My take on the Rickson Gracie Joe Rogan podcast
Man it was great to finally see Rickson Gracie on the podcast with Joe Rogan and Eddie Bravo.
It was super fun and exciting to hear about the legendary occurrences in Rickson's past such as how his challenge to Marco Ruas turned into a quarrel with Hugo Duarte and the behind the scenes of both Hugo Duarte fights, his Sambo experience with Rolls Gracie and how the torch got passed to him, his reaction after the Mark Kerr and Fabio Gurgel fight, the Yoji Anjo challenge match, or how he came to learn leg locks from Eric Paulson's Shooto video. However Rickson who presumably lives in the present had to stop the fanboy type discussions of his past and he said, I want to talk about the future, and began talking about the problems with BJJ today. How he wants to change things for the future up and coming BJJ practitioners by explaining the difference between efficient BJJ and effective BJJ. When such an awesome legend like Rickson is in the room, who doesn't turn into a fanboy, but I thought it was very impressive that he changed the talk around to something he felt was more productive towards the future rather than something that just further increases his legendary status. Still though, I don't think I'm alone in wanting to know what really happened behind the scenes. I wish they asked him about the Bas Rutten incident, or his take on Royce Gracie vs Matt Hughes. His constant concern to having an open mind, take what is useful while having a very solid structure of his own craft, when he briefly discussed with Eddie Bravo how to make the guard work in MMA, and he talked about how after the Gurgel - Kerr fight, he worked out with Rockson to see that against someone that size you need the knee on their chest and to create space and strike back at them creating a confusion, the fact that he's looking at more than just technical strategy but what goes on in the opponent's mind, I feel like I'm starting to understand a little bit of why he was so successful at what he did, his view point is on a larger scale of things than most, and the irony maybe is that he also has the polar opposite in view which are the technical details. It's also fascinating to hear about his contribution to BJJ on weight distribution which is what he means about Invisible Jiu-jitsu, you can't see it, but you can feel it.
Sakuraba, Coleman, Mark Kerr, Fedor Emelianenko, Wanderlei Silva, Bas Rutten, Marco Ruas, the list goes on and on, the matches we wish happened with Rickson, however of all these possibilities let me shrink it down to one. I personally would like to see how he would have handled, the ground and pound from Fedor. And to hear that this match almost happened, how crazy would that have been? The reason why I like Rickson's matches so much is not just because of his name value and legendary status, but I feel like I learn a lot from watching him fight. For educational purposes alone I wish he had done more Vale Tudo and MMA fights.
So after the interview, Eddie Bravo and Joe Rogan show Rickson the Rubber Guard. They explain to him that it's the closed Guard basically evolved so that it's tight, not to give any space for the opponent to hit you, yet, it allows you to attack, and also at the same time, prevents your opponent from standing back up. And that maybe the key difference in Rickson's old school BJJ strategy from today's perspective. From the Helio Gracie perspective if they get up, and back away then that means you successfully defended yourself. However in modern MMA, fighters do that and make the grappler have to play the stand up game and risk another chance to close the distance for a take down. Helio and Rickson's old school guard I think has 3 areas of interest, 1. when your opponent backs away, Rickson isn't really worried about this because he feels that this means the opponent is defensive or backing away. However Sakuraba was a guy who could do this and make this position to his advantage, he showed this in his fight against Royce. He wasn't able to do as much to Renzo, so it's worth studying and comparing Sakuraba vs Royce and Sakuraba vs Renzo from this perspective. Also Sakuraba wasn't able to capitalize as much in his rematch against Royce who was this time gi less and actually won the match. So the gi could have been a big factor. 2. When the opponent stalls on you, or just basically neutralizes your movement, crushes you, and lands small shots, like Mark Kerr did to Fabio Gurgel, this is what Rickson was concerned about and in his fights, the closest perhaps is Rickson vs Zulu, but Kerr at the time seems like a much better fighter than Zulu at the time. So in this area Rickson wasn't able to test his theories. And even though it was only grappling, supposedly it took Rickson like 30 min to submit Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz. 3. When the opponent decides to ground and pound you like Mark Coleman or even worse Fedor Emelianenko. Rickson's answer to this is to use his feet and kick back, so he has his hands and feet against the opponent's hands, Rickson did confess that Rickson vs Fedor almost happened, but once again this is untested.
So for me, these are my Rickson dream matches so that I could have seen his theories put to the test. These are the guys that at least at one point had the strategies that would test Rickson's game plan, even though there were plenty of other physical specimens and technical monsters out there that are in the same league as Rickson in those areas such as Bas Rutten, Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman, Mirko Crocop, and even Ken Shamrock.
Rickson Gracie vs Fedor Emelianenko
Rickson Gracie vs Mark Kerr
Rickson Gracie vs Kazushi Sakuraba