, violence, drugs, hope, tragedy, betrayal and ultimately a happy ending, of sorts…”