Oswaldo Baptista Fadda
Oswaldo Baptista Fadda (January 15, 1921 - April 1, 2005) son of an immigrant Italian family who moved to Brazil in the early 1900's was a practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, reaching the rank of "nono grau", a 9th Dan Red Belt. He is known for being one of the highest ranked non-Gracie black belts and also for teaching students from the poorer areas of Rio de Janeiro, where jiu-jitsu was regarded as a upper-class sport. Fadda's lineage, the most prominent second to Carlos Gracie lineage, still survives through his links with today's teams such as Nova União, Grappling Fight Team,as well as Deo Jiu-Jitsu (Deoclecio Paulo) and Equipe Mestre Wilson Jiu-Jitsu (Wilson Pereira Mattos).
Fadda was born in Bento Ribeiro, a suburb in the north of Rio de Janeiro. At the age of seventeen, while in the Brazilian Marines he began to study Jiu Jitsu under Luis França, a black belt under Mitsuyo Maeda. Maeda was a expert judoka with direct lineage to the founder of judo, Kano Jigoro, who had travelled around the world as a prize fighter while also teaching the locals self defence techniques. After settling in Belém in 1917, Maeda had continued to teach Jiu Jitsu to a select group of students (including França and Carlos Gracie).
By 1942, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was becoming well known in Brazil, although the prices of tuition were too high for most residents of Rio. Fadda had received his own black belt from França and soon started teaching Jiu Jitsu free of charge in unorthodox locations such as public parks and beaches, often without the aid of crash mats, aiming to spread the art of jiu-jitsu to the poorer folk. Fadda also saw jiu-jitsu as a way to help people with physical or mental disabilities, especially the city's numerous polio victims. With no real income from his teaching he was forced to advertise within the obituary section of the local newspaper.
Despite being regarded by the Gracie family as an outcast, Fadda managed to open his own academy on the outskirts of Rio on January 27, 1950.He and his students began specialising in the use of foot-locks, an often ignored part of the jiu-jitsu curriculum. The next year,Fadda felt confident that his school was ready for the next step and issued a challenge to the Gracie’s through the media: "We wish to challenge the Gracie’s, we respect them like the formidable adversaries they are but we do not fear them. We have 20 pupils ready for the dispute".
Oswaldo Baptista Fadda ID card
Who was Master Fadda?
Professor Oswaldo Baptista Fadda was born, lived and died in Rio, Brazil. A humble man and an expert of the art of Jiu-Jitsu as well as a pioneer taking the “soft art” to the common people Brazil. When he was 17 years of age he enlisted in the Marines serving in the Brazilian Navy. It was there where he was exposed to Jiu-Jitsu for the first time. Oswaldo Fadda then started to train in Jiu-Jitsu with Professor Luis França a direct student and part of a very privileged small group of pupils of Mitsuyo Maeda also known as Conde Koma, the original introducer of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil, in 1917. Mitsuyo Maeda had moved to Brazil to spread Jigaro Kano's Judo across the world and found himself teaching Jiu-Jitsu in the city of Belém, the state of Pará along side of Carlos Gracie.
After years studying under Professor Luis França, Fadda turned to helping and teaching the under privileged in the suburbs of Rio, an act never seen or heard of back then as Jiu-Jitsu was for the privileged few and those with money. With deep idealism, he taught and demonstrated, with its pupils, the techniques of Jiu-Jitsu in slum quarters, public squares, beaches, circuses, patios of churches and clubs, aiming at to the masses and exposing for the first time the practical skills and technique to all.
Fadda's older brother Humberto Fadda, and his grandson, Helio Fadda have followed in his footsteps, the Fadda Academy did not have the same luck of the Gracie family. The Academy of Bento Ribeiro no longer belonged to the family since the early 1980's. Fadda and Cascagrossa branch closed its doors in 1990.
Keeping the Fadda name alive today are his grandsons, Renan and Marcos and other noteable students that earned the earned and had the privelage to train under Fadda. These include Deoclecio Paulo Sebastiao Ricardo Alexandre Chandu, Orivaldo Silva, Geraldo Flores, Roberto Soares, Chasco and Lando and Wilson Mattos.
Master Fadda died aged 84 on April 1st 2005 for a bacterial pneumonia aggravated from Alzheimer's. Unlike the Gracie's, Fadda did not transform his family into an army of fighters, but his legacy lives on in his students in various academies all over Brazil. These include Jacare, Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro, BJ Penn, Robson Moura, Leonardo Santos, Jose Aldo and the world champion Rodolfo Vieira Academy (GFT) grappling fighting team. Alexander Wendell co-founder of the Nova Uniao
Oswaldo Fadda was a great fighter and a great man who had as his mission in life to put in the service of his community, his knowledge of jiu-jitsu. His personal interest, the fame of his name was put into the background compared to the poor community in the suburbs of Rio, where he was born. Oswaldo Fadda was a good man, earnest and humble, a true silent warrior. Obrigado Mestre Fadda.
Another important activity in which is Fadda pioneered, was the therapeutic recovery, through the teaching of Jiu-Jitsu as supportive therapy to medical treatment. This included people with physical and mental abnormalities, motor paralysis of children affected by polio victims. In this area, Fadda had worked miracles among the many students of which he taught, including "Torpedo", black belt Jiu-Jitsu fighter missing both legs from the knees down.
Teaching in a poorer community, and not being able to generate a steady form of income from his teaching, he was forced to place an advert for his academy in the obituary section of the local newspaper. The object was to attract the attention of the media, as well as a ways to challenge the powerful Jiu-Jitsu stronghold of the Gracie family.
Fadda Jiu-Jitsu Wins Challenge
The Great Challenge
In 1954, Master Fadda released the advert in the "O Globo" and "Diario dà Noite" and issued the following challenge/statement:
"We wish to challenge the Gracies, we respect them like the formidable adversaries they are but we do not fear them. We have 20 pupils ready for the dispute"
Helio Gracie took on the challenge, saying he was impressed by the cavalry of Oswaldo Fadda. The challenge took place within the Gracie Academy in the city of Rio De Janeiro. Fadda's team emerged victorious making good use of their knowledge of leglock and footlocks, in which the Gracie's were lacking.
José Guimarães one of Fadda's pupils choked Gracie's star pupil "Leonidas" unconscious. Oswaldo himself became the first man to beat Hélio in competition. After the challenge, Fadda gave an interview for the "Revista