Interview with Rickson Gracie: jiujitsu master and founder of theJiu-Jitsu Global Federation Part III

Interview with Jiujitsu Global Federation founder Master Rickson Gracie. Part III

A concise version of this interview was recently published by Blitz Martial Arts, Australasia's leading martial arts magazine. Click here for Part I & II

29th July 2014. 10am Los Angeles Time

LW: This is fantastic. Jiujitsu has been around for a few years and we have had a few different federation but why do you think we have had these problems arise? Where do these problems come from?
RG: You know, I feel like it's nobody's fault. I feel like introducing advantages into the the game, which is presented like half points but they're not really points. It's like in basketball having a ball hit the ring and you reward the team for that. That would create a situation where the player don't feel the need to learn how to score the ball in the basket anymore. By touching the ball to the ring enough times, they'd already be winning the game. Advantages were meant initially to help resolve grey areas but unfortunately they created more grey areas. The evolution of he rules do the sort has meant that tough guys now don't actually need to go for scoring point anymore. They can just make an attempt at a technique or show the referee a set up, like "hey referee I ALMOST passed the guard" so when they have the advantage it's almost like they gained a point so they stop trying. The game had become so sophisticated around gaining advantages and lost objectivity on who the best guy out there is in passing the guard, gain the cross side, mount and submit. Using the rules to get the medal is now the goal and the objectivity of the fight becomes secondary. In order for is to restore effectiveness, which is part of our culture, we have to definitely make changes in the rules like i, cutting advantages and ii, penalising stalling. By doing these two things, you're going to see a completely different fight because if the fighter cannot stall and hold a position just because they got a few points they have to let go and do something. It brings a completely different action package that's going to be better for the viewers, for the training and ultimately for the fighters. I really believe most of the existing champions aren't going to be too happy with that but I'm trying to favour 85% of the competitive community today who are the white and blue belts who, without knowing, are being misled into believing that they have to use thee stalling positions to get the medal. 

If this keeps going, in ten years from now, jiujitsu will become something like taekwondo  or sport karate which had great athletes with great, explosive expression of athleticism but far removed from effectiveness in real life. 

LW: I completely agree with you and I think many in the community do too. So you feel the changes in the rules and focus in education will help the JJGF avoid falling into these same mistakes?
RG: yes I do but having said that, I don't believe that the rules are set in stone. I tank we are still able to have an evolutionary process with the rules and make them more effective still. We will start with these sets of rules but, based on the opinion of the masters, the results of the tournaments and the comments from the development council we can change the rules. I'm not trying to own the truth. I want to be openminded in my focus on restoring effectiveness. You know, jiujitsu is an animal that keeps evolving. Techniques evolve, the athletes evolve, everything keeps moving ahead but you have to keep the quality control in terms of effectiveness. That's what we are about: restoring effectiveness through service. 

If you think about it, all the first generation of the family members, and jiujitsu competitors, they all feel comfortable in any situation in life. They can handle life on the street, they can handle life in the cage or wherever. Now, I can see a new breed of champions who have no relationship to any real life situations and I think it's because the rules do not translate into effectiveness but rather only into efficiency in getting the medals. This is very disappointing for me to see the core of jiujitsu disappearing. It is a very serious matter in terms of what the future will hold. 

LW: Absolutely. The new rules push towards a very dynamic future for jiujitsu competition. Will the JJGF enforce or at least suggest testing for performance enhancement drugs? 
RG: of course. I think any governing body for a sport today that does not oversee that situation and aspect of their sport and how it threatens the sport is making a huge mistake. I mean it's like showing up to F1 with a car that has a jet engine. Drug enhancement is forbidden in sports for a reason so to make our sport legit, we cannot close our eyes to this modern problem. The federation will have to play an active role in overseeing this and taking away all the bad apples so they don't spoil the whole sport.

This is the end of part III. Master Rickson Gracie was very generous with his time and energy so there is much, much more to come. Stay tuned. 

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