In 2008, BJJ practitioners received Reila Gracie’s book Carlos Gracie, the Creator of a Dynasty. Two years later we bring you this interview with Reila Gracie, with new information about the book’s availability to those outside Brazil.
The FightWorks Podcast: You wrote a book about your father’s life. Tell us about the book.
Reila Gracie: The story is too long and complex to be summed up in a few words. But I can put forth that I did not make a book just for jiu-jitsu practitioners, although this group may identify most with the story. The book could be of interest to any person for the unusual stories and for tackling subjects that go beyond the martial art. There’s an interlacing of various lives that came together in the life of my father, be it from jiu-jitsu or the mystical influence he exerted inside and outside our family. And the book also discusses the diet that he created based on the chemical combination of foods and their use, complemented by medicinal herbs, and the treatment of many illnesses. The FightWorks Podcast: Was the book popular in Brazil? Did it sell many copies?
Reila Gracie: The book was very well received in Brazil. The first edition sold out in two months and and the second edition is coming to an end. As it’s a book of historical reference, and deals with basic human questions, I consider it timeless and as such will always attract an interested public.
The FightWorks Podcast: The book was critical of some members of the Gracie family. What type of feedback have you received about the book from family members??
Reila Gracie: The majority praised the book a lot and some did not want to give an opinion. But I know that even those who have benefited from the false of our history that has been spread in the last twenty years, enjoyed the book because I was very careful in telling the facts without resorting to sensationalism. I wrote a serious book, that places Carlos Gracie in the place that he earned, and no one can deny the facts when they are shown with documented proof. And all those who participated in my father’s life, including himself, are exposed as human beings who sometimes make mistakes and sometimes get things right, not like gods or supermen. “I understand that each person has their own time; it’s necessary to respect the moment of each.” I ended the book with that sentence.
The FightWorks Podcast: Your son Roger Gracie is the most dominant Brazilian jiu-jitsu competitor today. When he was growing up, was there any sign he was going to be special? What is it like being the mother of a jiu-jitsu athlete in the Gracie family??
Reila Gracie: Roger always demonstrated a physical ability, but because I found him especially sensitive and devoid of aggression, I feared that the fight world would turn him into a brute. With the death of my brother Rolls, I became cynical about the future of jiu-jitsu and stopped going to tournaments. I felt that I should offer Roger more options so he would have the liberty to chose, and find his own options. I took him to swimming, soccer, visual arts courses, music, and also jiu-jitsu. At 13 he decided to participate in some jiu-jitsu tournaments and he didn’t perform well, lowering the expectations of him. There were others in that generation who showed more ability and possibilities. At 15 years old Roger got tired of losing, lost weight, and began to take training seriously. From 16 years old onward he began to win all the tournaments until he reached becoming the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner in the world. The FightWorks Podcast: Many people outside Brazil are interested in reading the book in English. Are there any plans to translate the book to English, and if so, when will it be available?
Reila Gracie: The book is being translated into English already and I believe that in September the translation work will be done. It will probably be available to Americans in this coming year, that is to say, in 2011.
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