Last week on The FightWorks Podcast we heard from New York-based Renzo Gracie, who helped fill in our knowledge of the late Rolls Gracie. Renzo went on to make some comments regarding the Gracie Academy in Torrance, California, which is lead by Helio Gracie’s first born son, Rorion Gracie. Renzo did not mince his words. Today on our humble Brazilian jiu-jitsu internet radio show, we bring you Rener Gracie, Rorion Gracie’s son. Rener responds to Renzo’s comments and goes on to tackle some criticism that has been directed their way regarding their online jiu-jitsu training program called Gracie University.
Also in this episode, we will get to know Jonathan “JT” Torres, the twenty-year old black belt from Lloyd Irvin Martial Arts who has been tearing it up on the competition scene. Despite his youth, his BJJ technique has propelled him to coming in second place as a brown belt at the 2009 BJJ World Championship. He was awarded his black belt shortly later and in September won his weight division at the American National Championship, and came in third in the absolute division. (You can see video of his match against the gold medal winner Joao Assis here.)
Jonathan Torres plays guard against Gracie Barra’s Bruno Amorim at the 2009 BJJ World Championship.
TRANSCRIPTION OF RENER GRACIE INTERVIEW
The FightWorks Podcast: Hey family, we are here on the line right now with Rener Gracie, of the Gracie Academy in Torrance, California. As I think the Mighty 600,000 know, there has been an awful lot of chatter online in the last couple of weeks, due to a couple of recent interviews we had on the Fightworks Podcast. That started with Relson Gracie, I think on the 22nd November, and then a week later, on the 29th November, we had Renzo Gracie come on and give a couple of opposing viewpoints to the points Relson raised the week before.
In that conversation, there were some comments made about the Torrance Academy. So, I thought it would only be fair to get a representative from the Torrance Academy on the show to address those, and then move on. So, family please welcome Rener Gracie. Rener, how are you?
Rener Gracie: Thank you bro, appreciate it man, and it’s good to be back. Congratulations on all the success of the show, and thanks for having me.
The FightWorks Podcast: Thank you very much, we appreciate it. Ok Rener, so I’m going to turn it over to you, although I may interrupt you a bit.
Rener Gracie: Feel free.
The FightWorks Podcast: So, I’m guessing you heard the show.
Rener Gracie: Absolutely, I heard the show. So let me take the time to say, first of all, I apologise to my Uncle Renzo. Listening to the interview a week or two ago, it saddened me to know that words which supposedly originated here at the Academy offended him so deeply. I have nothing but respect for Renzo: he’s an amazing fighter and teacher. I just wanted to say that I would never say anything intentionally to demean him or anyone he is associated with.
After listening to his interview, it became clear to me that what bothered Renzo is that someone from the Academy here, either myself or one of my brothers, supposedly told one of his students – correct me if I’m wrong – that we teach the pure Gracie Jiu Jitsu, compared to what everyone else teaches, which is not pure or whatever. That’s kinda what I got from it.
Although I don’t remember the specific incident Renzo is referring to, I do want to acknowledge that we do sometimes use the term ‘Pure Gracie Jiu Jitsu’ to describe what we teach here at the Academy. Now more than ever I can see how that can be offensive to other jiu jitsu instructors, in the family and outside the family, especially when I don’t take the time to explain to the student in that incident.
I have never really openly explained what we mean by ‘pure.’ That’s kinda what I wanted to take the initial time to do here.
When people ask us what the difference is between what we teach and what is being taught elsewhere, and we say that we teach pure Gracie Jiu Jitsu, we’re not claiming to be better fighters, or that we have secret techniques that no one else knows, and we’re really not saying that we have a better capability to produce world champions, here at the Academy.
All we’re saying is that we are teaching the art in accordance to the original fight philosophy of my grandfather, Grandmaster Hélio. If you recall, during Renzo’s interview, he shared his belief on who created the art. If I remember correctly, he stated that Carlos was the first one to learn from the Japanese, as we all know, and that most of the innovative techniques came from Rolls.
Then he went on to say that the only contribution made by Hélio was that he added the defensive aspect, to the art. Do you remember that?
The FightWorks Podcast: I remember most of what you’re saying, but I’ll put it the way I remember, and you correct me: somewhere in the middle is probably what Renzo said.
Carlos Sr was the first to be expose to, and learn jiu jitsu, from Maeda, the Japanese.
Rener Gracie: Sure, sure, sure.
The FightWorks Podcast: From there, after Maeda was doing his own thing somewhere else, presumably, Carlos exposed Hélio to it, and from there at some point down the line, Hélio took it on as his own. As Renzo said, he was the Einstein of taking what Carlos passed him, and refining that into the defensive stuff you’re talking about.
Rener Gracie: Yes.
The FightWorks Podcast: Then from there, Rolls added some different twists.
Rener Gracie: Correct. The truth is, the way it came out to me is that the main thing he attributed to my grandfather was adding the defensive aspect to it.
The FightWorks Podcast: That’s maybe the self defense aspect, is that what you mean?
Rener Gracie: I think more than that. I think what he meant, and I know what he’s talking about, is the survival aspect: the idea that you can beneath somebody and be ok, not have to impose yourself upon them. The overall idea that you can be patient during the fight, and not have to go and attack before you defend. Basically, defense first, then attack later.
The FightWorks Podcast: As a smaller person.
Rener Gracie: As a smaller person, exactly. Now, what Renzo did not say, when he mentioned that my grandfather developed the defensive aspect, was that this defensive mindset enabled my grandfather to survive the Japanese champion Masahiko Kimura for thirteen minutes, and survive against the much younger Waldemar Santana for three hours and forty minutes, when he was about forty years old. It was the defensive mindset that enabled Rickson (when he was younger), to defeat Zulu back in the day, and it was that defensive mindset that put Gracie jiu jitsu on the map back when Royce beat Dan Severn in UFC 4.
Now, what people don’t realize is that when my grandfather added the defensive aspect, he added a philosophy, which was “if you don’t lose, you will eventually win.” That philosophy, more than any other technique or strategy, is what differentiates our jiu jitsu from its Japanese counterpart.
If you think about it, that philosophy is what make our system unique from every other martial art on the planet. As you know, other arts, what they teach is, if you don’t win fast – you’ve got aggression, punch, kick, eye gouge, break him right away – if you don’t win in a hurry, you might lose.
In fact, other martial arts, based on the fact that they teach so much about aggression and overcoming, and basically overwhelming your opponent with aggressive behavior, shouldn’t even be called self-defense. They should be called self-offence, if you ask me.
So when people reference sometimes, in the family and outside the family, that Hélio created Brazilian or Gracie jiu jitsu, it is not because he was the first one to learn the Japanese techniques, or that he created a certain number of moves and added it to the art. It is because the people who say that acknowledge that he added what Renzo called the ‘defensive aspect’. Or, the one thing that made the art useful for smaller people against larger people in real fights.
Now, the problem is that the defensive mindset that is so characteristic of this amazing art is not being taught at 99% of Brazilian jiu jitsu schools. Here’s why: any instructor whose primary objective is to prepare students for MMA or sport jiu jitsu competition cannot teach the defensive mindset, the survival mindset as the ultimate fight strategy, because patience will not lead to victory in the sportive setting. Any time there is an artificial time limit, you have no choice but to adopt a fully ‘offensive mindset’ (as I call it), otherwise you will lose when the time runs out, by points, or by judges decision.
Now, this offensive mindset is ok when you’re fighting someone in your weight class, and you can count on the clock to save you when you’re exhausted. But, as family history and all the fights show, the only reliable way to defeat a giant is to adopt the Grandmaster’s 100% defensive philosophy.
If you got into a fight with Brock Lesnar, for example, and you tell yourself, “I’ve got to win within five minutes, I’ve got to win within this five minute round right now,” what are you going to do? You’re going to fight for your life to make something happen, exhaust yourself in the process, and then expose yourself to get smashed. Like the people who’ve crossed his path, right?
The only reliable strategy against someone that strong is to enter the fight with 100% concern with avoiding defeat at all costs, and wait for them to create an opportunity for you.
The FightWorks Podcast: Which is what you’re saying came from your grandfather.
Rener Gracie: Exactly, and that is the critical mindset which is no longer being taught. Now, it wouldn’t be so bad if schools, Brazilian jiu jitsu schools, taught the defensive mindset for the first few years, and then once it was clear the student had the patience to survive against a giant – and we’ve found that it takes between three to five years for them to really embody this patient, this Grandmaster mindset – at that point, began teaching them the offensive mindset needed to prevail in a sportive setting.
That would make sense, and that wouldn’t be so bad, because then you know that the student is ready for the worst case scenario. Unfortunately, that isn’t a reality, because every sport school is so concerned with creating sportive competitors out of every person who walks in the door that they don’t want to spend any time on any strategy that will not lead to a gold medal.
So when people ask my brothers and I, for example, why we don’t fight MMA, it’s not because we don’t believe in what we’re teaching, quite the opposite. It’s because we have to abandon the one principle that we believe in most: patience.
In order to prevail, we would have to adopt a super-offensive MMA mindset, to entertain the crowd and to please the judges. Obviously, it wouldn’t be worth it. Now, we’ve trained with many UFC fighters out there, and we know the calibre of the guys that are out there. We would win some and we would lose some, like everyone else who plays the game, but for my brothers and I it’s not worth it, to abandon the one thing that our grandfather stood for, just for the quick paycheque.
The FightWorks Podcast: Let me interrupt you Rener, because I don’t want to go too far down the conversation, because you said something earlier that was interesting. I’d like you to clarify a little bit, maybe. It sounded like you’re saying there is a significant difference between the approach to teaching jiu jitsu at the Torrance Academy compared to, based on what you said, 99% of the schools out there.
Rener Gracie: Yes.
The FightWorks Podcast: Is it safe to say, I mean, are we comparing apples and oranges? I know they are two separate ways of thinking about jiu jitsu, but are they really two separate things, almost?
Rener Gracie: I mean…I guess so, I mean it’s becoming that. I would like to think that the schools who do sport jiu jitsu, could be like in the old days, when they had these pure Gracie jiu jitsu schools, who had guys who participated in sport, but the self defense and the survival aspect was the primary focus, and the sportive participation was kind of a by-product.
But now, everyone is so concerned with creating a world champion, something that people in my family do incredibly well – some people in my family, some people out of my family – that there is no time to focus on the aspect that we think is the most important thing about jiu jitsu, the Brazilian way or the Gracie way. The number one thing is being forgotten, more for the sportive aspect.
Let me give you an example, three weeks ago a woman who was a blue belt came down from a school in North California, to do a class with us. During the class, Ryron of course tries to spar with the students who come visit. Ryron was sparring with this girl in the class, and he sidemounted her. When he sidemounted her, he established full control, tight sidemount.
She went berserk, completely crazy to get out. She fought for her life! After about thirty seconds, she exhausted a 100% of her energy, and she gave up, tapped out, “ok, I give up.” Then Ryron asked her, “what were you doing?” Her response was, “I was trying to escape your sidemount,” of course.
Now, it was very clear that she didn’t make this stuff up. There was some sport jiu jitsu or MMA coach out there telling her that when you get trapped on the bottom of sidemount, you must escape at all costs.
Imagine if that same woman got in a real attack, a sexual assault, and a man held her down – got her in the side mount or mount, or whatever – tight, against her will. She would resort to the exact same “escape at all costs” strategy. That would immediately deplete all her energy, at which point she would be helpless against the attacker. That’s when it really starts to get serious.
The major difference between the Gracie Academy and all the sport BJJ schools lies not within the techniques that we practice, although I’m sure there are techniques out there that my brothers and I don’t know, innovative new sport techniques, some that we haven’t learned, just as my brothers and I have developed tricks of our own that we haven’t shared yet.
Essentially, we’re all using the same leverage, we’re all breaking the same arms, we’re all choking the same necks. The real difference lies in the fight philosophy that we promote from the very beginning. We teach our students to avoid defeat at all costs, then attack as soon as the opportunity arises, whereas sport jiu jitsu schools teach to attack as much as possible within the artificial time limit.
So, even though the terms ‘Brazilian’ and ‘Gracie jiu jitsu’ both originated from the same place, when people ask us what the difference is, we say that Brazilian jiu jitsu is the sportive practice of the art, that’s kinda what it has become, whereas Gracie jiu jitsu, or pure Gracie jiu jitsu, is the version of the art that is taught according to the defensive philosophy of the Grandmaster Hélio Gracie.
This is the same philosophy that each and every member of the Gracie family relies on, including Renzo, when facing an opponent who has a significant strength or size advantage. So, all the family members have the philosophy and they know the philosophy, but sometimes they have no choice but to push it aside and omit it in their teachings to prepare world champions.
Ultimately what it has come to is that if we don’t find a way to preserve the philosophy of the Grandmaster, the defensive mindset that put Gracie jiu jitsu on the map, we’ll be lost forever. So my brothers and I, as well as the Valente brothers at Gracie Miami in Florida, who also learned directly from my grandfather, have essentially dedicated our lives to the preservation of this pure Gracie jiu jitsu. Not so that we can create world champions, out of amazing athletes, but so that the underdogs of society always have an art that they can count on.
The FightWorks Podcast: Ok, so here’s another question for you. So, I’m sure you would agree that the guys who are at black belt, who do compete out there, are probably pretty secure compared to everybody else out there in a self defense situation. They’re probably going to be just fine.
Rener Gracie: Correct.
The FightWorks Podcast: So if we pare it back and peel back the onion, brown belts are also probably pretty safe out there, and – I hate to do this to you – but white belts, from what you’re saying, are probably not as exposed to the kind of thing that will keep them safe in a self defense situation.
Rener Gracie: Correct.
The FightWorks Podcast: So somewhere along that spectrum is going to be a person, guy or girl, who has been training jiu jitsu in a “sporting academy”, and somewhere in there they are going to learn the stuff that’s going to make them safe.
Rener Gracie: Yeah, good question! That’s a really good question. I think the blue belt lady who came here is a great example, you know what I’m saying? It’s a great example of how she basically didn’t reach that point yet. That’s the problem, I think it’s flipped. What you’re saying is “Rener, somewhere deep in their career, they’re going to be ready for a street fight scenario.”
At the Gracie Academy, that’s the first and 100% priority before anything else, and then somewhere deeper in their career, they’re going to be so skilled at the street fight scenario and the mindset, and they’re going to have so many techniques – we’re teaching essentially the same thing, the difference is the philosophy – that somewhere deeper, a purple or brown belt from here can go against any sport purple or brown belt out there and fare just as well.
So it’s like, yes, they cross paths somewhere down there, right? The question is, which path should they start on? You know what I’m saying? At the Gracie Academy, we realize that people should start on the path that they came for. Any time somebody walks in the front door of the Academy, we’re assuming – and I think it’s pretty accurate – that they’re coming here to learn how to defend themselves against a larger, stronger opponent in a real fight. Protect themselves, protect their family: they saw Royce in the UFC, and they want to learn that.
They’re not going to the school saying “Hey, I want to get my white belt and win my first gold medal.” You understand? So that’s why we’ve chosen the self defense/survival path first, and then let the competition, if the student ever wants to compete, be a by-product of their several hundred or thousands of training hours, they have the skills, they have the reflexes, and they transfer.
But, in the beginning, what we can’t do is teach the students that if they’re trapped in the bottom of the sidemount, they have to escape at all costs, they have to get out. That’s happening every day at schools around the country because they’re training them for the three, five, seven minute time limit that exists in a tournament jiu jitsu match. They have to, otherwise they have no chance of victory.
The FightWorks Podcast: There’s folks out there who have heard the stories, or have been exposed to folks who – and this is going to play right into what you’re saying – of guys who may be blue belts or even purple who may not have been exposed to a correct escape from a headlock.
Rener Gracie: Yes! Thank you! There are purple belts who come here who don’t know how to block a punch from the guard. There are people who go to our online University – which by the way we have to talk about in a minute or two, because Renzo also bashed that pretty hard, which I understand – but there are people who go to our online University, who train for several years at a sport jiu jitsu school, then they show up at Gracie University.com, and they’re like, “wow, I never learned how to escape the mount against somebody who is punching me!”
This is major stuff. So, later in the interview, Renzo expressed his concerns regarding our efforts to make the complete curriculum available online through Gracie University.com. Since he’s not the first family member to express his concern, I’d like to take a few moments, if you’d let me, to clarify the matter.
The FightWorks Podcast: Yeah, we’ve got about ten more minutes, so let’s slip into that.
Rener Gracie: First of all, in order for you to understand Gracie University.com, you must understand why my grandfather fought in the ring. He didn’t fight to show that he was the baddest. He fought because he modified these techniques, he fought to develop his own conviction in the techniques, to believe in them, and to show his viewers that it worked, so that they would let him teach them.
His passion was to teach, so much so that one week before he passed away, he was teaching a class on a Brazilian television show. His passion was to empower others with the art. With that said, the three phases of the overall Gracie family objective can be understood.
Phase one, of the Gracie family overall objective, was to create the most effective system of self defense that the world had ever known. My grandfather did that, his brothers, everyone added to it, everyone added to it. That’s great.
Now, phase two was to show the world the necessity for the art, by proving it’s effectiveness against other disciplines. That was done by my grandfather, a lot of it, but also by the other uncles: Royce, Rickson, my father when he created the UFC, Renzo every time he fights, these guys are proving it’s effectiveness against other styles, to show the necessity for it.
Phase three, was to teach this system to the world. Phase three of the Gracie family purpose is to empower others. Any Gracie will tell you that. We are here to share, and empower the lives of others.
My brother and I were born and raised during phase two. Ryron and I was raised during phase two. As we matured into adulthood, we had to choose what we were going to spend our time and energy on. What we would dedicate our lives to, basically.
The following two things were most significant in helping us make our decision: first, by the time we were eighteen years old, every UFC fighter had adopted or added Brazilian jiu jitsu to their arsenal. Secondly, and more significantly, as of 2003, the entire US Army had adopted Gracie jiu jitsu as their primary hand-to-hand combat system.
Together, these two points were evidence that phase two was accomplished. The world had accepted Gracie jiu jitsu as the premier martial art, and though I will admit that our egos wanted to fight professionally, to continue proving the effectiveness of the art in the ring, we realized that eventually someone in the family had to stop focusing on proving it and start focusing on sharing it.
That’s when my brothers and I decided we would dedicate our lives to teaching the pure Gracie jiu jitsu to the world. At first we weren’t sure how we were going to do that, since the traditional way of certifying instructors was too slow, and would take forever to accomplish the mission, not to mention it’s hard to find instructors who could uphold the integrity of the art.
That’s when we decided that the only way we could reach the world was through the internet and DVD. Now, we weren’t the first ones to think of this: there are many others who have produced great videos and DVDs, and online courses, including Renzo and several other members of our family, but the one thing we realized was that all those were produced to complement the live training that somebody received at a school of martial arts.
If someone didn’t have a school to train at, these DVDs or online videos would be of little help. My brothers and I knew that the only possible way to teach the world through video would be if we organised the entire art into a linear curriculum, from white to black belt, something that had never been done before, and then capture every detail of every technique in the exact order and lesson format that one would experience if they were to receive private lessons from us for ten years straight. So we developed Gracie University.com and we went for it.
In order to track the progress of each student, we also created a revolutionary video evaluation process through which any student can digitally record themselves performing the techniques, upon completing each section of the curriculum, then upload those videos to Gracie University.com for us to evaluate. If they perform all the techniques perfectly, they can qualify for an official belt promotion through this process, and if not, we send them a detailed evaluation report outlining each and every mistake they made at the exact time code at which it occurred.
Unlike ever before, students in the middle of nowhere can learn self defense through the internet and get ultra-specific feedback from their instructors without ever having to spend thousands of dollars having to travel to a school.
The FightWorks Podcast: So, and I want to make it clear for our listeners, whether or not you guys would say that this should take the place of a school nearby. I mean, does this replace the necessity to train with a person live? If somebody has the access to something like that locally, they should…
Rener Gracie: [interrupts] If they have the access to a quality school, that will probably make it easier to reach the top, yes, of course. The goal here is to make it possible for somebody to learn completely on their own, but of course, if you have a school, if you’re next door to the Academy, you should be training here, correct.
Put it this way: you’ll get to the top faster, if you have somebody guiding. If you’re on your own, you have to figure things out on your own, it takes much more discipline and dedication.
Since this had never been done before, we knew we would face opposition from a large segment of the population in and out of the family, and we couldn’t have been more accurate, basically. As soon as we released the Gracie Combatives course, our white to blue belt curriculum, on DVD and online, we received a visit from two of our uncles – I’m not going to say who – who told us that the course should not be released because it was too good.
They said “Rener, if you release these DVDs, why would people go to a school to learn?” They saw the DVDs of course. “You’re giving away the teaching secrets, everything that makes the Gracie family unique.”
What my uncles did not understand at the time, and what all instructors around the world still don’t understand, is that we’re not doing this to take students from the brick and mortar jiu jitsu schools, Gracie or not. We’re doing this to make the art learnable for those who live hundreds of miles away from a legitimate school, or cannot afford to pay $200 dollars a month.
My grandfather always said that the world would be a better place if everyone knew Gracie jiu jitsu.
The FightWorks Podcast: We’re not going to argue with that. [laughs]
Rener Gracie: All we’re trying to do now by giving everyone, literally, the opportunity to learn.
The FightWorks Podcast: Yeah, and I’ll agree with you, and you hear this: we get emails on the show from people who say “I live in the middle of nowhere, I’m so jealous of you guys in Southern California, and all these other places that have great jiu jitsu all over. We have maybe a blue belt in town at best.”
Rener Gracie: Right!
The FightWorks Podcast: So there is a need, I can’t argue with that.
Rener Gracie: Let me take it one step further. By, my brothers and I, releasing the curriculum online, and on DVD, in such a comprehensive and engaging format, we are actually helping every instructor in the jiu jitsu community, right? Here’s how. MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world, we all know that, but I’m willing to bet that more than 95% of the viewers would never even consider practicing anything that has to do with the UFC, not even jiu jitsu, since their only perception of the art is what they see in the cage, and they want nothing to do with that.
At Gracie University.com, we’ve made Lesson One of the Gracie Combatives course free for anyone to view. In doing so, we’re giving everyone in the world the opportunity to experience the amazingness of Gracie jiu jitsu, in the most structured and technical format ever put on video, all from the comfort, all from the comfort and safety of their own home. Invariably, once they see it, they fall in love.
Basically, by giving people all over the world their ‘intro classes’, as we call it, in their homes, my brothers and I have created students out of tens of thousands of people in 144 countries who would have never otherwise considered practicing the art. Of the students who fall in love online, some have the desire and the necessary discipline to learn from home, but most of them, as you said, will want to end up joining a local school, to help them make it to the top.
The FightWorks Podcast: Which is what we want from everybody anyhow.
Rener Gracie: Yes! So rather than fear we’re going to take food off their table, every jiu jitsu instructor, in the family and outside the family, on the planet should be thankful that we have dedicated our lives to creating more students for the art as a whole.
You know what I’m saying? My dad taught me, from a very young age, my father taught me, that any time you do anything revolutionary, you will have half the world on their side, and you will have half the world against you, and as usual, he was right.
Every major advance in the last twenty years, Caleb, from calculators to online courses, has been met with resistance from those who only saw the limitations of those advances. Gracie University.com is no exception. Those who don’t understand it hate it, but those who are now learning pure Gracie jiu jitsu because of it think it’s the best creation of all time.
So I’m willing to live with the 50-50 support from the population, as long as everyone goes to Gracie University.com and watches Lesson One for free before they choose which side they’re on.
The FightWorks Podcast: Ok, so we’ve got to wind down, so let me start to close, but I think one of the questions that raised some eyebrows, or that people first thought about when they heard about your course is that technically, from what you’ve described, it is possible to receive a black belt having never trained with somebody live before, in person, only over video. Is that accurate?
Rener Gracie: Yeah, when you say “haven’t trained with someone live,” I mean, a little more specifically, they’re training with one, two, three, five, ten people, they’re training with a lot of people. They’re not just watching and sending in a written test, they’re actually learning and doing the techniques.
Now, regarding the black belt. No. The black belt cannot be earned, they have to come to the Academy. What happens is, through the video evaluation process, the highest rank someone can get, if they want to train online, at home, in their living room, for ten or twelve years straight, whose to say they can’t learn the art, right? The highest rank they can earn is a brown belt with four stripes.
So they can go all the way up, they can earn these stripes, they can test every single stripe along the way, that they test for, and if it’s perfect all the way up, and they know the techniques…now, the tests are pretty extensive. Now basically, they show them sparring, gi and no-gi, demonstrating every technique, right? They can get to four stripe brown belt, if they train, but it’s going to take a long time, several years.
If they get there, we invite them out to the Gracie Academy so they can participate in a five-day, live black-belt qualification test, here at the Academy, 100% free to them. There’s no cost to participate in that, because of course by then, they’re family right?
So the answer is yes, someone can climb the ladder from home. It’s hard for anyone to understand how that is possible, until they see the lessons. They’ve got to see Gracie Combatives. Once you see that, you have to see the Master Cycle, our path from blue belt to black belt.
The Master Cycle, bro – I mean, it’s not even released yet, on the air, it will be there in a few months – but, it’s incredible. We don’t just teach the techniques, you know? What me and Ryron do is every single morning, we come in, we load up the cameras, we shoot lessons, and we don’t just give the techniques, we give the techniques and all the reflex development drills, the sparring exercises…we demonstrate everything and say what they’ve got to do.
We teach them how to raise the intensity…I mean it’s literally as if you were in my living room, and I was verbally coaching you every step of the way, and you had a partner and I was watching you. It’s linear, so every single class builds on the previous lessons. So they’re not just like there…
There are lots of online learning sites right now, by the way, that are great, lots of information, but there are so many videos that a student who jumps on board doesn’t even know where to start, right? They just see three hundred, five hundred, a thousand videos, and they’ve just got to kinda choose their own path, and that’s not worth doing.
As you can see, in Lesson One of Gracie Combatives, we’re taking them by the hand and we’re showing them the exact path, with the details and everything in between, so it’s pretty incredible.
I understand, because it is so unique, this whole process, I understand all the hatred from the instructors especially out there, and all the animosity and the split support. But guess what: when I get an email from someone right in the middle of nowhere, who is like “Rener, this is the best thing I’ve ever seen, I’ve been following you guys since ’93 and I’ve been waiting for this. This is a godsend and you guys are incredible”?
Forget about it, I don’t care what anybody says negative about it, if that person, all the people out there on their own are learning, it is a 100% worth it to me and my family, because that’s what my grandfather would want. My grandfather, ultimately, would say “Hey, let’s make it available to as many people as possible.” He didn’t even know that technology could do this, right? He killed himself, broke his back, to basically teach thirty or forty private classes a day.
His claim to fame was “Rener, I used to change my gi twenty times a day,” just teaching private classes. In other words, “Rener, look at what I’m doing to help life, to help other people.” He could fight professionally, and just chill between classes, and between fights, like many other professional fighters do. But no, he was fighting one day, and the next day he is back on the mats, teaching the President of Brazil. His passion was teaching, his passion was sharing it.
We found a way, and naturally there is going to be some anger, which we accept and understand, as long as the people learn all over the world. I’m 100% ok with that.
The FightWorks Podcast: Yeah, like you said, if there are folks who otherwise would never even touch it, who find this as a vehicle to get into jiu jitsu, who can argue with that.
Rener Gracie: Yes, and the thing is we’re creating more students, the instructor should be grateful. Now, if you recall, at the end of Renzo’s interview, he seemed pretty upset, and he even challenged my brothers and I, saying that he wanted to come down here and show us the real jiu jitsu.
I hope that in this interview, I was able to clarify any misunderstanding that caused this anger towards us, but if not, I just wanted to say that I would rather give Renzo whatever title he is looking for before I would ever fight him or any other member of the family with malintentions.
Now, with that being said, if he wants to come down and choke us out a few times, like uncles are supposed to, my brothers and I would be honored, and the invitation is always open.
The FightWorks Podcast: [laughs] I was just about to ask you if you had any closing statements referring back to the interview, but you just nailed it there. Unless there is anything else, I think it’s probably time to wrap up.
I think you addressed a lot of the concerns that Renzo had, right? You talked about his concern about the student visiting and the online stuff, so anything else in general you want to say to our audience, the might 600,000, before we let you go?
Rener Gracie: No sir, thank you for the opportunity, and thank you for the call. It’s all good, it’s all family. Again, in the end, we’re all after the same thing: a world of Gracie or Brazilian jiu jitsu, everyone on the same page, everyone learning this incredible art, all our lives getting better because of it. I appreciate the support, the students, and I’m here to share. My life is dedicated to sharing, and that’s what it’s all about.
The FightWorks Podcast: Ok, Rener Gracie, thank you very much.
Rener Gracie: Thank you, bro.