Written By: Barry Laminack
Photos By: Andy Hemingway
It’s not every day that a true legend in the MMA world visits Houston, but that is exactly what happened this past Saturday at Urban Jungle Self Defense. Royce Gracie was in town for a BJJ seminar, an event that usually happens once or twice a year.
Urban Jungle owner Tony Torres-Aponte is a long time friend of Royce’s. Their relationship spans back before the UFC debut in 1993. He used to train with Royce in the Gracie’s garage back in California. Their friendship and training relationship has stood the test of time and Royce continues to make the trek to Houston on a regular basis to provide quality seminars for the academies that bear his name or have an association with him.
I estimate there were over 120 people total that attended the seminar (very large by Houston MMA standards), but it was structured in such a way as to not crowd everybody together. Instead of one large seminar, it was broken up into 3 classes. The first class was kids and teens, the second was advanced (blue belts and higher) and the third class was white belts only. This worked out very well and seemed to allow Gracie to teach to the level of the class with out boring or losing those in attendance.
What I found interesting about the seminar was the curriculum. It wasn’t the normal BJJ style seminar that I’m used to. It had a heavy self-defense element to it, an element of BJJ that seems to be lost some times in today’s sport. For example, the very first lesson of the seminar was how to defend against an attacker who is choking you with one hand around your neck. Next it was defending if somebody was choking you with two hands around your neck.
The progression of the seminar was, in the end, a step by step on how to defend yourself. There were lessons on defending against striking attacks, how to take your opponent down and of course what to do once you are on the ground. There was also live sparring at the end of each session.
Royce was very attentive to his students and I noticed that he made it a point to talk with and teach each person in attendance. He also granted me an exclusive one on one interview that I will be posting at a later date.
Until then, enjoy some outstanding pictures from the seminar, taken by the very talented Andy Hemingway.
Click on a picture to see a larger version