One of the fighters most talked about since this year’s Jiu-Jitsu Pan is Kayron Gracie. The son of Carlos Gracie Jr and Adriana Ribeiro Gracie beat hard-nosed competitors like Sergio Moraes and Abmar Barbosa in making it to his new status as middleweight champion in California. Now the black belt hopes to get his hands on a gold medal at the Worlds. Despite today being his 22nd birthday, Kayron took time to speak with GRACIEMAG.com. He talks of his start in Jiu-Jitsu and his desire to do MMA. Check it out:
The Pan was your debut as a black belt. Did you expect it to go so well?
I expected it to go well and I believed in myself. Before the championship, I knew I wasn’t going to piddle around and that I wasn’t worse than any of the others. I’d been training a lot and was prepared. I felt good and everything went well. I put together a strategy and stuck to it.
With this result, a lot of people must be studying you. Will you bring out any new tricks for the Worlds?
Now folks will pay attention and I have to change my game a bit. I’m working on that here at Gracie Barra America and there will be some new things for the Worlds. I always look to change my game and do different things so no one will be able to come up with a counter-game. I’m entirely focused on the Worlds. I’m training a lot and really want to win this title.
What’s the secret to this guard of yours that’s such a bother to pass?
The truth is that there’s a lot of instinct in it! I think my flexibility helps some.
Is there a lot of pressure to defend the family name? What was your involvement in Jiu-Jitsu like until you decided to make a living from it?
I think it’s really great to represent the family name and there’s nothing better than to have been born into it all. I started competing at around 7, but I only went on to take it really serious, and train a lot, between 15 and 16. It dawned on me that Jiu-Jitsu was a profession.
Besides competing, you teach at the academy. To what extent does that help or hinder?
It refines my game. We end up thinking about Jiu-Jitsu all day long. It can get in the way of training a bit. Often you can’t do a lot of training because you’re obliged to teach class. But even so, we always end up on the mat. Without the obligation, there could be a margin for getting lazy about going and training. That doesn’t happen when you teach and you even value your training time more.
As a teacher, you follow up close the teaching and management methodology of your father, Carlinhos, called Gracie Barra Premium Schools. What value does it add to class?
The result is really good. The students love it and it’s growing a lot here in the United States. It’s a methodology that balances training. It attends to students who want to compete or who just want to do Jiu-Jitsu as a physical activity. Before, there was a lot of focus on the competitor and the rest of the gang was a bit left out. This style pleases everyone, from the guys who just wants a little workout and learn the style to the ones who want to compete and become teachers.
Do you intend to ever do MMA, like so many of your family members did?
Now I’m 100% focused on Jiu-Jitsu, with and without the gi. I do have plans, further down the road, to do MMA. But at the moment all I’m thinking about is Jiu-Jitsu.