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
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.
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
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.