Rickson Gracie says MMA sets a bad example for young people and it ‘only attracts people who like barbarianism and all that blood’

I recently came across an interview Rickson Gracie did w/ World Jiu-Jitsu Expo Read it all it’s pretty interesting.  I’ll post excerpts here and there but the transcript of the actual interview is quite lengthy.  Nevertheless it is an incredibly honest reaction to the current state of MMA.  Every time I visit home I’m bombarded with inquiries from my siblings eager to know about when I’ll be scheduling another MMA fight and after 3 disappointing instances (2 no shows, 1 didn’t make weight) I simply don’t have that desire at this time to commit to any fights.

I’m much more fascinated by the BJJ scene and have current goals of becoming a world champ (dream big right).  Either way my views on MMA are not nearly as ‘extreme’ as his but I understand why he is completely disinterested in the sport.  I myself love to watch my teammates compete but to be honest I’m bored to bits at MMA shows.  For me the crowds and families are sometimes the most entertaining parts of the shows.

-The interview is long so I placed statements that I thought were significant in bold

WJJE: You wouldn’t fight, not even for any amount of money? Not even if the UFC offered you a million dollars to fight against Randy Couture, for example. You wouldn’t fight?

Rickson: That’s not the case. I fight for my honor now and not for money. There was a time when I negotiated prize money, but for me it’s about a point of view. I don’t think I have anything to prove to anyone… Things aren’t always the way I’d like them to be… I’m not interested in changing the world to fit my point of view. So, I think a champion has to know when to call it quits. I’ve got nothing to prove, and I have no interest in fighting… none at all.

WJJE: Rickson Gracie I’m sure all your fans would like to see you fight again. What do you think of that?


I hear that all day long. The problem is that the fan’s view is different from that of the guy who’s fighting. They’re lots of things involved… in my case, the only thing that would be a point to consider, would be the money. However, I think that in my life, since I don’t think based on money, I don’t think there’s even a motive. I don’t have to prove that Jiu-Jitsu is the best, that’s already been proven! I don’t need to prove that I can fight. I don’t have to fight because I need the money to change my life. Currently, I’m focusing on spreading the benefits of Jiu-Jitsu. I don’t think about competing, I’ve competed my whole life. Why would I want to compete anymore? So that’s out of the question. The fans are the ones who just don’t understand, and the fans who would like to see me fight, are just going to have to live with it. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is. I don’t live and I’ve never lived by someone else’s expectations. I never fought for the fans. I always fought to honor my Jiu-Jitsu and my family.

Now there are others to do that. There are other representatives of Jiu-Jitsu now. I’ve got another life now, another situation, a whole new story, new rules, and new moment… So, I’m very much at ease within my own conscience. The last thing I want to do is go back, go backward in my life wanting to compete. Competition is over, it’s behind me now. I don’t want to move forward thinking about competing. I want to go forward thinking of supporting society, setting a good example for kids, teaching children to become better people, not hitting machines, as there is in MMA today. I am the philosophy of Jiu-Jitsu, the philosophy of good relationships between dads and sons, between respect, discipline, and honor… All these things that have made me what I am and have really stood out in my life. No longer a victory or a possible defeat. I think I can live without the money I could make it. But I can’t live knowing that because of the money I got in there and lost. I’d be fighting for the money and that in itself brings a loss to me. I never fought for money. So, I’m not going to start now. Why would I need to fight if it weren’t for money? To prove what? So, it’s completely out of the question for me.

WJJE: Rickson Gracie what motivated you to fight?

Rickson: I fought to raise the honor of Jiu-Jitsu. I fought to prove that Jiu-Jitsu is without a doubt the superior martial art and always will be. Those who don’t have Jiu-Jitsu in MMA are lost.

WJJE: You and your family started it all (MMA). Every fighter I’ve ever interviewed, from Kimbo Slice to Chuck Liddell, these guys all say that if it weren’t for the Gracie family, if it weren’t for them, the sport wouldn’t be where it is today, MMA wouldn’t even exist. MMA fighters have the utmost respect for the Gracie name. When you look at MMA today, do you think you’ve created a monster or do you think MMA is fine the way it is, that the sport is on the right path?

Rickson: This is what I think. I feel that MMA has moved away from what I believe is the purpose of going to a gym to train. I think there’s a philosophy behind martial arts, which should go along with training and go hand in hand with a fighter’s routine. Nowadays, the first principle is that there is no philosophy. It’s about cross training. You’ve got to cross train to be able to fight, kick, and hit. Every rule draws you to an extreme sport without a code. It’s about the individual. Nobody’s measuring anyone’s technical potential anymore. They’re measuring explosion, force, speed, the ability to withstand impact, toughness.

In my opinion, that’s something that downgrades the image of martial arts. It’s something I just don’t believe is a reference for kids. What kind of father would like to see his son in MMA? At the same time, what kind of father would not like to see his son fighting Jiu-Jitsu as it should be taught, correctly, in line, organized, learning to respect, learning to fall and get back up, learning to be kind to your opponent. Every father would like to see his son learning to defend himself but with respect, with peace in your heart. That being said, I have no interest at all in martial arts being mixed, this thing without any doctrine or concept. Today, MMA has simply turned into a circus, extreme, violent, and sensationalist, which only attracts people who like barbarianism and all that blood.

…in order to teach it to my children and be proud to say, “Do this or do that my brother because it’s better,” I fought. However, I don’t have to prove anything else now. My philosophy is to bring to Jiu-Jitsu, for those interested in martial arts, a transparent philosophy, one where he can apply it to defend himself. One he can use to teach to his children, so that his son becomes a better person within society, whether he’s a doctor or a fighter with balance, with force, with dignity, and with respect. That’s my life’s motivation. It’s not to make one, two, or five million dollars, to stick my face out there, just to be part of a circus, which doesn’t mean a thing to me. So, that’s where the situation ends.

I think MMA is just a Roman arena today, where people go to see heads roll, blood spill, whatever, and everyone applauds. In fact, you’re creating an environment there where you’re setting a bad example for young people. Because those who think that being an MMA champion, besides the money, means something are totally mistaken. Everybody likes to watch Mike Tyson, but nobody wants to be like Mike Tyson or be his student. Everybody likes to watch Frank Mir or Brock Lesnar, but everyone sees these guys’ weaknesses, while at the same time they think these guys are incredible. So I don’t think that’s what it’s all about. One lacks humility, the other has no respect for others.

WJJE: What do you think about the rules of MMA?

Rickson: Nowadays in MMA a person with a lot of technique based on the rules is prohibited. He’s unable to use the strategy, patience, the team, the ability to use the defense right up until the moment his opponent makes an error…There’s a lot of five minute of explosions… the guy plans to give it all he’s got- strategy, stupidity- so that as soon as the five minutes are up he starts all over again for five more minutes. So, you’ve got no technique. I’d like to see one of these guys, a champion at the 205 category beat a Heavyweight in five minutes… He’s not going to win.

It’s just like I don’t think I need to be there fighting with a guy my size. I need to be there representing Jiu-Jitsu in any circumstance. I need time and strategy, and if the rules don’t allow me to hold, the referee says to get up. If the fight has been on the ground for some time, it makes no sense at all for me to fight MMA. You see a lot of MMA fights just strangling, and the fans want to see someone go down. The fans want to feel it… Honestly, I’m not here to feed fools. I’m here to represent an art and a philosophy of life that for me works like a religion.

WJJE: I haven’t looked at it from that angle, and a lot of people might be surprised to learn that you think that way in relation to MMA. The truth is that most people think the sport of MMA continues to grow; it’s on the right path, that it’s going to become the greatest sport in the world, that today the sport has rules, it’s organized, and that it’s changed for the better.

 Rickson: I want you to tell me what social benefit MMA contributes to society, to the participant, the audience, or for those interested in being a part of MMA? You give me an answer, and I’ll think about if maybe there’s a possibility for me to like MMA. Right now, MMA to me is simply a sensationalist sport that feeds society’s need for extreme violence. They enjoy seeing the extreme, the same way you see two truck drivers fighting on the street and you stop to watch, without knowing who’s right or wrong, without knowing if the guys going to kill someone or die. MMA is the same thing. Fans go there to see violence, blood, flying teeth, and if the fight involves some technique, nobody likes it.

WJJE: Rickson Gracie Do you think that MMA is heading in the right direction?

Rickson: That’s in God’s hands. I’ve just got my own opinion. God only knows what’s going to happen… I think there are a lot people taking advantage of it. As a business, it’s very profitable. I see lots of people getting rich; however, money really isn’t the most important thing to me. I see things from the angle, from the representation this has for society, and from my point of view, the representation that MMA has for society is none at all.

33 Responses to “Rickson Gracie says MMA sets a bad example for young people and it ‘only attracts people who like barbarianism and all that blood’”
  1. gold price says:

    Brazillian Jiu Jitsu is the most effective Martial art they make. It’s true. You’ve seen the videos of Rorion Gracie taking on Bruce Lee wannabes, you know that any MMA fighter with his head on straight trains Jiu Jitsu and I don’t need to spend any time convincing you that BJJ is where it’s at.

    • Greg says:

      Sorry but sambo is more effective because unlike bjj it has a standing component (as well, combat sambo is older thsn mma) which makes it a more complete martial arts. Bjj came from kodokan judo and they basically didnt bother with any standup. Its very effective on ground but standing 😕

  2. josé says:

    How great and how painful is it when someone who really knows tells the truth?

  3. Ross Kader says:

    I’ve been saying this stuff for years. While I’m not a Brazillian Jiu Jitsu fan, I am a life-long practitioner/student of traditional martial arts and have absolutely no interest in MMA matches for exactly the reasons described above. Good to hear someone finally saying this stuff out loud.

  4. Aikidoka says:

    Have the patience to read the whole thing and ignore the blue emboldened text. In doing so you understand Rickson’s complete explanation not just the “editor’s” favorite parts.

    The thoughts about creating better people through jiu-jitsu training should be the emphasis. Not just the ones bashing MMA fans(which I am not).

  5. Anonymous says:


  6. Arun says:

    I respect Rickson Gracie a lot and I completely understand his concept. But questioning the contributions of MMA to society is like questioning contributions of any other sport other than team sports. MMA has the words “MARTIAL ARTS” in its name but that does not make it a MARTIAL ART. Its merely a sport. It does not have to have the values and contributions of an art. Its just another platform for individuals to put them to test.

    The lack of sportsmanship and respect might be degrading the sport of MMA but still, as long as true warriors put themselves to a test in a way which graces MARTIAL ARTS, MMA will be a sport worth looking up to.

  7. cristian ortiz de zarate munoz says:


  8. Cris Cormero says:

    I think Rickson’s concern are spot on being a true martial artists who holds respect and honor with much weigth as with figthing skills. Hope MMA organizers and assosiation should look into this.

  9. dmuranaka says:

    Reblogged this on First World Problems in the Martial Arts and commented:
    Saw this on my friend, Mike Pak’s, Facebook feed. Some pretty interesting stuff in this interview with Rickson Gracie.

  10. Ryan Toth says:

    I respect the words of Rickson.

  11. LG says:

    I agree with most of what he said but BJJ has been exposed by simple American wrestling 15 20 years ago BJJ was the top because no one knew it but MMA has evolved over the years. Most of those guys from the 90s wouldn’t have a prayer against today fighters. They are just more rounded and know how to defend BJJ. BJJ is still an essential art but not the gospel truth anymore. The UFC with there reality shows has given Martial Arts in general a bad name, very imature!

    • The Count says:

      I agree with you, I think that in some way the Gracie family is still clinging to Royce’s achivements without realizing how incredibly fast the sport has evolved. Royce was never a mixed martial artist nor has he ever defeated one.

  12. Mma fighters are enemy jiu jitsu practicioners are family.

  13. Edson Ortiz says:

    that is exactly what I’ve been explaining for years.
    First of all their isn’t a bond between student and insteuctor and academy. The Mma fighter looking for to improve him self and in a selfish way go gym by gym learning the best From each place to improve his game looking for fame and money.
    Second MMA doesn’t have any philosophy behind originally organized to put fighters in a single style to see which one was the most effective and perhaps to show to the world the BJJ style (UFC 1-5).
    People training MMA usually doesn’t training for reasons like improve self confidence or self defense they usually most case saw UFC and would like to be a fighter.
    Now how many academies and GYMS teaching Mma? Even for kids! Redicolous and irresponsible. Mma should be taught not in a class but put together when the person process the basic of ground and striking fights. But again a lot people just interesting in profit with the new sensation. Better put your kid in BJJ or JUDO instead in a gym fight where they will end up corrupting your son or daughter to become a cock fighter with no respect. What environment to develop a young fella. It is a disgrace.

  14. David says:

    Don’t just read the highlights, there is a lot more depth to the interview.

  15. The Count says:

    I think BJJ is necessary to fight, no questions there. I’m a blue belt myself and I love BJJ but I also like to mix it up once in a while and I think Rickson is refering to the incredibly huge wave of fans that MMA has gotten in the past few years, of course there’s a lot of them that only watch it to watch heads roll, but the true MMA comunity, the true fans of the sport we know what it takes to fight at that level, we understand every single aspect of the fight whether it’s on the ground or standing up, we are not there to see two men kill each other. MMA is a science mr. Gracie and even though it lacks a code, this is caused by the diversity of people practicing it, of course you can find guys like Frank Mir, Chael Sonnen, Conor Mcgregor and a lot others, but you also have GSP, Lyoto Machida, Fedor Emelianenko, Wanderlei Silva, etc., guys that have honor and respect inside and out the cage, guys that set a good example for athletes around the world and that actually live and fight by a code. I don’t think it’s fair to put us all in one basket as blood thirsty poser fans

  16. Thank you Rickson for taking a stand and stating what has been obvious about MMA from the beginning.

  17. billy says:

    I respect this and 100% agree if I were to have someone to teach me I’d want someone with an attitude like dis and I really don’t know who he is but he has a champions attitude

  18. Reblogged this on dontmakemeangrymrmcgee and commented:
    Interesting article!

  19. Jan Stokosa says:

    I feel Mr. Gracie presents a very cogent argument regarding MMA as we know it today (2015). Having learned Judo from an All-Japan Judo Champion, Dr. Sachio Ashida, my Sensei, I learned precisely what Mr. Gracie explains the purpose, benefit of BJJ.
    Judo originated by Prof. Jigaro Kano from Jujutsu as a means to learn the principle of humanity.
    He named the training institution “Kodokan”, located in Tokyo.
    The word “Kodo” means to learn, prove and practice the principle.
    Prof. Kano named Judo “Kodokan Judo” which clearly shows us he made the principle objective of life is to learn. Prof. Kano himself said that the purpose of Judo is to strengthen body by practicing attack and defense, to complete the personality by training the mind, and finally to devote oneself to society.
    The use of the term Budo in Japanese Martial Arts is meant to convey a Way of Life encompassing physical, spiritual, and moral dimensions, focusing on self-improvement, fulfillment, personal growth, and to benefit society as a whole.
    I was a practitioner of several Japanese Martial Arts, and international competitor in two.

  20. tony says:

    Mma is a sport so we can cut off the philosophy thing just like boxing. But the sport requires dedication and discipline that can level any martial art. The training, diets, and your off the ring conduct pushes people to be the best of themselves. Well that’s my opinion

  21. David says:

    As an MMA coach I disagree, much as I respect Rickson, I think he is mistaken here. If anybody is interested, I wrote my personal ideas on the culture of MMA vs. the techniques/evolution of MMA in this article:

  22. Anonymous says:

    What a cry baby! He help create the what is MMA. Now he says it’s too violent has no code of ethics or honor. Well he should be looking at himself he doesn’t have any. Answer reflection of him. So not surprised. He needs to eat some shut up juice. And stop whining so much. Just like him BJJ is bullshit, and of course MMA too.

  23. andy says:

    It all depends on the Rules! ,,one on one without timelimit Bjj technic & taktik is superior, but in real life almost always someone interfere or help to stop it. After then the grappler looks like loosing since he took more hits to get in. That he will win on the ground none see cause others stop the fight. This modern MMA is the best for Team fights, since you have no much time to grapple, after the first is down its two (or more) vs one. Then lets go to the next Extrem, Knife fighting, same no time to grapple or to play for 20minutes with an armed enemy. And so on… fights in our Trains (im traindriver) were always unfair. None fight same size if he is not drunken, only big Guy vs small, or two vs one, another with a broken bottle vs an unarmed, or “unfair” Suckerpunches from behind to get an Advantage. The good thing is you can help a lot to end it by stand to a so suprized victim, cause then its suddenly two vs one Big, or two vs two, and we´re visible armed. ,,But back to my point is, MMA will grow and go down by itself. Change the Rules to the early Ufc days and Bjj will win, or change them even then further back in the past then Boxing will win, or make no rules at all then still the best technic will win, but its the best technic of guns/weapons. ,,Gjj is the best you can learn for Self defence, but its not the spectakle what Idiots want to see, for them we have MMA and Hollywood.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] Rickson has always been an example to me in terms in of skill, class and perspective that seems to rise above the fray. Really appreciate this Article. […]

  2. […] An interview at World Jiu-Jitsu Expo in 20012 and also reposted shakiaharris at Rickson Gracie, one of the biggest names in jiu jitsu, had a few choice words to say about […]

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