On May 1, 2011 I was fortunate enoughto attend a Gracie Jiu Jitsu seminar in Fishkill, New York. Presented by Black HoleBrazilian Jiu Jitsu in Wappingers, N.Y. theseminar was led by the man who introduced much of the world to the art form hisfamily developed, Royce Gracie. There was a good sized group present rangingfrom white belts to black, men and women, young and old. Also present weremembers of the U.S. Military Academy’s Jiu Jitsu and Judo teams, the former being coached by Black Holefounder and head instructor Mike Wacker. Royce had also given a seminar at the BlackHole gym earlier in the day as well, so it would be a busy day once again forMr. Gracie.
As I and a friend of mine made ourway out on to the mats to stretch and warm up we were busy taking in the otherpeople who were doing the same. While looking at the various Gi’s (and in someof the BDU’s being worn by the cadets) and clicks that were assembling, no onereally noticed Royce walk into the room to take his place at the head of thearea. Once it became known that he was there a few people walked over to shakehis hand and introduce themselves, but Royce always seemed to be gauging thepeople in front of him spread out. Perhaps he was trying to decide what movesto show based on belts or age of people taking part. It was also a little weirdseeing the man so many people associate with the Gracie Train, stroll into theroom with little fan fare. But then again he was getting ready to show thesystem his family developed not fight a no time limit, no holds barred match withDan Severn! After a while, which to some of us must have seemed like an hour ofbeing observed, Royce stood up and said “Ok guys” and he began going right intomoves.
The seriesof moves at the beginning had a definite Japanese Jiu Jitsu or Judo base tothem, as they started from the standing position. Basics like how to break abear hug, transition to the back, and hip toss were shown. Then it progressedto how to take your opponent down, and this is when the seminar became theGracie Jiu Jitsu most people are familiar with today! Upon transitioning to theground and gaining the mount position Royce then demonstrated moves that havemade Gracie Jiu Jitsu famous, such as variations of the step over arm bar, collarchoke, and rear naked choke. Afterlearning the armbar, transitions were shown off of various armbar defenses suchas how to break the grip using your legs, as well as how to transition to atriangle all based on your opponents defense. All in all there were twelvemoves shown to the group.
As far asRoyce’s instruction he was right on top of everything adjusting, correctingmistakes, even telling everyone to “take it easy, do the moves smooth.” I can honestly say that Royce must havedemonstrated each move three or four times before the group attempted them, andeven then he would stop everyone if he saw mistakes or people having adifficult time grasping the movements. And he was everywhere! Just when youthought you were doing something perfect, the next thing you knew you had thefirst UFC champion and Hall of Famer standing there telling you to adjust andcup the head lightly, little details to make the moves more fluid and better.And after a certain number of moves had been done you then did them in asequence, so that by the time the seminar was over you had started from astanding position and worked to the ground transitioning from one movement tothe other.
As theseminar wore down Royce began talking to everyone, taking pictures, and thankingeveryone for coming. He seemed to really enjoy talking to the cadets abouttheir experiences, and took time to answer their questions. While he did jokearound during the seminar at times, he was all business making sure everyonegot the proper instruction and was doing the moves correctly, but afterwards hewas all smiles and shaking hands with everyone like you were at a barbeque orsome event that was not teaching you how to choke or break a person’s bones!Royce also took extra time to show the children and women that they did notneed to be the biggest and baddest to be the most effective, and when dealingwith them made sure to have them feel at home, especially around some of thebig men walking around. All in all I cannot see how anyone did not enjoythemselves from experienced black belts to a brand new white belt! If ever youhave a chance to attend a seminar with Royce Gracie you should! And bring thefamily no matter if they take Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or not, you will not onlylearn some, you will have a great experience!