I recently came across an interview Rickson Gracie did w/ World Jiu-Jitsu Expo Read it all it’s pretty interesting. I’ll post excerpts here and there but the transcript of the actual interview is quite lengthy. Nevertheless it is an incredibly honest reaction to the current state of MMA. Every time I visit home I’m bombarded with inquiries from my siblings eager to know about when I’ll be scheduling another MMA fight and after 3 disappointing instances (2 no shows, 1 didn’t make weight) I simply don’t have that desire at this time to commit to any fights.
I’m much more fascinated by the BJJ scene and have current goals of becoming a world champ (dream big right). Either way my views on MMA are not nearly as ‘extreme’ as his but I understand why he is completely disinterested in the sport. I myself love to watch my teammates compete but to be honest I’m bored to bits at MMA shows. For me the crowds and families are sometimes the most entertaining parts of the shows.
-The interview is long so I placed statements that I thought were significant in bold–
WJJE: You wouldn’t fight, not even for any amount of money? Not even if the UFC offered you a million dollars to fight against Randy Couture, for example. You wouldn’t fight?
Rickson: That’s not the case. I fight for my honor now and not for money. There was a time when I negotiated prize money, but for me it’s about a point of view. I don’t think I have anything to prove to anyone… Things aren’t always the way I’d like them to be… I’m not interested in changing the world to fit my point of view. So, I think a champion has to know when to call it quits. I’ve got nothing to prove, and I have no interest in fighting… none at all.
WJJE: Rickson Gracie I’m sure all your fans would like to see you fight again. What do you think of that?
I hear that all day long. The problem is that the fan’s view is different from that of the guy who’s fighting. They’re lots of things involved… in my case, the only thing that would be a point to consider, would be the money. However, I think that in my life, since I don’t think based on money, I don’t think there’s even a motive. I don’t have to prove that Jiu-Jitsu is the best, that’s already been proven! I don’t need to prove that I can fight. I don’t have to fight because I need the money to change my life. Currently, I’m focusing on spreading the benefits of Jiu-Jitsu. I don’t think about competing, I’ve competed my whole life. Why would I want to compete anymore? So that’s out of the question. The fans are the ones who just don’t understand, and the fans who would like to see me fight, are just going to have to live with it. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is. I don’t live and I’ve never lived by someone else’s expectations. I never fought for the fans. I always fought to honor my Jiu-Jitsu and my family.
Now there are others to do that. There are other representatives of Jiu-Jitsu now. I’ve got another life now, another situation, a whole new story, new rules, and new moment… So, I’m very much at ease within my own conscience. The last thing I want to do is go back, go backward in my life wanting to compete. Competition is over, it’s behind me now. I don’t want to move forward thinking about competing. I want to go forward thinking of supporting society, setting a good example for kids, teaching children to become better people, not hitting machines, as there is in MMA today. I am the philosophy of Jiu-Jitsu, the philosophy of good relationships between dads and sons, between respect, discipline, and honor… All these things that have made me what I am and have really stood out in my life. No longer a victory or a possible defeat. I think I can live without the money I could make it. But I can’t live knowing that because of the money I got in there and lost. I’d be fighting for the money and that in itself brings a loss to me. I never fought for money. So, I’m not going to start now. Why would I need to fight if it weren’t for money? To prove what? So, it’s completely out of the question for me.
WJJE: Rickson Gracie what motivated you to fight?
Rickson: I fought to raise the honor of Jiu-Jitsu. I fought to prove that Jiu-Jitsu is without a doubt the superior martial art and always will be. Those who don’t have Jiu-Jitsu in MMA are lost.
WJJE: You and your family started it all (MMA). Every fighter I’ve ever interviewed, from Kimbo Slice to Chuck Liddell, these guys all say that if it weren’t for the Gracie family, if it weren’t for them, the sport wouldn’t be where it is today, MMA wouldn’t even exist. MMA fighters have the utmost respect for the Gracie name. When you look at MMA today, do you think you’ve created a monster or do you think MMA is fine the way it is, that the sport is on the right path?
Rickson: This is what I think. I feel that MMA has moved away from what I believe is the purpose of going to a gym to train. I think there’s a philosophy behind martial arts, which should go along with training and go hand in hand with a fighter’s routine. Nowadays, the first principle is that there is no philosophy. It’s about cross training. You’ve got to cross train to be able to fight, kick, and hit. Every rule draws you to an extreme sport without a code. It’s about the individual. Nobody’s measuring anyone’s technical potential anymore. They’re measuring explosion, force, speed, the ability to withstand impact, toughness.
In my opinion, that’s something that downgrades the image of martial arts. It’s something I just don’t believe is a reference for kids. What kind of father would like to see his son in MMA? At the same time, what kind of father would not like to see his son fighting Jiu-Jitsu as it should be taught, correctly, in line, organized, learning to respect, learning to fall and get back up, learning to be kind to your opponent. Every father would like to see his son learning to defend himself but with respect, with peace in your heart. That being said, I have no interest at all in martial arts being mixed, this thing without any doctrine or concept. Today, MMA has simply turned into a circus, extreme, violent, and sensationalist, which only attracts people who like barbarianism and all that blood.
…in order to teach it to my children and be proud to say, “Do this or do that my brother because it’s better,” I fought. However, I don’t have to prove anything else now. My philosophy is to bring to Jiu-Jitsu, for those interested in martial arts, a transparent philosophy, one where he can apply it to defend himself. One he can use to teach to his children, so that his son becomes a better person within society, whether he’s a doctor or a fighter with balance, with force, with dignity, and with respect. That’s my life’s motivation. It’s not to make one, two, or five million dollars, to stick my face out there, just to be part of a circus, which doesn’t mean a thing to me. So, that’s where the situation ends.
I think MMA is just a Roman arena today, where people go to see heads roll, blood spill, whatever, and everyone applauds. In fact, you’re creating an environment there where you’re setting a bad example for young people. Because those who think that being an MMA champion, besides the money, means something are totally mistaken. Everybody likes to watch Mike Tyson, but nobody wants to be like Mike Tyson or be his student. Everybody likes to watch Frank Mir or Brock Lesnar, but everyone sees these guys’ weaknesses, while at the same time they think these guys are incredible. So I don’t think that’s what it’s all about. One lacks humility, the other has no respect for others.
WJJE: What do you think about the rules of MMA?
Rickson: Nowadays in MMA a person with a lot of technique based on the rules is prohibited. He’s unable to use the strategy, patience, the team, the ability to use the defense right up until the moment his opponent makes an error…There’s a lot of five minute of explosions… the guy plans to give it all he’s got- strategy, stupidity- so that as soon as the five minutes are up he starts all over again for five more minutes. So, you’ve got no technique. I’d like to see one of these guys, a champion at the 205 category beat a Heavyweight in five minutes… He’s not going to win.
It’s just like I don’t think I need to be there fighting with a guy my size. I need to be there representing Jiu-Jitsu in any circumstance. I need time and strategy, and if the rules don’t allow me to hold, the referee says to get up. If the fight has been on the ground for some time, it makes no sense at all for me to fight MMA. You see a lot of MMA fights just strangling, and the fans want to see someone go down. The fans want to feel it… Honestly, I’m not here to feed fools. I’m here to represent an art and a philosophy of life that for me works like a religion.
WJJE: I haven’t looked at it from that angle, and a lot of people might be surprised to learn that you think that way in relation to MMA. The truth is that most people think the sport of MMA continues to grow; it’s on the right path, that it’s going to become the greatest sport in the world, that today the sport has rules, it’s organized, and that it’s changed for the better.
Rickson: I want you to tell me what social benefit MMA contributes to society, to the participant, the audience, or for those interested in being a part of MMA? You give me an answer, and I’ll think about if maybe there’s a possibility for me to like MMA. Right now, MMA to me is simply a sensationalist sport that feeds society’s need for extreme violence. They enjoy seeing the extreme, the same way you see two truck drivers fighting on the street and you stop to watch, without knowing who’s right or wrong, without knowing if the guys going to kill someone or die. MMA is the same thing. Fans go there to see violence, blood, flying teeth, and if the fight involves some technique, nobody likes it.
WJJE: Rickson Gracie Do you think that MMA is heading in the right direction?
Rickson: That’s in God’s hands. I’ve just got my own opinion. God only knows what’s going to happen… I think there are a lot people taking advantage of it. As a business, it’s very profitable. I see lots of people getting rich; however, money really isn’t the most important thing to me. I see things from the angle, from the representation this has for society, and from my point of view, the representation that MMA has for society is none at all.