The Hélio Gracie Self Defense Challenge was devised by the Valente Brothers in 2000 to preserve and promote a vital element in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu that was slowly being forgotten: Stand up Self-Defense. With the tremendous growth of sport jiu-jitsu, most instructors were lured by the prestige and excitement connected with positive tournament results and started focusing their classes almost exclusively on point grappling rather than realistic street fighting. However, several jiu-jitsu masters still regard the defenses against strikes, bear hugs, headlocks, collar grabs and other common street attacks as the most important component of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
Under the supervision of Grandmaster Hélio Gracie, this challenge was elaborated to test students’ technique and reflexes as they perform defenses against randomly selected stand up attacks. The attacks are executed in a realistic manner by the professors and expert judges award points based on the participants’ precision, technical proficiency, timing and realism. After three rounds the top four contestants are announced to the audience.