Worth Defending:

How Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
Saved My Life

By Richard Bresler with Scott Burr

Richard Bresler is Rorion Gracie’s first student in the USA, and is widely considered to be the first American student of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

WORTH DEFENDING is the story of Richard’s 40+ year involvement with the Gracie family.

Richard Bresler with Rorion Gracie

Self-defense is not just a set of techniques: it is a state of mind, and it begins with the belief that you are worth defending.”

Grandmaster Rorion Gracie

Red Belt, creator or the UFC

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How BJJ Started in America

Watch the Gracie Brothers interview with Richard Bresler.

Worth Defending is a biography with two themes: the history of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in the United States, and Mr. Bresler's journey that began with a lack of direction and ended with personal fulfillment. The book is also a self-help guide based on Mr. Bresler's experiences dealing with a difficult father, beating substance abuse, and seeking a more complete life.
Richard Bejtlich
Strategist | Metro Washington, DC

About Authors

RICHARD BRESLER is widely recognized as the first student of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in the USA. For almost twenty years he worked closely alongside Rorion Gracie, helping to grow Jiu-Jitsu through the Gracie Garages, the Gracie Academy, and the early days of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He was one of the first Americans to earn a teaching certificate through the original Instructor Certification Program at the Gracie Academy, and one of the first Americans to earn a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He still teaches Jiu-Jitsu and practices alternative healing in Los Angeles, California.

SCOTT BURR is a graduate of the creative writing program at the Colorado College. He is the author of the novels Bummed Out City and We Will Rid the World of You, the training manuals Get a Grip and Suspend Your Disbelief, and the martial arts, health, and fitness essay collection Superhero Simplified. He holds black belt rank in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, Kodokan Judo, and the Korean art of Kuk Sul Do. He currently runs Enclave Jiu-Jitsu, a martial arts community and private training facility located in Northeast Ohio.

Scott Burr and Richard Bresler
Grand Master Helio Gracie's two most memorable quotes in my estimation go as follows, "(Gracie) jiu-jitsu is the triumph of human intelligence over brute strength" and the most prescient is "If everyone learned (Gracie) jiu-jitsu, the world would be a better place." Rorion Gracie took his father's words to heart and has since taught legions upon legions, who took their new jiu-jitsu around the world until over 200 million people around the world now engage in some form or another of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, all stemming from GM Helio Gracie, and Rorion's dedication to his family's art. No one knows this better than Richard Bresler who was there every minute, working shoulder to shoulder with Rorion when the times were the absolute toughest for the man who earned the reputation for being the "toughest man in the world!"
James Halsband
Review from Amazon

Learn a more about Richard

WORTH DEFENDING is the story of his over 40 years’ involvement with the Gracies and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, from the first “Gracie Garage” in Hermosa Beach, California and the founding of the Gracie Academy through the inception of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the martial arts revolution that followed.

The experts can't be wrong

No one did more to help my dad—and my family's art—establish a foothold in the US than Richard Bresler.

From the garages to the original Academy to the UFC, Richard was there doing whatever he could to make it happen.

Anyone training Jiu-Jitsu in America today owes Richard Bresler their thanks.

Rener Gracie

I met Richard in the early 90s, on my very first trip to the original Gracie Academy in Torrance, California.

The moment I met Richard, he introduced himself and immediately made me feel comfortable and welcome at the most prestigious jiu-jitsu academy.

Get ready to enjoy the best stories about the history and legend of the Gracie Family! — 6th degree black belt

Phil Migliarese III

Richard’s book is an intimate telling of one man’s journey in Martial Arts; a great insight into the origins of BJJ in America. His extensive time spent with the Gracie family and his dedication to the craft makes Richard an authoritative voice on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. If you are interested in learning how it all began, definitely pick up this book." , Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt

Lowell Anderson

.Richard was a major influence on me in my early days of learning Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Thanks to Richard's help, I was able to pass the Gracie Academy's strict requirements to earn my Instructor Training Certificate. Richard’s generosity in helping me train for this will never be forgotten. He is a true BJJ inspiration. — 6th degree black belt,

Steve Maxwell

Richard Bresler was Rorion Gracie's first student in the USA. He was a great supporter of the inauguration of the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in California. Thank you Richard! - 8th Degree Coral Belt

Master Pedro Sauer

I'm very proud of Richard Bresler for his support of Jiu-Jitsu, being one of the first Americans to actually learn the art! I awarded him his black belt and he's surely a professional capable of teaching you every aspect of the art!"— 7th Degree Coral Belt

Master Fabio Santos

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