Gracie Gym OC Grand OpeningJan 22nd, 2012 by dane
Well, Budo’ers, I have run precariously close to becoming a legitimate Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journalist. Allow me to enumerate the reasons why:
1. Yesterday I attended the grand opening celebration of Ronis Gracies new academy, the Gracie Gym, located in Westminster, CA. That’s right, I was live and on location – applause please.
2. At the aforementioned event, I conducted an interview all. By. Myself.
3. The whole bachelor’s degree in journalism thing.
Speaking of an interview …
For people that don’t know you that well, could you give us a summary of your history in Jiu Jitsu?
I started Jiu Jitsu like everyone else in the family, really young. Just playing around on the mats and everything. I started to take it more seriously when I was nine years-old when I started competing, I started training every day and really thinking about my future. So, that’s how it started. I competed a lot in Brazil when I was young. When I was about 13, 14 I kind of stopped. For a few years I trained off and on, but then I got back to training when I was 19. So, I lost several years of good training. But I started training again and I got back to the same level. Today, I teach and I also compete. That’s what I really like to do. I love teaching, I’m very passionate about teaching and sharing what I know with others. But I really like competing too because I feel like I am fortunate to be a part of this family and I need to keep representing – to give something back. Not to just take advantage of the name.
Being a Gracie, is there a sense or need to compete and push the art or your skills forward?
There’s definitely a pressure, but the pressure actually helps me. I try not to think about the pressure when I’m competing because in a way, it really can bother you. It can distract you a little bit and make you nervous. I believe the pressure makes me train a bit more, it makes me train better. I don’t want to join a tournament if I’m not 100 percent sure that I could win. Every time I join a tournament, even if I end up losing – no problem – but if I know that I’m going [to try to] win for sure, then I feel good.
That’s a really good point because, for me, competing is mostly mental. It’s dealing with the pressure and the excitement. Do you have any techniques or do you do anything to help you get mentally ready for a tournament?
It’s funny that you ask that. It’s a mental game, it’s something you have to practice with yourself. Day-by-day, try to relax and do things on your own to get your mind ready. There’s nothing special that I do, I just try to relax and get calm. I do a lot of, I wouldn’t say exercises, but relaxation activities. I try to be alone in a place where I feel close with nature, where I’m comfortable. Usually I go for walks or runs in the hills. But by doing exercise in nature by myself, I think it helps me a lot to get my mind ready.
So, do you think it’s important to take time to calm and focus yourself?
Oh yeah, definitely. I think it’s a matter of training – the way you train. It’s not how much you train, it’s how you train. Sometimes people train so much, they train everyday, but their minds aren’t ready for that. You get in really good shape, but you might end up losing to the guy who trained less than you because he trained his mind as well.
Yeah, man … it’s great. This is a big step in my life, this is the first time I’ve opened up a school that I own. I’ve been teaching for a couple of years but in someone else’s schools. This is the first time that I’ve actually owned the school. It’s just a different feeling, you know. It feels like owning my house, my home. The facility is great and seeing everything now, coming into place, it makes me very happy. This is where I’m going to be doing a lot teaching and I love training too.
Will you be the primary instructor?
Yes, I’ll be the primary instructor.
Will you have other instructors?
Yeah, I’ll have other instructors.
Do you plan to have seminars here?
One thing I wanted to do, but I didn’t have time to get people from my family – my cousins, my uncles to come for the opening today. But I really want to hold another party where we’re going to have a free seminar and I’ll have my uncles and cousins to come in here. And every year we’re going to have seminars with Gracies and other Jiu Jitsu champions. We’re going to have a lot of seminars.
Gracie Elite is the competition name for the main Jiu Jitsu schools represented by the Gracie Family. It was created in 2010, it’s something new. But it’s not meant to open schools or franchise. It’s meant to get the family together, unite them again, because the family is spread all over the world. Everyone has their own academies, Roger is in London, Renzo is in New York, Ralph is in San Francisco – the family is spread all over the world, and we need to get everyone together to represent a team. So, the name speaks for itself – the elite from the family.
So, this is Gracie OC but you’ll compete under Gracie Elite?
The name of the school is Gracie Gym, Gracie OC, Gracie Gym OC – whatever you want to call it. And yes, every time we compete, any time anybody competes, we’ll be under Gracie Elite.
What do you think makes this school unique?
I think what makes us unique and different than the others is that anyone that comes here is really going to be in touch with the Gracie Philosophy. They’re either going to learn from me, or other instructors. The other instructors teaching here aren’t going to be instructors that I don’t know. They’re going to be someone that I’ve known for many years, that grew up with me and are almost Gracies. They don’t have the last name but they grew up with the family.
It’s a place that is 100 percent connected to the source.
How was it that you decided it was time for you to open your own school?
It was recently, you know, it was the beginning of last year. I never really thought about opening a school because I thought that’d take a lot of time from training. I’m still young and I still have a lot to do and I was giving a lot of priority to my training and competing, but then I thought, “Why not? Why not do it now. You can do today what you [plan to] do tomorrow.”
I actually think this is really going to help my training. I realized that I don’t think it’s going to stop me from training.
How did you link up with Gracie Elite?
For me, I represent my family. The name I’m going to represent is the Gracie name. I feel that I was born into this family and I need to represent that name. I competed for many years under Gracie Barra, and the whole family was competing under Gracie Barra. Then a couple of things changed and then the family came up with the Gracie Elite Team. But I’ve competed for Rilion Gracie, it depends on the tournament, where the tournament was but I’ve always represented the family.
Well, thank you! That’s all of my questions.