Black belt Kayron Gracie was hanging out at Gracie Barra’s Compnet 11 tournament in Irvine, California last weekend, coaching his students on the mats during their competitions, visiting with friends, and enjoying his day.
The 23-year-old, middle heavy weight son of Master Carlos Gracie, Jr. recently returned from his trip to New York where he competed at the Pan No Gi Championship. While there, he experienced a nice comeback from a hamstring injury he sustained at Fabricio Werdum’s Samurai Pro BJJ tournament back in the spring.
“I hurt myself at the Samurai Pro,” Kayron says, “This was a good way for me to get back to competition.” His hamstring took four or five months to heal and it bothered him a lot. He even had to stop training for a while.
Kayron agreed to fight in a superfight in Panama over the summer, and although he won the match in about a minute, he says he was still hurt and had to change his strategy to be able to compete. He couldn’t play his guard game, which is his bread and butter.
By the time he arrived in New York, he was almost 100% healed. He trained with his GB teammates before his journey and took one of his students back East with him. In his middle heavy weight division, he won his first match with a toe hold and then closed out the final with his teammate and friend, Luciano Cristovam. Kayron was awarded the gold medal for his efforts.
In the open class he finished his first three fights with two rear naked chokes and one armbar. Then he found himself in the final with Davi Ramos of Atos. Kayron had never fought Davi before, but he’d seen his matches and knew that he liked leg attacks. “He’s fast and explosive,” Kayron says, “I escaped a lot of his attacks, but he didn’t give up trying and he caught me with a foot lock.” So, Kayron walked away with a silver medal in the absolute.
Kayron, who doesn’t like to lose, had nothing but respect for his opponent. “He did it well,” he says, referring to the lock he caught Kayron in, “And he knows he does them well. He stuck to the attack and he got it.”
Kayron says losing motivates him to train harder and work on his mistakes to try to correct them. “I don’t like to lose,” he says, “but you have to be a good sportsman. You have to know how to deal with defeat. It’s part of the game.”
The No Gi Worlds are coming up in November and Kayron says he will probably compete at them. He’s been running GB Mission Viejo and teaching classes regularly. He does have time to train for the No Gi Worlds, but says he has to take care of the academy as well, which takes a lot of his time and effort.
As for training and competing in no gi, Kayron enjoys it a lot. He practices more gi than no gi, but he loves no gi all the same. “I really believe it helps my gi game,” he says.
The last time Kayron won the No Gi Worlds was as a purple belt. This will be his first time attending the No Gi Worlds as a black belt. He usually goes to Brazil in November, but this year he will be in town, so he’s setting his sites on trying to win again, this time as a black belt. He doesn’t have anyone in particular he’d like to match up against. “I just want to fight the best guys in my division,” he says.
Kayron has been a black belt for two years. He’s very happy with his progression thus far. Kayron believes his best years are still ahead of him. “I still have a lot to do,” he says. His favorite Jiu-Jitsu techniques involve the neck and chokes. “I like the neck,” he laughs, “I like chokes because they can’t resist. If they don’t tap, they’re gonna go out!”
His ultimate goals are to win the open class in the Worlds, but he really wants to win in his weight first. Then, if he has the opportunity to fight in the absolute, he’ll do it. He also wants to compete in the World Pro next year. He was unable to train for the ADCC’s this year because of his injury. “I’ve never fought in the ADCC before,” he says, “I had two injuries this year. I hurt my foot really bad and then my hamstring. It’s been a bad year for injuries. Last year was a great year, but this year has not been so great.”
Kayron is looking forward to a much better 2012. “I want to stay healthy, make my school grow, win the Worlds as a black belt, and reach my maximum potential,” he says.