Deep in the roster of Bellator’s MMA roster is a monster of a name that fans don’t quite know that they love yet. Khonry Gracie, son of MMA and jiu jitsu super-legend, Royce Gracie. Khonry Gracie was slated to take on Hector Saldana on Bellator 238, but an injury forced Gracie out the match. Gracie spoke with me on a multitude of things, including his switch from soccer to MMA, his father’s teachings and so much more.
Khonry Gracie has been around jiu jitsu his whole life, but he was also around soccer just as much. Soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaká learned jiu jitsu from Royce Gracie and Khonry was around them from a young age as well. Gracie pursued a career in soccer but has decided to pursue mixed martial arts instead.
“Honestly, it was just personal. I just wanted to do it. It had nothing to do with not liking soccer or loving MMA more. I just wanted to do it,” says Gracie “I just wanted to fight, that was it. My father told me that growing up, if you do one pro fight, you’re good. You’re pretty much done. You don’t have to fight anymore after that if you don’t want to. Now I’m doing it for me, I’m doing it because I like it.”
Khonry Gracie has the genes of the most influential names in the mixed martial arts and jiu jitsu world. Gracie has had a giant advantages in learning from the forefathers of jiu jitsu. Having Royce around has been an absolute blessing for Khonry. While he’s stepping into the world of MMA, Gracie still thinks his father, and grandfather’s, lessons apply to not only his career in fighting, but also life.
“I will say that it’s definitely nice having him around, having him in my corner, and having him be the head coach learning from him. But, there is no pressure. I’m here to fight and do it. And, hey, I can be champion tomorrow and I can never be champion in my life. At the end of the day, my father raised us, being me and my brothers and sisters, to be teachers.”
Having his father instilling the value of being a teacher to Khonry is a lesson that runs down to the very core of his DNA. “To learn from him and pass down from generation to generation what we have learned [is what my father wanted],” said Gracie. This is what Khonry lives by. It has helped him find peace in a world where everyone is competes to be the best.
“At the end of the day, I could be champion, or I could not be champion. I’m still going to be a jiu jitsu teacher. I’m still going to be a blackbelt under my father. I still had time to learn from my grandfather before he passed. For me, MMA at this point, is fun. It’s what I like to do and what I like to train every day. But, if I wanted to stop fighting tomorrow, I could. I could say, ‘Hey, I’m going to stop training and teach jiu jitsu for the rest of my life,’ and there’s nothing wrong with that. My father loves that. That’s what he does now. He retired from MMA and went to teach jiu jitsu. I would say that’s definitely what my father wanted to teach us. Whatever you want to do in life, just go out and have fun with it. Just make sure you teach, and teach people, wether it be in jiu jitsu or wether it be in MMA, or in school, just teach someone. Pass on your knowledge to the younger generation.”
To Khonry Gracie, it doesn’t matter what he does, he’s only worried about enjoying life to the fullest. He’s doing just that. While he’s competing for Bellator, he knows whatever martial art he intends to pursue, he will enjoy it. At only 22 years old, he can afford to experiment with his happiness.
Khonry Gracie’s Lesson to New Jiu Jitsu Players
With the exploding popularity of Jiu Jitsu, everyone is trying to learn something from everyone. Learning something from a Gracie, the inventors of the sport, is what every student dreams of. I asked Khonry Gracie what advice he would give to new players in the sport. He urges them to use their teachers knowledge and ask as many questions as possible.
“Ask questions and always focus on the details. Jiu jitsu is a very detailed martial art. It’s not complex, it’s not out of this world crazy, anybody can do it. But I would say ask questions for sure. Whoever your instructor is, ask them a lot of questions because that’s how you’re going to learn the most. Ask them a lot of questions and always, always focus on the details. Ask them where to put your foot, where to put your hands? How deep in the collar do you shoot? It’s a lot of little tweaks that can actually change your game completely.”
As mentioned earlier, Khonry Gracie is only 22 years old. He has a long life ahead and will be one of the leading names in the sport that he so chooses. I am especially interested in following his young and promising career in both mix martial arts and jiu jitsu.