There are many stories of Rickson Gracie manhandling and submitting BJJ world champions when they came to visit him in his academy during the 90’s.
One of the names that come up are bjj greats Fabio Gurgel, Roberto Traven, and Saulo and Xande Ribeiro.
Gurgel and Traven were interviewed and asked about their experience training with the master, and they were very humble about it:
Rickson Gracie at the moment is nowhere near the fighter he once was. At age 59, Rickson has no less than 8 herniated discs. Some of you might know he’s had these injuries but (according to his son, Kron) what might surprise you is that he even fought in this condition. Rickson’s doctor even went so far to recommend Rickson not walk.
Now it is possible that some of these injuries are related to extreme forced spinal flexion as seen in the documentary “Choke” but it still makes you wonder. Was it worth it given that at age 57 he trains probably once a week or so and does no hard rolling?
His son Kron Gracie was asked by Joe Rogan when was the last time he rolled for real with his dad. Kron said that it must have been right around the time that he got his black belt, back in 2008. He described what happened:
I don’t know (how long it’s been) but all I know is that the last time we seriously rolled, I got f%*ed up man (laughs). It was bad because I had just gotten my black belt and I was like alright dad let’s go.
Back then he was still not (badly injured). I mean he already had 8 herniated discs back then. He’s had 8 herniated discs for a long time. He probably had it when he was fighting. He’s dealt with pain his whole life.
So yeah, it was when I was 20 years old and had just gotten my black belt. So I was like ok dad, let’s go. You give me 3 minutes, and we go as hard as we can, because of course you’re out of shape and I’m in better shape, and you are not training so much so I don’t want that to be an issue. So we trained and he got me in like a minute and a half. I was so pissed. He got me with a foot lock. I was like yeah alright, he’s still the man….(Laughs)