From Brasil, Thailand,
June 18, 2016
about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
A Reader comments that some people on the internet are
confused about what they have learned from the Choque
trilogy and the Myths & Misconceptions series. (And no wonder,
if their only previous sources of information were the exact texts
in which the myths were originally propagated). He provides some
to Choque, we are entitled to think that the early Gracies like
Carlos and Helio learnt and knew just a bunch of basic Judo
moves and were not grappling experts at all (Choque reports that
Geo Omori basically said Carlos knew nothing about jiu jitsu).
However, Helio avoided being submitted by stronger and seasoned
submissions grapplers like Ebert and Zbyzsko, and draw with
Kodokan black belts and even choked Kato. It is hard to
believe that someone with just basic Judo skills could do
something like that. These Helio's achievements, although
modest, are largely inexplicable if all he knew was basic Judo
newaza. Even Carlos avoid being submitted by a more
seasoned fighter like Rufino... which again is surprising if
Carlos was just the Brazilian version of Matsuda."
Not only Geo Omori but also Donato Pires dos Reis and George
Gracie, said that Carlos knew nothing or almost nothing about
jiu-jitsu. Even Helio agreed (here).
Indeed, Carlos Gracie's lack of jiu-jitsu knowledge and skills
was a necessary foundation for the Rorion-Helio alternative
narrative (or Gracie Myth, if you prefer). It was Carlos'
(alleged) lack of jiu-jitsu ability and knowledge that both
allowed and forced Helio to create his (alleged) innovations and
June 1, 2016
Top 3 Myths and Misconceptions
about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from Gracies in Action 2
Gracies in Action 2 did
not expand much on Gracies in Action 1. Rorion reiterated that fights
sometimes go to the ground, that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is a good ground system, and
that Helio Gracie created Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, was a national hero and living
legend, invented a unique and supremely effective teaching methodology,
and was the greatest fighter in Brazil.
GIA 2 was mostly an excuse to
show video of challenge matches in Torrance and ring fights in Brazil.
One gets the impression from
GIA 2 that such fights were everyday events. In fact they were extremely rare.
The fights on GIA 2 took place in 1991 (August 31) and 1992 (January 1) which is
probably why GIA 2 was produced at all. There were no other vale tudo fights
involving Gracie representatives between November 30, 1984 (shown on GIA 1),
with one known exception. That was March 17, 1989, in Belém. The jiu-jitsu
representative was named Sucuri. His opponent was the fearsome street fighter
May 11, 2016
Myths and Misconceptions about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Pat
Jordan's 1989 Playboy Article about Rorion Gracie
Jordan was an experienced journalist who had contributed a fair
number of articles to Playboy. Playboy paid
generously (as Roberto knows from personal experience), so no
doubt Pat was generally on the look-out for suitable topics. Why
he choose an obscure Brazilian wannabe movie actor is anyone's
guess. Indeed, in 2013, prior to the publication of Jiu-Jitsu
in the South Zone, 1997-2008, Roberto Pedreira contacted Pat
Jordan inquiring about that very matter. Pat Jordan never replied.
article would have ended up buried in Playboy's archives,
along with interviews with Bertrand Russell, Stanley Kubrick,
Miles Davis, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and many others. But along
came Art Davie, and the world as we knew it changed. A basically
forgettable fluff piece became the foundation of myths and
legends, believed by millions of fans, cultists, and people who
should know better.
May 9, 2016
GTR founder and CEO Roberto Pedreira went to São Paulo and Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil, to learn jiu-jitsu. He had
already trained at Rickson's academy on Pico Street, in Los Angeles, since the fall of
1994. He wasn't much, if at all,
interested in martial arts history. He lived by Gene Lebell's philosophy (here
and here): It doesn't matter what you call it or
where it came from. What matters is whether it works and you can do it. And,
it should probably be added, whether you can learn it from the
person who is offering to teach you.
Roberto was mildly intrigued as to why so little was known and so
many vague, implausible, and conflicting stories were told. After all, if Helio
Gracie really was a living legend in Brazil, wouldn't someone outside of a
Gracie affiliated jiu-jitsu academy have heard of him?
Top 18 Myths and Misconceptions about
from Gracies in Action 1
By 1992, Rorion had decided that the truth was
important. At least that's what he said. In 1988, he felt free to make
stuff up (actually, he did it in 1992 too, and didn't stop then). Making stuff up
is what entertainment and marketing are all about. Rorion Gracie with his legal education and
Hollywood career understood this very well. It made him rich.
April 8, 2016
Back Up Your Grappling
Style with Muay Thai!
Pedreira's first encounter with Muay Thai didn't impress
him. "What kind of martial art is that supposed to
be?" he thought. Grabbing a man's head, driving knees into
his ribs, kicking his legs. It seemed more like a street brawl or
Hollywood cowboy saloon donnybrook. (This was more than a decade
prior to Changpuk Kiatsongrit's consciousness-raising and
eye-opening visit to the USA, about which, read more below. Gracie
jiu-jitsu didn't even exist in those days).
But Roberto had
missed the point. Muay Thai isn't a martial art (in the sense that
Americans understand it). Muay Thai isn't designed to socialize
children and bring spiritual enlightenment to bored housewives and
identity-seeking college students.
Thai is designed to be is brutally efficient at destroying
adversaries. It is also eminently adaptable to the street.
Eventually, Robert figured that out the first time he held a Thai
pad and felt the power of a correctly executed Thai kick. It was a
satori [悟り] experience.
Subsequently he has never missed any chance to train Muay Thai
every time he goes to Thailand....
May 24, 2016
Top 30 Myths and
Misconceptions about Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Almost everything everyone
believed about BJJ up until the recent past derived from three sources, which
were Gracies in Action 1 (1988), the 1989 Playboy Rorion Gracie
article by Pat Jordan, and Gracies in Action 2 (1992). In all fairness to
Rorion, he probably wasn't trying very hard to deceive anyone. He was simply
marketing his school while trying to solidify his place in what he knew (if he
was successful) would be a stampede of competitors from the ranks of his own
family and anyone else who wanted to cash in. He didn't invent the story
entirely. His uncle and father were saying most of the same things in Brazil
before Rorion went to Hollywood to be a movie star. Rorion's unique contribution
was to vastly exaggerate his father's ring record and historical importance,
which of course benefited himself and enraged the other factions of the family,
who ignored the harsh reality that the demand for Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in America
was essentially zero (and near zero in Brazil also, at the time), until Rorion
created that demand.
Kron Gracie vs. Asen Yamamoto
and other Fights
December 29 and December 31,
Rizin Fighting Federation
is a new organization in Japan whose objective
is to resurrect the fighting arts as a form of popular entertainment
and source of income for fighters and promoters, managers, and
everyone else involved. In other words, all of the usual reasons. If
successful it will be welcome news for anyone who trains or teaches
any martial art in Japan, among other places, because these events
are primarily what drive enrollments and retention of students.
The inaugural events took
place on Tuesday December 29 and Thursday December 31 (Japan times)
and were broadcast free on channel 8. The scheduling was intended to
allow fighters participating in the tournament sub-event to recover
from their elimination matches. The finals were held on Thursday.
Fights were presented so as to provide a little of something for all
tastes, including K-1 (Muay Thai without clinch and elbows), shoot
boxing, and MMA, known in Japan as 総合格闘技
[sougoukakutougi]. Some relatively new faces were introduced.
Some veterans were dusted off. Former super-stars came out of
retirement, in some cases successfully, in others disastrously.
People who had no business going anywhere near a ring were somehow
induced to defy common sense and their own physical well-being to do
precisely that. Money perhaps? It's been known to motivate people to
do things that they shouldn't do, so why not? Several retired sumo
wrestlers made appearances and were among the surprises of the
event. A former Olympic judo champion found that judo without
a 道着 [dougi] and
with punches is not easy. Two representatives of the legendary
Brazilian jiu-jitsu family, Rickson and Kron Gracie showed up, one
to fight, one to lend moral support, reminisce, be on display for
the benefit of adoring fans, and probably, to provide continuity
between the glory days of Japanese kakutougi and its
(hopefully) bright shining rebirth.
So how did it go?
3rd Edition (June 1, 2016)
(Updated June 1, 2016)
June 16, 2016)
Jiu-Jitsu in the South
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