The year was 1993. Live on pay per view, a new concept in combat sports – The Ultimate Fighting Championship. Meant to prove once and for all, which martial art was the best. Karate, boxing, sumo wrestling or jiu jitsu. When the tournament was done and the smoke cleared there stood one winner, from a family who’ve mastered Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Royce Gracie. Years later, the sport of MMA and the UFC have evolved into a multibillion dollar industry with network TV deals, superstar fighters, and even action figures. But through it all, the Gracie name has stayed synonymous with being the foremost experts of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Recently, Royce and his brother Royler Gracie came to Winnipeg to hold Jiu Jitsu seminars at the Gracie Humaita Gym, run by Rodrigo Munduruca. I had a chance to sit down with these two legendary fighters to speak about a subject very close to my heart. Bullying. I found it amazing that here sits a couple of men, who’s skills make them some of the most dangerous martial artists in the world, would calmly speak about bullies, their victims and how to put an end to it.
“It’s about confidence” said Royler, who spoke of growing up around people that instilled confidence in them from a young age. “We were always being told you look good, you look strong, even though I didn’t, I’m just a skinny kid!” he says as he laughed. The Gracies talked about how taking part in martial arts builds that confidence needed. “We’re talking about Jiu Jitsu, because that’s what we know. But if you take part in any martial art, you get that confidence.” Royce and Royler shared a story about how a bully from their childhood held a stick to them, a weapon, demanding money. But they had the confidence not to back down, and sent that bully running.
Royce’s take on it is to not only look after the victim, but to also the bully. “Why is he bullying?” he asks. “it’s because he’s not confident himself. He pushes around those smaller than him because he thinks it makes him look cool? Look tough?” Royce Gracie says to put the bully and the victim in the same martial arts class. They’ll learn not just the skill of combat, but also to honor and respect each other. Maybe even become friends as they’ll share that brotherhood like bond from training together.
Being bullied is such a terrible experience. It happens in schools, online and even amongst adults. To have highly skilled martial artists and role models like Royce and Royler Gracie speaking up against bullying goes a long way in ending it. If you’re being bullied or you know someone who is, please Take a Stand and Speak Up about Bullying.