When we think about the origins of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in the United States, the classic Hermosa Beach garage ran by a young Rorion Gracie is at the forefront of any recollection of jiu-jitsu history. Without its humble beginnings in the Gracie Garage, jiu-jitsu would not be where it is today as a multi-national sport and self-defense system that serves many hundreds of thousands, if not millions, around the globe.
Behind the organic growth that jiu-jitsu was visibly garnering is what many consider an ‘unsung hero,’ the glue that held it all together, the matriarch of the household that built jiu-jitsu in America. We remember Suzanne Gracie as an indispensable part of developing what is now modern-day Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, not because she had the fiercest triangle choke on the block, but because as Rorion taught upwards of 12 hours a day in his garage, Suzanne was busy running the household and raising five kids, all of whom would play major roles in the growth of the art taking after their father.
Suzanne recently passed away peacefully at home surrounded by her children after an aggressive bout with cancer. At a belt promotion ceremony the previous week, her second eldest son Rener shared these emotional reflections on her life:
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