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Legendary take on all comers carnival wrestler and our good friend Billy “Pops” Wicks recently pointed something out to us. Mr Wicks states “Interesting bit of history here that seldom gets heard. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu had its roots in the circus and on AT (athletic shows) shows as they were known here in the U.S. Gastao is the grandfather of Rickson Gracie .Often you will hear that Gastao was a business man but not that he was actually partners in a circus and handled the business of wrestling matches.” Pops was recently discussing this history with our good friend and renowned author of the catch wrestling books Mark Hewitt. Mark points out that :
“Gastao Gracie was a Brazilain of Scottish ancestry.He had five sons: Carlos, Gastao Jr., Oswaldo, Jorge (George), Helio.

Gastao, Sr. was partners in the American Circus along with the Quierolo brothers of Argentina .
Gastao managed wrestlers that toured with circus and took on all comers. They included Alfredi Leconti and Japanese jiu-jitsu experts Mitsuyo “Conde Koma” Maeda and Taro Miyake. It has been reported that Leconti was a boxer but research indicates he was a pro wrestler.

It has also been reported that Gastao’s connection with Maeda was in helping with political and Japanese immigration problems.

That may have happened later, but initially Gastao’s dealing with Maeda was over circus/professional wrestling. Maeda taught Kodokan judo/jiu-jitsu to Gastao’s oldest son Carlos who taught his siblings-the rest is history. Maeda also had experience at catch-as-catch-can wrestling in the USA .”

This information once again shows how interconnected styles of grappling around the world are. It also serves as further illustration of how catch wrestling was a forefather of so many other grappling styles. To read in further detail about the history of grappling and the influence that wrestling (cacc,folksyle&freestyle) had and continues to have on BJJ/Gracie Jiu-Jitsu we would encourage you to read Rough and Tumble: The History of American Submission Wrestling. You can order Rough and Tumble here