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Old but good Royce Interview
I found this on the net and i found it a interesting read
A Side of the Brazalian-jujutsu Champion You've Probably Never Seen
Interview by Robert W. Young
Everyone knows Royce Gracie as the ultra-intense, super-focused jujutsu master who used to ride the "Gracie train" from the locker room to the octagon during the first few Ultimate Fighting Championship events, then almost effortlessly choke and lock his opponents into submission. Few martial artists ever got to see the other side of the 31-year-old native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Few got to know what makes this man tick. We hope the following interview sheds some light on the man behind the myth.
Black Belt: When you were a kid growing up in Brazil, did you spend most of your time in Rio de Janeiro?
Royce Gracie: On weekdays, we would stay in the city. On weekends, we would go to the mountains.
Royce Gracie believes more children will be attracted to the martial arts if the training is fun. He says that his 1-year-old son Khonry thinks the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy is a playground.
BB: How was growing up there different from growing up here? Do you think that Brazil is a better place to learn the martial arts?
Gracie: If you are talking about jujutsu, we had the best instructors in Rio when I was growing up because there was nobody in America. But today, we have so many good instructors in the United States; half my family is here.
BB: Who are some of the people you trained with in Brazil?
Gracie: My father, Helio Gracie; my brothers Rickson and Rorion; and Rolls Gracie.
BB: What were your hobbies while you were growing up?
Gracie: In Brazil, everyone just goes to the beach.
BB: Do you still do that now?
Gracie: Yes. I love hanging out at the beach.
BB: If you did not have jujutsu, what would you be doing for a living?
Gracie: I would be an actor [laughter]. I would probably be a world-champion kickboxer [more laughterl.
BB: Has becoming a father changed your martial arts training?
Gracie: No, it has not-because my wife understands when I say, "Hey, there's a fight coming up. Sorry, but I've got to do this."
BB: You once said that you started learning the martial arts before you could even walk, that your father used to put you through the motions and the movements. Are you doing that with your own son, Khonry?
Gracie: My son is a year old, and he loves to go to the (Gracie Jiu-Jitsu] Academy. For him, it's a playground. We're not really teaching him, but he goes there to play. He ends up liking this stuff. If he goes there to learn, he might not like it. Kids don't like to learn stuff; they like to play.
BB: What goals do you have for your son? Do they involve the martial arts?
Gracie: He is going to be whatever he wants to be. But the Gracie name is a heavy name to carry, so he'd better know how to fight. It's not easy. People will be coming up to him and saying, "So you're a Gracie? Let me see." He will have to be ready, but he can be whatever he wants to be.
BB: Have challenges like that already happened to Rorion's kids?
Gracie: Yes. They've happened to us, too. Kids have to learn how to protect themselves. It's a tough world.
BB: For a boy with the Gracie surname, is training almost mandatory?
Gracie: We don't force the kids ... like I said before, we let them play. If we force it, they're going to hate it. Even at the academy, we tell parents, "If your kid doesn't want to come to class, don't force it. Bring him back next month or next year."
Royce Gracie has recovered sufficiently from a recent spinal injury to resume his jujutsu training routine.
BB: What would you say is your greatest accomplishment in life?
Gracie: I would say to help my brother, Rorion, bring jujutsu to America.
BB: If you could give one message to the martial arts world, what would it be? What are you and Rorion trying to get across to Americans?
Gracie: I would say, "if we did it, anybody can do it." In anything-not just in jujutsu or fighting-if you want to be the best, all it takes is practice.
BB: During an interview, you once said that you wanted to convey to people that you don't have to be a monster to be a martial arts champion. How important is that? Do most people believe it?
Gracie: A lot of people don't believe in that. I almost feel like I [represent] hope for them. Some martial artists go to work and sit in a chair all day. Others go to the gym to get huge. A guy that works in the office may think he has no chance [against a bigger guy), but he does have a chance if he learns how to defend himself correctly.
BB: People still make comments like, "So-and-so is good, but Royce Gracie could beat him in two minutes." Have you gotten used to being a hero for so many people-people who recognize you on the street and ask for an autograph?
Gracie: I called my father once and asked him about it, and he said, "Sorry, kid, but that's part of the package. Deal with it." So it doesn't bother me now. Sometimes it bothers my wife when we're alone and people come over and say, "We hate to do this, but can we have your autograph?" She thinks, "Gee, if you hate it, why are you doing it?"
BB: What has been the biggest disappointment in your martial arts career?
Gracie: I don't think I've had a disappointment yet. Maybe it's because I wasn't expecting that much from the martial arts or from anybody. The biggest disappointment comes when you expect too much from people, and I don't.
BB: For you, what does success mean?
Gracie: Success is being able to do something well. Whatever you do, do it well.
BB: What is your favorite movie?
BB: How come?
Gracie: Good fighting. The guys show good heart in the fighting. I also like the classic Al Pacino movie, The Godfather.
BB: When you were growing up, who were your role models?
Gracie: My brothers and my father.
BB: Anyone outside the family?
Gracie: Brazil is not like America, where you have so many sports and so many champions. In Brazil, it's pretty much jujutsu and soccer, and that's it.
BB: How do you motivate yourself when you don't have a competition to prepare for, like the UFC, which you've been out of for a few years now?
Gracie: You've got to love it. And I do love to train. I love to travel and be on the road. I like to see the students getting better. I love to see guys who, after a few classes, are already giving everybody else a run for their money on the mat.
Royce Gracie (bottom) claims Brazilian fighters have been losing in no-holds-barred competitions because they are trying to use skills that are relatively new to them instead of relying on jujutsu.
BB: In 10 years, what do you see yourself doing? At what level of popularity do you see your family's style of jujutsu? Do you envision schools all over the country?
Gracie: In 10 years, I would like to see some peace in my life [laughter]. Peace and traveling all over the world.
BB: Because you haven't fought in so long, people seem to be saying one of two things about you. The first is that you aren't fighting because you're afraid of the competition. The second is that you aren't fighting because you have nothing left to prove: You've defeated the biggest and best guys in the UFC, so you have no reason to fight again. How do you respond to those two statements?
Gracie: One at a time. First, I never fought [in a no-holds-barred event] before the first UFC. And then I just fought, so what they're saying doesn't make sense. They say, "Royce is afraid now." But if I wasn't afraid then, why should I be afraid now? Because my opponents were not big then? Five or six years ago when I started, my opponents were big. They were the best in the world. They were the best kickboxers, the top guys. So that doesn't make sense. It's like they're trying to provoke me into replying: "OK, I'll fight for free. I accept."
BB: And the second point-that you have nothing to prove because you have already defeated the best guys.
Gracie: I disagree with that because a new fighter and a new challenge always show up. As long as I'm still fighting, I feel like I should walk into [the ring] and fight. It someone wants to prove himself as a champion, I will fight him. If I retire 20 years from now, I won't step into the ring anymore. But right now I'm still active, so it's my duty to continue fighting.
BB: How important is it to have a challenge like that?
Gracie: It keeps me on my toes, and that's good.
BB: Ten years ago, your family was teaching jujutsu but it wasn't very popular in the United States. Three years ago, you were at the top; everyone knew who you were from your appearances in the UFC. Now it seems like your popularity has gone down a bit. Is that easy to deal with? Do you have plans to climb back to the top of the martial arts world, or could you be happy just being an instructor?
Gracie: It I were to fight every single opponent, I'd have to fight every day of my life. It's good for me to sit down and wait, and when they show up with one person who they think is the best, I'll come over and fight that person. [Evander] Holyfield doesn't fight every month. He fights once, maybe twice a year. They don't say, "You have to fight every single heavyweight that shows up; you have to fight every day." People say that I'm not as popular now, but we changed the martial arts world.
BB: But do you think you could be happy if your family never returned to the limelight?
Gracie: We are in the limelight; I'm doing an interview with you [laughter].
BB: For the past four or five years, grappling has been the most popular thing in the martial arts world. Will that always be the case now that your family has shown how important ground fighting is?
Gracie: I can't predict the future. It will be popular until something else comes up and changes it. People are always interested [in new trends].
Jujutsu has been a Gracie family tradition for more than 65 years, and Royce and Marianne M. Cuttic Gracie, together with their son Khonry, plan to ensure that it continues.
BB: Some martial artists say grappling is just a fad. They say the Gracies will fade away eventually.
Gracie: My family has been around for a long time. Hopefully, your kids will be doing interviews with my kids [laughter].
BB: Two or three years ago, Brazilian-jujutsu fighters were winning every match they entered. Now, it seems like they're losing more often. Is this evidence that Brazilian jujutsu is starting to slide? What is the effect of these losses on the martial arts, and how do they affect you and your business?
Gracie: [The fact that Brazilians are losing] is good for business. it separates the good practitioners from the bad ones. I think those fighters start losing because they're not using jujutsu anymore. They stopped using what they have done all their life. They seem to be scared to be on the ground now. All their life, they trained on the ground, and now suddenly they want to box, they want to kickbox. But it's a new game for them. They complain that their jujutsu is not working. It's not working because they're not doing their game any more; they're playing their opponent's game.
BB: Many martial artists say that Brazilian jujutsu worked in the early UFCs only because American fighters didn't know it. Once the Americans learned how to do it, pure Brazilian Jujutsu didn't work because Americans were using it and adding punches and kicks.
Gracie: By the time the world arrives on the moon, where do you think the Brazilians will be landing? On the sun in the nighttime. That's how tar ahead they are in jujutsu. But now there are very good instructors here like my father, my brothers, my cousins and myself. The American pupils are learning fast. If I fight a kickboxer and he tackles me and chokes me out, who won that fight? Did he win that fight? I don't think so. In a way I did because he beat me with jujutsu, not with kickboxing. My goal is to prove that jujutsu is good. If a kickboxer tries to take me down and beat me at my own game, that proves that jujutsu is good.
BB: How does it make you feel to know that you have changed the way martial artists around the world train?
Gracie: I was just a vehicle for that. Rorion is the one who set it all in motion. He's the mastermind behind the whole thing. I just walked in the ring and did what I know-what I've done all my life.
BB: After you, who is going to be the vehicle?
Gracie: There is a good younger generation coming up: Rorion's kids and Rickson's kids.
Royce Gracie (bottom) may have reached the pinnacle of his popularity when he defeated Kimo Leopoldo in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but the Brazilian-jujutsu instructor has no plans to just fade away.
BB: Martial artists often say that if a person is a good teacher, his students will be better than him. Do you see yourself becoming better than your father or brothers?
Gracie: That's a tough question. That's the idea-to build a student good enough to beat you. But we don't believe in that; I'd never fight my father. His plan, I believe, is to build somebody who's good enough to represent him. And that is my plan, too-I'm always trying to build somebody to represent me.
BB: Does that mean your father is trying to give you all the technical knowledge that he has?
Gracie: That's what he's been doing. That's what we all try to do with our students.
BB: How much of your father's knowledge, techniques and skills do you think you have now?
Gracie: Not enough. I wish I had more.
BB: Do you consider him to be the person with the most knowledge of grappling?
Gracie: Oh, yes. Definitely. He is way beyond [everyone else].
For more news and views with Royce Gracie, check out the December 1998 issue of KaratelKung Fu Illustrated, our sister publication.
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