A few years back famed photographer Bruce Weber did a story and photos on Rickson Gracie. Just recently history repeats itself as the same notable photographer did a story about Rickson’s son, Kron gracie for Vogue Magazine: “Ice Cream Kron”.
He was interviewed by Erik Soderbergh for Vogue.
“E.S.: Fantastic, I always wanted to ask you what is the difference between the Jiu Jitsu you and your father teach, and the Jiu Jitsu other academies teach?
K.G.: Well my grandfather changed Jiu Jitsu from a very explosive Martial Art, to a Martial Art for someone much weaker, by using intelligence over brute strength, my grandfather created the leverage and the technique so that he, as a weak individual could defeat bigger stronger opponents. My father not being so weak like my grandfather and already having captured the leverage and technique growing up, instead of having to wait for his opponent to become tired like my grandfather, he was able to inflict discomfort on his opponents, putting pressure in ways that my grandfather wasn’t, he started developing a little more of an advanced style that was more physical, but still had the same principles of leverage and technique. I believe that Jiu Jitsu is not a sport or a game, my grandfather developed Jiu Jitsu to always be able to defend himself, and my father was always able to defend himself and defend the family name, so I still believe in this. I think a lot of people learn Jiu Jitsu and they bring a very sport aspect to it, by studying competition rules and points, and lacking the spirit of the warrior, lacking the want or ability to submit your opponent, forgetting what Jiu Jitsu was created for.
E.S.: The pressure of growing up in your fathers shadow must be pretty intense, can you explain how you deal with this pressure?
K.G.: I mean yeah from a very early age people always loved me or hated me for who I was and that was just something that was always there, everyone expected me to win, and if I won, it was no big deal, but if I lost it was huge. So for me yeah there has always been that pressure and the older I get and the more I sacrifice and the more I believe in what I do, the more I kind of forget about this pressure. Cause for me I am not doing this for a specific competition, I am not doing this for a specific goal, I am doing this cause this is my only option, this is me, this is what I was born to do and I am willing to sacrifice my life for this mission. So, whether I win or I lose, does not matter, what matters is that I put myself on the line and represent my family.
E.S.: Your grandfather took Carlos Gracie and Count Komas Jiu Jitsu and innovated it, your father took your grandfathers Jiu Jitsu and innovated it, do you continue to innovate Gracie Jiu Jitsu?
K.G.: Yeah my dad taught me everything he could teach me. He comes in a couple times a year and watches me train, recently I understood that as a coach he may not help me so much anymore, but as a father he will always be there. So I feel its my job to take whatever he taught me and grow on top of that, so I can’t expect for him to teach me anything more, it’s now my responsibility to take whatever he taught me and take it to the next level, so I think that’s the most important thing.
E.S.: Do you enjoy competition?
K.G.: Yeah man, I love the adrenaline.
E.S.: Can you describe the feeling of winning a competition? Can you compare it to anything…..sex maybe?
K.G.: (Laughs) Yeah sex is great! You know, but, I can do without sex like I have for parts of my life.
E.S.: When you are training for competition?
K.G.: Yes. Competition for me is what keeps me alive and keeps me going, not just the actual competition, when your adrenaline is pumping and everyone is watching. Just, being in that moment, that moment is the most important moment and if I make one mistake the guys going rip your arm off, you’re going to lose, that feeling is irreplaceable. Training for the competitions, putting everything into getting ready and making myself the best I can be, this is also what keeps me alive. I love the competition, I love testing myself to see what’s going to happen, I am more curious I think than anyone else, I don’t want to compete if I know I am going win, I want to know, will my hard work beat the other guys hard work? There is really no feeling like winning, all your training, all those early mornings when you don’t want get up, all the times you cry, all the injuries, all the things you had to do to get to the point where you are one hundred percent confident that you believe in what you are doing.
E.S.: You compete 10 or 11 months a year, that leaves very little time for yourself, how do you find a balance between training and time for yourself?
K.G.: This took a long time and right when I thought I had everything figured out, I get a girlfriend, and she takes up a lot of my time, so now I am trying to figure that whole thing out. I always take October-December light, I am willing to take those months light because I know that in January through September I am going to really push myself. I never push myself 100% everyday, I have a schedule when I am training, somedays I train very hard, somedays I work on my spirit, somedays I work on my physical, so I find a balance in this as well. I have to be very realistic with myself and my training.
E.S.: You eat very clean, very healthy, can you explain the importance of quality food and diet to your life and your training?
K.G. : To me it’s the number one thing that keeps my mind clear, and keeps my body moving well. Imagine a Ferrari, you need to put the best gas and parts in this car, I think the same way toward my body. Times in my life when I have not eaten so healthy, I have definitely felt and noticed a difference, I am still able to do what I have to do but the clearness of mind, my joints, my recovery time, everything is better if you eat healthy. You are what you eat and I believe that to be very true. However, I am not on any diet or anything, I am a carnivore man, I eat red meat, I just make sure it is quality food.
E.S.: I hear you talk about, and I see you doing breathing exercises, can you talk a little about the importance of breathing not just in training but in life.
K.G.: Breathing for me has been one of the biggest changes in my life, my dad always taught and told me the importance of breathing for training and for life but I never really listened, it was never something that was a big deal in my life. As I got older and as I felt more pressure and had more responsibilities and all these new things started coming into my life breathing really started to click, and I really started to focus on my breath and it really started to change my life both in training and out. Breathing gives me a deep sense of spirituality and I feel nothing but my soul and I find a place where nothing can affect me.
E.S.: I know you are a great surfer, and you are affiliated with the North Shore Cartel, can you tell us about the role the ocean plays in your life?
K.G.: Well the ocean is the biggest source of magnetic energy, so I always try to get into the ocean as much as I can to balance myself, if I am feeling stressed or down. I don’t always get time here to surf because of my training schedule, but if I am on the North Shore or in Brazil I surf. Surfing for me is great but it does not make that much of a difference in my life. For me just being in the ocean and feeling that energy and that balance, ya know, when the water is very, very cold and I just breathe and breathe through it, that is the feeling I treasure.
E.S.: I was not sure if I was gonna ask you this, but how did your brother’s death affect your life?
K.G.: So, one of the last conversations I had with Rockson he sat down and he said “ Ya know Kron, make sure that whatever you choose to do in life, you do it one hundred percent, whether you are a doctor, a lawyer, a skateboarder(at the time I was really into skating) you give one hundred percent. The only difference between you picking anything else and you picking Jiu Jitsu, is that you have the opportunity to be the best right here, this is your house, you have the best instructors right here, you have all the tools you need, of course, you don’t have to do Jiu Jitsu, but if you do, you have all the tools you need right here for you to take advantage of and become the best”. So, I listened and at the moment I did not take it to heart, then he passed away very shortly after and I thought about what he said and that is when I chose Jiu Jitsu and really started to put in the effort to do what he wanted me to do, and really focus on keeping my family legacy alive. I think he made me who I am today, I may not have been as motivated if it was not for him.”