Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Interview: Rener Gracie on Bullyproof

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to purchase the new Gracie Bullyproof DVD set, and it turned out to be all it was cracked up to be and much more - a really excellent set of DVDs about teaching kids to grapple and helping them to avoid bullies and other common predators.
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Today I had the fortune to be able to have a brief email conversation with Rener Gracie, son of UFC creator Rorion Gracie, and one of the instructors on the Bullyproof DVDs. I got to ask him some questions about teaching kids to grapple and he let me post it here as a short interview.
PATRICK PARKER: Thanks Rener! I really appreciate you taking some time from your busy schedule to answer a handful of questions for me and my readers. I wanted to start by congratulating you and thanking you for such a fine instructional product as Bullyproof. My kids and I have really been enjoying working through it together. Were you or your brothers ever bullied at school or did everyone around know not to mess with "those Gracie guys?"
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RENER GRACIE: I was 10 when my father created the UFC so people knew who we were..
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PATRICK: Other than just playing the Gracie Games with y'all, how did your dad and grandfather motivate you and your brothers to want to make jiujitsu such a large part of your lives?
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RENER: In the early years it was just the Gracie Games. Around 6 or 7 years old, is when the real learning began. The key to making sure that we stayed motivated was the use of the Golden Rule: expect nothing, praise everything. He never condemned us for not meeting his expectations so we never felt like we were letting him down.
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PATRICK: Was it expected of you, like "You're a Gracie so you will do jiujitsu?"
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RENER: He never forced us to train (although he did have to bribe me a few times).
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PATRICK: Did any of y'all decide, "No, I don't want to do jiujitsu?"
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RENER: Some members of the family are less involved than others, but all of them know enough to defend themselves and that's what matters most.
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PATRICK: That's exactly right. In the Bullyproof program you have the child paired with an adult partner who is always adjusting the intensity level so that the child always succeeds. When do you start emphasizing randori or sparring or more competitive games where the kids compete against each other?
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RENER: As soon as a kid feels like he/she is "not good at it" they will want to quit. So it's our job to make sure they are never in over their heads. As a result, we don't let kids do live sparring exercises until they have trained for several months and we can see that they have a very dedicated learning spirit and, more importanly, they can lose without taking it personally. All kids start in a program based on the fundamentals, with no competitive sparring, until they display a very mature learning attitude, and then we send them to the "Black Belt Club" where they learn more and train harder. All it takes is one bad experience for a kid to quit, so we are very careful to manage the intensity in our classes.
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PATRICK: A while back I interviewed Dave Camarillo, and he said he thought it was probably better to start kids in judo and graduate them into BJJ later. But your generation of Gracies seems to have had pretty good success starting young in BJJ and (I suppose) cross training some later in judo or wrestling, etc... What are your ideas about the path kids should take in cross-training these martial arts?
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RENER: I can certainly see the benefit of the path Dave describes, and from a technical standpoint I don't think the order matters too much, but from an engagement standpoint I think that starting with GJJ is the best option because any kid can do it and it's simple, fun and low impact, resulting in less injuries, therefore a child is less likely to quit in the early stages.
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PATRICK: Wow, Rener, that was some really great info you just gave us. Thanks! I've had a blast chatting with you and I know my readers will love reading about your ideas.
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To learn more about the Gracie Bullyproof at-home training DVDs please visit: http://www.graciebullyproof.com/


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Patrick Parker is a Christian, husband, father, martial arts teacher, Program Director for a Cardiac Rehab, and a Ph.D. Contact: mokurendojo@gmail.com or phone 601.248.7282 木蓮
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