This Article originally appeared on BJJ.org. The entire archive of information is now available on OntheMat.com
Interview originally published on The New Full Contact
This interview is from a Brazilian magazine called Kiai. It took place some time between UFC 6 and 7. Translated by Julio Hwu, edited by Terry Morley.Mag: In your opinion, who was the best BJJ fighter until today?
RG: Hélio Gracie.
Mag: Which one had the best technique?
RG: Hélio Gracie too.
Mag: Rolls Gracie was trained by who?
RG: By Hélio Gracie.
Mag: I have heard that you trained for many years with Rolls. Is that true?
RG: Yes! In my childhood I had a lot of contact with rolls,and with Rorion. They both gave classes downtown and that was where I began with my father. I was very young and I trained always with the supervision of my father and Aloísio.
Mag: Who was Aloísio?
RG: An instructor at the downtown academy. I then switched to Rolls when I had turned 14 or 15 years old.
Mag: Were Rolls’ classes intense?
RG: He always gave me a hard time to train more.
Mag: Was your relationship with Rolls similar to the relationship you share with your son?
RG: I was young. At the end, a little before he died, when I was 17 and with a better body we were almost equal.
Mag: How was Rolls in techniques?
RG: Very technical, and fast. He was very experienced and that gave me a hard time with him. At the end things where getting more equal.
Mag: What qualities did Rolls pass on to you?
RG: He passed me the spirit of the warrior. He was a natural warrior, much more than Rorion. I always looked at him and wanted to be like him. He was the coach you wanted to listen to. Rolls did exactly what he said he would. In a fight, he always went for the finishing hold, not for getting points, and then waiting for the final. I see him as an older brother.
Mag: During a fight against a good opponent, do you listen to your coach?
Mag: Is the presence of a coach important to you?
RG: When you are good you listen to your coach. When you are excellent, you listen to see if he is saying something worth doing, and then do it if you think so. If you are good, and your coach says to jump you must jump.
Mag: Who is your coach today?
RG: Royler, because he has the warrior spirit. This is very important in a fighter. He has this and is a very strong competitor.
Mag: In a technical sense was Rolls the best? He did things differently than your father?
RG: No! He had personal techniques that he preferred. As a fighter he had speed,and the warrior spirit. He was very good and used some techniques that he preferred.
Mag: What do you think of the level of the fighters at the UFC?
RG: For their specialties they are very good. They are not used to the same level that we have in Brazil. In the first event the fights lasted 1 or 2 min. The 2nd went for 5, 3rd to10 min, now it goes for 30min. They are getting better out of instinct. The wrestlers, instead of grabbing on the mat, now hit. The best fighter for this kind of event does not specialize in just one style. He has to be like a street fighter. He has to know how to punch, grab, and do takedowns. BJJ has a good base in all of these.
Mag: The Japanese fighter (Yoji Anjo) who invaded your dojo, was that related to anything that happened at the Japan Open 94?
Mag: Was it politics or the fighter himself?
RG: The politics part, was the manager of the fighter. They are from a U.W.F with is more like the W.W.F. They are strong guys and well trained, and after the Japan Open they invited me to fight. I said that I had other projects, and that I just fight in legit matches, nothing worked. I said thanks and maybe another time. Then the magazines started to say that I was scared. After that, the Japanese press wanted to know what position I would take. I said that I would fight for only 2 reasons, for money or for my honor. Then the one fighter who was challenge me the most disappeared. Then another U.W.F. fighter, who was better suited for this kind of fight, started to challenge me. One day an instructor at my academy called me saying that a guy, who said he represented the U.W.F, wanted to know if I wanted to fight for them. I said, once again, that I didn’t want to fight for them because they do worked fights. I just fight legitimately. Then he said that I also fight for my honor. I replied that it was my honor I was thinking of by refusing. Then the guy said ‘Wait a minute’ and then brings in a fighter who was hiding. There was a lot of Japanese press that I didn’t let in. I just let the guy who wanted to fight to enter.
Mag: So you didn’t let the press in? They didn’t enter?
RG: No they didn’t enter. Just the fighter. I just let the press in when I had beaten him badly. It was different.
Mag: Did you talk with this fighter?
RG: No! He entered, took of his clothes, and then we enter in the ring. It was different from a fight when I look for a choke against the opponent. Because in this fight, if I won and he gave up, he could lie. Then I started to worry about hurting him. I hit him with many punches. I broke his nose, and he really began to bleed. After that I put him to sleep (choke). When he was sleeping, I let the press in. 5 days after, he came back with a gift for me. It was a samurai helmet. He asked for forgiveness for invading my academy. He said he had no intentions of doing that again. He asked if I could give him another opportunity. I responded that I could guarantee him entrance in the Japan Open. He said he is going to think about it and didn’t give me an answer. Then he disappeared.
Mag: He came back with commercial interests?
RG: I think he came thinking he was ready. I’m always ready, but if I was injured, he would have come back because of their lies. I think I was lucky for doing the right thing.
Mag: What did you think of Royce’s performance in the UFC?
RG: Royce is a great fighter, but he fought too many fights and he suffered from mental stress. He needs to rest and then came back.
Mag: What do you think of the work of BJJ fighters in the USA?
RG: It is a race for the gold. It is a good market, but different than many people think. It is important to do a serious job, because Americans will research the info. Those who are good and professional will have success because the market is huge, and there is work for everybody.
Mag: Marco Ruas will fight in the upcoming UFC. They say that if he wins, it may be possible to have a superfight against you. Is that possible?
RG: I don’t fight in the UFC? Is this impossible?
RG: For me to fight in the superfight, I first need to win the UFC’s tournament. I have no interest in fighting in the UFC anyway, first because Royce is there, and they pay too little money.
Mag: How is your adrenaline in a fight?
RG: With my experience I control that. I try to take the emotions out of the fights. The emotional control, giving to god to accept any kind of result, is good because it takes off all your invisible enemies.
Mag: Does this happen in an academy situation that a guy can take advantage of?
RG: When I train I try to give myself my own nightmare. Sometimes I try to work when I’m in bad positions. Even a blue belt, if you repeat the position, will give a lot of trouble because they will know what I want to do. Just staying in the same position is very hard for me, so I do practice in many difficult situations. The philosophy of BJJ is to always have an advantage without having to hard a time.
Mag: You try to handle difficult situations, but how do you keep your emotions in check?
RG: By the experience I have, I’m used to the pressure. It all turns to Disneyland. (Easy)
Mag: Do you agree that the level of the fighters in the Japan 94 wasn’t very high?
RG: No they are very good in their martial arts style. The best fighter there was Nishi, who was a student of Kimura. The press put him on top, but I always had control of the fight.
Mag: They put you against the best fighter for your 1st fight?
Mag: Was it intentional?
RG: Yes, they said he wanted to do his 1st fight against me. When the guy is good, they don’t want to fight me in the 2nd round, because they don’t want to be tired. The same thing happened in Japan Vale Tudo 95.
Mag: The Japanese paid you all that money to see you lose against a Japanese?
RG: I think so
Mag: How did the country react to the fight?
RG: When in Japan Open 95, the guy clinched with me they went crazy, but that made me react. After the fight they applauded for me.
Mag: Do you think they will call you again for the next one?
RG: I think so. They will call because they want to see me lose.
Mag: You and your brothers are which generation?
RG: 3rd generation. We are up to the 5th generation now.
Mag: Does your child Robson practice?
RG: He trains hard. He is an orange belt and he started without any pressure on my part. He loves it. Child likes to play not to fight.
Mag: How many sons do you have?
RG: 4. 2 boys and 2 girls.
Mag: In your academy is just you who teaches classes?
RG: I have 5 instructors working with me,1 black belt and 4 brown belts. We work from 7am to 9pm.
Mag: Do you offer an intensive program?
RG: The student can go for a beginners class,an intermediate class, or can enter an open class. He can have a private class with the instructors, and I do an intensive program for students who have came from other places.
Mag: In your fights you don’t necessarily hurt your opponent?
RG: It is because I’m not a bad person. I’m there to see who is better and if I can win without hurting my opponent, I will.
Mag: Is it true that you invited Fábio Gurgel to substitute for you in the Japan Open?
RG: Yes! He has great potential and is a good person. He is one of my team members for foreign business. I have other plans involving movies.
Mag: Why did you ask Fábio if your family is so big?
RG: Each of them have their own plans. Just Royler didn’t have any different plans. I chose Fábio because he had great potential, good character, and most importantly I can trust him 100%.
Mag: Do you think you could win against 4 of the best fighters in the same day?
RG: I think I can, but I don’t like to say I’m going to win. But I’d fight, that’s for sure.
Mag: What does Orlando Kramer have to do with your life?
RG: He is a good friend. He gave me the idea of doing yoga and it was great for me. It helped me to be a complete person.
Mag: Did you know that Carlson Gracie didn’t let his students go to your seminar?
RG: Yes. I don’t understand why. He is blocking his students from learning something new.
Mag: Did you do anything different in the seminar?
RG: No. If a boxer gives me tips, I will try them and see if they work. If it works I will use it. Carlson is blocking his students from seeing if there is something new they can learn with me.
Mag: When will you stop fighting?
RG: I don’t think about it, but when I won’t be able to keep up a certain level I will stop.