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Global Training Report


Interview with 

Rickson Gracie 

Part 1

ATHRA, 2001,Vol. 004

Interviewed by Kondo Takao

Translated by Yoko Kondo


Rockson Gracie, who died in a motorcycle accident last February, is smiling in a frame. Here is a living room where I have visited many times so far. Rickson, who invited me in, asked me to sit down, and he himself took a seat on a sofa quietly. It is a natural style he always has.  It has been four months since he lost his beloved son. He has kept silent during that time. I had many questions to ask, but I wondered what I should begin with. Conscious of my predicament, he spoke first. "Don't worry about me. Let's talk as we usually do," he said with a smile, and started to speak in a firm tone. "Rockson is my loving son. Needless to say, his death was an  extraordinarily big shock. Since then, I have been trying to spend a lot of time with my family. I have done it for four months. What I should do now is to protect my family, because I could endure that incident more easily than other family members did, my wife, and daughters, and my other son. I am a warrior. I understand that there is victory and defeat, and life and death in fights, and in life. And I can accept that Rockson's short life is finished and he has ascended to heaven. But for my family members, it was an intolerable sorrow. Still now, I spend time with them, and I want to do anything I can do for them. I want to pray for the repose of Rockson's soul with them. I want to see off his start for the new life with hope. I don't want to consider Rockson's death just an unhappy incident, rather we want to take it as a motivation to make our life better. We are in the middle of that process. I naturally grieved over my son's death. I can't express in words what it was like. But this incident is nothing rare. As long as life is going on, various kinds of things will happen to us. We have to take and accept them. It is not allowed to us to just stay in a sorrow without doing anything. Many of our friends poured their love on me and my family. They also prayed for the peace of Rockson's soul. I am grateful for what they did for us. I appreciate many Japanese fans who cared about me too. And I'm glad that I myself could accept this reality. The sorrow was beyond words. But what is most important is to look at the positive side, not just to grieve over the incident."

Q: How are all your family members? Are they getting better now?

Rickson: Thank you. They are getting better little by little. Thank you very much for having come to the memorial ceremony too. Kron (the youngest son) is concentrating on training jiu-jitsu pretty much now. He participated in the jiu-jitsu tournament held in Huntington Beach at the end of April. Many other members of the academy entered too, so I went to see it. The tournament was not so big or a high level, but everybody was enjoying jiu-jitsu. Kron will be strong more and more from now on. 

Q: Have you already started teaching at the dojo?

Rickson: I started teaching from about the end of April. I am beginning to teach private lessons too. 

Q: I feel better to see you in a good condition. 

Rickson: I will repeat it again, but I have accepted my son's death. Rockson ascended to heaven. There is no need to grieve over it. I will go to heaven some day too. Oh, yes, it was just after the memorial ceremony was finished. I was feeling something bothering me. Regarding Rockson's death, I have accepted it. But there were many things which bothered me. I felt wretched and I didn't want to stay cooped up in a room, so I spent much time on the beach. But something kept bothering me. What healed such a state of my mind was a view seen from the hill on which my house is. Seeing a magnificent spectacle before me, I felt as if I was encouraged. I was encouraged by nature. I thought then that I wanted to keep looking at this view, and I wanted to have a place  to watch it. So I decided to make a terrace (a lookout) on the tree in the site of this house. 

Q: Is it a thickly-wooded backyard in that a high place?

Rickson: Yes it is. I had devoted myself to make the terrace for three weeks since then. I did it by myself without anyone's help. It was a work on the tree. While looking at the view, I kept working so hard that I couldn't feel time passing. I was getting free from something bothering me. Probably I wanted to concentrate on something. A colorful bird was flying around me while I worked. It was a blue jay. It was watching me suspiciously. This was in the site of my house, but here was a place eight meters above the ground. Yes, it was their territory. That blue jay must have  been living here for many years before we moved in this house. In the beginning, the blue jay was watching me intently. It must have been on its guard, since I came into his territory all of sudden. But as time went on, it came to close to me. I tried to roll a peanut over the wooden floor of the terrace which was beginning to get into shape. Then, the blue jay came and started eating it. The distance between the blue jay and me got closer. I put a peanut on my hand next. The blue jay stepped on my hand and ate it. Now it steps on my hand without a peanut. 

     I went out to the garden with Rickson, and climbed a bush to the terrace he made. The sound of my steps on the bush barefoot made me comfortable. Looking up at the back of branches, a two-and-half wide board placed on a thick trunk came into my view. He climbed up the tree trunk with a light step by the help of a rope ladder. As soon as he came up to the terrace and sat cross-legged, the blue bird showed up. The front side of the body is blue, and the belly side is white. On the head is a crown feather, and in the wings can be recognized a black belt and white spots. It is a bright-colored bird with a 15-centimeter long. tail. Hold on! Carefully watching it, I can see something darkish in both the blue wings and the white belly. That appearance showed off its nobility and determination to survive through the wild life. 

"Blue jays are very noble and wise birds. They are living with their family and exclude others. Do you know blue jays are monogamous? Once they get married, they will protect their family until the end. There is no second marriage, even if either one dies."

That bird, which is really wild, was taking to Rickson. 

"We are friends with each other. They will have a baby bird soon. Their sons and me will become closer as time goes by, so they will come into my house some day."

The blue jay flew away from Rickson's hand, who was turning his eyes far away. 

"You can see clearly the far-off mountain in a sunny day. I often come to this place and spend time quietly. I needed a place where I can have mind in peace alone. "

 One  photograph was being hung on the tree trunk placed the terrace, covered with a thin vinyl over not to get wet by the rain. It was a picture of Rockson. 

     While Rickson had kept silent, various reports on his future were released by Japanese sport magazines, such as he might retire out of sorrow, or he will be back to the ring of Japan again for sure--it is already determined that Rickson will fight Choshu Riki from New Japan Pro-wrestling in the ring of Tokyo Dome on January 4th next year, etc. Needless to say, these are all merely speculations, not what Rickson himself said. I wonder what the truth is. We went back to the room, and I asked him about it. 

" I've never thought about retirement even once. Fighting is always presented in front of me. In fact, I got several offers. It is also true that I was asked to fight with Mr. Choshu early next year."

Q: It was surprising to me that the name of Mr. Choshu was picked as your opponent. 

Rickson: It must be. I understand what you want to say. My fighting and professional wrestling are in a different category from each other. I understand it well and I have no intention to do professional wrestling. In conclusion, I turned down that offer. The plan itself has already come to nothing. I also got offers to fight with Mr. Ogawa and Mr. Sakuraba in addition to Mr. Choshu.  But the only thing I decided was not to fight during this year. I haven't signed a contract with anyone. It seems that there are various kinds of rumors or reports, but the fact is that I have no plan at the present time. It's not the right time for me to fight now. It is more important for me to support my family and concentrate on myself and my own training than to face the next fight. 

Q: it means that you are not losing your fighting spirit........

Rickson: Exactly. I am still a warrior above all. So when the time comes, my interest in fighting will be roused without fail. I need at least three months, if possible four or five months to prepare for the next fight. As for the promoter's side, they may need eight months. I feel that the energy and mood surrounding me are far from a suitable  condition to fight. When they come to 100% level, it will be the time I make a decision on the next fight. But it is wrong to think in a such a way that my son's death put out my fighting spirit. Rather, his start on his journey motivates me to try harder. 

Q: I heard that you will appear on a movie. There was a report that a contract with your next fight is being left behind because of that. 

Rickson: In fact, a movie project is in progress. It is a little delayed, but it will crank in this autumn and be completed within this year. However, for me appearing on a movie is not situated on the same level with fighting. So it is impossible that the fighting schedule is delayed with my appearing on a movie. 

Q: What king of movie is it?

Rickson: It is an action movie. And another movie project for me is in progress too. 

Q: By the way, have you watched the video of the fight between Vanderlei Silva and Sakuraba Kazushi in Pride 13 (in Saitama Super Arena on March 25th)?

Rickson: No, I haven't yet. I just heard that Sakuraba lost, and what it was like roughly.

Q: Nino Schembri, the jiu-jitsu fighter who spent the summer at your house last year, entered Pride 14 (in Yokohama Arena on May 27th). Did you watch it?

Rickson: No, I didn't even know that Nino did the fight there. I just heard that he was likely to enter Pride 14. I don't mean I was not interested in fights, but I haven't seen anything at all lately.

I brought the video tape with me today. When I asked him, "why don't we watch it together now?"  Rickson said, "OK" and sat up to set the tape into a deck. As soon as it starts, exchanging hard blows is exposed to us. Then Sakuraba is driven into a corner.... He gets several knee-kicks from Silva with the head down on the ground, and  finally it comes to the end by a referee stop. Sakuraba's bloody face is brought into a close-up. It was only for 2 minutes or so, but Rickson was staring at the screen. I saw the eyes of a fighter back to him. He turned off the video, and turned to me, and said, "it is almost the same story as I heard." Then he started analyzing the fight between Sakuraba and Silva. 

                                               Continued here: Rickson Pt. 2.







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


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