Question: If you had to choose between knowing jiu-jitsu and following the Gracie Diet, what would it be? Rorion Gracie’s answer is simple: “the diet, no doubt about it.” By now, everyone in the martial arts world knows about Helio Gracie’s generational reboot of full-contact competition. His eldest son Rorion dreamed up the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and his sixth child Royce blew minds with his underdog victories in the early shows. The progression of events followed the standard pattern: Man displays unfamiliar skills with style and confidence; his competition adapts to those skills; the man’s art is absorbed by the public; the art ceases to be a secret.


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Unbeknownst to much of the martial arts community is that Gracie jiu-jitsu is only part of the equation. The other part—which, they claim, is just as crucial to their success—is not how they train or how they think. It’s how they eat. Called simply the Gracie Diet, it’s the result of Carlos Gracie’s six and a half decades of research into the intricacies of health and nutrition. His nephew Rorion, now the family’s patriarch, proudly carries the torch for both family traditions: grappling and a very specific system of food combining.

The Source of the Gracie Diet

When I arrive at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Torrance, California, Rorion Gracie is giving a tour of the on-site family museum. A crew of filmmakers lounges on leather sofas, recharging batteries between shoots. As he will casually inform me, they’re making a documentary on the life of his father, Helio. Rorion Gracie and I settle in his office and begin talking about food and what it means to his family’s way of life. At 58, Rorion Gracie cuts a lively, lanky figure. He speaks with the cadence of a natural pitchman, yet he offers no pressure to believe what he describes, just a desire to transfer his enthusiasm. I ask him flat out why there’s even such a thing as the Gracie Diet. “What a lot of people don’t know is that my Uncle Carlos was the spiritual leader of the Gracie family,” he says. “He studied nutrition as the main aspect of health. He read extensively, listened to accounts and compared research from different nutritionists at the time. His studies became increasingly esoteric, and the more he got into it, the more he realized the importance of eating healthy. As a result, he spent 65 years dedicated to the betterment of health through proper food combining, what we now call the Gracie Diet. “We have to keep in mind one thing: Nothing consumes more energy than digesting a meal. Whatever you’re eating, that piece of food has to go through complex processes to be absorbed, transformed into energy and otherwise distributed as vital nutrients. We take this function for granted—we [grab] a granola bar, stick it in our mouth and think, I’m done.” What we don’t spend much time contemplating is digestion, he says. “People don’t think that deeply. They say, ‘Give me something that tastes good—let me stuff my face with it.’ No wonder people are so sick in America.” That leads him to the first precept of the Gracie Diet: You are what you eat. “Combine your foods properly, and your body will be healthy,” he says. “By doing this, you facilitate the digestive process, making it easier for the foods to be absorbed by the body and producing everything with maximum efficiency.”

Following the Gracie Diet

I ask the jiu-jitsu master what the diet’s most basic concepts are and how someone could ease into it without getting discouraged, and he recommends a three-step plan. One: Space Out Your Meals Leave at least four and a half hours between meals. Just do that during your first week. Eat whatever you want but don’t snack. The only thing you’re allowed between meals is water—no coffee, tea or anything else. If you’ve been told that you must eat every two or three hours to keep your metabolism active, forget it. “When you eat something at a certain time and then eat again two and a half or three hours later, that food will impact the chemical reaction of the previous meal, and that’s not good for you,” Rorion Gracie says. “There needs to be time to completely digest before you start a new meal.” Two: Dump the Dessert and the Soda Rorion Gracie winces when he talks about the amount of sugar people consume, especially in the United States: “You go to a restaurant and eat the extra-large portion of your meal. After you finish, the waiter comes by and suggests some dessert. That kind of sugar is no good for you. It’s completely unnecessary. You’re no longer hungry.” Add this to step No. 1 in your second week. Doing it gradually is the trick. “It’s like jiu-jitsu,” he says. “You teach one move per day, the next day another, and little by little, it starts to make sense. You start thinking, I’m [doing it] and I’m not dying!” Three: Eat Only One Starch Per Meal If you go to a hamburger shop and order your favorite dish, you’ll probably get a burger on a bun with French fries on the side. Don’t fall for it, Rorion Gracie says, because eating a potato product and bread at the same time is a no-no. Choose one or the other. He offers another example: “Rice and beans is the No. 1 dish in Brazil, but I’ve never had it,” he says. “People tell me it tastes so good, but I never had a cavity. I don’t regret not eating rice and beans.” For week three, add this recommendation to the first two and see if you notice a difference in how you feel or how much energy you have. Then ask yourself if you want to keep going, Rorion Gracie suggests.

Applying the Gracie Diet Rules

Once you’re past the toddler stage, your age shouldn’t affect how you apply the main concepts or any of the finer details, Rorion Gracie says. “I’m eating now what I ate 40 years ago. It doesn’t matter. Everybody should have vegetables and fruits, right? Young and old.” The challenging part is sticking with it. “Ultimately, you can do whatever you want, and that’s what makes talking about diet so tricky,” he says. “That’s why we don’t impose this on our students. If I were to say in order to join the Gracie Academy, you have to do the Gracie Diet, I wouldn’t have any students.” Even so, he never misses an opportunity to talk up its virtues. “People experience major transformations from it,” he says. “They realize how much better they’re feeling. It’s touched thousands of people in Brazil over the years because we’ve been there for a long time. It’s kind of a novelty in America. “Ultimately, the proof is in the pudding: The guy who devised it lived until his mid-90s, and so did my father. Not only did he live a long life, but he was active. Last time I saw my father, six months before he passed away, he gave me a hug and a kiss and said: ‘Rorion, let’s go on the mat. I want to show you a new choke that I’m working on.’ That’s what I want to do at 94. That’s what everybody wants.”
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Judo
Saddleburn

Two-Time Black Belt Hall of Famer Hayward Nishioka has been campaigning for judo in the United States to harvest more shodans (1st degree black belts) Shodan literally means student. It's analogous to being a freshman in college. It's not the end but the beginning according to Jigoro Kano, the Founder of Judo.

A very dear friend and sensei of mine the late Allen Johnson, may he rest in peace made a home at Emerald City Judo. In Redmond, Washington.

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Destinee Tartuffe

My friend Destinee Tartuffe a 4th dan and Head Sensei at Good Time Judo in Santa Rosa, CA has always been a pioneer and developer in all her life endeavors. She first took over the judo program at Santa Rosa Junior Collegestarted by my old friend Terry Kelly upon his retirement then went on to complete getting her law degree, JD.

Recently Destinee contacted me about a new training tool she’s invented. Upon my investigation, I was so impressed with this product that I asked her to write something about it for this week’s Black Belt Blog.
Judo Equipment

Members of Good Time Judo using Judo Jaime Training Tools.

As judo practitioners we know judo is an exciting dynamic Olympic or recreational sporting activity that offers social interaction, stress relief, and tons of fun. However, we also know that judo can be a dangerous, and potentially deadly activity when used for self-defense or when not practiced safely.

For all the fun and benefit that judo provides an enthusiast it seems to be the world’s best kept secret from the general populace. My coach and mentor taught me that judo is an inclusive, not an exclusive activity. So, I look for ways to get more people interested.

One of the biggest issues relates to the very idea of inclusiveness, which for me translates to one dojo cannot be everything to everybody. The age old saying jack of all trades, and master of none comes to mind.

Recently, I watched YouTube videos of three respected Judo coaches discussing the state of Judo in the United States. One of their common observations is that students who come to train with them lack the fundamental skills which would allow them to actually help those students reach a level of Judo expertise whereby the student could compete at an elite level of competition.

While I was disappointed to hear their dire opinions, they were similar to what I was experiencing in my college classroom. Honestly, I have been concerned for many years about how to continue when so many of the students come to class with an attitude of being a “super ninja” when in actuality they are often uncoordinated and seemingly unwilling to follow even the simplest of instructions. This creates a situation or environment where “bullies” prevail, injures occur, and students are lost. This attitude seems a direct conflict to the principle of Mutual Benefit and Welfare, and it made me think about hanging up my judogi.

Then, COVID caused programs to close, but as a college Judo instructor I was tasked with creating an online curriculum for my students and doing so within one week! I knew my students did not have the proper safety equipment in their homes to continue with the rolls and falls that we were practicing in class. We spent the last eight weeks finishing out the semester via Zoom class. I found the biggest challenge to be communicating to the student how they needed to correct their postures, or their ability to visualize the skill and apply my instructions for any given lesson.

The last night of class of had a vision of how these issues could be addressed. That’s when I created the Fundamental Directional Movement Mat and a Proximity Training Device that I call Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke. These tools can be used together or separately. The benefits conferred to the user by using the tools together can greatly excel the beginning students understanding of the application of Judo.

These tools are not just for beginners, it is important for even the most experienced judoka to review the fundamental movements regularly. Think about it there are pre-arranged forms (katas) that specifically address movement!

The Fundamental Directional Movement Mat is a durable vinyl mat with an elliptical design (mapping the movement of the Judoka in the plane of applied Judo). The instructor whether in-person or in an online class can assist the student by directing them to orient either along the horizontal or vertical 180 degree lines, which are also used to demonstrate and solidify 90 degree turns/pivots that are important to the fundamental movements for application of Judo. The mat also has indicators for the student to see the 45 degree angle of technique application easier.

Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke is a proximity training device that allows beginning Judoka to develop the proper posture and understanding of the proximity for applying judo techniques without the resistance, frustration, or fear that working with a partner initially brings. My years of teaching adults have shown me that despite what the student says, they often approach contact with another with fear and the mistaken belief that over-powering or resisting their partner is the proper thing to do; however, one-half the goal of Judo is that someone falls down! With Judo Jaime the student has the opportunity to develop the confidence and skills to make an actual attack when they are ready to engage with a person.

The device weighs no more than five pounds and is approximately 53” in height (when assembled). It is easily transportable and fun to use vs. the usual training dummies which are awkward, heavy and unsafe to use without proper instruction or direct supervision. While either product can be used alone we recommend using the tools together. This allows the student to fine-tune visualization skills and apply techniques, here again, without resistance from a partner. The student will develop an understanding and integration of the techniques for proper response timing more quickly.

The Fundamental Directional Movement Mat and Instructional material is copyrighted by Destar Productions, Inc.

Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke is a proximity training device with a patent pending by Destar Productions, Inc. For questions regarding orders and other product descriptions email Destinee Tartuffe at senseidestinee@gmail.com or visit our online store directly.

Judo Jamie

Judo Jaime

Fundamental Direction Training Mat

Fundamental Training Mat

Good Time Judo Outdoor workout with Judo Jaime

Outdoor Judo Jaime2

Judo training Without a Partner/ Introduction of Training Tools for Standing

This video introduces some new training tools for practicing, maintaining and gaining skills for application of Judo technique.Be sure to check out the Demon...

Demonstration of Judo Jaime: Your Training Uke

Demonstration of Judo Jaime: Your Training UkeBe sure to check out our video Judo training while social distancing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heSY5VGeA6M

I’m always looking for new subjects to write about regarding judo as well as contributions from my readers. Please send them to gary@garygoltz.com, thanks.

Gary Goltz
Xiaolin Gruv
Photo Courtesy: Carmichael Simon

Title Image: XiaolinGruv Masters 2005 : Nigel Bolton, Carmichael Simon, Kory Watkins, Anthony Gooch, and Jeriel Bey

During the 1980s as BBoys (Breakers), Poppers, and Lockers share their creative spirits within the New York City transit line, Los Angeles nightlife, and media platforms such as Soul Train, we travel a few miles from Bruce Lee’s nostalgic school where the “Arts & Soul” of Oakland, California harmonize. Orchestrating the culture of their roots, heritage of movement, and diversity of social economics, we find the Alice Arts Center.

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