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MMA HALL OF FAME Nominee » Geo Omori

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Geo Omori • Pioneer • Rival of the Gracies, sparked the late 20s and 30s Vale Tudo craze in Brazil.

by Dennis "Kick Boxe" D.

Modern Mixed Martial Arts came from Brazil, where it was famously practiced and highly refined by the Gracie family. The Gracie family in turn learned the techniques from Mitsuyo Maeda. However, not all Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil comes from Maeda. It is widely held that the lineage for all BJJ players players today can be traced from Maeda to patriarch Carlos Gracie and down to every white belt, everywhere.

However, there is in fact a lineage separate from the celebrated line, that from Geo Omori.

Omori is a most elusive man when it comes to tracing lineageu. You won't hear his name on a UFC broadcast and his image is no where to be found , but his impact on early jiu jitsu is substantial. The name Gracie has become synonymous with Brazillian jiu jitsu, but the first jiu jitsu gym was opened in Sao Paulo, Brazil by Geo Omori. A Japanese judo and jiu jitsu champion, Geo opened the gym in 1925 after teaching judo in Sao Paulo for 16 years.

While too little is known about Geo Omori, he played a pivotal role in early Brazillian jiu jitsu. Brazil has always had an extensive history of fighting styles and techniques, including capoeira, boxing, wrestling, and judo. In a match that is eerily similar to Royce Gracie's success in UFC 1, undersized Geo shocked Brazil when he dominated a "huge negro" capoeira fighter using his jiu jitsu skills to mount and defeat the much larger man (NY Times 1928). The fact this was newsworthy enough to be printed in The New York Times shows it's historical significance in the changing of most effective fighting styles.

Speaking to Geo's skill, Esai Maeda blackbelt Luiz Franca trained and became a blackbelt under Geo as well. Maeda was the man that taught jiu jitsu to the Gracie family. Geo's lineage includes Luiz, Carlos Pereira, and Master Oswaldo Fadda. To further cement his legacy, Geo Omori had matches with multiple Gracie family members. His toughness is indisputable, going to a draw with legend George Gracie, and demanding his match with Carlos Gracie continue even though Carlos had popped Geo's arm, doing severe ligament damage. Much of Geo's life and even his appearance is shrouded in mystery, but the BJJ landscape would be much different without his extensive contributions to the art.

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