Famous Brazilian Jiu Jitsu master feels right at home in Donegal

Friends reunited (l-r): Stephen Coll, Master Rilion Gracie and Brian 'Barney' Coyle last Tuesday evening.

Friends reunited (l-r): Stephen Coll, Master Rilion Gracie and Brian ‘Barney’ Coyle last Tuesday evening.

THE Rilion Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy in Letterkenny welcomed its master last week to coincide with its third anniversary.

Brian ‘Barney’ Coyle and Stephen Coll were proud to welcome Master Rilion Gracie, his wife Chris and son Roggen to the club for the very first time on Tuesday evening.


Master Rilion, a member of the world famous martial arts dynasty, the Gracies from Brazil, gave a three-hour seminar to over 50 students on his first visit to Ireland.

Speaking after the event, he said: “I’ve really loved being here, I walked around Letterkenny today and loved the area, I’ve been trying to come for many years.”

The Rio de Janeiro native, who is based in Miami, Florida, these days, said he was always keen to visit the area where is family originated from.

Master Rilion said the Gracie family’s ancestors originally came from Scotland and Ireland before settling in Brazil and he noticed a resemblance amongst the people of Donegal.

“I am very proud to be in the country where my family came from to Brazil one hundred years ago. I was speaking to family in Brazil and told them I think everyone I see is my brother, their faces are very similar to my family and my father, Carlos Sr.”

Master Rilion paid tribute to Donegal men Stephen Coll and Brian Coyle, who have studied with him in Miami, on the work they have done representing him in Ireland.

“I am very proud of Steve and Barney, they are doing great work here. I told them how proud I am of them teaching our philosophy. The atmosphere here at the academy is great and it reflects how hard they are working.”


Following the seminar, as well as presenting seven blue belts and three purple belts, Master Rilion also surprised his two Irish representatives by awarding them brown belts.

He said: “They deserved the brown belt for all their hard work, they are a most important part of the future of Gracie Jiu Jitsu in this part of Ireland.”


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