INTERVIEW: CLARK GRACIE AND BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU
Clark Gracie 31, from San Diego, California is a World Champion in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is regarded as one of the top fighters today. Clark is a well decorated fighter, including the “Submission of the Year” award from the World Jiu Jitsu Expo for his Pan Am 2013 final match. Clark began his journey with Jiu Jitsu at the age of 10, training with adults as there were no kids in the sport at that time.
The Gracie family is regarded as the most prestigious and influential family in the history of martial arts today who is responsible for advancing martial arts in a way never done before by creating Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and starting the UFC in the 90’s. We sat down with Clark Gracie recently to learn more about this world class athlete.
How did you feel as a boy when you first started seeing your cousin Royce Gracie beating all those Giants in the first UFC’s?
CG – I felt that I was witnessing history being made for the world to see, but something that had already been going on in Brazil for years. Since Royce is a member of my family and representing the art we study, I watched the event knowing that one day would also be my chance to represent Jiujitsu and demonstrate the effectiveness of the martial art my grandfather created years ago.
Did you feel that you carry a responsibility to have the “Gracie” name?
CG – For me I felt it was necessary to learn Jiujitsu and become a black belt. I also enjoy Jiujitsu and the lifestyle, so I have continued the tradition in my family and challenged myself as an athlete and competitor. Many people expect anyone with the Gracie lasts name to be skilled at jiujitsu so I feel lucky to also enjoy the journey to becoming a black belt and competing around the world.
What is the very first memory you ever had of training jiu jitsu?
CG – When I was 4 years old I remember my dad was teaching me and my sister the rear naked choke and the osoto gari takedown, just to make sure that no one messed with us in school.
If money was no object what would you do with your life?
CG – I would make sure that I had the most amazing beautiful Academy! I’d keep all my friends close by and keep doing what I’m doing right now just keep having fun with Jiu Jitsu.
Have you ever gotten into a fight on the streets, or had someone challenge you in the gym?
CG – Yes, when I was 17 in San Francisco I had a guy about 25 who was doing sexual gestures to this body while he was looking at me and my girlfriend. I asked him, “Hey man what’s your problem?” He said, “I like your bitch.” A little after he was at the top of an escalator that I was going up and he was waiting for me at the top and wanted to fight me. So when I got to the top I used the momentum of the escalator and shot in for a double leg take-down and then I got to the mount position. He was trying to hit me from the bottom and then he ripped my new shirt! That’s when I started punching him in the face. He then turned to his stomach to avoid the punches, so I choked him out unconscious. I then got up and immediately ran away with my girlfriend. I never want to fight on the streets, but that day I couldn’t avoid the situation.
How do you deal with mental pressure and fears in big events? How can our readers control mental pressure?
CG – I simplify my thoughts, I don’t let my emotions get the best of me. I try to imagine that it’s just another training session in the academy. I remember it’s just another human being in front of me that has limitations just like everyone else. Don’t worry about winning or losing just enjoy the testing and the experience and give your best.
What is your diet consist of? Do you follow the Gracie diet that was invented by your grandfather?
CG – My grandpa was a dietitian, so I try and follow the Gracie diet as much as possible. In the Gracie diet we really don’t eat any pork and we really pay attention to combinations of different foods. We don’t mix certain food groups together so that it’s better for our digestive system.
What does your weekly workout look like?
CG – Besides Jiu Jitsu, I like to do beach workouts with my trainer and my team. We will do hike and run strength building exercises. I really try to focus on bodyweight exercises and more high rep exercises rather than lifting heavy weights, so that we can really create that dense strength.
When I say these words tell me the first thing that comes to your mind:
MP – Gracie
CG – Jiu Jitsu
MP – Love
CG – Your family
MP – Money
CG – Cha-Ching
MP – United States presidency
CG – Obama
MP – Beach life
CG – Wind-and-sea
MP – Poverty
CG – Hunger
MP – Humanity
CG – Savior
MP – Happy
CG – Love
MP – Victorious
CG – Hard work
What is the most important thing in your life?
CG – Right now the most important thing in my life is my new family. I just had a new son come into the world. (Emotional) I want to keep my focus on him and my wife and I just feel so blessed to have them in my life.
Clark Gracie and Mike Powers