In 1914, a small Brazilian man named Carlos Gracie learned the forbidden secrets of Jiu-Jitsu, a martial art developed by the warrior classes of Japan throughout the centuries.

“The Gracies and the Birth of Vale Tudo” is a feature documentary that profiles this larger than life guru. Together with his brothers, Carlos created free-for-all competitions (Vale Tudo) and built an army of modern-day warriors.

After almost a century, with 47 black-belts and hundreds of world titles, the Gracie family still fights with this single collective goal: to prove their techniques are more effective than any other making them one of the most dominant families of athletes in modern history.

From Brazil’s gyms to its streets to the beaches of Rio, the film also takes the viewer behind the scenes and examines the family dynamics of this most unusual clan. It follows both the progress and the conflict of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s two founding brothers, Carlos and Helio Gracie and the army of champion fighters and huge global business they would ultimately create. It tells the personal stories of the most legendary and noteworthy family members: Carlson, the strong fighter who broke from his family; Rolls, the tragic hero; Rorion, the ruthless businessman; Royce, the unlikely evangelist; Rickson, the unbeatable champion and Renzo, the reconciler.

Fascinated by these principles and via unprecedented access to home movies and family archives, filmmaker Victor Cesar Bota follows the first family of no-rules fighting from their humble origins on the streets of Brazil to a worldwide fascination now called Mixed Martial Arts. In the United States, he discovered most people thought Mixed Martial Arts was brand new, when actually it had existed in Brazil for more than 70 years and during all of that time was almost completely dominated by this single family.

“The Gracies and the Birth of Vale Tudo” is a tale of morality, pride and family tragedy, an unyielding belief in a lifestyle and philosophy that grew to be a booming global phenomenon.