Carlson Gracie Jr. Interview

Carlson Gracie, Jr.

Inside BJJ
How old were you when you started training Jiu Jitsu?

Carlson Gracie Jr
I started when I was three years old. I was taking my daddy’s class, and it was fun! We used to play soccer in the academy. We used to fight in the academy. I spent most of my infant time in the academy.

Inside BJJ
So, your dad made it fun for you? It was just games, or did he emphasize training at that age? At what age did it become more than just being fun and hanging out with your dad?

Carlson Gracie Jr
After 15. Before, it was more fun.

Inside BJJ
So, at 15, it’s like, “Okay, we got to go to tournaments. We got to start training serious and eating right?”

Carlson Gracie Jr
No, I used to go to tournaments before, but you know there was not many kids back then. There wasn’t a lot, but tournaments were just once a year so it wasn’t like it is today. So, tournaments once a year made it really tough because everyone wants to win.

Inside BJJ
Growing up in Brazil, you started training at age three. A lot of people I asked, especially from Brazil and Judo players from Japan, all started at age five or ten. In the United States, guys like myself start at age twenty-five and older sometimes. Do you think at age thirty, a person that starts training at age three, versus the guy that starts at age twenty-five , when they’re both thirty, do you think they can be equally competitive?

Carlson Gracie Jr
I think so. You know, it depends on how much sports the guy practices. I think what is going to count is if the guy was a sports guy; if he kept his life healthy. So, I don’t think it makes much difference, I mean experience wise, yes. But it depends, too. Compared to the guy who starts at three years old and never competes and just trains; I think what it is when you start too young if you don’t have good motivation you won’t train as much.

Inside BJJ
How old were you when you got your black belt?

Carlson Gracie Jr
Twenty-two.

Inside BJJ
Twenty-two. So, you started training at three, so now I don’t feel so bad.

Carlson Gracie Jr
I think I could have gotten it before, but my dad never gave it to me.

Inside BJJ
Why did he wait?

Carlson Gracie Jr
Oh, he was rough at giving belts!

Inside BJJ
Are you that way with your students?

Carlson Gracie Jr
So, so. I mean, I think if you deserve it, you deserve it – but you have to work for it. You know it’s not like “Oh, he’s my friend.” There is no friendship involved. I have a guy training for me for a while and he’s been a brown belt for a while and it’s like, “I don’t think you train enough so you’re not getting a black belt.”

Inside BJJ
So when you say, “If they deserve it, they deserve it, what do you mean? Winning?

Carlson Gracie Jr
If they train, if they are a part of the team, go to tournaments, if they help other students, if they are always around the academy, not just being good, is he on time coming to class, this all counts.

Inside BJJ
Right. We all know your father, the great Carlson Gracie, has influenced many people in Jiu-Jitsu. Obviously, he’s influenced you. Besides your father, is there anybody else you can think of, whether it’s a student, training partner, or instructor that you can say influenced your over all game?

Carlson Gracie Jr
I think over all, the academy, because we have what we call the Dream Team. Everybody in the academy is real good, so we have everybody in the academy motivated. We have many people, all weight classes, and we have all types of training, so everybody gets a little bit of everything; people who are good at guard and good at passing. We have a good team so I think everybody influences each other.

Inside BJJ
What do you think the difference between Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and other Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) styles? What sets it apart from the others?

Carlson Gracie Jr
I think my dad is the innovator of making Jiu-Jitsu a part of the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) style. Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is very close to MMA.  I think that’s the difference between our style and others. You can use it to fight MMA. It was proved by the fighters that fought for my father. We’ve had a bunch of Jiu-Jitsu fighters that have fought MMA. That’s how Jiu-Jitsu became famous in America.

Inside BJJ
This brings us to the next question. Why do you think there are more Carlson Gracie Black belts, or even not black belts, but students of yours or your affiliates, who have had more success in MMA than other guys like Nino Schembri who was a super star in BJJ, but had little success in MMA?

Carlson Gracie Jr
Because their style relies so much on the Gi. So, their style has a different way of gripping and my daddy’s style has different grips than theirs and is more aggressive. I think that’s what it was, kind of rough you know? (Laughs) Rough style, we like that! The Jiu-Jitsu is good but roughness is good, too. People respect that!
Inside BJJ

Inside BJJ

Now that MMA has gotten more popular worldwide, do you think that MMA is pushing Jiu-Jitsu out of the way? Do you think we are seeing more MMA schools popping up than Jiu Jitsu schools?

Carlson Gracie Jr

Well, I think it’s pretty even right now. The only difference is that people can make more money in MMA than in Jiu-Jitsu, so I think that a lot of Jiu-Jitsu fighters try to get into MMA.  Jiu-jitsu is kind of tough if you are not a good teacher. Not a lot of fighters are good teachers. There are good fighters and good teachers. If you don’t know how to teach, my friend, you are not going to keep students. If you don’t know how to talk to people, they are going to walk away from you.

Inside BJJ
Back to what you just said, and regarding teaching kids and keeping students, if you had one piece of advice about keeping kids interested in Jiu-Jitsu, what would you say?

Carlson Gracie Jr
You have to give space to the kids. You cannot run a class too rough. It has to be a fun time. Play games. You have to play with the kids. Like my dad used to do a bunch of different things like running and jumping over things. You have to make a challenge for the kids; different things, not too much obligation for the kids.

Inside BJJ
What age would you advise for kids to start competing? I see a lot of parents pushing their kids to compete in tournaments, since there are more tournaments for kids. Even the Pan Ams have a kids division. What do you think is a good age?

Carlson Gracie Jr
Five years old is good. I started younger, but I think 5 is good. I don’t think you should push kids too much to compete. Just let them get a taste for it.

Inside BJJ
So do your children train?

Carlson Gracie Jr
No, my son isn’t training yet but he will. He’s barely three years old. He does swimming and soccer now. He’s a good swimmer.

Inside BJJ
What is your son’s name?

Carlson Gracie Jr
Carlson Gracie the 3rd.

Inside BJJ
The 3rd huh? And he’s 3?

Carlson Gracie Jr
He’s 3 now, will be 4 in November.

Inside BJJ
Congratulations! You enjoying being a father? Has it changed your life?

Carlson Gracie Jr
Yes, he is in Japan right now, but it did change my life. It is something to look forward to; watch him grow and getting him where he wants to go. I’m not going to push him to do just Jiu-Jitsu. But I think he’s going to get a taste for it. He watches Judo on TV and Sumo. He knows to stop and bow, so he understands already.

Inside BJJ
Is there anything you want to say to the fans out there at Inside BJJ?

Carlson Gracie Jr
I want to say thanks to everybody for supporting Jiu-Jitsu, MMA and the Gracie family. Keep focused and whoever wants to contact me, I have a school in Temecula, Chicago, and you can look for me on the internet.

Inside BJJ
Maybe twitter someday?!

Carlson Gracie Jr
Maybe twitter. I’m not good at those things, but I will get somebody to do it for me.

Inside BJJ
Okay, this is Ernest,”Mamute”, for Inside BJJ with Carlson Gracie, Jr.

Carlson Gracie Jr
Mamute! (Means Mammoth in Portuguese, spelling is probably inaccurate.)

Inside BJJ
Thank you very much for your time!

Carlson Gracie Jr
Thank you sir, have a good day!

One Response to “Carlson Gracie Jr. Interview”

  1. James says:

    Grew up in the Carlson Gracie style of jiu-jitsu. Attack and take the game to your opponent. Produced some great fighters that have been successful in BJJ and MMA. Enjoyed the interview! Thanks!

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