Carlos Gracie Jr. Interview

Carlos Gracie Junior interview
This is an interview featured in a British magazine - 'Martial Arts Illustrated', November.
The interview was conducted by the UK's Rick Young.

RY: Did you train with your father when you were young?

CGJ: No, when I was born my father was already 60 years old, he lived in the mountains and had retired from teaching. He had a school in downtown Rio de Janeiro and my Uncle, Helio was head instuctor there with Rolles and Rorion. I learnt most of my bjj from Rolles who was my head instructor and some from Rorion,but everybody helped everybody. Helio would sometimes come and give us classes on how to teach different people, how the technique should be and the mentality of bjj. It is very importnat that you know how to teach bjj properly because there are many different types of students. You have guys who are fighters and others who just want to learn techniques, play jiu-jitsu and develop themselves. When you see a student you have to know what part of bjj will suit them best. At the time I was learning, most of the teaching was done privately, the group class was mostly for sparring but a lot of the students were taught privately. It was a lot different from nowadays. That is why I think most of the people who learnt then have more details in their technique than people learning now, though they may be better fighters. Now the fighters have a lot of endurance and strength. The people we taught were just average people, not athletes, but they were still good because we kept training the technique all the time.

RYo you think that nowadays fighters put more emphasis on power and speed than technique?

CGJ: Yes, cus now we have the group class in which it is harder to show the small details. when you have a private class you fix any problems right away. In the groups classyou can become good by rolling, sweating and learning some techniques, but it is not the same as a private class. One of the hardest things for me in my academy is that I have a lot of fighters but not so many teachers. Some people ask me to send a teacher to their area, but I do not know if I have somebody I can send. The fighters, I have many, but I have to know if they can teach properly. Now I want to start an instructors class just for instructors so I can show these guys how to teach properly. They will have to learn how to run an academy and how to deal with different kinds of students. You cannot give every student the same programme. So how you teach him is the way he learnds to teach. In the group class it is more difficult cus they learn one move then spar and spar and spar, and then get taught another technique. Sometimes the techniques do not connect cus the group has different people in it and some people miss classes, so then you have to give a position eveybody can do. You cannot say tomorrow this, the day after we will be doing that, because people can miss a step out of their training. Ina group it is hard to give the details. In private you can take the guy 1-2-3-4 steps and make him grow where he sees the connections and understands bjj at a more deeper level.

RY: I know you want to see bjj spread all over the world. How do you think this will happen?

CGJ: In some countries there are no black belts, but if the guy knows a little bit he can start to teach and it is better than nothing. Later on they will need someone to teach and help them develop. In the beginning, if there is no-one else around, the blue belt can teach, but the danger is he might not be able to pass on the correct way to teach the techniques and give out the information.

RY: I know you visited the UK in February. What did you think of the level there?

CGJ: There are 3 countries I see outside of Brazil are good and growing fast. The USA, cus the Gracie family have taught there for a long time, Japan and the United Kingdom. Australia is growing fast too.

RY: Mauricio Gomes and his son Roger have been teaching in Britain for 6 years, did you see the benefits of this when you saw the British students?

CGJ: I think this has been great for the UK. This is what I mean about countries getting good teachers. Because Mauricio, Roger and now Braulio are teaching in England and they will produce good students and bjj will grow and the whole country will become strong. A country that has a lot of bjj but poor teachers will only have poor technique and poor bjj. the more quality teachers you have the stronger the bjj will be.

RY:A lot of people wnat to come to Brazil and train, do you welcome people in to your group and train in Rio?

CGJ: Yes. The Gracie camp we have here is just the start of what we want do in the future. The camp is for people all over the world who want to come and train with us. If they just want to come and train, or if they have a fight coming up, we have teachers who will take classes for them. Right now we are starting small and going slowly, but anyone is welcome to come and train or stay at the camp. This is a great country to train in bjj and also for vacation. The people here are very friendly, we have the beach and beautiful women, as well as great training. Some people are afraid of coming here cus of the media reports a lot of violence and this puts them off. The Gracie camp is a way we can take care of people and make sure they are OK. They are picked up from the airport, have a nice place to stay, given good meals and are taken to training.

RY: Is there a strict curriculum for somebody who wants to attain a black belt under Gracie Barra?

CGJ: Befor I teach all the students at my school, I would know the level of the guys taining there. When I see that a guy knows enough through sparring and doing techniques, I would promote him from white to blue. What has happened today is that the school has grown and I am not on the mat everyday as I used to be because I have a business to run, I have to work on the bjj organisation and so on. This work keeps me off the mat and I cannot train everybody like I used to do. Today I see the necessity of a programme of knowledge so that people can change belts, so that the student will know what they have to do for, say a blue belt. It is the same as at school. Of course you will have some people who will have more possibilites than others so you will have some not so good blue belts and some better blue belts. This is the same for purple, brown and black belts. As long as the student is getting pushed and pushing themselves, not everybody can be a world champion. If you see a student who is good but a little lazy, you can use the belt system as a barricade that they have to jump over so you can push them harder to achieve this level. Other students I cannot treat the same way cus they may be doing their best but may not have the ability of the other students. I may give this student the belt even if they are not as good as the others, so I have to balance things up. If I have a programme for all the Gracie Barra schools and teachers, then it should be easier for everybody.


Excellent interview!

He brings up alot of good point especially in regards to private instruction vs group instruction, fighter vs instructor and promotion standards.

Nice interview!!! TTT for one of the World's top teachers and ambassador of Jiu-Jitsu!!!



ttt He is one of the top instructors in the world.