From Close Quarter Combat Magazine – Page 13, August/Sept 2003, Issue 20
G r a c i e C o n f e s s e s
By SGT. Laurence Snell (US ARMY, Ret.)
“Hidden in this CYA statement there is a confession.”
“When I tour the country and give seminars, I am surprised by how many people who are experts in sport jujitsu but do not know the most basic self-defense techniques of ju-jitsu. The problem with this is that you can get a false sense of security from what you know. Just because you can handle yourself on the mat doesn’t mean you’ll know what to do when attacked. In that case, sport ju-jitsu can actually be a detriment because you’ll be overconfident. We were shocked by how many longtime students had completely forgotten, or even worse never learned, the very important self-defense aspects. For my father Helio, the self-defense moves are far more important than the sport moves. Every time I see him, he always tells me that students are not being taught enough self-defense moves.”
– Royce Gracie,
Isn’t it a little late to be telling us this? They are the number one initiator and breeders of modern sport wrestling. After all these years of making undefeatable claims and brainwashing thousands of students into believing they are in some kind of an undefeatable system, he tells us this, now? Questionable marketing and early UFC shenanigans (trampoline ring floors and that fighter named Kimo that really had only one month of training–not a 4th degree black belt!) had left their deep impression in the early 1990’s. This Gracie style of sport wrestling, which has confused and misled so many as being some kind of ultimate self-defense, has infected the world. So many martial artists feel compelled to offer groundwrestling courses in their programs that the Gracie family name appears coast-tocoast.
So much so, that a few key, naïve, military insiders have embraced it. I am a retired U.S. Army Sergeant and former old-school, Karate black belt. I stood by through the years as I watched my beloved Japanese arts turn into “children citizenship schools” that produce little more than sport kick-boxers. And I am ashamed to say I also stood by as just a few people in “this-man’s-Army” twisted our hand-to-hand combat manuals into some kind of high school wrestling program.
Powerless to interfere again, I watched the process, which started with a small team of Rangers going to Brazil, bringing the criteria back. Next, the material somehow spread into Army doctrine. Newer manuals cover an abundance of sport, wrestling techniques. I spoke with a graduate of these courses and he told me, “…during the randori (freestyle wrestling) work-outs, I would pretend that the real enemy was trying to get me, or that an attacker was after my family and I had to break free and win.” When I reminded him that stabbing your finger into the eye of these killers was just one of many survival techniques missing from their doctrine, he seemed to miss the point.
“Ever wrestle with your backpack on? With an M-16? Wearing a pistol and a knife? Can you? Even as an escaping and unarmed prisoner, is wrestling your first choice? “ I asked him? “I just really like it,” was the only answer. For some, the brainwashing runs deep.
For others in a growing trend, the brainwashing doesn’t run so deep. Early on, the newer UFC fighters, with their emphasis on hardcore striking and kicking, have learned to defeat these sport wrestlers. A recent Tennessee police officer wrote a review of a police-based, Gracie seminar he attended for a major law enforcement magazine. The officer reported that much of what Gracie teaches must be “taken with a grain of salt,” because he lacks experience in the realworld problems of police combat.
I think the Gracies have seen the modern movement toward reality in martial arts and are doing public relations / CYA (cover your ass), actually blaming their students for not knowing what they haven’t been teaching them for 15 years now. But hidden in this CYA statement there is a confession. When will we hear something similar from the Army? I wonder now what these shortsighted, Army H2H manual writers think now, after Gracie’s admission. We will be stuck with this manual for years, maybe even a decade!
By SGT. Laurence Snell (US ARMY, Ret.)
Why are we teaching these (our) troops to wrestle?