An emotional Renzo Gracie presents his uncle Carlos Gracie Jr. with his red and black belt, an elite rank in Brazilian jiu-jitsu held by very few practitioners. Carlos Gracie Jr. is the head of the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation and the leader of Gracie Barra.
(If you’d like to see the original, clearer version of this video, it’s found in m4v format on our BJJ Video page!)
TRANSCRIPTION OF RENZO GRACIE’S SPEECH
Renzo Gracie: You guys expect me to be funny, huh?
Honestly, a few years back I was sitting at the table in the kitchen with my grandfather. And when my grandfather ate, he never talked much. As he was eating, suddenly Carlinhos started training with his brother inside the kitchen. They start – BOOM! BOOM! going at each other, they fell into his plate. He pulled the plate back, laid back, they fell, they went back, he put the plate back down and kept eating. On that day I knew I didn’t belong to an ordinary family.
And in the end he just asked, “Who won?”
And they looked at each other and said, “It was a draw!”
I still remember when I belonged to Gracie Barra when Carlinhos moved to Gracie Barra and I remember the time that we had only six students. Me, Sergio Ignacio, my brother Ralph [Gracie], so the relatives and like three or four more students. And I remember [Carlos Gracie Jr] teaching patiently. And the ring was like this size.
[motions to a small area where he is standing]
That’s how it actually started. So to look around and today we see this, it’s really unbelievable, you know? And I honestly the most important thing I think that was inside that mat…
I happen to be his relative. I tried to run away from him but I couldn’t. He is brothers of my father and cousin of my mother. It looks like one of those episodes of Beverly Hillbillies!
But I remember after a training session… He looks at me and he goes, “WHAT do I do with you? What can I do with you?” Like I was the worst by far. My whole life I was 145 pounds. Everybody else was stronger, everybody else was squashing me. And when they wanted to warm up they would call me over.
But the secret of the sport is that while you are the nail hanging in there, let them hit you.
[makes the motion of swinging a hammer]
Until the day that you become the hammer, and then you smash them back.
I think that’s the reason they invited me here to give him the belt.
But the reality is, the most enriching thing I ever had was on mats like this.
[gestures to the jiu-jitsu mats on the floor]
It was experience to interact with people like you, to exchange knowledge, and to have a bad day and have someone else come and hug you on the shoulder and asks how you are doing, asks if you need anything, and maybe tries to teach you a move, tries to ask you about a move… So this is actually what this is all about. Being a champion, everything else: time has a habit of deleting, but I think the love that I had the chance to have my whole life, in his academy, was the most important thing.
[begins tearing up]
You guys are not laughing!!
You guys look at the difference!
[motions to his black belt]
This is the black belt he gave me ten years ago. And the problem is, I’m gonna die with this. I’m gonna wear this till I die and take it to the grave.
The belt’s brand happens to be Wacko. That’s the brand of the belt. This is the
I was expecting a brand new Mizuno, with gold letters on my name written on it, and he came with this! And I cannot get rid of it now, I’m gonna wear it till I die. And I look at this…
[gestures to the red and black belt for Carlos Gracie Jr.]
… and it’s a very nice belt, so be proud!
[hands red and black belt to Carlos Gracie Jr.]