No one can forget their first experience wearing a kimono. Actor Joe Rogan has always been fearless when it comes to facing the unknown. In 1994, the comedian, originally from New Jersey, made the move to Los Angeles in pursuit of opportunities with major television networks and studios. Rogan was on the cusp of stardom with the sitcom “NewsRadio. However, nothing would leave a greater impression on him than his initial training session at a Japanese-inspired school in the Pico Boulevard area. Upon arrival, he was introduced to an instructor with a remarkable name: Rickson.
Rogan was a dedicated student of martial arts. He began with karate and, at the age of 19, became the American lightweight taekwondo champion. His curiosity led him to explore full-contact fighting and muay thai, all while searching for knowledge about knee strikes. It was during this quest that he stumbled upon a poorly recorded VHS tape showcasing the remarkable victories of the Gracie family.
“I trained at Rickson’s school for only one week,” he shared on his podcast. “Then I discovered that there was another Gracie gym closer to my home, and I assumed it would offer the same training. Little did I know that I missed the opportunity to train with the legendary Rickson Gracie during his time as an MMA star in Japan.
That day marked the beginning of a new world for the current UFC interviewer.
“Until the 1980s, taekwondo seemed sufficient for self-defense. However, once I was introduced to muay thai and boxing, I realized there was more out there, and I had only scratched the surface. When Jiu-Jitsu came into the picture, I quickly realized that my knowledge was far more limited than I had believed,” reflected Rogan, who achieved the rank of black belt in 2012 under the guidance of Eddie Bravo.
“During that week at Rickson’s dojo, I trained with another individual, a purple belt. My goodness, he effortlessly controlled me, submitting me in various ways, and I couldn’t fathom what was happening. It’s worth mentioning that this person was not significantly larger or younger than me, and I was in excellent physical shape. I had no excuses. I was confronted with a stark reality check and a humbling experience. It was undeniable proof of what Jiu-Jitsu was capable of, and what the remarkable Gracie family had to offer the world. After that training, I was certain that I needed to learn this incredible art.