Back in the spring of this year (2014) I was lucky enough to reserve a spot for the Master Royler Gracie seminar at Gracie Humaita, Cleveland. This was a very exciting event for me since Master Royler has always been one of my favorite fighters! I remember watching him fight in Pride and in Abu Dhabi way back in the day.
I also remember always respecting the fact that he was, at that time, the most active Gracie fighter and I even remember thinking that after most of the other Gracies quit competing (back then we only really knew of Helio’s sons) Master Royler competed all the time and I had a lot of respect for that.
This seminar also happened to be about a week or two after Metamoris 3, which featured the Royler -vs- Eddie Bravo rematch that was sooo long in the making. In my opinion, Eddie controlled that match and had Royler in a very bad spot when time was allowed to expire. but, DAMN! Royler was never going to tap to that “Vaporizer”! Which is a lot more than I can say for myself! I would have tapped in, like, two seconds!
The first thing that struck me upon entering the room where Royler as already dressed and ready, was how SMALL he was. I’m not a big guy, by any stretch at 5′ 7″ 165 lbs, but I was shocked by how much smaller he was than I had imagined in my head. Royler stood about 5’6″ and, maybe, 155 lbs (if he had just eaten lunch). All this all seemed crazy since I had watched him take on guys that I knew were 180 – 200 lbs and give them hell!
Everyone was really excited to get started and a lot of people were wondering how Royler was feeling about the Bravo match from a week or so ago. One person, a black belt from another school said he had a copy of Eddie’s DVD (Twister) that he was gonna ask Royler to sign…I wasn’t sure if he thought that would be a dig on Eddie or on Royler, or if he just thought it would make a unique souvenir – memorabilia? But, If I am honest, I thought it was a bit disrespectful. I really don’t know if he ever asked him to sign it or not.
Anyway, the topic of the Bravo match never came up during the seminar. Instead we were treated to some old school Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, some new school sport Jiu-Jitsu and even twenty minutes of family history (which may have been the best part of the seminar.
The seminar started with some basic, striking deflection / clinch techniques, then progressed to clinch-based takedowns and even included a clinch – to – back – to – rolling heel hook, which was not only surprising but also very difficult (at least for me).
The coolest, and least expected technique of the day was a pair of related berimbolo movements from half guard. No one expected a Master of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to pull out some super modern sport Jiu-Jitsu moves. even Royler acknowledged that he doesn’t normally perform thee techniques, but that he wanted everyone to know that they are not difficult if you know all the basics (which no one would question, Master Royler knows them all!).
I still use these berimbolos on occasion, although right now, I am still working on improving my basic half-guard passes so I normally forego the berimbolo in favor of working the half-guard pressure pass which is generally popular in my home school / team network. I’ll post up a video of the technique soon, since I DO think it is really cool!
After about two hours it was time to quit training and Royler asked everyone to have a seat around the mats and that he had a few things he wanted to say. What followed was about 20 minutes of Royler telling us about his family’s history, growing up in the Gracie household, his relationship with his brothers and the passion for what he referred to NOT as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, but as “My fathers art”.
I know some people pan these sorts of speeches at seminars, but those who know me know that I have a strong sense of loyalty and romanticism and it really struck me as significant. To be sitting there, within arms reach of a legend, listening to him pour out his heart about “growing up Gracie” and how much the legacy of his Father means to him…It helped to make me an even bigger fan of Royler than I already was.
BTW…No one brought up Eddie or the match from a week ago…except Royler, who made a flippant joke about crazy moves with even crazier names…we all laughed at that. I think we all know who and what he was referring to 🙂
I tried desperately to get a private session with him, but the organizer of the event had informed me that Royler was not doing any privates 😦
In the end, this was $100 well spent and 100 miles well driven (each way)! Hey…I don’t call it BJJ Yolo for no reason! I will definitely be up for another Royler seminar the next time I am lucky enough to be within cars reach of him.