Rickson, son of Helio Gracie, was born into Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. At six years old he began competing; at 15 he started to teach it; and at 18 he received his black belt. At 20 Rickson won his first victory against the famous 230-pound Brazilian brawler Rei Zulu. With this victory, Rickson gained immediate national acclaim as the top freestyle fighter, leaving his mark on the history of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and the Gracie challenge. Five years later Zulu requested a rematch and lost to Rickson again, in Maracanazinho before an audience of 20,000 spectators.
Rickson is an 8th Degree Black Belt Open Class Champion of the Gracie Family, whose technique is considered to be the finest expression of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in the world. His innate talent and mastery of the sport have been demonstrated in numerous Jiu-Jitsu tournaments, freestyle wrestling, Sambo, open weight freestyle competitions, and no holds barred fighting matches. Rickson is a two-time Brazilian Champion in freestyle wrestling, a Gold Medal Winner of Sambo, and for almost two decades he has been the middle-heavyweight and no weight division World Jiu-Jitsu Champion. He conquered Japan's elite fighting in a tournament, the Japan Open Vale Tudo, winning both in 1994 and 1995. At this time, Rickson was acknowledged by the Japanese for possessing the Samurai Spirit.
Rickson has been teaching his martial arts style for over 20 years and his array of students have included FBI Agents, SWAT Teams, Navy SEALs, Delta Force, Army Rangers, military personnel, martial artists of various styles, athletes and actors. Rickson founded the Rickson Gracie International Jiu-Jitsu Association in 1996 in order to provide a thorough and complete system in which Jiu-Jitsu students, for the first time, are presented with clearly defined standards of progression relating to proper Belt Ranking and Testing. Through the Association, the traditional, technical and philosophical aspects of Jiu-Jitsu can be shared with students around the world.