T.P. Grant had a brief talk with Ralek Gracie, organizer of the Meamoris jiu jitsu promotion. A member of the Gracie family and son of UFC founder Rorion Gracie. Ralek competed in MMA from 2007 through 2010 in Japan, retiring with a 3-0 record, his final fight being a win over Kazushi "The Gracie Hunter" Sakuraba.
Ralek is now the driving force behind Metamoris, a BJJ promotion that features submission only matches. Their first event was held last fall and they are now set to hold their second event on June 9th, featuring a stacked card. Headlined by a sure to be exciting match between Kron Gracie and MMA submission ace Shinya Aoki, two very aggressive grapplers. Right under them is a match between two of the sport's top stars in Andre Galvao and Rafael Lovato Jr. Click here for event info and full fight card.
So here with out further ado here is the interview with Ralek Gracie:
T.P.: What is getting someone for an event like this like? The first time, did you really have to look for people, or did they come to you?
Gracie: I had to go out get people on board. And nobody really got it, no one really got the scale of what it would be like. I think now it's different talking to people the see the kind of press were getting and the media we're building around it. So it's cool.
T.P.: What was getting Brendan Schaub on board like? Did he volunteer for it or did you guys approach him?
Gracie: He volunteered man, he really wanted to test himself in the jiu-jitsu arena. And he wanted to do the world championships, the IBJJF worlds. I and said "Man you are going to go do the IBJJF which is a 10 minute match and you are going to have 3 matches or 4 matches in a day, and you're going to have to go in there and be very wary of the point system because there is going to be a guy who is going to pull you in his guard and sweep you one time and essentially beat you by points and you are just going to be sitting there with your hands opened wondering like where is the fight?' I know he's a fighter and I know for us he might get in an environment ---- he might just go in the and go for a submission --- and do his best and he gets to go in there and fight, and it's pretty much a fight without punches. So for him I think it makes more sense, getting treated right and being in an environment where he's really getting built and it's helping him---- so I think it's cool, I think it's awesome.
T.P.: So you feel that submission only tournaments are the best competitive reflection of jiu-jitsu? The best rule set that reflects what jiu-jitsu is to you.
Gracie: Yeah man, what I think is the more rules, the more you change the way people train. It's the same difference between jiu-jitsu and MMA. The MMA rules you train for MMA, if you train for a jiu-jitsu match you get, you know, beat up in an MMA match. If you train for a very specific point system in jiu-jitsu your training is going to be geared towards that system and it is going to change the way that you effectively approach maybe even the idea of a submission. And that‘s what we want to avoid, we want to create something were you're really going for submissions, and that's the main objective for them and there is no other main incentive for them other than to submit somebody. And I think that it's in the submission matches that we see the most dynamic jiu-jitsu from athletes across the board.
T.P.: I know Rickson kinda played around with creating his own promotion once with a point system. Do you ever think there is going to be a point system that could give us what you think a submission only match would give us?
Gracie: I'm working on it man. What we have now is three judges who are going to make the decision, and we want these three judges to basically make the decision on their experience as masters of the art and essentially curating it, like art. Saying ‘Ok, this person won' and they'll give a whole list of reasons, and we'll film them after the event and release that to the public. So that it's an educational process, they're explaining why they made their decision.
And they have 2 options in their decision, they can decide on a win or they can decide on a draw. And there's no points. There is no ‘I think you get 3 points for this sweep', no it has to be an overall, overwhelming domination, with real technique and strategy and positioning and angles and all these things that they are going to be able to see as a master, but... they'll just be able to see, they'll just be able to know it's there, and then they'll be able to make that decision. And it's actually a very simple thing at that point. What's difficult is being able to explain why they made that decision. And that's what we are looking for. We are looking for judges who not only are masters and have a reputation, but speak amazing English and are actually very articulate.
That's the hardest trouble for me right now. Like for me, if I was a judge, I could watch a match and Buchecha clearly had the upper hand against Roger, he was controlling the pace, he was way more aggressive with submissions, and got a close submission attempt and it was extremely close. I could describe that for 5 minutes explain in detail what happened watching that match, and that's what we want, we want the true reflection of jiu-jitsu, and we want unbiased judges who can curate the art of these athletes, and we want to create a space where it's open and we can showcase the best in the world in a very open way.
T.P.: Have you picked those judges yet? You said you were in the process of... do you have a few judges in mind? Have you picked them already?
Gracie: We have one, we have Pedro Sauer and he's just a very well-known black belt, actually he's a black and red belt. And just a very solid guy, very articulate. I was on the phone with him and he really felt me, the way that he was talking about the approach of being a judge for this, it sounded just right. So we're excited, and he's kinda on the level of criteria we're expecting as far as being able to really make a decision, and stick to it and explain the decision, and be accountable for their decision to the public. Which has never been done before, so it should be interesting.
T.P.: Yeah. Which match are you personally looking forward to at Metamoris II most?
Gracie: I think personally the main event. I think Shniya Aoki vs Kron is going to be high flying. It is going to be explosive man. Kron is a very exciting competitor, he is someone that doesn't like to grab on to this very much, he likes to be free and catch people in the chaos. And Shinya is the exact same way and in the matches I've seen him compete in jiu jitsu he'll try flying armlocks, and he'll try things that will generally surprise people because they'll never expect someone to go for something that outlandish or that different. Even if he doesn't land them, he'll go for things and he isn't afraid, he can really pull out a lot of tricks because he really thinks outside of the box, as far as jiu jitsu he isn't Mr. Cookie Cutter Jiu Jitsu Competitor, he is a jiu jitsu fighter. I'm really excited about that match.
I think Braulio Estmia vs Rodolfo obviously is a huge match, especially within the core jiu jitsu community it is even bigger than Kron and Aoki. Rodolfo is just the top guy right now, other than Buchecha, he is the top guy in the world and within his weightclass he is the top guy. And it is very cool that he is going against Braulio, who is a little bit more seasoned, been around the block. He has ADCC titles, he has got the world titles, he has got the Pan titles, and he is just coming in taking this match against this guy who he is giving up weight against, seeing Braulio go in there and go in there with Rodolfo is gonna be bananas.
Every other match on the card is interesting, we have a women's match Mackenzie Dern and Michelle Nicolini which is going to be exciting, Brendan Schaub and Cyborg is gonna be crazy. People think Brendan is gonna get tapped out in 3 seconds but I think it is going to be madness. It is gonna go anybody's way in that match.
T.P.: I personally am looking forward to Hall vs Cooper, I think that is going to be a great match
Gracie: Yeah man, for sure. I think the whole card is going to be great. I just hope I'm relaxed enough to enjoy it and not be worried if we have enough lights on the mats.
T.P: When did you decided from move from athlete to promoter?
Gracie: The decision was made more so because I had kids. Without kids I would be competing more, my mindset would be much more ‘just go to war' because it is fun and it is exciting. But having kids really makes you think more long term. These guys are my life now. I never really sat down and thought "Oh I'm gonna become a promoter now", the opportunity came up and it was perfect for me and just ran with it. And here we are and it is exciting.
T.P.: Growing up did you ever thing about doing anything else besides jiu jitsu?
Gracie: I'm an artist, I feel like an artist in everything that I do. I would love to just direct movies, if I wasn't in the jiu jitsu business I'd be directing movies, or something in the movie business.
T.P.: What is your personal style of Jiu Jitsu like?
Gracie: My jiu jitsu... hmmm... my jiu jitsu. Anyone's jiu jitsu is what they are training for and what their life style is like. So it is funny, for me right now jiu jitsu is the decompressing tool. For my whole life it has never been that way, now getting to train jiu jitsu and getting on the mat is like going on vacation. Where was before it was to fight and I was thinking about fighting and competing in Japan. My competitive process was to make my jiu jitsu be as multi-faceted as possible. Have my jiu jitsu be 50% stand up and 50% ground and really understand to concepts and leverage of jiu jitsu from a standing perspective as well. Everything that I do, even throwing a kick or a punch, I try to do it in a way that it is in line with my jiu jitsu philosophy.
My jiu jitsu is more of a complete, I like to think, and I try to be as complete as possible. The self-defense is there, but I don't need to think about defending myself because I'm not getting into street fights, I'm in more of the competitive thing. And if I do teach people it is more about figuring out what they want. If they want to learn defense or if they want to learn how to fight, I can go from there and help them. I'm not imposing myself on them, like they had to do one thing or the other.
T.P.: Ok one more question, what is rolling with Rorion like these days? What is his "old man" jiu jitsu like?
Gracie: Oh man, he is excellent. My dad right now is focused on educating people about diet and about nutrition. He still teaches a couple classes at the Torrance academy, he hadn't been teaching very much, but he stepped back in and started teaching a bunch of classes recently and people have been going bananas. He is 100% self-defense focus. And when he isn't doing self-defense, he is with Ed O'Neil rolling around doing private classes.
His thing is he stays as relaxed and smooth as possible and he has a couple little tricks. And it is very masterful and interesting how he does it. Rolling with him, he'll lay down and you'll get on top of him and he feels like he doesn't even exist, you know he is so small. And then all the sudden his little foot or his little hand comes in and gets you. He is very sneaky, very playful and very interesting. He isn't thinking of competition, he is just drilling for fun.
For more on Metamoris II visit their website, their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter, and be sure to give Ralek Gracie a follow on Twitter. If you want to join the discussion comment below or reach out to T.P. Grant on Facebook or Twitter.