Monday, February 16, 2009

Face-to-face with Kron Gracie


Here's an excellent article on Kron Gracie, courtesy of www.graciemag.com. The young man is only 20, but is wise beyond his years. It's going to be a beautiful thing to watch him grow as a fighter and a  practitioner. He isn't close to being at his peak; a scary thing for his opponents!

Face to face with Kron Gracie

Black belt dedicates title to grandfather Helio Gracie
Gabriel Menezes

Kron Gracie, of only 20 years of age, knows he is just finding his feet among the top Jiu-Jitsu fighters in the world. Judging from the steps he’s been taking, always under the watch of father Rickson, the young fighter has been maturing and working on a strategy to achieving the goal he dreams of: to be a great champion.

His first title as a black belt was unfortunately not the joyous occasion one would expect, as the news of Jiu-Jitsu patriarch and Kron’s grandfather Helio Gracie’s death would throw a shroud his winning the 2009 European Championship middleweight division just days later.

“It was sort of like energy for me to give it my all this championship. I dedicate this championship to him. I thought of him after each win, I dedicated all of them to him,” Kron remarked to GRACIEMAG.com.

More focused, secure and experienced, the black belt summed up how he is feeling at this point in his career: “I think right now as an athlete and fighter I’m better than ever before physically and spiritually. I would change nothing that’s happened so far in my life.”

How do you feel now you’ve won your first title as a black belt?
I don’t feel any different about this victory than I did about any of the ones I had a purple or brown belt, for example. The only difference is that I feel everyone else now respects me as a black belt, because I’ve won at purple, brown and now against the best of the best.

So you don’t feel this win is anything special?
I don’t see any championship as being a special title. I just see it as another step towards being the best I can be. I want to win and in the future be the best at everything so I’m not too concerned with this title.

You heard about Grandmaster Helio Gracie days before the championship. What was your grandfather’s importance in your upbringing?
I found out my grandfather had died a few days before the championship. It hit me hard right when I was most focused and well prepared. In a way it felt like it happened as a way for him to come and be by my side. It was sort of like an he came as energy to make me do my best this championship. I dedicate this championship to him. I thought of him after each win, I dedicated all of them to him.

What are your memories of your grandfather and what role did he play in your Jiu-Jitsu background?
My grandfather was the one to create it all. So, what he’d tell me I’d assimilate. The greatest thing he taught me was the power of leverage, how a weaker guy can use leverage to beat a stronger guy. I try to apply these principles to this day, putting my strength and technique to work and looking to perfect myself.

How did you go about preparing for the European? What plans did you and your father come up with?
It was one of the only championships where I was 100% dedicated. I did everything that could be done for this competition, I gave it my best. I’m a lot more more focused than before, better prepared mentally and I’m only 20, so I’m not even as strong as I hope to be yet, I think only now did I really start my life in Jiu-Jitsu.

What did you think of the level of competition?
I thought there were lots of tough guys; each black belt division had top guys. I think the European is growing a lot each year. I think if it keeps going like this, and with the participation of French judokas, in France along there are 1 million practitioners, the European could become tougher than the worlds. I think it just needs more sponsorship, more money funneled into the sport as support.

Tell us about your fights leading up to the final. How were your wins?
Truth is I only had one fight before the final, since I got a bye in the first round. The guy I would fight, Pedro Bessa, I saw finish a guy off quick with a triangle so I saw he’d be tough. I prepared myself to fight him, since everyone else was saying he was really tough too. Truth is, I felt he was really strong, but I fought him, mounted and ended up winning by points.

And what was the final with Yan Cabral like?
The final was my second fight. Yan started out sweeping and pulled guard, and I nearly passed his guard. At that moment he turned his back and there was no way out. I finished him with two hands on his collar.

What was it like having your father at the event?
My father is always great support. When I win a championship and represent the family he gets happy. I never see him happier than when I win a championship. I fight for him.

After that fight in the Worlds, what did you learn in your quest for titles? What lesson’s did you derive from that experience?
I think the loss at the Worlds was perhaps the greatest learning experience I’ve ever had. It was tough for me, since it’s not easy to accept this loss, but we have to learn to accept everything life throws at us. I think now as an athlete and fighter I’ve never been so well mentally, spiritually and physically. I wouldn’t change anything I’ve been through so far.

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