with Kyra Gracie
King of Jiu-Jitsu
2004 (pp. 90-91)
"A Jiu-Jitsu Elf"
Original Interview by Martins Denis
Pix by Levy Ribeiro
--> English) by Roberto Pedreira
October 1, 2016
Q1: Can you talk about the
composition of your family?
Kyra: My mum was born a
Gracie. My gramps [祖父ちゃん] is Robson Gracie. My uncles are Renzo, Ryan, Charles,
Q2: You were surrounded by
uncles and you had the name of Gracie. Did you feel a lot of
Kyra: Of course, in the
house it wasn't something like that. But outside, for sure, I can't say that I
didn't feel pressure. Especially before a tournament, totally, it was like
people were, like, "Oh, a Gracie is competing" or "Oh, a Gracie
is stepping up". I could hear things like that. So the first time I
competed, before that, I had to overcome that. It goes along with the name of
Gracie to be the center of attention. You can't enter a tournament where it
isn't like that.
Q3: By the way, when you entered your first jiu-jitsu contest, it
seems there wasn't any female jiu-jitsu fighter with the Gracie name......
Kyra: That's right. I was
the first one.
Q4: Was the family confused and perplexed when you said you were going to train jiu-jitsu?
Kyra: Absolutely not. No
way. I mean, my mum, she told me "go to the academy". I took a
kimono and went to the academy and started training jiu-jitsu. I trained
continuously for 8 years. In the beginning I learned from Marcelo Yogui. I
entered my first tournament when I had yellow belt. After that I had some pain.
I didn't stop.
Q5: But you didn't begin your first training voluntarily, is that right?
Kyra: Totally, you know. But I just followed what
my mum said. Because I wanted to learn ballet. Because I thought that jiu-jitsu
was something that only males did. (笑) But, I wanted to do it so
I did it. I had the best support in the world so I was able to go on training
without any problems at all. Many people have helped me. Ah, there was one
problem. Ryan was jealous of my privileged situation. (笑)
Q6: Until when did you train with Marcelo Yogui? He spends a lot of time in
Kyra: Yogui, I learned from him, from when I was
11 until I was 14. After that, Soca was my main trainer. At Gracie Barra, it was
Carlos Gracie Jr., and sometimes Marcio Feitosa guided me. I trained jiu-jitsu
every day, and weight training and conditioning two times per week. One month
before a tournament, I add swimming, running, and weight
Q7: What is your training pace when you are getting ready for a
Kyra: I'm sure to enter
the four big tournaments
organized by the CBJJ, like Pan-Americana, Mundial, Rio State
Campeonato, and Brasileiro. Other than those, I was invited to compete
in the Jungle Match. I never forget that when I compete in a family
sponsored event I have to live up to expectations.
Q8: How do you think about the level of female jiu-jitsu compared to the
Kyra: It is
developing tremendously. But only one category is too much. Purple belt,
brown belt, black belt, all competing in the same tournament, it's tough
on the purple belts but it's also good because they can get stronger by fighting
with strong fighters. To win the title it's
necessary to fight five times in one day. Hard fights is what separates
the women from the girls.
Q9: Well then, how about the foreign countries? How do you feel about it?
Kyra: The Brazilian men have an advantage over competitors from
other countries. But for the ladies, not so much. The American,
Scandinavian, and Australian girls too, are getting
better, but I think I can handle it. To me, the Japanese girls are
really tough. They are so flexible and have awesome technique. Fighting
them is not easy.
Q10: I heard that you received an offer from Japan to fight?
Kyra: I got an
offer for a gi match. But we didn't reach agreement about the
conditions. By the time the offer arrived it was almost time for the
fight so there wasn't enough time to make arrangements. So, I couldn't
fight. Ryan was getting ready to be in Pride. I was trying to get Pride
tickets. (笑) Some
time after the Mundial I'll think about fighting in Japan again. Really.
Q11: How do you think about fighting in MMA?
Kyra: I got an
offer to do it with special rules. No punch to the face and kicking from
standing only. That would be ok. But, my mum, she said "No way!". My
mum won't allow me to participate in Vale Tudo. Me
too, I hate to get my face cut. But I'm up for the challenge
with special rules. Me, I'm a big Renzo fan. He doesn't care who his
opponent is. He'll fight anyone. Outside of the family, I'm a fan of Carlos Newton. He's
Q12: Do you have any interest in submission wrestling? Compared to MMA
there would be lots of chances.
Kyra: Not much. Training for it isn't interesting. It isn't
interesting to watch girls doing submission wrestling [女子のサブミっシオンって、良くないじゃない].
Q13: Do you have experience in any martial art other than jiu-jitsu?
Kyra: Judo and boxing.
Judo to improve my take-downs. Boxing was interesting but it
tired me out so much that it interfered with my jiu-jitsu training. I gave
it up quickly.
Q14: You make jiu-jitsu your priority, Kyra, you really are a Gracie. Do
you recall any interesting incident from your family?
Kyra: When I
was a kid I followed what my gramps and uncles were up to. One time,
Ralph and Ryan got into a real brawl. They were swapping punches in the
living room. Grampa Robson came in and told them, "Don't do it like that.
Neither of you could punch your way out of a wet paper bag! Aim for the
chin". (笑) If
I got into a scrap, that's what I'd do. (笑)
Q15: Ha ha ha ha. Has any girl in the family followed your example and
little sister, Raisa is only 12 years old but she already has a grey
belt. She's a little girl with tremendous potential.
Carina [or Karina] won the
title in the Rio de Janeiro State championship. But after all, so far
anyway, the only one who's competing hard is me.
Q16: Your mum, Flavia, did she train jiu-jitsu, I wonder.
tried, but not much. During training she complained that "my hair
hurts", and things like that and she quit soon. (笑) If
she tied her hair up, it wouldn't be
then, You are the symbol of female Gracie jiu-jitsu.
what my younger cousins say. "When I grow up, I want to be like
Kyra", they say. All of them say that.
Kyra was born May 19, 1985. Her full name is Kyra Gracie Guimaraes. Her mother
is Flavia (daughter of Robson), her father is Pedro Ruiz Guimaraes.
妖精 Kenkyusha defines 妖精 [yousei]
elf, fairy, sprite. Tinkerbell in the Peter Pan story is translated as ちさなようせい
= small yousei (because
the story is written for pre-schoolers, yousei is written in kana rather
than kanji. In fact, the first kanji [妖]
is not even among the 1,945 that students learn in their nine years of
compulsory schooling). Educated adult Japanese also translate 妖精
as "nymph". In some contexts it has the connotation of "star".
笑 The kanji 笑 indicates
that the speaker laughed, or smiled, or both.
bag. This is an old North American colloquialism sometimes used by tough guys of Robson's
generation, loosely translated from "そんあパンチじゃ、誰もやっつけれないぞ、２人とも！パンチは相手のアゴを狙うんだ"].
If you are
interested in Jiu-jitsu ladies, here's an interview with Leka
Vieira. Leka is described, not as an elf, but as a female ヒョウ
(c) 2016, Roberto
Pedreira. All rights reserved (Japanese to English translation).
More interviews with Gracies and other fighters
and movers & shakers of the sport and business of Jiu-Jitsu and MMA here.