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Publisher Avatar Renzo Gracie posted

THE MASTER'S LEGACY - Part 1


At the age of 15 Renzo suffered the impact of death for the first time, when his uncle Rolls Gracie tragically passed away in a hang gliding accident. Rolls was his master at the time: his guide in Jiu-Jitsu training and also his role model as a human being. Renzo wanted to be like Rolls – as a fighter, as a teacher, as an individual.
 
RENZO: Rolls was unique. And he had a quality that I greatly admired: his ability to bring the family together. He was an absolutely fair man; and since he was the best at Jiu-Jitsu, all the Gracie's respected him. The final years of his life were a time for the family to unite, something that never happened again... He was the son of my grandfather Carlos, but Hélio (Renzo's great-uncle) raised him from birth. He called both Carlos and Hélio “father”. This deep relationship with the two patriarchs brought together the clan segments around their presence. He was a strong figure, which no one could direct; even when Hélio said that something was “red”, Rolls was the only one who could correct him and clarify, on the basis, that the thing was, in fact, “blue”... And we all agreed. There was no small talk – he was a born leader. I spent my childhood and adolescence watching my uncle: the absence of fear in his attitude, his charisma, the determination to do the right things, the unwavering will to be a winner. I learned all this from him. He was the father of several qualities that, until then, I didn't even know I could have: I saw in him, and then those same characteristics were born in me... The good teacher explains; the excellent teacher demonstrates; the great teacher inspires.
 
During the period he lived in Copacabana (Rio de Janeiro), Renzo lived in the same building as Rolls, in an apartment opposite his uncle's. Every morning, 11-year-old Renzo would knock on Rolls' door and go to the gym with him. In addition to training, Renzo and Rolls also talked a lot, in a relationship full of teachings and stories.
 
RENZO: That was a phase when I paid close attention to everything my uncle said. I think my habit of telling stories comes from there... I asked him everything, both about the fight and about life. And I could see that my father admired him too: he described Rolls as the great champion he was, told stories about his courage... My grandfather's children from different marriages, my father and Rolls were each other's best friends. It was even for this reason that we went to live in the same building of him. In that year of 1978 our bond became very strong, and I don't remember a single day when we didn't meet.
 
Renzo watched Rolls training, but mostly absorbed the moments after training, when his uncle sat down with the students and athletes to talk. He traveled with Rolls in competitions and saw his behavior with friends and opponents: his passionate way of looking at the world and his firm and loving way of training and teaching.
 
RENZO: Rolls had the dream of building the “perfect gym”: an environment of complicity and collective growth. In fact, the 30th Street gym in New York is exactly the model he envisioned. That school is my uncle's dream finally come true. Everything he described to me, everything he imagined his whole life in organizational and philosophical terms, I was able to put into practice.
 
When Rickson came to visit the 30th Street dojo for the first time, he told Renzo, impressed, that Renzo had managed to build the ideal structure: the facilities, the human relationships, the practicality of the laundry system, the interleaving of classes - starting a different class every half-hour, which makes life easier for students, who always have time to train, regardless of unforeseen circumstances in their daily routines (the gym offers up to 18 classes a day, distributed throughout the different spaces). And above all, the vibrant atmosphere of passion for the martial arts that emanated from the master Rolls.
 
(to be continued)

Publisher Avatar Renzo Gracie posted

THE PRINCE OF JIU-JITSU - Part 3


The Sheik's love for the martial arts bore great fruit. Tahnoon has become a Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast and sponsor, having hired some of the best masters on the planet to teach at facilities he built in his country and sponsoring a series of international tournaments.
 
The consolidation of this process took place in 1998 with the creation of the ADCC–Abu Dhabi Combat Club, the most important grappling competition in the world. In a statement, Royler Gracie said he considered this moment “the beginning of the Modern Age of grappling.”
 
Gradually, Jiu-Jitsu became the national sport of the United Arab Emirates.
 
Corroborating this ambition, in 2016 a law was enacted that makes learning Jiu-Jitsu mandatory for children and young people in all schools, from kindergarten to university. This law also extends to the police and army. This implies that all citizens will be aware of the art within a few years. Today, it is estimated that there are 250 thousand Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in the country (9 million inhabitants); local championships average 13,000 competitors and span weeks, catalyzing the nation's attention.
 
Firmly dedicated to promoting martial arts in their country and investing millions of dollars annually, Tahnoon and his brothers are directly responsible for making the teaching and practice of Jiu-Jitsu a public policy in the UAE – a historically unprecedented event.
 
RENZO: Tahnoon is a kind of warrior saint, a soul of an outstanding nobility... For example: when a student does well in school and wants to study abroad, Tahnnon sends him and his family to the biggest universities in the US, such as Harvard and Princeton. The government pays for everything: housing, food, transport, monthly fees... After graduating, the student returns to the Emirates, with a guaranteed job, and starts working to improve the lives of the population. Educating the citizens of his country is a priority for him, and learning Jiu-Jitsu is a fundamental part of this process – for all the physical and psychological benefits, and especially for the exposure to the ethical principles that the training provides. 
 
It is obvious that Renzo could not have foreseen, at the beginning, the political reverberations that the friendship with the Arab prince would provoke, generating an immeasurable impact. Politics was just a consequence, because what Renzo established with Tahnoon is what really changes history - the communion between two men from different peoples and cultures, who were united by a shared feeling: gratitude.

Publisher Avatar Renzo Gracie posted

THE PRINCE OF JIU-JITSU - Part 2


It was at this moment that that student, with simple manners and cordial behavior, identified himself: he was the prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
 
The hotel was empty because, for security reasons, the prince had closed the place exclusively for him and his entourage.
 
Sheik Tahnoon had not identified himself before because he needed to test his master: he wanted to know how Renzo would behave in front of a simple student, without knowing that he was in the company of one of the greatest fortunes in the world. And Renzo had passed the test.
 
As a thank you for the training, Sheik Tahnoon gave Renzo a pure gold Rolex watch. Then he extended an invitation: “I would like you to come to my country.”
 
It was the first time Renzo had been to Abu Dhabi. At that time the place still did not have the colossal buildings and constructions that characterize it today.
 
“Abu Dhabi was like a small village,” says Renzo. “That's when I met the royal family, including the brothers from Tahnoon, as well as the sheiks and princes of the other Emirates that are part of the country.”
 
And so began a deep bond that has spanned the last 27 years – a brotherhood generated by their love for Jiu-Jitsu. The relationship of total trust, established between a master and his student, provided the consolidation of the friendship between Renzo and Tahnoon in a short time.
 
RENZO: Jiu-Jitsu manifests a person's character instantly. In training, it is possible to know the essence of an individual, just by observing the way he behaves. All the qualities and defects of a person come out on the mat.
 
Renzo became Tahnoon's teacher, going on to frequent the United Arab Emirates on several annual visits, diving into intensive training that would culminate with the prince winning his black belt, by Renzo's hands, in the early 2000s.
 
“There was a year I was in Abu Dhabi 11 times, staying 15 days each visit... Tahnoon was the most passionate student I had in my entire life.”
 
(to be continued)

Publisher Avatar Renzo Gracie posted

THE PRINCE OF JIU-JITSU - Part 1


This incredible story begins in 1996, with an episode as mysterious as it is extraordinary, when an Arab entered Renzo's academy in New York. Renzo didn't know who he was; the man identified himself as Ben and said he was a student of Nelson Couto Monteiro, a GRACIE BARRA master in San Diego, California.
 
Renzo received him kindly, as he does all beginners; gave him a kimono as a gift and started the day's class. The apprentice, a blue belt, trained hard and, at one point, received an elbow to the face that made his nose bleed. Renzo lent him a towel to stop the bleeding, then asked if everything was ok. Ben replied, smiling: "It's all great: my opponent hit me, but he didn't pass my guard!"
 
At that moment Renzo realized that the new member of the group was a warrior: “I became a fan of him right away!”
 
After training, the student invited Renzo to have lunch together the next day. Renzo accepted; at the appointed time, he arrived at a hotel in the Midtown. He was surprised by the fact that the place was completely empty – no guests at the reception or in the corridors: “The hotel was huge, luxurious, but I thought it was crap, because there was nobody…” Renzo walked towards the restaurant, where Ben was waiting for him alone.
 
During lunch they talked about Jiu-Jitsu, and that apprentice's passion impressed Renzo more and more. When they finished eating, the excitement was so great that they moved tables and chairs away and started practicing positions on the carpeted floor – the place was empty and the maître authorized it.
 
“We started training right there, thinking about the game, analyzing possibilities: he was very excited about it all!”
 
As the student had informed him that he would be leaving the US that afternoon, Renzo asked him what time his flight would leave.
 
“At 5pm", was the reply.
 
Renzo looked at his watch: it was already past 2pm.
 
“You need to get to the airport in a few minutes or you'll miss your plane…” Renzo said, worried.
 
They went back to training a few more positions and discussing technical aspects related to takedowns and submissions. When Renzo looked at his watch again, it was already 4pm. “Champ, you need to run NOW or your plane will leave!”
 
Then Ben smiled placidly: “Master, the plane is mine. I don't think it'll take off without me..."
 
(to be continued)

Publisher Avatar Renzo Gracie posted

UNIQUE


In 28 years of experience in MMA, Renzo has built a record of 23 fights, with 14 wins, 7 losses, 1 draw and 1 no contest.
 
He was one of the sport's pioneers and has been in every major competition in the world, including One, Pride, Rings, IFL, UFC and K-1.
 
He achieved unforgettable victories against 4 UFC champions: Oleg Taktarov, Carlos Newton, Pat Miletich and Maurice Smith.
 
Renzo also beat a fifth champion of the organization, Frank Shamrock, although this is not a fight to which noble qualities can be attributed: Shamrock lost by disqualification (determined by referee Herb Dean), after applying two knees to the back of Renzo's head.
 
(It is still relevant to point out that Renzo's career as a fighter was not limited to MMA. At the same time, he continued participating in Jiu-Jitsu and grappling sports championships between 1993 and 2014, becoming a two-time champion in the ADCC-ABU DHABI COMBAT CLUB (in 1998 and 2000), the most prestigious grappling competition in the world.)
 
During his career in the arenas, many vectors have forced him in different directions, demanding his attention. Renzo was never able to train exclusively, like most professional athletes. But his ability to overcome challenges and setbacks in the ring, face the pressure of building himself up as the master, trainer and manager of one of the most successful gym networks in the world, while continuing to fight (and winning most of the matches), is undoubtedly extraordinary.
 
In recent times, fighters with impressive cartels have emerged, but how many of them faced opponents 66 pounds heavier? Or fought 3 times in the same night? Or coached world champions while maintaining an intense championship career? Or entered the ring at the age of 51?
 
It is excellence on each of these fronts – and the sum of all of them – that make Renzo Gracie a truly legendary figure in the territory, both beautiful and brutal, of the martial arts. A point outside the curve. Unique.

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Latest Comments

WAHIB commented:

Se eu fosse rico, ficaria um mes ao lado de Renzo so escutando as histórias dele. Muito massa.

July 07, 2022 05:14

WAHIB commented:

Rapaz, que história massa. Tenho uma foto com o Renzo em AbuDhabi 2014. Demais saber disso tudo. Oss

July 06, 2022 05:16

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