Rolker Gracie and Charles Gracie Interview

First off, let me just say apologize to my OTM family. This article is LONG OVERDUE. I meant to transcribe this WAY back. But a brotha lost the tape, then my recorder broke, then I got a new one, then I moved and lost the tape and the recorder…I was unpacking yesterday and found it!!Rolker Gracie is a great teacher. Charles does the Bay Area grappling community a great favor by continually bringing out so many family members from Brazil. All in attendance were eating up Rolkers gems of wisdom with ferocity. It seemed as tired as everyone was by time it was over, they were sad to see it end. I got a few minutes with them after the students crawled off the mat. So without further babbling, here is the interview…

AB: So many of your family members have visited the academy in recent months. What is it that attracts them to your school? Also, why is it important that you have these kinds of seminars at your academy?

Charles Gracie: First, it’s always a good thing to bring my family out to work with my students. As an instructor it’s a good way for me to service my students. It’s good quality training. Plus it’s a good opportunity for my students and the people from the other schools, who come to the seminars, to see the subtle variations in peoples individual style on the mat. As well, they get to meet other Gracie family members.

AB: Any new plans for the next United Gracie Tournament? Your last one was a HUGE success in terms of attendance, the quality of the superfights- everything.

CG: The next one will be in the same month (September). Of course I expect more success on this one. I received many emails from across the country from people who were concerned about attending because of the Sept. 11th tragedy. Nevertheless, we still had 340 fighters. The turnout was fantastic. There will be a lot more coming to this years United Gracie Tournament. And for this one, I’ll have a couple surprises for the spectators, the fighters- everybody!

AB: Who else do you plan on bring to your academy for seminars?

CG: I will be bringing Royce again. Rolker will be back as well as Royler and Renzo. Me and Ralph are working on some other things in the future as well.

AB: Rolker, how do you like being out here and working out with Charles and his students?

Rolker Gracie: It’s a great academy. I’m very happy here. It’s was a great opportunity for me to come here and have a chance to work with Charle’s students.

AB: What do you think about the quality of the American students of Gracie Jiu Jitsu? Has it been excelling? Because Brazil will always be the nucleusof the art where everything happens.

RG: The American Jiu-Jitsu is very good, it’s still growing. They are still behind the Brazilians, of course, because there are so many fighters in Brazil. But the Americans are doing great. Plus, the American public is so lucky, because they have so many great instructors here. Maybe half of the Gracie family is out here teaching the art. I think that has added to the big jump in improvement in the American fighters.

AB: Did you ever think that there would be such a market for Gracie Jiu-Jitsu out here?

RG: I imagined this a long time ago. The entire family had this goal. That’s why so many of them came to America. The goal was to show all of the Brazilian techniques here in the U.S. The American fighters are very smart and they like to fight from the top.

AB: Any words of advice for the students?

RG: Keep doing the sport and train hard. Look for the right instructors. This is a great sport and it keep people off of drugs and living well. The philosophy of jiu jitsu is good, and it makes us all stronger.

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Adisa Banjoko