Competitors at Rose Gracie’s January event who fought for 40 minutes in the finals of their division. Image courtesy Rose.
Rose Gracie is the daughter of Rorion Gracie, the grand daughter of Helio Gracie, and wife of jiu-jitsu black belt Javier Vasquez. In recent years she has begun promoting grappling tournaments. Earlier this year she began using a submission-only format. The FightWorks Podcast caught up with her in advance of her Gracie Worlds event in San Jose in July to see what direction she plans on taking things next.
The FightWorks Podcast: In January you held your first submission only event at the LA Fitness Expo. How did it go? How many competitors did you have?
Rose Gracie: It was absolutely amazing! Fun to watch, fun to participate. I definitely feel like it was the first step towards the solution and I was extremely happy.
The FightWorks Podcast: You’ve been hosting tournaments for several years now. What have you learned along the way, and are there any specific improvements you’ll incorporate into this upcoming event in San Jose?
Rose Gracie: I learned that you can’t please everyone. These changes like the one I am making now do not come with an instruction manual and I have to pave the way, make discoveries and obviously mistakes all on my own. Everyone wants to give in their 2 cents about what I should and should not do. I have an open mind for things and information and I learn something new everyday but I will choose the ones that make sense to me and will discard the rest. Because of that constant goal of not just improving my events but setting my standards so high I will always be making changes. In San Jose the rules have slightly been modified not just for the safety of the athlete but to make it a realistic competition. I also won’t allow any other color gi’s except white and this week I am debating on removing the female divisions out of my competition.
The FightWorks Podcast: Will there by any big names competing in San Jose our audience should know about?
Rose Gracie: All I know is that my brother Ryron will be competing with whoever signs up at his division plus I am not concern with any big names coming in… It’s just not my priority at this point. I am more concerned with making sure that every athlete that signs up gets out of there feeling like that this was the best competition of their lives and that people start to realize the importance of what I am doing so the entire mentality behind the sport can change forever.
The FightWorks Podcast: You’ve criticized some jiu-jitsu events these days for not taking steps to address performance enhancing drugs. Will there be testing in San Jose?
Rose Gracie: Absolutely! I will always test people.
The FightWorks Podcast: Some observers of your earlier submission only format liked the emphasis on submission, but they didn’t like how there was still a time limit and that both competitors would be eliminated if they weren’t able to submit before the time limit. Any tweaks to that format in San Jose?
Rose Gracie: What makes one guy a winner? The fact that he attacked the whole time and could not tap the opponent? Or the fact that the opponent defended the whole time and never got caught? They are both different aspects of jiu jitsu therefore it is not in my place or anyone else’s to decide who we think applied jiu jitsu in the best way. I could care less of what these “observers” think. If they are not happy they know where to find plenty of matches that they can “observe” ref’s decisions…. Shockingly they have actually been pretty popular in the world so they won’t have a hard time finding them and they can enjoy that while it lasts. Just to make it clear, I will never change that rule. It is one of the key rules that has made my event a success.
The FightWorks Podcast: Anything else our audience should know about?
Rose Gracie: I have no words to express how grateful I am to all the people that have jumped in this with me and have provided me with all the support and encouragement I need to keep this machine going. I have received proposals to run this tournament in all corners of the world and I will be in Colorado on November 2012, Los Angeles for the Nationals (Jan 19th and 20th 2013), and NSW Australia beginning of May 2013 then back again to San Jose (June 29th and 30th 2013). It would be really stupid of me to start running a bunch of crappy events all around. My events are not just a competition. It’s an entire experience and that is what sets me apart. I will go to other places but it has to be slowly. I have been interviewing some people that run local events to potentially partner up with me but because I am such a demanding perfectionist, not everyone is able to click. Just know that as soon as I can I will be in a city near you =)
For now … just sharpen your submissions skills and follow me on twitter @rosegracie.
I would like to give a special thanks to other “jiu-jitsu and grappling” competitions for messing up so badly and making my job that much easier. Give yourself a little tap on your back LOL.