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

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

A concise version of this interview was recently published by Blitz Martial Arts, Australasia's leading martial arts magazine. 

29th July 2014. 10am Los Angeles Time

Liam Wandi: How's your morning been?
Rickson Gracie: It's great man. Just waiting for your call and excited about this new endeavour.

LW: Of course, and we are all excited. The whole jiujitsu community is excited. We met a couple of times during your seminars, once in Amsterdam and once in Glasgow and I am curious, were you thinking about forming the federation as far as back then in 2012?
RG: The idea of doing something about the sport is always on my mind and a while ago a friend of mine tried to create a new federation and gave me that idea. But at the time he wanted to have me in it but also to be the main responsible for it which I disagreed with because once I get into a federation, it will have my body and soul and creativity and ideas and I cannot just be his employee so we didn't go through with the idea. Finally, I got into a position to go ahead and create my idea and everything just fell into place.

LW: Fantastic. What is your role within the newly started JJGF?
RG: My role, with my current experience, is that I could identify the real problem with we have to solve today. Then, I give my input and my ideas on how we can approach and address that.
My partners, experts in technology and the corporate sides, and I will get together and try to build a platform where the message can be exposed and shared. We are working to achieve a very balanced federation between the technological and the business sides.

LW: Absolutely. What would you say is the mission statement of the Jiu-jitsu Global Federation (JJGF)?
RG: It's service. Our mission statement is service because I think that's what is the most important need, not only for the sport but also for the community.

LW: Why now? Obviously you mentioned that the idea has been brewing on your mind for a while but why now in 2014?
RG: It is a combination of factors. First of all, over the last 7 years after I moved to Brazil, I have been travelling around the world teaching seminars and I can definitely feel the appreciation of the knowledge. A lot of black belts don't have even basic principles of weight distribution, invisible power and leverage. Everybody has been motivated to play the sport and the sport has become a huge competitive element and growing in every corner of the world but I feel like there is a need for people to understand the concepts.

I have 10 different seminars, progressive levels. If people are comfortable with level 1, I will give people the next levels 2, 3 and 4. But every time I got into a seminar, approximately 200 people, at least half of them don't have the basic ideas from level 1 so I end up giving almost the same seminars, of course with a little difference. I feel like there is a big need for people to understand the concepts and as my body is getting tired and my bones start to complain, my position for the community is to create something where my reference becomes bigger than me hands-on. My intention was, through the federation, almost the same service I have been doing for jiujitsu my whole life, spreading the good knowledge, giving good reference in how they can teach, train, incorporate more techniques in their jiujitsu to facilitate the absorption from all segments of the community. (Jiujitsu is) not only for competitors, not only for tough guys, but also fragile people, women, law enforcement so I feel jiujitsu is a very complex and a very positive art to be taught for anyone not just for competitors or tough guys so this way, I feel like doing this I can serve a lot more people in the community. 

To get back to your question about the amazing thing of doing this business in 2014, if you imagine that Facebook has only existed for about 7 years, we can use a modern tool to definitely spread, with much more efficiency, all the guidance and all the reference, to support  the needs of the practitioners, of the black belts, of the competitors, of the school teachers, of the school owners, of the federations all over the world and the independent promoters who sometimes divide themselves. Being in different organisations with no governing body to legitimate everybody and put everybody under the same umbrella. To give a real functional idea for the growth of the sport and be more helpful and more interactive with the community as a whole.

This is the end of part I. 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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