Kyra Gracie: “Women Weren’t Valued In The [Gracie] Family, They Were Prohibited From Training”

Kyra Gracie: “Women Weren’t Valued In The [Gracie] Family, They Were Prohibited From Training”

As the granddaughter of Robson Gracie – and niece to Ralph, Ryan, and Renzo Gracie – Kyra Gracie grew up in a conservative family in Rio de Janeiro, where martial arts were considered a male domain.

Despite the initial opposition from her uncles and cousins, she pursued her passion for Jiu-Jitsu.
Here’s what she had to say in a recent conversation with MMA Fighting:

I had to fight to be able to fight, because when I decided to become a fighter, my family said: “Kyra, forget about it, women aren’t supposed to do this, go do something else. We’ll protect you.”
It was always like that.

“You have many uncles and cousins, we’ll protect you.”

When you live in a place where they repeat that over and over again, you end up believing in it.
I was that person that believed that only men could go somewhere in fighting.

Her own mother stopped doing Jiu-Jitsu for the same reasons:

She got to blue belt and then had to stop.
She was prohibited from training by my uncles because that wasn’t the ideal path for a woman.

And when I saw my mom quitting, I thought: “Damn, do I have to stop too? But I like it so much. What do I do now?”

But I was so young, 12, 13 years of age, and they thought I would eventually quit along the way.

Kyra explained the what the process of being a female was like before in the Gracie family:

Women weren’t valued within the family.
First they are prohibited [from training], and then if you win, it’s like: “Cool.”

But if a man wins: “Wow, that’s awesome, he should represent the family. The great champion.”
There wasn’t much incentive.

And then you go to competitions.
While men made $50,000 as champions back then, women made $2,000.

That didn’t even pay for my supplements.

It just motivated Kyra to keep training.
Today, she is the first female BJJ black belt in the Gracie family:

I’m the only woman to run a Jiu-Jitsu school in Brazil.

I’m glad I continued, because when you have a woman in a place of power, regardless of the area, you inspire other women.

I see a many women train Jiu-Jitsu now, I see their daughters train Jiu-Jitsu.
Girls that are self-confident, that look you in the eye and know how to speak.

That’s more important than Jiu-Jitsu, because that gives you self-confidence.