Something that I truly love about our sport is that the legends of the past and the champions of today are available to the average athlete. I played a lot of sports growing up and was never on the court or field with a professional athlete, ever. I even went to sports camps that were endorsed by celebrity athletes. The closer I ever got to a pro athlete was meeting Charles Barkley because he was hitting on my friends older sister as she picked us up from camp. A few months ago I went to LA and trained with several world champions and met the pioneers of BJJ in the US. A few days ago I had another legend of the sport, Renzo Gracie, call me to talk a little bit about the World Jiu Jitsu Expo.
Speaking with Professor Renzo was a real treat for me. His enthusiasm for our sport is infectious and I don’t think anyone could help but walk away excited for the future of BJJ after just a minutes with him.
How’s your training going? And any chance that we’ll see you in a superfight at a World JJ Expo?
RG: (laughs) I don’t think I’ll be doing a superfight any time soon. I’m going in too many directions for that. My fight training is going great! I’m getting close to full time and training with my team. I feel better now than I did 20 years ago. You are what you think you and like a little kid! I love BJJ and MMA. Fighting just makes you better. Look at Clark (Gracie) now that he’s competing more he’s up there with everyone.
You’ve got a brown belt and black belt grandprix this year are you going to add more of these events in the future? Maybe womens or some for the old folks?
RG: Definitely. The quality and quantity of women in grappling is growing so fast. They’ll be added as soon as we can. We put together last year’s event in 4 months. Now we have infrastructure, organization, great people, promotion and a mature event. We’ll be the biggest (BJJ) event in the world.
Tell us a little about the World JJ Open Tournament.
RG: I love the IBJJF guys. I’m part of their events and love it. We’re using IBJJF rules and it’s just another tournament. Last year we had over 500 people and this year we’ll have more. The environment for this tournament will be great.
It’s an exciting time in BJJ. After 40 years what keeps you excited?
RG: Playing the game. Jiu jitsu is such an infinite game. I’m always learning like a white belt, even when I teach. (It’s) a challenging game and maze. Always learning, learning new answers to new questions. I love jiu jitsu. I sleep and breathe jiu jitsu. I dream jiu jitsu (laughs).
(These are) Amazing days. Meet the legends of BJJ. They’re all around and available. It’s for everyone, a dream come true. They’re the most down to earth guys (and) they’re the best in the world. They love the sport and the fans.
What fight are you looking forward to most?
RG: (laughs) I’m like a kid in a candy store. Caio, Lovato, Miyao brothers, Buchecha all of them.
Thanks for your time Professsor and can’t wait to talk to you again.
RG: Anytime, it was my pleasure. If you can’t make it we’re streaming the event thru BudoVideos.
Renzo’s flagship event, the World JJ Expo, will be on November 9th and 10th in Long Beach, CA at the Long Beach Convention Center. For details about the event check out their website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.