GTR Archives 2000-2022


Jiu-Jitsu Books 


Roberto Pedreira















Interview with

Rickson Gracie

Part 2


Vol. 005, September 9, 2001

Interviewed by Kondo Takao

 Translated by Kondo Yoko


Rickson turned off the picture of Sakuraba's bloody face brought into a close-up on the screen with a remote control and turned to me, and said nodding slightly, "it is almost the same story as I heard". He got the eyes of a fighter back. I stared at his eyes. I wanted to read something from the movement of his eyes watching for the first time the video of the fight between Sakuraba and Silva. I saw nothing. But these were the eyes of a fighter without a doubt. Time passed quietly. The sound of a camera's shutter clicking reverberated emotionlessly in the room. I broke the silence by asking, "what is your impression about the fight where Sakuraba was defeated?"

Rickson: I have no special impression about it. I am not surprised at the result at all. Sakuraba lost because he made a mistake. That's all

Q: Mistake? Does it mean he exchanged blows in standing?

Rickson: That's right. He made a mistake about the strategy. He must not lose his temper. He was so excited that he tried to exchange punches. He couldn't defend himself for that reason. He used to keep on fighting patiently all the time and wait for an opponent to make a mistake. But this time he couldn't wait. That's why a mistake was brought about.

Q: The rule of Pride was changed partly from that day when this fight was performed (March 25). It allows fighters to give kicks and knee-kicks to an opponent on his face with his head down on the ground. Did you know about the revision of the rule?

Rickson: I knew it when I heard about the result of the fight between Sakuraba and Silva. I don't know if Sakuraba couldn't cope with the rule. But it's not a big change. Originally it is a no-rule fight, so being open is a natural matter. It is natural from the Vale Tudo point of view.

Q: I wonder if a possibility of the fight between you and Sakuraba has gone.

Rickson: First of all, I don't consider him a special fighter. It could have been possible enough that Sakuraba would be defeated by Silva. The reason why I think so is that he has never shown me any excellent victory or performance so far. Surely he defeated my brothers. But in the case of Royler, he was not defeated, but he was just treated as a loser due to an unfair referee-stoppage. Royce's loss resulted from an injury to his leg which made him not to be able to continue to fight any more. Some people are inclined to consider the fight between Royce and Sakuraba a great fight, but I don't think so. During fights, there comes a moment without fail when an opponent makes a mistake. That moment can not be missed. If they both miss the chance, it will be a long fight, and as a result one or the other will sooner or later not be able to fight any longer. It is by no means a fight to be praised. A great fighter is required to never miss a chance. I don't have a high evaluation of Sakuraba. But I am a professional fighter. Whoever it is, I am going to fight with anyone as long as a promoter presents a condition good enough to make me satisfied. It is not limited to Sakuraba, but to anybody.

Immediately after Sakuraba defeated Royce last May, a lot of Japanese fans expressed their  eagerness to see a fight between Rickson and Sakuraba. Rickson knows about it well.  Not only Royler and Royce, but also Renzo and Ryan, who are not Rickson's brothers, but who have the same Gracie name, also succumbed to Sakuraba. It can't be that Rickson didn't care about him. After all, Sakuraba is the man called "Gracie Hunter" . I expected to hear more emotional words from Rickson, but it was not like that. But what concerned me more than that was the fact that he hasn't watched any fights or even video tapes at all of not only Sakuraba but also professional kakutogi until today. No active fighter, or a person whose job is fighting can fail to pay attention to the movement of kakutogi. I wonder if Rickson has no interest in fights of others. No, it can't be true. While watching the fight between Sakuraba and Silva, he got the eyes of a fighter back. He said that he has spent time for his family since the death of his beloved son, Rockson. He didn't even know that Nino Schembri, whom Rickson invited to his house and trained together with last summer, entered Pride 14 (in Yokohama Arena on May 27). He must have spent the days here when was really isolated from his own fight plan. We watched the video tape of the fight together in which that Nino fought with another Brazilian fighter named Johil Oliveira. Nino enters the ring in a Elvis Presley costume. When it came out on the screen, Rickson smiled. "He likes Elvis. Interesting guy!" The fight starts. He looked calmer than when he watched the fight between Sakuraba and Silva. Time was 7 minutes and 17 seconds. Nino won by a perfect arm-lock.  It was his debut match as a professional, but he is well-known in the jiu-jitsu world. It seems that he is called "Rickson II" by some people, because he actively aims at finalization, not a win by decision. 

When I talked about it to Rickson, he said in a quiet tone. " He is a technician, and has a good sense too. He might surpass me in terms of elements. There is possibility for that. But it can be said not only about Nino but also other fighters too."

Q: What are the elements for a great fighter?

Rickson: Technique is necessary. But only technique is not enough. Spirit is necessary. It is also important to make the technique fostered by jiu-jitsu unite with Vale Tudo well. And it is not all. There are many things more we still have to learn. One can not learn everything in one-time life. But fortunately I could possess a lot of things necessary to fights so far in my life.  Vision of fighting, technique of Vale Tudo, and ability to control both mental and physical aspects. It is very difficult to learn them in one-time life. I like Nino, and I want to see more of his victories. He is 26 years old now.  But I don't think he can learn everything what I possessed in the rest of his life. I got a special gift from God. It was not my brothers or anyone else in the Gracie family, but me who got a gift. And it is not something I got because I wanted, but it was given to me by God. That's why I could learn so many things in one-time life. As a result, I can read the intention of my opponent, and can unite well my confidence with my killer instinct in a fight. This is not what you can possess in 20-years or so of your life. I don't think I am best. Many fighters have a possibility to be far ahead of me. But it is very difficult. Of course I am not God, but I appreciate God for giving me a gift.

His tone was calm. I felt I understood what his thoughts and talk were turning to. In 20-year or so of your life.........Rockson passed away at 19 years old. Rickson was going to pour all his experience into his beloved son. But it turned out to be a dream beyond reach. The Gracie family has the history that they have always led the Brazilian kakutogi. And they continued to bring up idol fighters. Starting with Helio, and Carlson, then Rolls, and in the 80's Rickson was the idol of the Brazilian jiu-jitsu world. But no charismatic fighter has come out since Rickson, despite the fact that jiu-jitsu fighters are increasing  in number. I asked Rickson why?

Rickson: I am sure that a man who can succeed me will emerge from the Gracie family. But I think it might be one or two generations later. It is clear why the situation turned out to be like this. It is because the family started to live separately. I'm in California, Relson in Hawaii, Renzo in New York.  Not all the family members who live in Brazil stay in Rio de Janeiro. But we were not like that until my generation. All the family members trained together in a good environment where many strong fighters with various specialties could perfect their technique with each other. Among them, the one who had a great power entered a fight as a representative of the family. But now, things are different. I think I want to do it again together. It is not impossible. But we have a special feeling for the reason that we are the family. It is very difficult to unite into one as long as any of us have a strong feeling that we want to be placed above the others in the family. But I want to believe it. I hope the day will come when we all will be able to train together. No, it will come for sure.

The sun stays up a long time in Southern California. The afternoon sunshine poured  into the room, but a clock was telling me that it was almost 7 p.m. When I turned off the switch of the tape recorder, his second son, Kron came in. The 16-year old boy called out to me sheepishly "Hello!". His gestures somehow looked like Rockson of a few years ago. 

"Kron has been training jiu-jitsu very hard lately. I hope it will happen that he can train with the sons of my brothers together" said Rickson while hugging Kron closer to him. I put away everything and went out of the front door. Rickson went out to the garden with bare feet and sat down on the fence. Then he whistled briefly several times. The blue jay that lived in the back yard flew down and landed on the back of Rickson's left hand. 

Other Rickson interviews on GTR:

Rickson  (after Funaki)

Rickson (Athra Pt. 1)

Rickson  (Athra Pt. 2)

Rickson  (from Herois do Ringue)

Rickson (from Gracie DNA)

Rickson (from Tatame)

(c) 2001, Yoko Kondo. All rights reserved.




Order the Rickson Choke documentary below. It's pretty good.