Master Carlos Gracie Jr. believes that making winning the ultimate goal is not a proper way of teaching. The greatest victories at Gracie Barra were always a consequence of the process, and embracing the training as a method through which one could best test their personal limits. Losses, which helped us to evolve into better athletes and competitors, were not perceived as failures. Instead, Master Gracie believed that these lessons should leave our self respect intact, as different facets of the competition are wholly out of our control: the talent and experience of the other athletes, errors by referees, injuries, and bad luck. As a result, he could always accept physical errors but not mental ones: our preparation, planning, attention to detail, and the development of discipline and willpower were always seen as the top priority in the training process.
Inside the school, Master Carlos Gracie Jr. did not limit his teaching to techniques, but also, taught us character. Early on in our training, he instilled us an understanding that the fundamentals for good jiu-jitsu were fundamentals of a good character. Without honesty, integrity, discipline and unselfish acts, one would never become the great athlete he or she envisioned. As Professor Carlos always taught us, if you want to truly know someone, pay attention to them as they fight. When one is engaged in struggle or combat, they cannot hide their true personality.
Gracie Barra’s success throughout the years has meant that any other team has typically sees us as a major rival. While getting to the top is difficult, staying there or near there for many years running is an even bigger challenge. Therefore, it takes a special group of people to handle that pressure. Still, our team has always been ready to deal with those expectations because of the manner in which Master Gracie conducts the training and the philosophy at the school, building not only our techniques but more importantly, the self-confidence giving us a mental edge. He achieves this through positive reinforcement rather than pressure as a tool to influence behavior. The result? Win or lose, he has created a group of athletes who feel a deep sense of loyalty and commitment to him and the Gracie Barra family.
Master Carlos Gracie Jr. was never the type of coach that would put pressure on you at every tournament, screaming from the sidelines. Instead, his lessons are felt each day, slowly growing on you, where you feel it constantly, in every aspect of your being. The true guidance he provides is in realizing that success in Jiu-Jitsu must be an extension of one’s life, and that building confidence and a commitment to excellence must be cultivated over time. Therefore, his method of building champions was not through last minute quotes providing superficial motivation. Rather, the athletes at our school learned that becoming a champion on and off the mat takes time, hard work, and dedication earned and built over the years.
Competition was always a very serious subject, but Master Carlos Gracie Jr. always described it as a test of our mindset and maturity. Therefore, the conversations never revolved around opponents but were seen as a fight against ourselves in our quest for self-mastery. Going into the tournament, our thoughts were always the same: to trust in our abilities and that our technique could take the initiative away from our opponents. inspired us to believe in ourselves and our abilities, and to impose our will upon our opponents, not reacting to them.
Because Master Carlos Gracie Jr. believes in us, he is always able to make us feel like we are unstoppable. Even in defeat, he looks upon us not with scorn, but always shows how proud he is for your efforts ”on the battlefield.” He makes you understand how much respect he has for the way you fight. This is why whenever you see an athlete competing, carrying the Gracie Barra flag on his ”armor,” you will see one who is filled with an overwhelming sense of pride for the legacy and heritage we share.
Today, I am very grateful to Professor Carlos, not only for being a teacher, but also for having been a great Master, father and best friend. Therefore, it is not medals or trophies which inspire me – it is the lessons I have learned from Professor Carlos which give me strength and courage. I will never let him down.
~ GB Disciple