By Dave Briggs, MSMA
Earlier this year I had the prestigious honour of training with Renzo Gracie, at a weekend seminar organised by Gracie Barra UK, which is fronted by Mauricio Gomes, who is Renzo’s uncle and fifth degree black belt in the famous Gracie Jiu-Jitsu system. Being from such a pedigree, I knew that his skill level would be impressive and felt sure the event would be worthwhile attending. However, what impressed me even more was this man’s positive aura. Renzo is a humble and respectful individual, with not a shred of arrogance or cockiness about him. He was polite, helpful, humorous and professional in his attitude and conduct, in addition to this, he is an excellent instructor.
As I’ve already mentioned, Renzo comes from the pioneering Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu family. His brothers are all world renowned fighters, the most famous being Rickson, considered by many as the world greatest fighter. Renzo himself as achieved a significant record. In his early years, he took numerous trophies and titles from a variety of competitive events, including Judo and Wrestling. A particular highlight in his competitive career was an impressive knock-out victory over Oleg Taktorov. He has a number of events planned for this year, with one of them being his first UFC. With his positive attitude and potential, Renzo looks set to progress to similar fame heights as his brother, Rickson.
After the seminar I was fortunate to get the opportunity to interview him, the result of which follows. I hope you enjoy it.
DB: First of all I’d like to thank you for doing me the honour of giving this interview.
RG: No, thank you. It’s an honour for me to be in your magazine, believe me.
DB: Thank you very much. Renzo, could you give us some information regarding your training background, when did you begin?
RG: Yes, in my family everybody begins very early, I started when I was five years old, actually you are never forced into it. I always saw my father at the academy, training, and I always admired that a lot, so I was crazy to go training. So when I was five they started to take me to the academy. In the beginning it was kinda like a play, then with the time and the years it starts to get more serious and I start to get a pretty good fighter.
DB: Were you very keen then, with the influences around you to compete from an early age?
RG: Yes. I started to compete when I was seven. At seven I was state champion for my belt division, that belt was a yellow belt which is the first belt you get in Jiu-Jitsu when you’re a kid. So I used to compete a lot and I always enjoyed that feeling. I believe it is something in the human nature that is the same feeling, that is the same aggressiveness that drives us forwards to maybe climb the Everest’s, I believe it’s the same one that drives us forwards to improve and get better in our martial arts.
DB: Obviously the Gracie name is almost legendary nowadays, why do you think this is?
RG: I believe it’s because we are connected to Jiu-Jitsu. We see Jiu-Jitsu as such a perfect way of fighting and a perfect way to defend yourself. So luckily our name was connected to Jiu-Jitsu, so today if you think about Gracie, you think about Jiu-Jitsu. If you think about Jiu-Jitsu, you think about Gracie. So I believe that’s why our name became famous, it’s not because of us, but because of the martial art that we defend.