Royce Gracie has recently given his taken on modern martial arts gyms, and he’s not overly impressed by the approach that they’ve taken. He’s uniquely positioned to have an opinion on this of course, seeing as he was the original UFC champion and he returned to win numerous subsequent tournaments in the early days of the promotion. As a member of the Gracie Family, he has elite competitors all around him in his family but still Royce has achieved more than any of them in the sport of MMA. That doesn’t mean that anything he says should be taken as gospel of course, but it’s interesting to hear his thoughts on the current state of martial arts.
Royce Gracie gave an interview to Combate where he started out by explaining why he thinks people start doing martial arts in the first place:
“Nobody takes up martial arts because they want to compete. Nobody puts their kid in martial arts because they want them to win a championship. Parents want their kids to learn how to defend themselves. A woman will join martial arts because she wants to defend herself.”
He thinks that this is actually something that most modern gyms have lost sight of:
“Gyms have forgotten the essence of martial arts. Gyms are the ones who most influence you to join tournaments. Some people say ‘I started training because I saw you win the UFC’. I tell them that’s not true, it wasn’t because of me. It could have been anyone. The technique I displayed is what attracted that person.”
Royce Gracie also talked about one way that Jiu-Jitsu could grow into a mainstream sport, becoming an Olympic event, although he believes it’s not been beneficial for other martial arts:
“As an Olympic sport, jiu-jitsu would become even bigger, but it would lose that self-defense essence. That’s the martial art. For example, in the last Olympic games, a guy knocked out the other one in karate, but the one who got knocked out won. The one who knocked him out got disqualified for excessive force. How can that be? That’s what karate was invented for, to knock someone out. Then they’re like: ‘No, you’re supposed to score points’. I’m not just talking about jiu-jitsu, but martial arts in general.”