How parents can help shape a champion like Roger Gracie, according to Maurição Gomes

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Roger e Mauricao em seminario do craque Gracie no Rio Foto Gustavo Aragao

Gomes with Roger at a seminar at Zé Beleza’s school. Gustavo Aragão/GALLERR

Some time ago we caught up with coral-belt Maurição Gomes when the celebrated student under Rolls Gracie was marking 50 years in BJJ. He recalled the games he used to play with a young Roger — his son with Reila Gracie, — and how the fighting spirit slowly blossomed in the future three-time absolute world champion.

We asked Maurição to give some advice to any parent out there hoping for their child to become a great champion. “The truth,” he answered, “is that you can give whatever incentive you want, tell your child to repeat whatever position, but, if they don’t like training BJJ, there’s nothing you can do. The main thing, then, is not to make demands, but to slowly lead them to have fun with that.”

“What I used to do with Roger was to play all the time,” he added. “We were always rolling. I would submit him all over the house. Until one day he, already grown, caught me in a nasty wrist lock, and I didn’t want to tap. I went a year unable to prop my hand on the ground!”

After chuckling at the memory, Maurição continued: “But a dad has to take it easy. Roger, when he was ten, hated going to practice. He would tell people repeatedly, ‘I hate this crap. I only go to the gym because my dad makes me.’ And look where we are now.”

Now a father to a boy and a girl living in England, Roger is working on passing the BJJ torch to his offspring — with a light touch, of course. His case is reminiscent of the incentives Grandmaster Helio had in place for his sons Rorion, Relson, Royler, Royce and Rickson. “When I would win a competition, my dad gave me a gift,” Royce once told Graciemag. “When I would lose, he gave me two.”

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