GTR Archives 2000-2022


Jiu-Jitsu Books 


Roberto Pedreira















Global Training Report



Remembering Rockson


March 8, 2001

By Yorinaga Nakamura

Translated by Yoko Kondo


I had just returned home after teaching evening classes at the dojo [The Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts] on February 9th,  when a call came from Paula Inosanto. She informed me that Rockson, Rickson and Kim's first son, had been killed in a motorcycle accident in New York, where he had been living.

I couldn’t believe my ears, which was exactly the same when I heard about the sudden death of Brandon, the first son of Bruce Lee, in March of 1993. Under this urgent situation, I rushed to the house of Rickson with my wife by car.

My family has had a long acquaintance with Rickson’s family since 1993 when I met him for the first time, up to today. It’s not rare to visit Rickson’s house, but this time I was heading for his house with a different feeling from usual. I was still dubious about what I heard, but a lot of memory with Rockson came to my mind in the car.


Rockson was born in November 25, 1981 as the first son of Rickson and Kim, when Rickson had already become the strongest in the Brazilian jiu-jitsu world. At that time, Rickson was in the middle of the tournament of no-weight-limit class in all-Brazilian jiu-jitsu championship. It was held for two days over one week, and Rockson was born two days after Rickson won on the first day.

Incidentally Rickson became so busy taking care of the baby that he considerably consumed the energy under a condition of three-hour sleep. On the second day, however, he fought Sergio Penha in the final match and finished him with choke sleeper. Sergio weighed 10 kg more than Rickson and was very famous for challenging at many dojos.

When we had a meeting at Rickson’s house everyday for the first Vale Tudo Japan Tournament held in 1994, I often met 12-year-old Rockson there. I remember that Rickson and Rockson were doing ground sparring like playing with each other those days. Looking at Rockson moving correctly against offense and defense even in such a play-like training in an ordinary life, I was deeply impressed that he was naturally learning technique through it.

Approaching to the first Vale Tudo Japan Tournament, Rickson came to Japan  along with Kim and Rockson  and stayed at the second house owned by my wife's parents in Karuizawa in Nagano, where Rickson aimed at being confined in a mountain and recovering from jet lag.

Rockson, who was curious, made a fuss and enjoyed the life in the mountain. We walked around the mountain roads together during the day time, and sunbathed, and played with fireworks at night all together. Especially he had a lot of interest in fireworks which were his first experience. He sometimes bought and played with them himself. Rockson in a picnic-like mood made a fuss with Royler even on the way of moving by car. Royler was just like a good old brother for Rockson who was the eldest son, and they really looked like real brothers.

At that time Rockson  was worried that he was shorter than his friends of the same age. When I realized that, I made it a rule to say, "you've become taller" as a greeting every time when I met him. I remember him smiling happily when I said so. This worry of his was being resolved every year. Before long he became taller than Kim, and came close to me, and  soon he became taller over me. Moreover, he became a favorable youth with a handsome face and beautiful proportion. He was scouted for a model and turned out to work actively for Calvin Klein or etc. after all.

When Rickson became the first winner of Vale Tudo Japan Tournament, Rockson was staring at his father Rickson with eyes of respect from the bottom of his heart. Rickson also adored his son.

After the tournament , Rickson's family moved to a luxury house with a pool on the hill. I call to mind a lot of memories of Rockson there, enjoying swimming in the pool, bouncing happily on a trampoline, and enjoying eating a barbecue with his mouth full. We danced together in the living room on the Christmas day. His memories are never-ending.

One day after Mr. Anjo challenged Rickson at Rickson's dojo and was utterly crushed, a Japanese variety program accidentally sent a comedian to Rickson's dojo to challenge him as a joke without knowing what happened there the previous day. At that time Rickson was gone, but Rockson was there. Rockson was so angry about it that he said he would accept the challenge in a rage. I can't forget him talking about it in excitement.

Here is another story.

When he came to Japan for the third Vale Tudo Tournament, I took Royler and Rockson to a barbershop. Japanese barbershops shave downy hair of face. Rockson was shaved his downy hair for the first time in his life. Kim was very angry to see him smooth-faced when he came back to the room, because Kim made it a principle not to let Rockson shave downy hair. I felt responsibility for it too. Rockson and I looked at each other and smiled bitterly.

Rockson had been doing his best in Jiu-jitsu tournaments. He couldn't ride on a course of no-loss like his father did, but fought well with a fighter older than him in the adult class.

Rockson, who was full-grown and made his debut as a model in his own world by showing his own characteristic without depending on power of his father, a great fighter. Looking at him appearing on a magazine, he was really doing a good job as a model. When I paid a tribute to him, he showed a shy smile on his face which was exactly the same as seen in his childhood.

As for money he got as a model, when he ate out with his friends, he spent that money on treating all of them. Rockson was a leader-type of man.

  When I handed to Rockson the real Tiger King's mask as a present from Mr. Sayama, he was very happy with it.

No ending memories ...........


The car arrived at Rickson's house at midnight. I pushed the bell of the front door. The second daughter Kwin 「?opened the door. As soon as she saw my wife, she threw herself into her arms and cried quietly.

At this moment, I knew it was true.

In Japan, it was said that Rockson's manner was bad at the tournament. But it is impossible to judge humanity of the man by looking at his behavior only in hyper-excitement. And I wonder if  Japanese people looked at the Gracie side  especially with eyes of over-hatred as an enemy. It seems to me that the criticism about Rockson came out as a result of that behavior of Japanese people toward the Gracies.

In the middle of an increase in number of people who can't greet lately, Rockson was very polite and never forgot to greet saying "Hi! Yori! " every time he met me.

Rockson, who got along with his brothers and sisters.

He died too young, just 19 years old.

I pray for the repose of a Rockson's soul from the bottom of my heart.


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





GTR Archives 2000-2022