NEW PORT RICHEY — The Mixed Martial Arts fans and jiu-jitsu enthusiasts gathered at Cor Fitness last weekend saw many familiar moves and routines, with one twist:
They were delivered by a master of the highest degree.
Carlos Gracie Jr., a legend in the jiu-jitsu community whose father, Carlos Gracie Sr., founded the Brazilian branch of the martial art, delivered a seminar Sunday to about 60 participants. Gracie Jr. is a seventh degree red and black belt (the kind designated for masters) and is the head of Gracie Barra, one of the most prominent jiu-jitsu associations in the world. He is the creator of the International Federation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and garners the respect of an elder statesman when he touches the mat.
"It's a privilege just to hear him speak," jiu-jitsu student Ramon George said. "This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity so it's really exciting."
Gracie Jr. reviewed some techniques, but he primarily explained his mental approach to fighting.
"We teach very traditional disciplines that can help anyone from beginners to black belts," said Flavio Almeida, a Gracie protégé. "Carlos' teaching style is very basic, but effective. He teaches you how to think and makes you understand why you need to do something. He lets his fighters develop their technique in their own way but by his principles. For the most part, everyone who trains under him is very smart on the mat."
Many participants at the seminar do their normal training under Mike Geery and another Gracie protégé, Eduardo De Lima, at Cor Fitness.
"It's humbling and it's exciting (for the students) to see a man who is so close to where the sport came from," Geery said. "I think it's also exciting for them to see the lineage, because they are listening to the teacher who taught Eduardo, their teacher."
It was also a proud moment for De Lima to show his work — and his students — to the teacher who changed his life.
"Today is one of the proudest days of my life because my master has come to my town and seen the students I have," De Lima said. "This has been the work of my life and to have him come here and be a part of it is a huge honor."