The grappling fighting style known as jujitsu first came to Brazil in 1914 stored in the hands and mind of Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese immigrant and master of the art. He only stayed a year, but it was enough time to plant the seeds for a new jujitsu academy in Brazil. One of the first students at that academy was Hélio Gracie.
Hélio absorbed the fighting style quickly, adapting many of the techniques to suit his small frame. He discovered methods of leverage that allowed him to execute joint locks, choke holds, and takedowns on much larger opponents, forming the core of his new Gracie jujitsu method. Ultimately, Hélio's son Royce brought the fighting style to America, famously winning UFC 1, 2, and 4 by defeating opponents many times his own size. Suddenly, Americans lined up to learn this newly unveiled Brazilian fighting style, demonstrating their eagerness by folding themselves inside a box and shipping themselves south.
Relson Gracie, Hélio's second oldest son, chose to be an ambassador of his family's fighting style. He was already teaching abroad when his little brother Royce skyrocketed Brazilian jujitsu to popularity. He founded his first school under the name Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Hawaii, and as the art became popular, he opened new branches of his academy all across the United States. Today, he visits more than 40 academies and associations, sharing his knowledge with thousands of students. In his absence, he leaves instructors whom he personally trained to oversee the education of aspiring fighters.
The St. Augustine Lighthouse has been keeping its luminous eye on the Atlantic’s endless horizon since 1874. In the 130 years since, the tower of Alabama brick and Philadelphia iron has served as the home of light keepers, a beacon to sailors, and a target of arson, eventually benefiting from a 15-year restoration project that commenced in 1980. Today, a staff of historians and protectors is eager to share the rich history of the nation's oldest port, not only through education and preservation but also by letting guests explore.
Visitors can scale the 165-foot, black-and-white lighthouse's 219 steps to the bright-red observation deck to catch breathtaking views of St. Augustine and spot gangs of dolphins making trouble by the shore. Lens-room tours allow up-close access to the regularly off-limits Fresnel lens, built in 1873, which weighs 2,000 pounds and shepherds ships with a light that radiates for 25 miles on a clear night. The clink of champagne glasses adds an element of glamour to Sunset Moonrise events, whereas Dark of the Moon tours let guests in after-hours to hear the tales of paranormal activity that earned the lighthouse a feature on Ghost Hunters.
With an in-depth collection of Victorian-era art and artifacts, Lightner Museum could find no better setting to house its works than the former Alcazar Hotel, built in 1887. Relics cover three floors of the intricately architected building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designed in Spanish-Renaissance style by the visionaries behind the New York Public Library. Inside the magnificent lobby, whitewashed pillars connect high ceilings bordered by intricate plastered molds with amaranthine-hued mosaic floors.
Wander into the Science and Industry room for views of a taxidermied crocodile suspended from the ceiling, mingling among cases filled with statuettes and antique globes. Moving into neighboring galleries, a carved and gilded neoclassical rocking chair and colorful, mosaic-like Louis Comfort Tiffany lamps provide insight into the daily lives of Victorian citizens. Other 19th-century paintings and statues showcase the era's artistic inspiration as well as its curious fashions, such as wearing Santa Claus hats year-round.
The needles of pine trees brush together softly in the forests that line St. Johns Golf & Country Club, mimicking the bated breath of golfers as they wait for a ball to fall on the bunker-speckled 18th hole. The undulating green caps the 7,250-yard Clyde Johnston-designed course, where golfers unleash their swings from one of five tee distances. The course has served as host of the PGA Tour Q-School for five consecutive years, and a practice facility with a 10,000-square-foot putting green and double-sided driving range allows golfers to work on their grip or stop yelling a childhood secret every time they swing the club. Chatter and the sound of clicking margarita glasses drift down to the course from a restaurant with views of the 9th and 18th holes, and a banquet hall hosts wedding receptions and other gatherings.
The instructors at City Yoga of St. Augustine take relaxation seriously. They invest in the translation of asana that means "at ease," a phrase that sums up their noncompetitive atmosphere and approach to each class. During lessons that encompass aspects of Vinyasa, Hatha, Ashtanga, and Lakulish yoga styles, they guide students through multiple versions of each pose. Fundamental postures can blossom into advanced holds or serve as meditative stretches for yogis of all experience levels. Rather than pushing their guests toward more difficult tableaus on smaller and smaller Twister mats, the teachers stress the value of awareness and introspection in comfort. They hope that their pupils can then transport the convivial spirit of the studio outside its walls, whether they are signing up for a full-moon beach yoga workshop or simply smiling on the walk home.
Though most museums instruct with glass cases and placards, Old Florida Museum wants you to live the experiences of its indigenous populations and settlers firsthand. During its hands-on program, guests explore Florida's history of year 1585 beginning with the Timucua Indians. In the recreated Village of Seloy, they can learn about corn grinding, dug-out canoe making, and Indian tools before visitors encounter Fort Menendez and discover how early settlers lived by dipping candles, weaving, and woodworking.
Along this trek through time, patrons can earn ducados—tokens which are good for park games and select gift shop items—by completing chores and activities. Skilled hagglers can also trade their ducados with other patrons or museum workers searching for the fountain of youth.