GoRecess Playground Pros: Rener and Ryron Gracie, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy; Los Angeles, CA
Names: Rener and Ryron Gracie (Pronounced "Henner" and "Hee-ron")
Hometown: Torrance, California
Classes They Teach: All of them! (Women Empowered, Master Cycle, Gracie Combatives, Little Champs, Jr Grapplers, Reflex Development)
Ryron is a fourth degree black belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and one of the head instructors at the Gracie Academy. Introduced to the art before he could walk, Ryron's earliest memories are of watching his father teach jiu-jitsu in the garage at their home in Hermosa Beach, California. As the eldest grandson of Grand Master Helio Gracie, Ryron has dedicated his life to the preservation and perpetuation of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in its purest form, as a method of self-defense. When he's not sharing the gentle art with the world, Ryron can be found engaging in the usual silverback gorilla activities: eating, sleeping, or climbing trees.
Rener is a third degree black belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and one of the head instructors at the Gracie Academy. Renowned for his infectious enthusiasm (a.k.a. the "Renergy") and his uncanny ability to explain/teach any subject or skill as if it were a jiu-jitsu technique, Rener's passion for sharing the gentle art is unmatched. When he's not teaching or traveling, Rener spends most of his time researching, refining, and restructuring the Gracie Academy curricula so that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu can be made available in a fun, safe, and comprehensive format to students all over the world.
ABOUT THE ACADEMY, RENER & RYRON
What is unique about Gracie Jiu-Jitsu? Gracie Jiu-Jitsu has a very special way of utilizing distance, leverage, timing, and technique, so that a smaller person can effectively defeat a larger opponent without the reliance of speed, size, or strength. A smaller statured person can defeat a larger opponent by learning how to control these aspects of a fight scenario.
The story of the Gracie technique of Jiu-Jitsu is amazing. How did come into your family? Jiu-jitsu originated in Japan and in the early 1900s, a Japanese man named Conde Koma Maeda came in contact with the Gracie family and started teaching them his style of jiu-jitsu. The main pupil from the Gracie family was Carlos Gracie, and he and his brothers would learn and practice the techniques, and they eventually opened their own Gracie Jiu-Jitsu academy. Out of all of the brothers, our grandfather Helio Gracie, was unable to practice the techniques, because he had inexplicable fainting spells. This however, did not stop him from watching his brothers train, and learning in that way. One day, a student of the academy had a private with Carlos Gracie, but he didn’t show and as a result, Helio offered to teach the class instead. After the lesson the man was so impressed with Helio’s teaching style that he requested him as a permanent instructor. From that point on, Helio began teaching and started dedicating more time to practicing the techniques. Due to his smaller physique, he realized that many of the moves relied heavily on size and strength, which Helio didn’t have. He ended up modifying the techniques so they could be more reliant on leverage, timing, and technique, and that was the birth of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu!
Ryron, you started teaching at 12 years old. What keeps you teaching? Even though I have been teaching the same techniques for all of these years, the principles of what I teach remains the same, but the positive impact that these principles have on everyone who learns the art, is what keeps me teaching. In every new student, I can see the excitement in their face when they learn how effective and fun Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is, that it keeps me excited too. The positive impact it has on everyone who learns it and how each person is effected differently, keeps me excited about teaching.
What advice do you have someone interested in trying Gracie Jiu-Jitsu without any martial arts experience? Give it a try! Many people are reluctant to try Gracie Jiu-Jitsu because they believe they have to be strong, fast, or coordinated. However, with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, there is no physical prerequisite to learn the art and the most shocking revelation had by every Gracie Jiu-Jitsu student is how easy, fun, and effective the art is, and in every case, students tell us that they wish they had begun learning Gracie Jiu-Jitsu sooner!
How does Gracie Jiu-Jitsu inspire self-confidence? Once you’re 100% certain that you can defend yourself against a larger, stronger, more athletic opponent in a physical encounter, then at that point students feel that anything is possible.
Do you ever challenge each other? If so, who wins? Yes, we choke each other regularly. The victor is usually determined by who had the better breakfast that day.
What influence has Gracie had on UFC and MMA? The UFC was created by our father, Rorion Gracie, specifically to show Gracie Jiu-Jitsu against other disciplines. Without our jiu-jitsu, there would be no UFC or MMA.
[Watch them break down Jiu Jitsu moves and UFC fights on their YouTube channel. Their latest video features Ed O'Neil of Modern Family and Married with Children fame, a 22-year Gracie Jiu Jitsu veteran and black belt (who knew?!)]
What is BullyProof? How is it helping young people’s lives?
Gracie Bullyproof is our program for children ages 4-14 that teaches the most important self-defense techniques a child could use to control a bully, without ever causing harm to them! Within this program, we teach children not only how to defend themselves physically, but we emphasize the philosophy that they should not inflict harm on others or the bully, but rather, face the bully with confidence, and alleviate confrontation through control and negotiation. If children feel confident that they can defend themselves physically, then it gives them confidence to stand up to any bullies or problems they may face.
For those on the road or not near a Gracie Studio, can we get your instruction online or through DVDs? We have our program available online and DVD! For our adult programs such as Gracie Combatives and Women Empowered, we have our complete lessons available in streaming format within GracieUniversity.com. For kids, we have our complete Bullyproof program available within GracieKids.com. Registration is free for both of these sites and once a student creates an account, they automatically gain access to the first 3 lessons of each program, for free! Our DVD sets are also available for purchase within GracieAcademy.com, for students who prefer the lessons in that format. The online and DVD lessons are exactly the same, and they are taught just as the lessons are taught in-person at the Gracie Academy Headquarters in Torrance, California!
What’s the toughest Jiu-Jitsu move to master? The flying triangle.
How long does it take to reach blue/purple/brown/black belt? The rate for belt progression depends on each individual student in accordance with how often their train and how well they internalize the techniques from each lesson. Generally however, it takes about 8 months to a year to earn a blue belt, 4 years to earn a purple belt, 6-8 years to earn a brown belt, and 8-12 years to earn a black belt.
What are the key principles of the Gracie Diet? The key principle of the Gracie Diet is food combination. Within the Gracie Diet, foods are categorized into different groups. For instance, most vegetables, meats, and nuts comprise Group A, most carbohydrates comprise Group B, and then neutral fruits comprise Group C. The key to the diet is learning how each of the different groups combine, as to minimize the acidic levels within your stomach and blood. This greatly helps in the ease of digestion, minimizing stomach pains, and helping the overall functions within your body.
Any favorite recipes to share? Rener's favorite recipe is definitely, the Renergy sandwich, and he actually filmed a video on how to make this delicious sandwich on YouTube! Ryron's favorite recipe is onion quiche. Check out more recipes and the various food groups at GracieDiet.com.
If you could give GoRecess users one piece of fitness advice, what would it be? Keep it real, and keep it playful!