Diary Of…Daniel Gracie – February 13, 2011


The past few weeks have seen three submission victories for Team Renzo Gracie fighters – Roger Gracie, Igor Gracie and John Cholish.  Each fighter did what they do best.  They each won by going to their foundation to give them the strength to finish the fight.  Watching these fights further reinforced my choice to stay true to my roots.  It is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu that has made me the person I am today. 

Learning BJJ from my family in Rio de Janeiro during the eighties and nineties was my upbringing.  Gracie Barra.  Two words that speak volumes.  It is the home of champions.  Back then, it was a simple tatame on the top floor of a local gym.  With a corrugated metal roof, the academy became a sauna.  This was no place for those who did not wish to become champions.  You gave it your all and left your ego at the door.  Our team was born in this academy and we carry on the tradition today.  Team Renzo Gracie is the 21st Century re-incarnation of the friendship, brotherhood and unity that made us all champions.  These are days that I will always remember and look forward to as well. 

 There are positions, moves, submissions and chokes in BJJ that are classics.  These are the go to moves for us.  Roger Gracie and Igor Gracie both used classic moves with their respective classic approaches to submit their opponents.  John Cholish took a page from the history books when he submitted his opponent by kneebar.  It was beautiful to see him pull this move in the same way that Oleg Taktarov used to submit many opponents in the early days of MMA and the UFC.  Fast forward to today.  I am training for the Light Heavyweight Tournament in Bellator.  Tournament.  This is a word that I do not take lightly.  This is my opportunity to compete against seven other men all vying for the same belt.  This is not an opportunity to win a championship that is simply offered to you. 

This is one that will be won the hard way.  With hard work.  This past week personified hard work.  Traveling as usual between Connecticut, NYC, the Bronx and New Hampshire, I spent each day giving it my all.  Training on Monday in John Danaher’s class at Renzo Gracie Academy saw a packed mat with UFC and Strikeforce fighters.  This is my time to train with some of todays best MMA fighters.  In the middle of the week, when the Bellator crew arranged to film me for the fight promo, the scheduled day fell on my day to train at John’s Boxing Gym.  After four hours of non stop sparring, padwork, BJJ, working out all the while being filmed and making commentary, they got the images they wanted.  I was honored to share my story with Bellator and it was another realization for me that this tournament is one week closer. 

 The end of the week saw another trip to New Hampshire.  Tough MMA training twice per day with other Bellator fighters.  With workouts during the middle of each day, there was no down time.  This is my life.  A life that I am honored to lead.


Diary Of… Daniel Gracie (February 6, 2011)

Checking the calendar is not something I do often.  For me each day is just that.  A day in my life.  24 hours with which to explore my possibilities and push the boundaries of my training.  I know that my first fight in the Bellator Light Heavyweight tournament is about seven weeks out.  I know that I must be prepared to go the distance of three fights in a relatively fast succession.  I know that I will do this.


My mindset is focused.  Spending four years away from fighting was a tough choice for me.  I spent those years keeping one foot in my training and the other firmly planted on the tatame teaching BJJ at my cousin Renzo’s academy in New York City.  The day when my manager contacted me about the fight in the IFC, was the day that I placed both feet back into training.  I knew it was the right time.  That comeback win for me was The Return of Ikemen.


This nickname was given to me at my first MMA fight in Japan for PRIDE back in 2001.  70,000 fans in a packed arena with all eyes on the Gracie newcomer.  It was go time.  I fight for my family.  The Gracie family pioneered MMA and I will carry on the tradition.  Now, back to today.  MMA fighting is not what it was, even just a few years ago.  Then, a couple disciplines dominated the fights and opponents were often caught off guard by the others expertise.  This is no longer the case.  Today’s MMA fighter must have a BJJ foundation and must also be extremely well versed in several other disciplines.  This can of course lead to a lack of focus if spread too thin.  This is the paradox for todays MMA fighter.  How to balance.  My training has seen me traveling to Boston to train with Mark Della Grotte at Sityodtong, to the South Bronx to train with Kwame Asante at John’s Boxing Gym, to Renzo Gracie Academy in New York City to train with our team, to New Hampshire to train with Tim Barchard of Pro Martial Arts Academy and this is often done in one week.  Left unchecked, the demands of training placed on an MMA fighter would burn him out weeks before his fight.


This is where you dig deep.  This is when you ask yourself how badly you really want it.  This is why I fight.  A lot of people want to know my schedule, my diet, my regimen.  That may be where I differ from others.  I listen to my body and give it what it needs.  Extra time at the gym, or that slice of pizza or that day off to spend with my family.  It is this that keeps me balanced and focused.

A Guest Article by BJJ legend, Daniel Gracie – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: The Ultimate Foundation For MMA


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.The Gentle Art. A martial art that traces its

roots over millennia. Throughout the vast lands of Asia, from monks

to Samurai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has a noble and important lineage.


Fast forward to the early 20th Century when Mitsuyo Maeda travelled to

Brazil and taught this ancient art to the Gracie Family – Father

Gastão and sons Carlos, Helio, George, Gastão and Oswaldo. As the

brothers put forth the famous ‘Gracie Challenge’ willing participants

came from far and wide to test themselves against these young men.

Carlos had been the original student of Mr Maeda and the teacher to

all of his brothers. The ‘Gracie Challenge’ met with great success.

The challengers came and were submitted. Not girth, nor strength, nor

size could defend the submissions by the Gracie brothers. No other

art or sport or technique could match the depth of Brazilian Jiu-

Jitsu. Nothing rivalled the effectiveness and speed of the Gracie

brothers’ skill in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.


This truth was to be tested once again in a fledging event called the

UFC. Royce Gracie was the one chosen by the family to fight in this

new event. With no rules, no time limits and no pre conceptions, this

was a true test of which art form would reign superior. As

illustrated in the earliest UFC events, the Gracie style of Brazilian

Jiu-Jitsu trumped all other arts. It was truly a watershed moment.


Now to today. Fighting organizations have sprung up everywhere. The

UFC is a powerhouse. And Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu remains the go to art

form for MMA fighters. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the ultimate foundation

for today’s Mixed Martial Arts fighter. In no other art or sport or

technique does one find the depth and wealth of knowledge and

possibilities as exists in BJJ. With a standing component featuring

several take downs and submissions, with a ground game that has no

equal, BJJ is the only complete art for MMA.


As today’s MMA fighter knows, the rules have changed drastically from

the earliest no holds barred events. In these earliest events, BJJ

was unmatched. Up kicks from the guard were allowed. The fight could

be started immediately on the ground. While fighting on the ground,

the fight was never stopped and forced to stand up. Perhaps these

drastic rules changes were in direct response to the superiority of

BJJ? Today’s MMA fight is expected to be a battle standing. Today’s

MMA fighter is expected to trade blows. While another art would’ve

withered and died in the face of these changes, BJJ has evolved and

come back stronger. This stand up game has only heightened the

importance of having your base in BJJ. As a practitioner of BJJ, you

have infinite possibilities to not only defend strikes, but to thwart

these attacks and submit your opponent. Removing yourself from these

blows, the BJJ fighter often emerges from the bout unscathed and



To further emphasize the incomparable validity of BJJ, think back to

the fight between Chael Sonnen and Anderson Silva. Sonnen, an MMA

fighter with a foundation in wrestling. Silva, an MMA fighter with a

foundation in Muay Thai. This bout was hard fought to say the least.

Silva was taking many blows from Sonnen and at one point it looked as

if Sonnen would be the victor. With only seconds left in the fight,

Silva went to the triangular choke. Finishing his opponent and

winning the fight. Only with BJJ could you pull out a victory in this



In another well known fight, Minotauro Nogueira submitted behemoth Bob

Sapp by arm bar after a true war. Sapp dwarfed Minotauro in size.

The match up was skill versus girth. Sapp dominated the fight with

his size and strength, throwing Minotauro around the ring like a rag

doll. Exhausted and losing the fight, Minotauro saw his opportunity.

He swept Sapp and got a beautiful arm bar from side control. No other

Martial Art could produce this result against an opponent with such

incredible size and strength.


My cousin and mentor, Renzo Gracie, denies no challengers. He will

fight any and all comers. This philosophy is at the root of Brazilian

Jiu-Jitsu. He defends our family’s art with a warrior’s spirit.

Fighting against larger opponents, Renzo proves the effectiveness of

BJJ time and time again. UFC 6 Champion Oleg Taktarov was chosen as

Renzo’s opponent in MARS (Martial Arts Reality Superfight) in the mid

90’s. Taktarov was a Russian Sambo fighter and had a 70 pound weight

advantage. During the fight, Renzo attempted a takedown that was

stopped by Taktarov. Immediately pulling guard, Renzo was in his

element on the mat. Taktarov approached to ground and pound. Not

missing a beat, Renzo up kicked his opponent, thwarting the strikes

from the ground and pound. This allowed Renzo to throw the deciding

KO and end the fight. Another example, is his fight against Maurice

Smith which was won by arm bar in the first minutes of the fight. His

bout against Wataru Sakata was also a victory for him by arm bar.

Both of these fights were in Rings – King of Kings in Japan. Both

opponents have a minimum of a 60 pound weight advantage. Neither

could defend the technique of BJJ. In his fight against Pat

Miletich, Renzo won by guillotine. The fight began standing and ended

standing, with Renzo jumping onto Miletich and capturing him in a

guillotine. His record goes on to show many other victories by

submission. He is a true BJJ and MMA pioneer and legend.


As the sport of MMA evolves from it’s earliest beginnings, so too does

BJJ. This Martial Art is like no other. In no other art do you find

such a flexible base. BJJ is for all sizes, styles, body types and

abilities. As is the basis of our philosophy, we welcome all. If

this is not the best base for MMA, then I don’t know what is.