The word ‘icon’ is thrown around a lot in the world of martial arts, but Renzo Gracie is exactly that.
A true legend, he is respected throughout the worlds of mixed martial arts and Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a pioneer, elite athlete, and fearless competitor. Now, he will show the world what he is capable of in ONE Championship.
As a member of his discipline’s founding family, he began his combat education before he could walk, and took his skills into a career that has lasted more than a quarter of a century.
Before he arrives at the Mall Of Asia Arena in Manila, Philippines, to take on Yuki Kondo on 27 July at ONE: REIGN OF KINGS, learn why his name is so respected across the globe.
BJJ From Birth
View this post on Instagram
Feliz 62nd aniversário Mestre Carlos Gracie Jr. Obrigado por ser um excelente professor e um grande amigo, obrigado por me ajudar com o seu conhecimento nessa incrível arte gentil que nossa família abraçou com tanta paixão. O que eu me tornei nesta incrível arte de luta, eu devo a você e a nossa @graciebarra a você por ser o pai assistindo os caminhos de seu filho, ao outro por ser o berço de criação e fonte de conhecimento onde eu poderia afiar o meu entender e matar minhas dúvidas… Eu vos saúdo sempre como um eterno aluno seu….. ⚔️ ⚔️ ⚔️⚔️⚔️⚔️⚔️⚔️⚔️⚔️ "Um verdadeiro Mestre é um espelho, a pessoa que mostra tudo o que está te segurando, a pessoa que chama à sua atenção para que você possa mudar sua vida para melhor. Um verdadeiro Mestre é provavelmente a pessoa mais importante que alguém pode vir a conhecer, porque ele quebrará as correntes imaginárias que não te permitem voar, ele abrirá seus olhos e te levantará nos ombros para que você possa ver ainda mais longe do que ele próprio, pois um verdadeiro Mestre quer sempre criar discípulos melhores que ele. Um verdadeiro Mestre vem em sua vida apenas para revelar outra fase de você mesmo, e uma vez feito isso, como um pai que o filho cresceu, ele vai deixar você seguir o seu destino, seguir as trilhas da sua vida para ir aonde quer que você escolha… O propósito de um Mestre é agitar você, espancar seu ego até um certo nível, sem nunca quebrá-lo, mostrar sua fraqueza e suas barreiras, fragmentar seu coração e deixá-lo aberto, de modo que uma nova luz possa entrar.. Ele irá torná-lo tão desesperado e tão fora de controle que você terá que transformar sua vida, então, no final, ele irá apresentá-lo ao Mestre que vive dentro de você … "
Few people come from a martial arts lineage like Gracie’s.
Renzo was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – the son of Grand Master Robson Gracie, a ninth-degree BJJ black belt, and the grandson of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu founder Carlos Gracie.
As a member of martial arts royalty, he started to learn his art before he could walk or talk.
“I begin learning from the moment that I was born, because every time my father played with me, he played like it was a jiu-jitsu move,” he says.
He began formal training aged 5, and as he grew older, he was taught by the dozens of black belts in his family. Two of his biggest influences were Rolls Gracie – known as the father of modern jiu-jitsu – and Carlos Gracie Jr, who awarded him his black belt.
“To grow up among the amazing people in my family was like growing up with your superheroes,” he says.
“Most kids have comics or watch cartoons to choose their heroes, but I had them inside my house. I saw my father fighting my grandfather, and my uncle fighting my older brother. It was an amazing experience, and it was easy to become a fighter.”
Becoming A Legend
When Gracie began to compete as a professional mixed martial artist, he developed a reputation as a warrior who would take on any challenge.
He saw his career as a way to extend the history of his family, rather than achieve personal glory, and took on far larger opponents to show that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is the ultimate martial art. He defeated several heavyweights by knockout and submission.
The New Jersey resident also took his skills to pure BJJ competition, and proved his mastery as a two-time ADCC Grappling World Champion.
View this post on Instagram
???????????????????????????????? #Repost @gallerrapp ・・・ Want to learn Jiu-Jitsu? Follow the signs to the nearest baggage claim, and then you may catch a class with @renzograciebjj and @brandonthetruthvera ????????????????????????????????????Quer aprender Jiu-Jitsu? Siga as placas até o carrossel de bagagens mais próximo, e talvez você tenha sorte de aprender com Renzo Gracie e Brandon Vera ???????????????????????? #Repost @brandonthetruthvera ・・・ When @renzograciebjj starts showing techniques no matter where we are I’m drillin!!!! Ouss!!! Even @victoronechampionship was the one taking video. ???????????????????????????????? Thank you sir!! #goodtimes #onechampionship #world #heavyweight #champion #alliancetrainingcenterph
He is now also known for the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York City, USA, which is regarded as one of the best gyms in the world, as well as its many affiliates all over the planet.
It has produced countless world-class athletes and coaches, but Gracie is proud of his influence on all of his students.
“I think this is the greatest gift martial arts gave me – to give to others,” he explains. “I think the most positive thing that comes from martial arts is the opportunity is to open a door that will touch students’ souls, change them as human beings, and make them better.
“People talk about how sports can change people’s lives. Martial arts can change them 10 times faster, and 10 times more efficiently.”
Coping With His Greatest Loss
View this post on Instagram
If you want to know what to do to achieve your black belt, I will tell you: tie your belt. In other words, dress up and show up. ????????????Quer uma dica para chegar à faixa-preta? Amarre sua faixa! Em outras palavras, vista-se, e apareça. #renzogracie #masteringbjj #gallerrapp #motivationmonday #selfdiscipline #selfdevelopment
Despite being known for his ability to persevere through adversity, there was one time in his life when Gracie was almost defeated.
Throughout his life, he had been by his younger brother Ryan’s side – growing up together, training with him, and serving as his cornerman when he competed.
After his untimely death in 2007, Gracie was crushed.
“I didn’t train for three years right after my brother’s death. I really stopped training – I wouldn’t do a push-up.
“He was such a talented guy – 10 times more powerful than I am. I was the one who raised him, who trained him, who taught him.”
He was saved from despair by the chance to compete in the cage again. Even though he would turn 42 before the bout, he roused himself from the depths of despair to begin his preparation.
He had to lose more than 20 kilograms to make weight, but he made it back to compete under the lights once again. Now, instead of mourning his brother, he uses his memory as a source of inspiration.
“My way is to sit back, relieve all those amazing memories I had with him, and realize that our lives cannot be measured by the time that we live. Our life has to be measured by the intensity we live – and nobody could outlive my brother,” he says.
“He outlived all of us. Even though he died at 33, he probably will outdo any ordinary 85-year-old.”
Age Is Just A Number
View this post on Instagram
Repost from @danaherjohn Reflections on my sensei – real respect vs superficial respect: my sensei, Renzo Gracie is widely acknowledged as one of the best jiu jitsu coaches of the modern era. For his students, most of our lessons were technical in nature – but some of the most memorable had nothing to do with technique, but instead with other aspects of the sport. One day I was away with the squad, traveling for a match. Mr Gracie stepped in to teach the afternoon class that I usually teach, so I was not there to witness the lesson, but heard it second hand from those who were there, but it's importance was apparent as soon as I heard it. A visiting athlete who has considerable exposure on the grappling circuit and who often visited to train was present for the class. As Mr Gracie began teaching, the visitor sat on the sidelines and played around with his phone. The rest of the class went to work as Mr Gracie went through technique and drills. Eventually it came time for live sparring (randori). The visitor suddenly put down his phone and decided it was now time to enter the class. He approached Mr Gracie and bowed solemnly and asked to join in the sparring. Mr Gracie did not even look at him, he said, "next class begins at 6pm." The visitor was surprised. "I can't train now?" Mr Gracie replied, "we've been training for forty five minutes while you played with your phone – now you feel like training? My sensei has the most transparent face I ever saw. When he is happy, everyone can see it – and when he is pissed off – everyone can see that too! ???????? The visitor wisely stepped off the mat. Superficial symbols of respect don't count for much compared with actions that convey REAL respect – training with commitment and giving your all. No one cares how solemnly you bow or how many times you say "osu" or any other mere symbol of respect if your actions convey the opposite. Don't get caught up in the symbols – worry about the substance. My sensei never asked us to bow, call him "professor" or say "osu" to everything he said. The only thing he asked was that we gave our best effort – that was the only form of respect he taught and, for us as students, the most
Renzo Gracie is now 51 years old, but he still shows no sign of stopping.
He has fought a who’s who of mixed martial arts from around the world, but there is something he wants to cross off his list – to compete in The Home of Martial Arts.
“It’s an amazing company. ONE makes one of the best shows in the world. That’s why I’m feeling so privileged to be fighting in ONE, and in Manila,” he says.
His main-card contest will see the legend face another legend in the form of Yuki Kondo. As a three-division King Of Pancrase and a veteran of more than 100 bouts, Kondo is one of the most successful and experienced mixed martial artists who has ever lived.
Gracie can’t wait for the challenge, for many reasons.
“I honestly think the biggest challenge I’m going to have is my next fight.
“It’s not because I think my opponent is someone out of this world. It’s because it’s going to be something new. I don’t know what’s going to happen.
“The only thing that I know is that I’ll be a better man, I’ll be a better teacher, and I’ll be a better person in the sense of passing forward everything that I learn in there.”