Ask the Nail Crosley Gracie

Ask the Nail

“The secret of this sport is, while you’re the nail, hang in there, let them hit you, until the day you become the hammer, then you smash them back!”

-Renzo Gracie

Inside BJJ would to like to welcome Crosley Gracie as the guest columnist for Ask the Nail.

Professor Crosley Gracie was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, son of Rosley Gracie and grandson of founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu,Crosley Gracie - Carrie Gallegos Photography 2011 Carlos Gracie. He began training in 1988 with uncle Reylson Gracie. In 1992, already training under his uncle Carlson Gracie’s supervision, Crosley entered competition for the first time, winning his first ever jiu-jitsu match by triangle choke. In 1999, after competing in several national and international tournaments, Crosley moved to U.S.A. to further improve his fighting and teaching skills by studying wrestling, boxing and muay thai.

In 2003, Professor Crosley was awarded his Black Belt by cousin Ralph Gracie and made his professional debut in MMA defeating the very experienced Welterweight Pancrase Champion, Kiuma Kunioku (29-13-7) from Japan, by unanimous decision at the Pancrase 10th Anniversary Event in Tokyo, Japan.

In his second appearance in Mixed Martial Arts competition, at Pride Bushido 5, also in Japan, Crosley went 2-0 with a submission win against highly regarded ring veteran, Hayato Mach Sakurai (35-9-2), considered to be one of the best and most exciting fighters in the world at that weight who was never submitted in competition before.

In 2005, Professor Crosley Gracie opened a 7000 sq/ft. facility in Northern California, to pass along to his students all his knowledge and experience in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and combat sports, aquired in over 22 years of training. More recently, he placed first in the 2010 No gi Jiu-Jitsu Worlds in the Masters division, after a 4 year lay off from competition.

Crosley Gracie Academy continues producing new champions year after year and more importantly, continues to improve people’s lifestyles for the best. Such commitment has earned the Academy the Best Of Brentwood Award for the past two years in a row.

Learn more about Crosley Gracie.

Crosley Gracie Jiu-Jitsu & Muay Thai Academy
3291 Walnut Blvd. Suite 140 Brentwood, Ca 94513
Phone (925) 634-6958

Question One

I know the gi versus no-gi debate has been done to death and I do think that it is best to start training with the gi but some of my training partners only train with the gi and use grips obsessively. They are much bigger than me and once they get their grips locked in it is a long and slow road to the inevitable submission. Another of my training partners who is much bigger than me and bigger than the grippers absolutely smashes on them because he breaks their grips easily. He says I am tougher to roll with than the grippers because my game is more dynamic while their games are nothing without grips. They refuse to roll no-gi and I am wondering if this is a bad thing that is going to stall their growth. Also, I wonder if my inability to beat them is a technical problem on my part or if it is just a style matchup.


As far as bigger and stronger opponents holding you down while training and eventually getting you in a sub, that sounds to me that you are missing the right timing to react during your live sessions. I’m guessing you’re referring about being on the bottom position. As we all know Jiu-Jitsu gives you the ability to beat a stronger adversaries even in Jiu-Jitsu matches. You just have to adapt a more strategic game plan when going with them and know key positions. You need to keep them from reaching. Timing your opponent’s movements and reacting when they make a move or adjust grips, will give you a small, yet perfect window to escape/move, giving you more options to look for. Try that next time your roll. When you feel they are holding you down, wait for them to make a move or adjust a grip, and react then. Remember that individual lessons with your instructor can always help out tremendously, specially when you have specific questions such as this one. Good luck!

I don’t think that not training gi-less will stall their growth in Jiu-Jitsu per se, but the thing about training no gi, is that you really get to find out if your body positioning and timing are where it should be. Just relying on gripping won’t ensure good body and positional control over someone, even smaller. It all depends what kind of game that individual person has developed with the gi. I always recommend gi-less training, though, as a form to add to your overall grappling skills.

Take care and remember to drill a lot!
Crosley Gracie

Question Two

I have an odd question. I don’t want to sound cocky or anything, but I am having a hard time learning new stuff at my school. I am one of the higher belts at the school and the head instructor has over the last year made a bunch of guys that are lower belts instructors. This wasn’t a problem for me at first because they were all guys I still felt had something to offer me, they had better takedowns or had competed a lot or had an aspect of their game that was really good. Now there is a new batch of instructors that I don’t feel have anything to offer me. They don’t compete, they aren’t known for being technical and they separate themselves from the other students. They won’t train during randori with the other students and they duck the bigger guys and only do private training sessions with each other. I don’t feel that they have the technical skill to teach me anything and I don’t respect them because they won’t roll with everybody. To be fair though, I feel that they are good basic level instructors because they are charismatic and their classes are upbeat and they bring in lots of new students. However, this really limits the number of classes I can do per week because I can now only go to the black belt classes. Is this just something that happens as you become one of the more experienced guys in the gym or am I being too egocentric and judgmental? What is the best way to bring this up to the head coach?


Each martial arts gym is ran differently and has their own policies. Approach the head coach and communicate all your concerns. I’m sure he has his reasons as who to promote to teach the classes and what not. Often, the best competitor or athlete will not be an ideal instructor, and vice-versa. It happens a lot.

As far as thinking that you are not learning anything new, remember there’s always room for improvement in the fundamentals. You can always move faster, more precisely and with improved timing. Training with beginners can be as beneficial as training with higher ranked students. It all depends what kind of training you are seeking to do. Once you achieve a certain rank and experience level, you can continue to improve within what you already know. Just open your mind and continue studying and implementing new training methods.

Sometimes exchanging the camaraderie and family-like feeling of your gym for another gym for whatever reason, could be a regretful thing, I’ve seen it happen quite a few times. Put everything on the scale and compare. Express your expectations to the head coach first, and see if him and the school can help you meet them, if not, it’s up to you to make a move and join a gym that offers what you look for.

Good luck!
Crosley Gracie

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