It should come to no surprise that Roger Gracie is, among other things, famous for his outstanding Jiu-Jitsu game… Which is surprisingly simple; his trademark is passing the opponent’s guard, mounting him, and then choking him out. It’s a basic game – brought to a level of supreme excellence.
But why did Roger develop his Jiu-Jitsu in such a way? Why did he focus on the basic, instead of the “fancier” techniques? Well, the answer isn’t what you’d expect.
He answered in an interview with Jean Jacques Machado:
I think that one of the reasons why I’ve developed the basics so well is because I moved to England when I was very young. I was 20 years old when I came to England. So, when I came here, I didn’t have many high-level people to train with, you know? The only person that was my, high-level Jiu-Jitsu, to train with was Braulio [Estima].
He was my training partner, but he was two hours away from me. So, I had to daily practice with my students. And I was still very young, competing at the highest level. I didn’t, let’s say, have so many high-level people to train with and use fancy moves [against].
Since his students had to learn the basics, Roger focused on perfecting his own basics to the highest possible level as well:
So, the way I did it, I everything that I could have developed to the highest level – I did. And it wasn’t conscious, you know? I never knew consciously why my game was so basic.
Because no one ever told me and I never consciously thought that I had to practice the basics. The thought “basics are important” never crossed my mind.
It happened during my life in a period [when I was able to] use the only Jiu-Jitsu I had [a possibility to use against my training partners].