Royce Gracie Interview

Inside BJJ
How old were you when you began training Jiu-Jitsu?

Royce Gracie
In my family, you start training when you start to walk. So, it’s as far as I can remember.

Inside BJJ
Can you describe what it was like? Carlson said for him it was a lot of fun and games. Then at 15, he began training seriously. When do you remember it transitioning it from being fun to taking your training seriously

Royce Gracie
Between 14 and 16 years old it became, like okay, we’re teaching now. When I was 14 years old, I started teaching classes. That’s when it became a responsibility.

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

Royce Gracie
17.

Inside BJJ
I don’t know if it is just myth, but I always hear that Royce got his black belt right after his blue belt. Is that true?  Can you tell us anything about that?

Royce Gracie

Well, you have to be 16 to get a blue belt. You have to be 17 to get a purple or a brown, and 18 to get a black belt. I got it [black belt] at 17, a couple of months before my birthday as an 18th birthday gift.  It wasn’t like I trained from 16 as a blue belt to 18, and in two years got a black belt. I started training when I could walk.

At 4 years old, we start to train and play. As we are playing, we are learning. We spend time on the mat training, and its fun because my father, my brothers, my uncles, my cousins made it fun for us. It doesn’t mean we’re just playing. We were playing Jiu-Jitsu. It was fun, and it was made fun for us. How long was I training? 17 years!

Inside BJJ
So, nobody feel bad, he was training all his life for that black belt! Just to be clear, obviously you received your black belt from your father. Can you tell us who exactly gave you the promotion?

Royce Gracie
It was my father and Rickson.

Inside BJJ
It was both of them together?

Royce Gracie
Yes.

Inside BJJ
Many people in the Jiu-Jitsu community wonder – how can somebody like you keep your skills up without having people at your level to train with on a daily basis?

Royce Gracie
I make my training. I push myself. I know how to push myself. Like my father used to do; he used to train with one hand. The next day you switch and put the left hand in, and then he tied both hands and see if he can tap the students. You see? So, he just questioned how to push himself, and then he would close his eyes, blindfold himself, roll, train, and practice. One day, I will catch everybody in an arm lock. One day, I will catch everybody in a choke; a specific choke; specific arm lock. Then I’ll change positions. I will play from the bottom one day and then the top the next day. It’s just a question of knowing how to push yourself.

Inside BJJ
Do you train on a daily basis? How often do you actually give that one day specifically to train and not teach?

Royce Gracie
I travel now about 6 to 7 months of the year. When I am out there, I train with the students during the seminars. The 5 to 6 months that I’m home, that’s my time for myself.

Inside BJJ
At your level now, who is the one who promotes you? Is it anybody in the family? Is there one specific person in the family or one person that promotes you every time you get a stripe or when it comes time to go beyond black belt? Who does that?

Royce Gracie
Since my father passed away… no one. That’s it. It stops right there.

Inside BJJ
Will you keep the black belt your father gave you. [It appears that Royce is wearing the black belt his father gave him. It’s very frayed. Royce interjects by saying ,“Black, huh?”  He then corrects me again when I mistakenly note that it is not black anymore and that it has his father’s signature stitched into it.]

Royce Gracie

My father always wore a blue belt. Once he passed away, I took my black belt away and put on my blue belt, put his signature on it, and it stops right there.

Inside BJJ
Do you have any plans to fight in the near future or compete at any level?

Royce Gracie
I have one more… I have one more.

Inside BJJ
Can you comment on that?

Royce Gracie
No.

Inside BJJ
Can you comment on the tournament your brother, Relson Gracie, is throwing in Sacramento on September 4th & 5th?

Royce Gracie
No. Don’t know about it. If I knew about it (laughs), well first I heard he was starting a tournament in Brazil.

Inside BJJ
Well, he’s starting a tournament circuit based on your father’s rules. For example, you can’t hold the sleeves more than 10 seconds, and you can’t hold a position for more than 30 seconds.

Royce Gracie
I heard he was, and I didn’t know the rules, but I heard he was holding a tournament. I assumed it was in Brazil. He will probably start it in Brazil and then bring it over here. I like the idea.
[The tournament is in Sacramento, CA on September 4th, 5th]

Inside BJJ
What do you think about the current state of Jiu-Jitsu; people playing for points, highly advanced guards; they stall then get the sweep and win a World championship that way?

Royce Gracie

The Jiu-Jitsu my father created wasn’t for tournaments. It was for self defense and street fighting so they can defend themselves on the street.

What ruined most martial arts was tournaments if you stop and look at it. What are they teaching today? How not to punch. How not to kick. They touch, and they score points, and they win. That’s not how it was supposed to be. That’s not how Tae Kwon Do was made. It was made to punch right through your chest. Karate…Judo…The old Judo was made to throw head down first. You do that and you get disqualified today. Now, you have to throw in a certain way. What ruins most martial arts is tournaments; the points. Teaching a guy to score points? There are no points on the street.

Inside BJJ
Do you think the IBJJF is having a negative affect on Jiu-Jitsu today? They host the biggest tournaments, and they get the most publicity.

Royce Gracie
They are helping to grow the sport. But do I agree? No. I understand, but I don’t agree. My father was always against tournament competition. You want to compete you get in the ring, Jiu-Jitsu is not a points game. It’s a self defense. Like most martial arts are a self-defense… “MARTIAL ARTS” not a points art.

Inside BJJ
Do you miss competing, or do you enjoy the time off? At this point in your life, is it just work to you and that’s all it is? Or, do you miss the struggle of competition?

Royce Gracie
I miss getting ready. Getting ready is the best part. Isolation, getting away from everybody, (smiles) getting away from people like you doing interviews. I hide in my own cave. I don’t have to do anything, and nobody finds me. I put my gatekeepers out there, Royler and Rodrigo, and nobody can get next to me (laughs).

Inside BJJ
That’s the best answer I’ve heard from anybody so far. Very good answer.

Royce Gracie
(Continues to laugh…hard.) Nothing personal… (Laughs some more)

Inside BJJ
It’s okay. We appreciate it. This is Ernest Mello with Inside BJJ with Royce Gracie. We thank you for your time.


Visit the official Royce Gracie site.

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