I would like to ask about you and Gracie jiu-jitsu on behalf of Japanese
Rickson: Yes, ok.
Yori: First, a short self-introduction please.
Rickson: My name is Rickson Gracie. I'm a jiu-jitsu teacher.
I hold the rank of 7-dan. I have competed in more than 400 official matches of jiu-jitsu, vale
tudo, sambo, amateur wrestling and so on. All of my life I have been fighting
Yori: When and why did you come to America?
Rickson: It was five and a half years ago.
The reason was that there was
nothing left for me to do in Brazil. I come from a big, traditional family with
a history of winning every fight in Brazil. There was nothing for me there. I felt like
taking on a new challenge in America,
where my brother already moved. I wanted to be a pioneer.
Yori: That's a wonderful ambition, for sure. It seems that you have acquired the
right of permanent residency in America. Do you intend to stay
Rickson: No. I'll go back to Brazil when I retire.
I'll live in the
countryside. I want to be a farmer. I'll have a personal dojo where I'll
continue to train with my friends. There's a lot of pollution in Los Angeles and
in the next 10-15 years it's gonna get worse, and the population is
increasing and it's getting more expensive to live here. I prefer the countryside.
Yori: Are you sad to be away from Brazil?
Rickson: Yes. I have many friends in Brazil, the
climate is good, the food is
tasty. Brazil is spacious. Brazil has a great hidden potential for development that
hasn't been realized yet. However, there is a lot of crime in the big cities. It's hard to make
money, too. It's like a different world (from Santa Monica and Malibu).
Yori: Can you describe in simple
words the Gracie Jiu-jitsu you learned since your child days in Brazil?
Rickson: Yes, ok. Jiu-jitsu includes the meaning of "soft arts"
and "gentle arts". It uses the principle of "leverage" (テコ). Gracie jiu-jitsu was established
by developing further the jiu-jitsu transmitted by
Count Maeda Koma. The principle of leverage is used
in a lot in the techniques, and they are improved so that anyone can do them
easily. Especially it is good for self-defense.
Yori: Is the Gracie jiu-jitsu in Brazil different from the Gracie jiu-jitsu
in America these days?
Rickson: Yes, a little. In Brazil my father (Helio) and brothers always
developed the pure techniques. Good Brazilian fighters came to America and
American Gracie Jiu-jitsu became stronger. But little by
little the essence of Gracie jiu-jitsu has been forgotten, it seems to me. Instead
of smashing the opponent, the objective now seems to be scoring points.
Jiu-jitsu has become more of a points oriented thing now, it seems to me.
It may be something related to features of America. [Yori is referring to
Rickson's comment above].
It seems that even in
Brazil there is no one who can fight with you.
Rickson: Yes. To tell the truth, I was in Brazil last week. I heard there
were strong guys. I went on two TV programs. I said "I'm always ready to fight,
Let's get it on! Show me the money!" But no one showed up. Everyone wants to fight my brother Royce.
Yori: Speaking of Royce, he was in the Ultimate Tournament.
What did you think about that tournament?
Rickson: I think
it's good to have a new style of real fighting. Before it was boxing, karate, Taekwondo, and others
rules. There wasn't a kind of "free
out". It gives a completely different perspective on kakutōgi.
people will come to understand (care about). What
is necessary for kakutō, and how they can become a complete fighter.
Just one style is not enough. They
have to train punching, kicking,
throwing, choking, ground, joint submissions, attack and defense. For my brother (Royce), the Ultimate has been easy so far
the other fighters were not well-rounded. But everyone will
soon start training other techniques from other
arts and then the quality of fights will improve. I foresee a new kind of
heard that you were Royce's trainer (trained with) for the Ultimate.
It was important for Royce as a professional to acquire
experience, honor (or fame), and so on in that tournament. So, I let him enter
it for himself and helped to make him a champion. It is up to him to defend the title,
build a winning record, and make his name
Yori: Has Royce ever
beaten you yet?
Yori: Do you have any
plan to enter the Ultimate?
Rickson: I have no plan
to do it so far, but if they add two zeros to the end of the prize money I might
think about it (Rickson laughs). Or if Royce loses, I will enter to protect the
Gracie name. I'm satisfied with my brother's victories so far and I hope he will
continue. So far, so good.
Yori: I see. Well, how
did you feel when you were fighting vale tudo in Brazil?
Rickson: I didn't
feel tense. When
I heard the cheers of all the fans I felt my adrenalin kick in. Nothing
Yori: You have the
accomplishment of being the strongest vale tudo fighter and undefeated for more than 10
years. Do you do any sort of special training for vale tudo?
Rickson: No. I only
do my usual jiu-jitsu training. The mysteries
of jiu-jitsu are deep. But vale tudo is a no-gi fight so there is a lot of slippery sweat, which is a special problem to deal with.
slaps and elbow
strikes and other types of
strikes in my regular jiu-jitsu training, but other than that I just do what I
Yori: To change the
subject, there's a story that, you issued a challenge to
Antonio Inoki and went to Japan a few
years ago to talk it over with him.
Rickson: Yes. Inoki had
a big company. I was ready to work with him but I heard that among his group there was no one to
fight with. I said I would put up $400,00 as
a prize and take on anyone from his group, no matter who it was.
But Inoki didn't want that kind of "gamble" fight so he refused. So, I came back
Yori: The roots of
Gracie Jiu-Jitsu are from Japan. What are your thoughts about Japan?
Rickson: My inspiration
from Japan is the "Samurai spirit" (侍精神).
I really respect Japanese culture for having such
a thing as samurais. My spirit is very similar to the samurai spirit. I will always
die for what I believe in. For me the most
important thing is my honor (名誉). It's more important than my body. Nothing is more important than what I
believe in. I am always ready to fight. I don't care even if I die, as
long it's for what I believe in. Really, I very much respect the Japanese
spirit. Japanese people are "clean"(クリン,
honest) in whatever they do, they
know how to concentrate well. That's a very interesting spirit to
Yori: Jiu-jitsu with
real fighting doesn't have a long history in Japan. My own teacher was
Sayama Satoru (佐山サトル).
He wanted to revive fighting jiu-jitsu, so he established
"shooting". What is your opinion about "shooting"?
Rickson: I think the
establishment of shooting is a big and revolutionary step in the world of
kakutōgi. But it's a bit different from what I do. It's too
sportive. In my opinion, it can be a
bit improved. Having weight classes is not a particular problem but having
time limits in the open weight class of Shooting Open is a problem. A
smaller man needs more time to take the bigger man into more advantageous position
on the ground. One round with time limits of 3 or 4 minutes is not
enough for that. Also, the referee doesn't give enough time to work a
submission but instead stands the fighters up too quickly. The man doesn't have
enough time to plan ahead, to set and then spring his trap. I believe that if changes like these are made, shooting will become more like
a real fight. However, "shooting" is much better
than anything else I've seen so far.
Yori: The rules of official
shooting fights can't be changed, but as for the Open Tournament,
I will ask the commissioner to consider a
modification of the rules, so that a bigger variety of fighters from
different styles can participate.
Rickson: I think that
would be very good.
Yori: What do you
think now that a fight has been arranged for you in Japan?
Rickson: I feel very
energized. It has always been my dream to fight in Japan. I'm very happy to be
able to fight in the homeland of Budo. Everything was born there. It's a great
honor to fight in place where the spirit of budo always lives. When I think of
fighting in Japan, I feel energized.
Yori: Because Gracie Jiu-Jitsu will arrive in
Japan with you.....
Rickson: Jiu-jitsu is a
thing that originally came from Japan, so I feel like I'm bringing back to Japan
what I got from Japan a long time ago. I feel pleased about that. It's
something like a lost child being returned to home.
Yori: Do you want to
spread Gracie Jiu-jitsu to Japan?
Rickson: I heard that
Japan is a place with a lot of money (laughs). It's always good to work in a
place where there's a lot of money.
Yori: To wrap it up,
please offer a message to the Japanese people.
Rickson: I'm proud that
in the kakōguti world, Gracie Jiu-jitsu in Brazil keeps the Budo spirit.
It's very valuable and interesting Budo. Not only for becoming a strong man, but by
to Budo more deeply, learning true (pure) techniques, and
polishing your humanity. I think the purpose of Budo is to make better people. I want to teach
jiu-jitsu to people all over the world. I hope they accept
my energy to help them improve.
Yori: Today, thank you
Rickson: Not at all,
it's been my pleasure.