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 60, 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 60 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)
Jean Jacques Machado, was Rickson Gracie’s student from back in the days, from the time he trained under him in Brazil until when he moved to the USA in the 80’s.
Machado was promoted to coral belt by Rickson a few years back, and in his recent guest appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast, he made an interesting revelation: Rickson is rolling again, despite his 8 herniated discs!
Rogan: But even Rickson can’t train anymore right?
Machado: Oh no he’s back training.
Rogan: He’s rolling?!
Machado: Yes he’s really rolling. I saw one of his students. They trained last week for an hour.
Rogan: Wow understood that he had a real bad back problem.
Machado: Yeah a lot of things happen not with Jiu-Jitsu but with some of the MMA fights from back those days with no protection at all and with no rules, throwing each other out of the ring. And it was something you know very challenging with no weight class.
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