Brad Johnson: Welcome back to another episode of Do Business Do Life. We have special guest, Rener Gracie, today. Welcome to the show, Rener.
Rener Gracie: My pleasure, man. Congratulations on all you’re doing and thanks for having me on.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, man. I’ve been looking forward to this one. This is a little prequel to this summer, the founders retreat that you’ll be joining us at. So, I don’t know when this show’s actually going to go live but most likely it’ll be before we actually connect in person so excited for that.
Rener Gracie: Likewise. I can’t wait. Thank you for inviting me to that. For me, one of the greatest joys in life is introducing new audiences to jiu-jitsu, this art that I didn’t have a choice to be part of, right? Like, I was born into the Gracie family. You’re learning jiu-jitsu from that. You learn how to walk on a jiu-jitsu mat and then you’re grappling from the time you can’t remember. And before you know it, you’re getting pretty good at it. And then as you get older, you realize, “Wow, it’s nice to be able to choke people out whenever you want.” And then you say, “Wow, I can get paid for this. I can make this a profession,” and now jiu-jitsu is taking over the world. And I’m just happy to be part of the family that made it happen in so many different ways, both in Brazil and here in America. But if you don’t mind, I’ll probably give a little machine gun introduction to Brazilian jiu-jitsu assuming there are some members of the audience who have little or no knowledge of it, and then we can kind of dig in however you want. How does that sound?
Brad Johnson: I would love that. Yeah. Let’s do a little history lesson on jiu-jitsu.
Rener Gracie: Sure. So, Gracie family goes back several generations in Brazil. Originally, the Gracie name is Scottish. But let’s talk about when it landed in Brazil and then eventually my great uncle, Carlos, and his brother Helio, my grandfather named Helio Gracie, these two started learning jiu-jitsu as young men in Brazil, and my grandfather being the youngest of brothers in the group there. And my grandfather being uniquely incapable and unathletic, to be honest, quite frankly, and had a lot of trouble learning the techniques as they were originally taught. These are Japanese techniques that originally came from Japan to Brazil based in Japanese jiu-jitsu and judo. And when they landed in Brazil and my grandfather started learning and practicing these techniques along with his brothers, he had trouble. And through trial and error, he began adapting these techniques to accommodate his frail physique.
And I think everyone who practices it does some level of adaptation. But for my grandfather, every technique, so much of it had to be adapted because he didn’t have the physical capabilities to do the techniques as they were originally intended. And it’s these adaptations to the techniques, the original Japanese techniques that gave birth to Brazilian jiu-jitsu and the philosophy. Many of the techniques changed over the years in Brazil and under the guidance of the Gracie family. They began teaching their kids. This all happened in Brazil. My grandfather engaging in challenge matches, which are fights against other representatives from other martial arts, and my father and his brothers, my uncles, all being born into this legacy of fighting from day one like I was. And ultimately, jiu-jitsu is demonstrating in a high level of superiority over other martial arts, boxing, wrestling, kickboxing, judo, other things, other arts that existed in Brazil at the time. There were matches between jiu-jitsu practitioners and these other arts, and they had great success during these challenged matches.
So, my father was born in this in Brazil, came to America in 1978 after training for 20-plus years in Brazil, got to America, landed here in Southern California in Hermosa Beach, and started teaching classes out of his garage. He decided he would stay here. Every person he met, he invited for a free class. They told their friends. Their friends got free classes. Before you know it, everyone in the neighborhood over here is doing jiu-jitsu. And he got to the point where so many students, like I think they had 130 students on a waiting list to get into the garage. There were too many students wanting to learn, not enough hours in the day. By this point, several uncles had come from Brazil and were teaching Brazilian jiu-jitsu in the garage to everyone who wanted to learn. Throughout this time, there were also challenge matches in America, Brad, where people were coming over and karate masters, Taekwondo, kung fu, and my uncles and my dad were fighting these people with no rules and they would often video record these matches, and throw them up, have the video, the VHSs.
And today they exist on YouTube. It’s called Gracie Challenge Matches and they’re so incredible to watch because you have one representative of jiu-jitsu, another representative of a completely different discipline, both of whom believe in their discipline to the death. And they fight. And there are no rules. And it’s called Vale Tudo, right, which means no rules in Portuguese or anything goes rather. And these people would just fight like we did in Brazil and invariably these other arts, Brad, they would try to line up the perfect punch or kick but because jiu-jitsu really completely violates the traditional distances from which fights are fought, the jiu-jitsu master essentially grabs a hold of the karate master, takes him to the ground, and within 30 to 60 seconds is rendering them, right, submitting them essentially in 30 or 60 seconds with a joint lock, a chokehold. And this is how the West was won through these challenge matches. And then eventually that was the precursor to the UFC.
So, my father and his partner, Art Davie, co-created the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the now mega sport all over the world. But in the beginning, it was intended purely as an octagonal cage where we get the best fighters of many disciplines to fight each other so that spectators could witness what we already knew, which was jiu-jitsu was the most complete fighting system and the one that would give the smallest person the most realistic chance against a larger opponent. Many arts have great things to offer, right? They all have great attributes but jiu-jitsu for someone who is small, weak, and unathletic, has a track record of success in real fights against larger adversaries that no other art had ever had in the history of civilization. So, as a result, the UFC was a way to kind of propagate that message and it worked very well, U.S. Army, federal, state, and local law enforcement. As soon as the UFC hit and jiu-jitsu prevailed, my uncle went in there. For those who don’t know, you have to watch UFC 1, 2, 3, and 4. Go back and watch these archrivals, and you go in there and you see this little guy, 178 pounds, 6’1 in pajamas against these monsters.
And Royce goes in there and just kind of, boop, and they’re like tapping these guys. Nobody even knows it’s happening. Like, how is this guy like a snake just submitting its prey? And that’s how the Gracie family at that point becomes known all over the world. Jiu-jitsu becomes known everywhere. Every serious martial artist, Brad, at that point, every serious martial artist said, “I have to learn that.” And that’s completely changed the landscape of martial arts in America and around the world. I was ten years old when that happened, 1993, November 12th, Denver, Colorado. So, I’m like, “This was the first UFC I’m witnessing as a kid. What does this mean for our family? What does it mean for me?” And here we are 30 years later, 2023, celebrating 30 years since the beginning of the UFC. And it’s just been an amazing ride because of the ways in which jiu-jitsu has changed martial arts in America and the ways in which it positively impacted society as a whole.
And that’s really where my legacy has been spent is in focusing on how to disseminate the benefits of jiu-jitsu to everyone who wants to learn domestically, internationally, globally. If you want to learn, I’m here to make it possible for you. So, it’s been a great ride. Honored to be part of this massive family. Hundreds of people in the family, there’s over 50 to 60 members of the family today professionally involved in jiu-jitsu. So, it’s the largest sports family in the world is the Gracie family and I’m just another one of the team but I’m doing my best to leave my legacy.
Brad Johnson: Hey, that is not a lie. When I was trying to do research on this episode, Rener, I was like, “Wait. Okay. There are so many Gracies,” and I was like, it was this massive family tree. Like, I think Helio? Am I saying that right?
Rener Gracie: Yeah.
Brad Johnson: Nine? He was one of nine brothers?
Rener Gracie: Helio was one of… Less than that. My grandfather had nine children.
Brad Johnson: Oh, he had nine children.
Rener Gracie: Helio had nine. His brother, Carlos, had 21. So, between the two of them, they had 30 children and 105 grandchildren, including me. And then when you count the great-grandchildren, I have two sons. So, now it doubles exponentially and it’s just, hey, the Gracie family is good at two things, jiu-jitsu and reproduction, like rabbits, bro. You leave them alone, just more of them just keep showing up.
Brad Johnson: Hey, that’s one way to spread it all across the world, right? So, were you watching the UFC 1? Were you watching that on pay-per-view as a kid or were you actually there?
Rener Gracie: UFC 1 because I was ten years old, I was watching it from home with my mom. I fought, kicked, and screamed, bro, to go and they were like, “Rener, you’re too young. You’re only ten. It was kind of bloody.” And my older brother, who’s 12 got to go. So, you can imagine with me, it was like no but then I got to go to UFC 2 and UFC 4. So, I got my fair share out there. I’m getting autographs from all the fighters and these monsters, sumo wrestlers, just big people, giants. So, it’s magnificent to be part of that.
Brad Johnson: Well, I remember, I don’t remember, I think it was probably going to put down a YouTube rabbit hole but I remember the first time I watched UFC 1, and that was where I saw Royce, like literally defeating people two, three, four times his size. And it reminded me, you remember the game, the video game, Street Fighter from back in the day?
Rener Gracie: Yeah.
Brad Johnson: Like, when we were kids. But it was like these characters because I remember one dude had one boxing glove on, one bare knuckle, and there were no rules. This was before like the UFC rules of today. I think they could like fishhook. I think they could eye gouge.
Rener Gracie: Anything goes.
Brad Johnson: What was off-limits?
Rener Gracie: So, here’s what’s interesting, bro. There were no rules, Brad. From what I understand is that you could do anything but if you eye gouged, you would be financially penalized but it wouldn’t stop the fight. So, you would pay a fee from your purse. You would pay it out to the other person. But like you were allowed to grind strike, eye gouge. Any of these things were technically permitted. They would just be penalized after the fact. So, they really made it a situation where you could do whatever you wanted. There was no time limits. And I think for today’s MMA fans, it’s a little inconceivable. No time limits. There was no weight classes. So, you could have 178 fighting 300 pounds. There is no rules to prevent that. There was no gloves needed. You could wear whatever you wanted, a jiu-jitsu uniform. You could wear a boxing glove or no glove. There were no gloves and people broke their hands back then.
People don’t realize today, Brad, that the reason they wear these MMA gloves and all the wraps underneath them isn’t to protect the face of the recipient. It’s to protect the hand of the deliverer. Because if you punch someone in the skull with no glove, these bones are going to go quickly as they did in those early UFCs.
Brad Johnson: Okay. So, let’s go back. That’s cool hearing that but you’re like the ten-year-old watching your uncle fight on pay-per-view. That had to be quite the experience. And that’s crazy like that was like the, obviously, jiu-jitsu was already in the US but I feel like that was the catalyst that took it like put it on the main stage. And so, as you look back, I want to go back to young Rener. Like you said, you literally from the moment you could walk, you were learning jiu-jitsu. What do you think that did? Because I know there’s the combat side of it, but there’s also in all martial arts, anybody that I’ve ever talked to, they talk so much about the mindset and how that just changes how you think, how you show up. And that doesn’t just apply to when you’re on the mat. It applies to life. So, what are some principles you think just growing up inside of this kind of the royal family of jiu-jitsu? What did you take from that? How did that change you growing up?
Rener Gracie: Yeah. So, there’s no doubt that jiu-jitsu is not a martial art. Jiu-jitsu is a philosophy. Jiu-jitsu is an operating system. And although your initial introduction to it is in the context of a combat or a violent physical altercation, as I’ve matured into adulthood and reflected back on my upbringing, my successes, my failures, obstacles, how I deal with adversity, it became clear to me in recent years, clearer than ever that the principles that make jiu-jitsu the incredibly effective and reliable martial arts system that it is are equally effective at overcoming the struggles of everyday life as they are in overcoming the challenges in a physical altercation. They are the same principles. And I never went to college, never got a college degree, but I’ve reached high levels of success both in jiu-jitsu and in other fields or relatively high, I would think all based on my deployment of these jiu-jitsu principles. And that’s what’s so exciting.
That’s why I’m so excited to share jiu-jitsu with so many people is because I feel like once they fall in love with the physical component of the techniques, their simplicity, their effectiveness, their reliability, and the principles on which they are founded and are relied upon, once someone understands and trust the physicality of this, your brain starts to be wired differently. Because what happens in jiu-jitsu classes and you also have limited experience and we’re going to fix that come the DBDL adventure.
Brad Johnson: Can’t wait.
Rener Gracie: Yeah. But what’s interesting is that every jiu-jitsu class, Brad, the way it goes is you come to the mat, everyone joins, whether it’s a one-on-one or a group session, and they say, “Okay, guys. here’s the problem. Here’s the scenario. Someone has you in a headlock, someone is mounted on top of you, someone is trying to catch you in an armbar, someone is trying to punch you from this top position in the fight. Start with the problem.” And then I typically will ask the audience to say, “What would you guys recommend? What would you think about doing here?” And invariably their response is, Brad, in those situations are very rudimentary and they’re very predictable. They’ll say, “Well, I’ll just push them up,” and I’ll go, “Well, that might work, but it might get you tired. Let’s check that out.” “Well, I’ll punch him back.” “Well, what if he has longer arms and they’re stronger than you?” So, people are very much like cookie-cutter responses. I could almost write their responses for them. That’s how predictable and consistent their responses are.
I don’t care what language I’m teaching in, I don’t care where I’m teaching in the world, they respond the same way. And then what’s interesting is and it’s always the same and they’re always oblivious. Unless they do jiu-jitsu, they have no idea how to deal with these physical scenarios. So, then after questioning them for any number of minutes, I’ll then say, “Hey, someone hold me down or someone grabbed me like that, I’m going to do the move on you,” and I do it. And it’s like the easiest, most energy-efficient, leverage-based, beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. And you’re like, “Oh my God, that was so easy. It must be a trick. Let me see it again.” And the answer is yes, it is a trick. And jiu-jitsu is the magic. That’s the whole point. And once you learn it, it’s common sense and it’s beautiful and it’s effective but until you learn it, it doesn’t exist to you, right?
So, that’s the beauty is I’ll show you a problem. I’ll show you a solution. And what happens, Brad, over time is you completely start to change the way you look at those problems. Once you realize that your knee-jerk reaction, right, if you want to use the life comparison you have adversity, you have a challenge, you have an obstacle, if the knee-jerk reaction is emotion, frustration, and I’m going to quit, and let’s not do this, that’s like what I’m talking about. When it comes to a physical technique, people are so quick to give the knee-jerk reaction response and they’re so quick to say, “Oh, it’s impossible. We’re not going to get out.” But then when I show them the technique, not only is it possible, Brad, it’s energy-efficient, it’s highly effective, it’s leverage based, and it’s principle-based. So, there’s so much substance in that solution that people go, “Holy cow, you’re telling me it’s that easy and I could have known that?” Yes. Well, the Gracie family has spent 100 years identifying, modifying, adapting, and evolving these techniques so that you can learn them now like that.
And then what’s amazing, though, is that there are thousands of techniques, Brad, thousands of techniques for every physical threat scenario you can imagine there is a technique that’s designed to get you out simply and effectively, even if the adversary is taller, stronger, bigger, meaner, crazier looking than you. That’s what’s so wild. But even though there are thousands of techniques, what we’ve recently identified is that there are only 32 principles that all of these thousands of techniques rely on. And that was this is a recent like in the last 2 to 3 years, this was a recent breakthrough to realize that even though it’s vast, an infinite number of techniques like the English language, thousands of words in letters and sentences, there’s only 26 letters, right? So, the fact that these 32 principles are essentially the alphabet of jiu-jitsu, and once we identify those, they were always there. We just wrote them down and identify and curriculum and organize them, my brother and I, once that happened, it was shocking to see the extent to which these 32 principles had shaped every decision in my life, not just my combat proficiency against a violent physical aggressor.
I reflected on it now and it was so motivating that I decided to write a book on this subject. And I just finished it. The first shipment of boxes just landed yesterday and it’s called the 32 Principles Harnessing the Power of Jiu-jitsu to Succeed in Business, Relationships, and Life. And I’m so excited about it because the one concern I had, though, was there is a highly physical component to jiu-jitsu. So, I was concerned that what if we have a viewer or a reader, rather, who hears conceptually the application of a principle, but they don’t have the benefit of having jiu-jitsu practice on the mat? So, what we did is we wrote the book so that every single chapter starts with a QR code that when scanned launches a video of my brother and I in which I teach the physical combat application of the principle first. And once you have a contextual reference for the physical and kind of empirical application of that principle, then we transition into the ink on paper and we talk about the life and business application of the same principle.
So, this hybrid multi-media approach, as far as I know it, when it comes to self-help, it’s the first time it’s been done and it really makes it a fun experience for the reader because you’re bouncing from a video where you’re getting to see me with this energy and show the physical technique in the training room. And then we flip back to the book where you’re like, “Okay. Now, I want to understand how can I apply this to my life even if I’ve never done a day of jiu-jitsu in my life?” You’re going to understand how to apply these principles because it’s both visual, it’s psychological, and that’s all coming together in the same book. So, I’m very proud of it. I’m very excited about it and I can’t wait. It comes out later this year.
Brad Johnson: All right. I love it. Is this the first official podcast? Because, I mean, they literally just showed up. I mean, is this it?
Rener Gracie: This is it. This is it. First official podcast. Jocko Willink did my foreword.
Brad Johnson: That’s pretty awesome.
Rener Gracie: Jocko was kind enough to do the foreword. He’s an amazing Navy SEAL Jiu-Jitsu black belt, overall stud, and I thought he’d be perfect because he has experience in both worlds and in applying the jiu-jitsu principles to life he’s done such a great job of. So, anyways, this is the first time I’ve spoken about it on any podcast and I’m super excited. It’s available for pre-sale right now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, all over, everywhere books are sold online, but it won’t ship until August 22nd. I can’t wait. I’m super excited about it.
Brad Johnson: Well, congratulations. I know you’ve done a lot of content in your life. The YouTube channel. I think you have close to a million subscribers on Gracie Breakdown, and that’s where I first stumbled across, which is what the Gracie family was doing with jiu-jitsu. So, that’s just an extension. I love the concept where you did the multimedia and then apply it to the book, I’ll tell you. So, Jocko was just out at our – we did a launch event in Austin in January, and just an incredible human. I mean, I’ve watched enough of his, I mean, anybody that’s seen any Jocko, like Navy SEAL, big dude, strong dude, but the nicest human like an intimidating human but so kind and so very cool that he did that. It was the forward that he wrote for you. Well, where my head kind of goes because he wrote a hell of a book too, Extreme Ownership, and he kind of took the Navy SEAL principles and then applied them to business and life. So, it sounds like we’ve got like the jiu-jitsu version of Extreme Ownership, getting ready to roll out in your book. Is that a fair comparison there?
Rener Gracie: It’s absolutely fair to say. And the way the book is written, every chapter has that QR code, right? So, you’re going to learn. By the time you know what the book, you’re going to be like, “Man, I’m fired up. I’m going to learn jiu-jitsu because I just watched 32 videos over the course of reading this book. And I love the concept and I want to learn.” So, that was my secret undercover goal is to like suck people into jiu-jitsu by giving them such compelling videos. And then, of course, the copy and the text. But the way it works is each chapter, I go into detail. So, it kind of has an autobiographical feel because I explain how I’ve personally applied that principle in life and business in each chapter. So, you’re like, “Wow, you’re learning a lot about my life, my story, growing up in this crazy family of Gracie’s and martial artists,” but all the major milestones, all the major breakthroughs, all of them, I attribute to these 32 principles and explain how I applied them and how the reader can in their own life. I give examples of how they can apply it on a day-to-day basis.
So, ultimately, my goal is by the time the reader is done with this book, the operating system that has taken me nearly 40 years now to sharpen and refine as a jiu-jitsu black belt, it’s really I’m giving them that operating system. The question is, how do you respond to adversity, to challenges, to difficulties, relationships, personal and professional? Everyone faces adversity, and the only difference in all of us is how we respond. What is our operating system? When I’m trapped underneath a human that weighs 100 pounds more than me who has me in a headlock or a chokehold and is trying to put me unconscious, there is an operating system there that allows me to assess the scenario, to determine which principles might apply in that situation, and then to analyze of the possible principles which of them can I deploy with the greatest efficiency, greatest leverage and least collateral damage. So, it’s a major, look, I call it the 32 principles diagnostic.
This happens every time I’m in a physical combat situation and someone is trying to defeat me, I run this diagnostic and I invent techniques that I’ve never done in my life in that moment to overcome that threat. So, it’s not like I’m only going to preprogram techniques. I’m going places I’ve never gone before but all of that is held up by my relationship with the core principles. And the same way that applies, I can face adversity in any one of my businesses or in any branch of my jiu-jitsu business have a challenge that I’ve never seen before come up with a solution that I’ve never envisioned before because these 32 principles will fire and allow me to respond in a fluid and in an effective manner. And if it doesn’t work out favorably, guess what? That’s a Reconnaissance Principle learning opportunity which is later redeployed to make sure I don’t make the same mistake again. So, even the failing is an application of the principle if you learn from that failure.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Well, you were kind enough before we started recording here, you said, “Hey, I’d be cool with sharing a couple of the principles from the book.” So, I would love. We talked about two or three. So, I’ll throw two or three out here and then you just take the one and run with it that you want to start with. So, we talked about the Clock Principle. We talked about the Reconnaissance Principle. We talked about the River Principle. Which of those do you want to dive into first?
Rener Gracie: Let’s start with the Clock Principle because it’s a crazy story, dude. So, the Clock Principle teaches and identifies the significance of timing. The right move at the wrong time is the wrong move. This is as true in jiu-jitsu as it is in every aspect of life. So, we had a situation where I’m teaching, about ten years ago, I’m teaching 5, 10 hours a day. It’s full-time for me at that time. And I had a student who was a psychologist, and this psychology student said to me, “Rener.” I have a patient of hers. She said, “Rener, I have a patient who suffers from the most severe case of social anxiety that I’ve ever dealt with as a doctor. And I think jiu-jitsu would be beneficial for him, but I’m not sure I can get him in here. But if we can, I think it’ll change his life.” And for the sake of this discussion, we’ll call the student name is Shane. So, anyways, I speak to the student’s mother, and I said, “Look, let’s do this. Bring him in. If you can just get them here, I’ll take care of the rest.” And she says, “Rener, I can drive him there. I just don’t know if you can get them in the building.”
So, she pulls up in front of the building. She parks outside right in our parking lot, and she says, “Rener, I’m sorry he’s out here, but I can’t get him in. He’s not going to get out of the car.” And in my mind, I’m literally thinking at this point, I could cooperate and say, “Okay. I’m sorry it didn’t work out. You know, when he’s ready, let me know.” Which means what? I’ll never see him again. Or I can go figure this out and, Brad, I’ve never dealt with this in my life. I’ve had kids cry in their first class, and then I make it a clown and I let them jump on my back and they love me after. Never like this. So, I go outside. As I approach the car, the windows are cracked open. He’s sitting in the back passenger side seat and I hear hysterical crying like you’ve never seen like someone in your family has died and you’re hyperventilating and crying, heavy breathing. This is what I’m hearing as I’m approaching the car on foot. So, the mom is standing outside the car, helpless, like there’s no way we’re doing this. And I just signaled to her, I said (Can I get inside?). And she said, “Yeah. Go ahead.”
So, I go around, I get in the backseat, I sit down next to this young man who’s about 16 years old, by the way. He’s a high school student. I sit down next to him and he’s doing this (Gasp). He’s bending over crying, and I just get in the car. I didn’t say a word. 20, 30 minutes had passed. He finally slowed down. Start sitting up quietly. He’s just breathing now. He’s not crying. I said, “What’s up, Shane? I’m Rener. What do you like to do for fun?” “Video games.” “Cool. Which one?” “Pong.” Random conversation. Another 15, 20 minutes passes and I said, “Shane. Here’s the deal. I’m really happy to meet you. I’d like to take you inside, give you a tour of our facility. It’s really beautiful. I think you’ll love it. I just want to show you around. What do you think?” “Okay.” We get out of the car and mom is standing outside this whole time. We walk together. I’m in my jiu-jitsu gi. He’s wearing regular clothes. We walk into the building. I’m walking him around and, Brad, all I’m saying to myself is, “If I can get this guy to step on the mat, he’s mine.”
We’re walking around the building. Locker room, museum, grandfather, legacy. Beautiful facility, right? All of you are invited. Torrance, California, Gracie University. Just something. You wouldn’t expect this to be a martial arts facility. It feels like a country club, a Ritz-Carlton-type thing, spa. So, we really try hard to make it a unique student experience. So, I’m walking this guy around, and then I say, “Hey, and check this out. We have a private training room.” We have two private rooms at this old school. I opened it. I pushed the door open. I said, “Shane, you really got to check this out. The mats in here are really soft. Come on in so you can feel.” He had shoes on. I said, “Take your shoes off so you can feel how soft the mats are.” He steps in. I say to his mom, “Come on in.” I shut the door. They’re on the mat with me. I say, “Have a seat right here, bud.” We sit down together. His mom sits in the corner. And by this time there’s enough connection that we’re doing okay.
And I say, “Why don’t you lay on your back right here, Shane?” I get on top of him. He lets me. And then I said, “How would you get out?” Very conversational. There’s a relationship now. There’s trust. And boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. He tries to get out. He said, “Well, I push you off. I would do this. I would do that.” I said, “Let me show you.” I switched. I’d show him the move. “Oh, that’s cool.” He does it. I do it. He does it. I do it. Another hour passes. We do a whole jiu-jitsu class in this room, having the best time, laughing, learning, submission, learning escapes. His mom is in the corner, weeping. I just peek over to see she’s over here. We become best friends in there, bro. We had the best time. I leave the class. Send him out. “Thanks for coming, you guys. Amazing. We’ll see you next week.” All good. The next time he came to class, it only took me 20 minutes to get him into the building. And then each time after that, less time and less time. Eventually, I handed him off to another instructor. He started doing group classes. He graduated high school, went to college on his own. Life went on for the kid.
The right move at the wrong time is the wrong move. The patience to know that I needed to get him on the mat, but it wasn’t going to happen on my clock was the perfect application of the Clock Principle. What? Again? A scenario I’d never been faced with and a solution that I had never crafted before. But what I knew is that if there was love leading the way, if I was leading with love that I really wanted to help him, and I knew that I was the solution. Jiu-jitsu was the solution to his social anxiety. I knew it. There was no way I wasn’t going to figure this out. And in that moment, jiu-jitsu principle that I had applied 1,000 times in a fight, which is wait for the right time, the technique will be there when you need it to be there. The opportunity will present itself. That’s what that was, the highest level of patience, the highest level of consideration, and the highest level of trust that ultimately the truth would prevail. He needs jiu-jitsu, and I wouldn’t stop at nothing to help him with jiu-jitsu.
So, those two, if given time, would be successful and it was, bro. And today he’s a different man because of it. And it all changed because I looked at when she said, “Rener, he’s not coming in,” I could have said okay or I said, “No, no, no new problem.” Guess what? New solution. Which solution? I don’t even know what the solution is. I just know that jiu-jitsu will guide me. And it worked out. I snuck him on the mat. “Hey, come feel these with your shoes off.” It was the ultimate. So, I was proud of that.
Brad Johnson: That’s such a cool story, Rener. You know, what it makes me think of is just Tony Robbins talks about something called a pattern interrupt. And with you just sitting out in the car while he’s, I’m sure every single time he threw one of these massive fits, of course, everybody is sitting there like fighting it like, “Calm down, calm down.” And you literally just sat there and sat in it with him until he wore himself out. And I’m assuming, like, that applies perfectly to jiu-jitsu.
Rener Gracie: Bro, every day.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. Where you’ve got somebody that’s a big, strong dude just fully flexed and you’re sitting there just kind of riding it out until that opening appears, which is essentially what you did in that situation.
Rener Gracie: Yeah. And here it is, Brad, is that you’re absolutely right about jiu-jitsu is that the reality in this moment right now let’s call it this present reality, let’s say I can’t escape from underneath you. 30 seconds later, you’re changing your behavior. I’m changing my behavior. You’re changing your priorities. There is no consistent repetition of the present moment. It’s always every shift in a fight is a new moment, is a new encounter, is a new engagement. So, I just trusted that, yeah, it’s not ideal right now, but that doesn’t mean the ideal opportunity won’t arrive. I had faith. And so many people in that same situation go, “Well, if it’s not perfect right now, there’s no reason for me to believe it’ll be any different 10, 20, 30 minutes from now.” But jiu-jitsu has taught me absolutely the opposite. If it’s not the current circumstances that you need and want right now, just let time do its thing. Sometimes time is the only ally that you need and enough passing time the exact same.
So, when you think about the business application of this, you might think you have the product, a service that you want to bring to market. If it’s not the right time right now, doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with the product. It means it’s wrong with the market opportunity. So, maybe it’s just a matter of waiting it out or sometimes speeding it up. You have to rush the attack because you know that the less than desirable time will be six months from now. So, you rush it right now before the, right, the economic downturn that you know is pending. So, you launch earlier than you expected. So, timing is everything and the Clock Principle and many others actually, of the 32 principles lean on this idea that, man, just because it’s not perfect doesn’t mean it won’t be.
Brad Johnson: Yeah. That’s an incredible story. So, thanks for sharing that. Let’s get to one of the others. The reconnaissance, the River Principle, which would you like to get into next?
Rener Gracie: Reconnaissance, I love it. So, Reconnaissance Principle is this. What people don’t realize is happening right now in America, there’s a level of dissension, really, or anger and frustration between the civilian community and law enforcement community right now is at an all-time high. The relationship is at an all-time low. And this is because police officers and many people don’t know this in the civilian sector get on average, Brad, between zero and 4 hours a year of training when it comes to hand-to-hand controls, which means the ability for an officer to subdue someone nonviolently without using their taser or their pepper spray or their baton, just go hands-on, as you would expect many officers to do, their ability to do that is virtually nonexistent. So, cops end up using excessive force during these encounters. And then the public looks at that and says, “Man, why is that cop abusing their power?” Now, in some cases, they are abusing their power. It’s a moral problem. It’s a personality problem. It’s a character flaw.
In other cases, and in most cases, I’d go so far to say, with my experience, it’s an issue of training. You have a good human being who’s in the right profession but because they’re so disastrously undertrained, they use excessive force. When they panic during the high-stress encounter, they don’t have the skills like I have to stay calm when someone’s trying to strangle you. They don’t have it. So, they pull their gun out and they shoot someone. To the public, they go, “Wow, why did you shoot that guy?” And in their mind, they’re thinking, “Well, I was going to die because they were strangling me.” But the way I would look at that is, no, he had his hands around my neck. I could have done any of one of 20 techniques to neutralize that without having to kill the guy. But this takes training, Brad, and the American police officers do not get sufficient training on a national level and on a state and on a local level.
So, we’ve been teaching law enforcement now since 1990s, the early UFC days. My family’s been teaching almost 30 years now, and it’s just been unbelievable to see how far things have come during that time in the beginning. And this is after the Rodney King incident of the early 90s. Law enforcement in Los Angeles, LAPD, recruited my family to say, “Hey, can you help us revitalize our defensive tactics so that we have better skills to deal with law enforcement?” So, we started teaching jiu-jitsu to law enforcement throughout that time, and things have grown nicely since then. We’ve had a lot of police officers over these first 15, 20 years. But what happened was we started reaching a certain threshold of a limited penetration potential in the law enforcement community because the cops would say things like, “Well you’re teaching us jiu-jitsu, but it doesn’t quite work for what we’re doing because we have a duty belt and we have handcuffs, and we have to worry about them grabbing our weapon.”
So, there’s a lot of considerations in the law enforcement community that changed the nature of that physical encounter, such that basic Brazilian jiu-jitsu applied to law enforcement doesn’t directly work to solve their problems. So, what we started doing is applying the Reconnaissance Principle is rather than teaching jiu-jitsu to officers, we started recruiting the officers’ contributions and even recruiting officers in our teaching staff so that we are now hiring police officers who work with us to help us understand and more effectively refine the blend of techniques that are taught to these officers. So, today, every technique we teach police officers addresses the duty belt concerns, incorporates handcuffing transitions out of the submissions of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. And it even addresses the legal and the use of force law considerations. When we talk about what is appropriate level of force, what is excessive, our program addresses all of that.
So, over the last I would say ten years, give or take, we’ve successfully applied this principle of reconnaissance to really saying, hey, we are jiu-jitsu experts, but we don’t underestimate the power of new information. And when you’re doing jiu-jitsu, if you and I were fighting and let’s say I’m attempting a submission and you behave in a certain way, Brad, during the grapple that ultimately it was unpredictable. But when I see that behavior, I can be frustrated by it or I can be empowered by it because the fact that you defend my armbar in a certain manner, it’s intel, it’s reconnaissance, it’s information that I can apply to actually strategize my attack, my next attack against you. So, now I know that you’re going to tuck your elbow. I can prepare a triangle choke that actually when you tuck your elbow, you fall right into my triangle choke as a result of that pre-discovered behavior. So, this Reconnaissance Principle of taking the challenges of today and applying them to the opportunities of tomorrow, that’s what we did with GST, our law enforcement program.
And what’s crazy is because we were so successful at this, 12 years ago, 10 years ago, we were teaching on average 5 to 10 courses a year to law enforcement on a national level. We would travel to Virginia, Florida, Texas isolated courses throughout the country. Today and this year, we’re expected to break 77 courses to law enforcement professionals throughout the country. The demand has gotten so high, Brad, that I can’t even teach the courses anymore and my brother can’t teach them. So, we have to have a staff of 25 instructors, many of whom are retired law enforcement, and these officers retired who are also Brazilian jiu-jitsu experts are traveling the country teaching these law enforcement skills that are all adapted jiu-jitsu for law enforcement. So, this evolution of a program was literally we exponentially grew the success of this branch by accepting a shortcoming, which is we aren’t police officers. We have to lean into that. We have to allow the adaptations that will make this program successful.
And because of that, it’s now jiu-jitsu by police officers for police officers. And as a result of this change, we’re getting buy-in from police chiefs all over the country, and we’re becoming the standard jiu-jitsu law enforcement solution for so many agencies. And we’re doing, I mean, you have to think in each one of these 75 to 100 courses we’ll do this year, we’re certifying between 60 and 100 officers. So, I don’t know when you do the math, that’s somewhere in the range of 5 to 10,000 instructors and all of those instructors, Brad, they go back to their agencies and they teach 100, 200, 500 officers. So, the residual and the kind of collateral effect of this course is really immeasurable at this point. And we’re starting to see a shift in the tide of more agencies leaning more on increasing the number of training hours. And as a result, people are not getting injured in these interactions with officers who know jiu-jitsu.
So, we have some agencies, Brad, that have gone so all in on this. Marietta, Georgia is one example, an agency that is doing every week their officers train jiu-jitsu twice a week. So, they’re training sometimes 100 hours a year versus three or four hours a year. So, when an agency is doing this, what we found in the data, I might be off by one or two percentage points, but it’s all published on the website and you can get it. So, Marietta, Georgia, started doing this where all their officers can train jiu-jitsu and it’s paid for by the agency. As a result, they had a 48% reduction in officer injuries, worker’s comp injuries to officers. So, officers who go hands-on, they used to get injured at much higher rates. Now, they’re not getting injured because they know how to get into an encounter. Now, for the civilians, 53% reduction in hospitalizations to civilians who are interacting with a jiu-jitsu-trained officer.
Think about the implications of that. If they’re not getting hospitalized or seriously injured, then guess what? The officers are not using excessive force and the officers are not getting sued. The agency’s not getting sued millions of dollars from an officer panicking or using their firearm prematurely. This is much less likely to happen when you have officers who can go hands-on in a confident and a safe effective way that is safe for both the civilian and for the officer themselves. So, this is the type of 25% reduction in Taser deployment. So, all these things are better when an officer is trained in jiu-jitsu. And so many of these agencies start this journey in jiu-jitsu because of the initial training that we’re providing and these courses that we are doing throughout the year all over the country.
Brad Johnson: Well, number one, I love the principle. But number two, like what a cool thing to do with your life where you’re taking something that was a family. I call it tradition. A lot more than that for you all. But basically, you grew up in jiu-jitsu and now you’re deploying that into these government agencies that they’re in charge of protecting us and being able to do that in a safer, more efficient way for both sides, both the officer and the civilians. That’s awesome, man. So, thanks for doing that work.
Rener Gracie: Yeah. I appreciate it.
Brad Johnson: You get enough thank yous for that?
Rener Gracie: It’s like for me that societal impact and here’s what’s wild, Brad. We’re at the very beginning of this journey, right? So, my conviction is that about 10 to 12 years, 10 to 15 years out, every single law enforcement agency in the country will have their officers training jiu-jitsu at least 1 to 2 hours a week, every officer, a normal thing. So, that’s what I’m aiming for. That’s like my endpoint. Because once that’s happening, law enforcement in America, to me, they’re good to go. You’re still going to have some officers who shouldn’t be cops, right? Some bad people who enter the wrong profession but barring those people, all the people that are in it for the right reason, they’re going to have the skills to do their job safely and nonviolently. And to me, that would be the biggest victory and biggest legacy to leave this planet and to know that we repaired what many thought was a permanently damaged relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve. So, to be part of that solution and be part of the family that’s making that possible, it’s one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. In fact, all of these coins on the wall, these are from police chiefs and captains and lieutenants. Each of these ones represents a different agency. That one right there is the Navy SEAL raft.
Brad Johnson: Really? That’s cool.
Rener Gracie: So, every agency we teach, they give us these coins as a token of appreciation. And then in return, I don’t have a GST one, but we made our own coin and we give it to them as well. So, we trade coins. It’s really cool.
Brad Johnson: That’s awesome. Did Jocko give you that one?
Rener Gracie: No, Jocko wasn’t. I went to teach at the Navy SEAL, a special worker advanced training center down in Coronado, and he wasn’t there. But many people who interacted Jocko regularly and we taught an awesome course and I got to go hang out and check out all their cool toys. And it was pretty cool to be behind the gates over there.
Brad Johnson: Awesome. Well, let’s get to the last principle or the third, not the last, three of 32, but let’s get to the last one we’ll get into here on the conversation. Let’s talk about the River Principle. Then I want to save some time because I think a lot of people listening to this don’t realize the scale of the business that you’re running. And I know many financial advisors could benefit from probably how you scaled schools all across the country. So, I definitely want to save some time for that. But let’s get into the River Principle.
Rener Gracie: Cool. I’ll do this one quickly, so check it out. I was at the park. River Principle, basically what it teaches in jiujitsu is when you face like a river, adversity, instead of focusing on the obstacle, you focus where it is not. So, when the water is flowing down the river and the rock appears, the water doesn’t bother with the rock. The water simply flows where the rock is not. And there’s no emotion tied to that choice. The water simply knows nothing else other than to find the path of least resistance to reach its eventual goal of getting downstream. So, in this case, I was with my son at the park. You know, December 27, 2016. So, do the math. I’m back there with my son at the park. I have my hoodie with me and I’m carrying my sweatshirt around. It was a cold morning, so I brought a hoodie, but he got this. The clouds started to clear, sun started peeking through. So, I started to get hot. At that point, I took my hoodie off and I was about to tie it around my waist. I thought about tying it around my waist, but right before my hands came together, all I thought to myself was, “No, I’m a cool dad. I can’t.” So, I didn’t let them come together, bro.
So, instead, I opted for this one where you put a hoodie over your shoulder. But the problem was when I bent down to pick up my two-year-old son, the hoodie slipped off the shoulder and it fell onto the wet grass. I was so frustrated right here, Brad. I was like, “This is so stupid.” I paid the price for trying to be a cool dad and not going with the fanny-pack method. And here I am carrying my sweatshirt and my son like sweating, pissed off. So, I go home, I lock myself in the office with my hoodie, shoestrings, duct tape, scissors, and the hoodie that I was wearing. And I just went in the opposite. Disappeared. In-laws were there. It was after Christmas. So, I’m gone for 30 minutes. I come out 30 minutes later from the office with this, a sweatshirt that when you hold upside down and you tuck inside itself and you turn it over, turns into a fully functional backpack. So, this goes on and it’s functional. You can put things inside the backpack and look at this. I also didn’t like how loose it hung down, so I invented the world’s flattest cord lock slide-in-by technology.
So, now you slide this up, and now you can run, bike, hike, Parkour, jiu-jitsu. Look at that. It’s not going anywhere. It’s a fully functional backpack that carries itself. And in cases where I’m with my family and let’s say my son doesn’t have a sweatshirt that converts, we now make them for kids as well, their hoodie goes inside of my hoodie so I can have one here. And I often do this, when I leave the house, Brad, if it’s sunny outside, I don’t leave without a backpack. I leave with a Quikflip. So, it’s sunny outside. My son’s hoodie is inside my backpack. We show up at the park, I pull up and I say, “Okay. It’s getting cold now.” Look at this. I pull out his hoodie, one, I give it to him. I reach in. Count to three, Brad. Too slow. We’re already back to full hoodie technology. And now I don’t have to lug around an empty backpack. I just have what we got and people don’t know where it is. Look, people always want to know where is the magic? So, on the outside, you see nothing. On the inside, there’s this integrated pouch. Look at that. And inside the pouch there lives your backpack strings. You see that? So, whenever you need a backpack, you just reach in one pull and the entire thing flips in on itself. How about that?
So, what does this have to do with everything? The River Principle. I could have been frustrated by the rock and the rock of tying your sweatshirt around your waist and just sat in that frustration. But instead, not one second. I was like, boom, I change directions, I go home, I invent the solution. I patent the solution. I start putting videos on Facebook. And again, I have no apparel background, Brad. This is the whole point. I’m a jiu-jitsu guy and I invented a sweatshirt that no one had ever invented. I put it on video on Facebook. We launch it. It goes viral. Shark Tank calls me up. I go on to Shark Tank. I kill it on Shark Tank. And then frickin after that, Universal Studios in Disneyland are like, “Yo, we need to do Quikflips for the parks.” So, then we’re making Avengers hoodies that turn into Avengers backpack for sale at Disneyland Avengers campus when they launched a couple of years ago. So, again, River Principle personified. This is what I’m talking about. It’s like you can accept the frustration or the barricade, but my jiu-jitsu DNA, Brad, does not allow me to accept problems without seeking solutions. It just doesn’t exist in my DNA. And this is what I’m trying to empower the world with, with my operating system.
Brad Johnson: Rener, dude, we need to take your energy and be able to extract it and inject it into people. Can you invent that?
Rener Gracie: Listen, you want to hear something funny? So, listen, shout out to Jocko. So, Jocko has his Jocko fuel, right? He has his drink that he sells, and I think he has a flavor. Someone told me that’s called Renergy. And then for him and Echo, Echo is his podcast partner, they were like, on their podcast, they were talking about it. And then Jocko was like, “Renergy.” And then Echo was like, “Yo, you know that Renergy is a real thing. Rener is a guy, and they call this the Renergy.” So, if we could bottle it, we’d be rich, Brad. We would be all the way. We could go all the way. If you figure it out, I’m down. Count me in.
Brad Johnson: Hey, speaking of. Well, I’m glad. So, those that are listening on audio only, go out to YouTube and check it out because you just got a tutorial. But I’m probably ruining a surprise for our founders retreat, but whatever. I’m just going to talk about it because we’re on it. We’re going to give that as a gift during the private jiu-jitsu sessions. And we actually sent one and I was like, “Dang, this is pretty sweet.” But then I was trying to figure out how to convert it from backpack to hoodie. So, now I know. So, I’ll just go back and rewatch this.
Rener Gracie: That’ll be cool.
Brad Johnson: Actually, can we put this on there?
Rener Gracie: Yeah, we customize. Everyone who’s coming to the retreat is going to get Triad custom Quikflips. Now, for those listening, it’s called Quikflip Apparel, so you can Google it, look it up online, QuikflipApparel.com. Not only do we sell them direct-to-consumer, we do a ton of wholesale business like Triad, where it’s customizing it for the organization. We’ve done Google, Intel, Amazon, anything you can imagine corporation-wise, Warner Brothers Studios, you name it. We’ve done customization like employee swag or giveaway. We do a ton of that all day, every day.
Brad Johnson: Cool. Well, we’ll have a bunch of Triad members rolling around with it, spreading the news to everybody and making them have FOMO for not having one. Well, cool. Let’s get to the business side because the first time we connected, by the way, shout out to Jason Khalipa. He’s also going to be at the founders retreat with some. He’s going to be bringing his form of bodyweight workouts and I’ve done one or two with them and his warmup is a full-blown workout, so I hope I survive. But he connected us and one of the things I was immediately impressed by is, yes, you’re a master at jiu-jitsu. What is your actual level? Black belt? How many levels of black belt are there?
Rener Gracie: Fourth-degree black belt.
Brad Johnson: That’s it? Or can you keep going? Fifth? Sixth?
Rener Gracie: Oh, no. You can go all the way up to ten technically but, yeah, so we’re talking like 60 years old plus for me to get there.
Brad Johnson: And in your family, because obviously, your whole family does. Are you allowed to not do jiu-jitsu in your family? Is that even an option?
Rener Gracie: I feel like you might not get invited to the family reunions, you know? But no, I’m kidding. Listen, yeah, there’s a lot of family members who don’t professionally do jiu-jitsu, and they’ve chosen other careers but everyone, you start learning as a kid and that’s not a choice. You have to learn how to ride a bike, read and write. In some family, some branches don’t even care about the reading and writing part, but it’s like ride a bike, learn jiu-jitsu, learn how to ride a horse, and that’s it. You got to know how to fight. It’s like learning how to swim. You got to learn it.
Brad Johnson: There you go. Okay. So, you fall into the family business and then I was just blown away. The one that I was like, “Man, that was smart.” So, before we were ever connected personally, somewhere I stumbled on the YouTube channel, and I believe it was a UFC fight breakdown. I don’t remember which one, but I know you did like Khabib, McGregor. Basically, every UFC I think you do this but what I thought was amazing was how you looked at it from a business aspect. And maybe this was by sheer accident, the first one, but why don’t you walk through that? Because we’ve got a lot of financial advisors that are starting to put content out on YouTube, and I love how you kind of figured out the game and then ran with the game once you figured it out.
Rener Gracie: Yeah. So, for me, we started doing Gracie Breakdowns. And for those who don’t know, look it up on YouTube. Look up any Gracie Breakdown. You’ll love it. And essentially what they are is us doing like an analysis, expert analysis of UFC fights, Blockbuster UFC fight. Conor fights Khabib. The next morning by 9 a.m., there’s me doing a Gracie Breakdowns with my brother, showing the techniques that were used, what worked, what didn’t work. So, our purpose in doing that, Brad, is to really kind of give jiu-jitsu its own chance to be spot lit in a nonviolent way. Because MMA although it’s a great vehicle publicizing jiu-jitsu, many people watch MMA like you and I watch maybe professional football or any other sport of high intensity where I might watch football and be like, “Oh, I don’t know what your history is,” but when I watch football, I don’t think to myself, “I want to do that.” I think to myself, “I respect those guys. They’re gladiators. That’s amazing.” And that’s it. It’s a spectator appreciation for those athletes, right?
When people watch MMA, it’s very much the same approach. If you’re a couch fan, you watch, you go, “Man, I want this guy to win,” but nowhere in your mind are you thinking, “I want to be part of that.” And I felt like that was a great disservice to jiu-jitsu that it’s so beautifully used in MMA but so misunderstood. So, by doing a Gracie Breakdown the next morning where I show just the beauty of it and I explain, like the subtleties and the nuances. I can get people like yourself who may don’t want to fight MMA, but you’re like, “Dude, I would love to learn the art and the science of jiu-jitsu if I don’t have to get punched in the nose and I can tap out and they’re going to let go and we could continue to grow and get in great shape and make great friends.” So, that was my spirit was attracting people to jiu-jitsu. The challenge is even with those Gracie Breakdowns and the success that they’ve had and 150 million cumulative views and all of those, even with that, we find that people are still nervous about stepping foot into a jiu-jitsu dojo, right? Like, it’s a scary thing for them.
So, we created Gracie University Online, GracieUniversity.com, where for the first time, this is 2008, 2009, my brother and I cataloged jiu-jitsu from start to finish. Essentially, everything we’ve ever learned from our ancestors, we cataloged and put it in order in a curriculum so that the curriculum exists online in linear fashion. Lesson number one is the very first class of your life, and we teach you the techniques and we allow time for you to drill them at home on your living room floor with a mat or a carpet with a training partner. And then we go to Lesson 2 and we build up Lesson 1. Lesson 3 builds up 1 and 2. Lesson 4 builds up 1, 2, 3. So, it’s a progressive linear curriculum that anyone from anywhere in the world, Brad, can watch and learn jiu-jitsu from home. And the crazy part is at certain milestones, they can send in a video. Let’s say they train for eight months, they can send in videos of them demonstrating the skills they learned online to show their level of proficiency. And then when we watch those videos, we can send them timecode-specific feedback to say, “Hey, change this. Change that. Do this. Do that,” and they’re improving their skill set.
And if they learn long enough from home with a training partner, they can go to a certified training center. We have about 250 schools around the world and we add about 30 new schools a year. They can go to one of those schools, Brad, and they can test for official belt promotions at one of our satellite schools because they’ve learned those skills from home. So, what I’ve tried to do is really flatten the earth in the sense of making jiu-jitsu accessible to everyone, regardless of their physicality, regardless of their level of intimidation or fear because the people who are most fearful are also the people who need it the most. And the Gracie Breakdowns, the YouTube kind of channel where we do the fun three videos, all of those are a method of getting people excited to then say, “Wow, I love what I see with these Gracie brothers. If this is that amazing, I wonder what their paid content is like. Let me go click on it and do a subscription for $20 a month and watch their actual lessons and see what I can do with this at home, with my nephew or my son, or my wife. If we’re going to do this as a tandem effort in our living room, I want to do this.” And that’s how we have students. You know, we’re at 390, 380,000 students in 196 countries learning from home.
Brad Johnson: Wow. Well, what’s so cool about that is how much that actually applies to financial advisors, which you wouldn’t think it would. But like I love how you told me. Was the first one you hopped on and do you remember the very first UFC fight that you broke down? Which one it was?
Rener Gracie: I think it was George St-Pierre and Dan Hardy.
Brad Johnson: Really? Wow. That’s going back a ways.
Rener Gracie: Yeah, Dan Hardy. It was an armbar and GSP couldn’t finish the armbar. And people were like, “Why didn’t the armbar work?” And I went made a Breakdown and said, “Here’s why it didn’t break. Here’s what could have been done.” And everyone was like, “Oh, thanks for the insight. Great.” And then, boom, we have 50,000 views.
Brad Johnson: And then that one blew up, right?
Rener Gracie: Yeah. And then the next one had 350,000 views and I’m like, “People love these.” So, we became religious about it. And then now I go to the airport and people are like, “Dude, I love the Gracie Breakdowns.” The number one thing I get recognized for is Gracie Breakdowns.
Brad Johnson: So, here’s what the business lesson that I took from that. So, you hop out there, you break down some content that obviously directly correlated to what you do. And so, you put it and you tested it and then it hit and then you’re like, “Wow. We’re on to something.” So, then you did it again but then you told me, you said now you started to plan for it. So, obviously, we all know when the UFC fights are going to happen. The big one actually who was it? Just this last Saturday. It was… Who’s the…?
Rener Gracie: Nunes. Amanda Nunes.
Brad Johnson: Amanda Nunes who just retired. Yeah. And so, there’s a big UFC fight in which you said you started doing is literally having a camera crew set up like those. I mean, those things get over sometimes midnight and you would have the camera crew ready to roll. Like, as soon as that thing’s over, you’re breaking that thing down and it’s on the Internet a few hours later because, of course, what do all the people that didn’t buy the pay-per-view the next morning, they go find the UFC winner and, boom, your video is popping up right in front of them. So, you just figure it out like if I’m putting out this content, it’s feeding this need and then, boom, your videos are popping right in front of them, which is the top of your funnel. Just brilliant business, really. So, any other lessons or thoughts that might apply there to just creating great content that catches people’s attention?
Rener Gracie: Yeah. I think the lessons come from other successful influencers today as anybody else. So, there’s just a huge opportunity to and, again, financial advisory maybe it’s a little bit less pop culture connection opportunities, right? So, UFC, it’s easy, it’s physical, the world sport watches it, and then I break it down, and then people are searching for it the next day. It’s a little less common in financial advisory, but I think the advantage that you have in that world is that there’s just I think what financial advisors at the higher level underestimate is the knowledge level of the average person. Sorry. I think they overestimate it. I think people generally overestimate the knowledge base of the general American population. So, if I was a financial advisor and I wanted to go viral and I wanted to have a high social media following, that would ultimately result in more business for myself, right? You do what so many of these other financial advisors are doing who are kind of get this, which is you create simple short form, 30 to 60 seconds depending on the platform, right, nuggets.
“Hey, top three mistakes you’re making with your money today.” “Hey, top three ways to teach your child about investing.” “Hey, two things that I wish I did with my money sooner in my life.” And you start because this is the kind of education that people who don’t know anything and I have so many of my videos, Brad, I always think to myself, who’s the audience? I can make a video for 1% of the world that does jiu-jitsu, less than 1%. Or I can make a video for the 99% who have never done a class in their life but would like to have some nuggets and some solutions in a video. My wife and I recorded one. There was an incident recently where a woman got slammed in a violent physical altercation. A woman got slammed in the street. She got robbed and slammed by some burglar and paralyzed. It was really a sad story, actually. And we saw that there’s footage of the incident. So, I got that footage and I said, okay, let’s take that footage. Let’s do a Gracie Breakdown. Let’s show three counters to that same grip that this person had. So, we said, “Three bear hug defenses,” because he pinched her and he slammed her from behind.
Three bear hug defenses. And it’s like a 47-second video. As of today, it has 1.7 million views. And I put this out two weeks ago. You know, just like that. Just like that, 1.7 million. You know, I don’t know how many likes, 300,000 likes. So, the point is you want it and when you think of the average person and you think of shareability, you want to make a video that anybody you know and love would just click the share button to empower someone else with that information. So, you have to think, what are the simplest? And again, it’s hard sometimes because I see this for jiu-jitsu experts as well. When you’re a black belt, you forgot what it was like to not know anything. So, the gap, the communication gap is what I call it, between a black belt expert instructor and a novice civilian, it’s so wide that these videos typically only get frequented by other people in that world, whereas I make videos that frequent this world, and then these people exponentially share it because it felt empowering to them.
And I think that’s one of my greatest strengths is teaching jiu-jitsu, more specifically teaching jiu-jitsu to people who’ve never done jiu-jitsu. It’s something that I’ve done since I was 13 years old. So, for any financial advisors out there, I would say, “Look, try as best as you can.” So, think back to the time when you knew nothing or to format your videos for people who literally there’s a white belt. Jiu-Jitsu, there’s white, blue, purple, brown, and black belt. But there’s also a person that doesn’t even have their white belt, Brad, like negative belt. There’s zero belt. You have to make videos for the zero belts. That’s my advice to financial advisors. Make videos for people who have not even begun the journey of exploring the need for financial advice and the different pitfalls, right? Because if you think financial advisory, it’s a big macro level, then that breaks down into the micro, right? Like, same as jiu-jitsu, you have Brazilian jiu-jitsu, then you have sport application, self-defense application. Then within each of those, you have more broad categories or finer categories.
Within self-defense, you have women’s self-defense, you have anti-bullying, you have law enforcement, and you have general civilian self-defense. And then within anti-bullying, you have verbal assertiveness and you have physical techniques. So, this is the point. You have to create your diagram and really know what are the grassroots advice and what are the macro and micro categories that a financial advisor should be granting advice in and start making the simplest short-form videos. And so, people go, “Well, I’m not camera savvy or I’m not good on camera.” There are solutions for that. Everything is right here now, everything, the app to edit the video, the app to do the voiceover, the app to do the recording. Everything is in one phone. So, to record, add a voiceover, put some little text on the screen, and then publish it. You’re good to go. And here’s my advice to everyone who’s trying to get started. I had a recent friend, a friend named Jess, who’s an equestrian like a horse lover, and she said, “Rener, I want to start making videos, but I’m really nervous and you do a good job, so can you give me some advice?”
I sat with her. We created a video right here. I put her in the editing software on my phone. I said, “Look, you record. Here’s where you press to put your voice. Here’s how you chop the video in half and splice it.” And I showed her all that and I said, “Listen, Jess, do one video. I’m not saying do 50. Do one video where you record some value. You do a voiceover,” and it could be direct-to-camera talking as well, or voiceover. But in her case, it’s more voiceover because she’s showing on a horse. I said, “Do one video, do a voiceover, and publish it. Don’t commit to anything else. If you do one video this week, consider this the most successful week of your life.” “Okay, I’m going to do it.” And off she went. We met last week so I’m like, “Where is that first video? Let’s go. You just got to kick yourself in the butt and just do one.” And any financial advisor out there who thinks that they don’t need to be in the business of recruiting customers and building their social media presence, all I can say is chances are three, five, ten years down the road, you’re going to lose to someone who does believe that they need to be in that game.
You got to put yourself out there. You’ve got to build your personal brand. You have to create that top-of-funnel opportunity for people that generally unless you have so many high net worth clients and those high net worth clients, you make them so much money that they tell their other high net worth clients that you really do nothing and you can’t keep them away because you’re so good at your job, unless that’s the case, time to start making some videos, get your brand out there, and start educating the lowest common denominators, right? LCDs. And if you do that, guaranteed, people are going to watch your videos like they do mine, “Hey, what’s up? Hey, what’s up? Hey, I want to invest with you. I want to do this. I want to do that.” Just the beginning of a relationship that you can never fully quantify the value of putting something out there. Right? Like, look here and I Brad talking. I’m about to do this event with Brad DBDL in Lake Tahoe. It’s the beginning of a whole new friendship because I did some Gracie Breakdowns. Right? And you are generally familiar with our social media presence.
Brad Johnson: That’s true. That’s really true.
Rener Gracie: Because I made some videos, but I didn’t know you were going to call me and I didn’t know you were going to watch. But I always say, you never know who’s in the audience.
Brad Johnson: That’s true. You know, as you break that down, Rener, you’d think financial advising-jiu-jitsu, two very different worlds but the truth is they’re both very complex disciplines when you reach high levels of it. And what you just hit is you have to simplify the complex. And those that do that best are the ones that win. I love the no-belt strategy because I’ve watched so much financial advisor content and it’s literally simple black belt going straight over people’s heads. They have no clue. And the ones that confuse, lose. They’re not going to get the call. So, I think that’s spot on. Great advice. So, we’ll throw some of these, by the way, in the show notes, some of the videos that you’re referencing just so some advisors can check them out and get an understanding for kind of the flow of the content. So, I want to go to Bullyproof. You touched on it a bit. And what I’ve seen in your business, because I’m looking at this through business lens now, is you’re figuring out your market and the need.
And what’s interesting, this is kind of funny how it all comes together. So, I read Way of the Warrior Kid 1, 2, 3, however many have come out, I’ve read them to all my kids. And that was where I was kind of first introduced of like, “Man, I need to get my kids into jiu-jitsu. And so, selfishly, one of the reasons you’re going to be at the founders retreat is because one of the things we do in the Johnson House is we both start at base level where I want to be at the same learning curve as my kids, where I’m just there learning with them some new discipline. We say, “Johnson kids get uncomfortable because that’s where the growth comes from. That’s where we learn.” So, I’m going to be on the same learning curve that they’re on. And I know one of the things, as we were kind of prepping for the session out there in Tahoe is you said, “Well, the cool thing with kids is you just have to get them out there and they have to play.”
You went down the path of Bullyproof and the funny thing is Jocko, his book, Way of the Warrior Kid, the kid’s getting bullied and he goes to jiu-jitsu class and then he starts to learn how to defend himself. Mark’s the main character. So, speak to that of like, number one, it’s a business lesson because you said, “Hey, who’s another market that we can address?” And bullying is a real thing for kids. But then also, just like, how cool is that? That’s a whole nother we talked about the law enforcement side but that’s a whole nother side to your business where you’re helping kids, physically active, self-confidence, all of that. So, sorry, really long lead-up to a question but what are your thoughts there?
Rener Gracie: Well, Gracie Bullyproof, here is my thought. I grew up in this family of jiu-jitsu. I didn’t have a choice to learn, right? So, I was empowered with jiu-jitsu from when I was conceived, right, specifically my DNA. So, I grow up and I don’t know life without it. And it wasn’t until I became a head instructor and a lead here at Gracie University that looking at other kids and like, wow, really realizing how serious of a problem it is for other families. It wasn’t a problem for our family. I got bullied, dealt with it, handled the bully, verbal assertiveness, talked to them, handled it. And it’s actually talked about in the book one situation where I had a persistent bully in high school. I just dealt with it. Isolation Principle, get him when his friends weren’t there.
Brad Johnson: This was not a very smart bully, by the way. He didn’t know your family history.
Rener Gracie: There you go. So, I applied the Isolation Principle, got him away from his friends, and asked him when he was by himself, I just put it right to him, and we settled that real quick. There was no fight necessary because he felt my, listen, when you have the confidence, you don’t need the techniques because people can feel the assertiveness and the clarity and the posture. So, nonetheless, I realized, wow, what an interesting thing. We were blessed in the Gracie family to have this from day one. So, I created the Gracie Bullyproof program to empower other families around the world to also empower their kids the Gracie way from day one when two, three, four years old playing what’s called the Gracie Games. These are the initial ten games that parents play with their kids to build the foundation for jiu-jitsu. Then they go into junior grapplers, where they start learning techniques that build on those games, and they also learn the rules of engagement.
Rule number one, avoid the fight at all costs. Rule number two, if physically attacked, defend yourself. Rule number three, if verbally attacked, talk, tell, tackle. So, we have all these procedures that kids learn if rule number four, never punch or hit the bully, establish control and negotiate. Rule number five, when applying submissions, use minimal force and negotiate. So, all about the compassion and the control and the discipline so kids are empowered with it. So, we created Gracie Bullyproof, started teaching it here at our main headquarters school. It was so successful that then we started licensing other schools around the world to offer the same program and we put it on video. So, now we have tens of thousands of families in their homes who don’t have a school of ours near them, but they want to begin empowering their children and they get by a little 10×10 square feet of mats, and they start watching our video, practice, watch, practice, watch, practice.
And those kids, too, after 80 to 100 classes, they can earn belts through video evaluation. They send in a video or training with their parent, showing all their techniques, and we send them the belt based on their progress they’re making at home. So, really, I was blessed growing up in this family, and this was my way to share that blessing with parents and families and kids all over the world. Because if you ask me, the world is much better when kids have the tools to deal with bullying. It would only be made better than that if there was no bullying but that’s impossible because power is a real thing and power dynamics and sifting through the complexities of power dynamics in grade school, middle school, and high school, it’s always going to be a challenge. But as long as kids have the confidence and the techniques to healthily set boundaries and be able to look at someone in the eye and say, “Listen, I can see that you think that’s funny but don’t ever do that again.” Jesus.
And when we teach kids just talk like that, which is part of our program, the verbal practice, when the kids learn to speak like that, bully stop. And then it puts an end to it. The problem is this, Brad, boundaries are everything, everything in self-defense. Whether it’s a woman talking to a potential sexual predator who’s encroaching on her personal space for her to look him in the eye and say, “Hey, don’t get any closer.” That’s critical, because when you say that, “If you take one more step,” what does it tell you? Game on. If he doesn’t take one more step, now you have the chance to then go and get to safety, right? So, boundaries are everything. The problem is people don’t set boundaries that they don’t feel capable of enforcing. Think about that. People don’t set boundaries that they don’t feel capable of enforcing. So, to tell your child, “Hey, Johnny, go stand up for yourself. Tell them to stop bullying you,” but not first giving that child the physical tools to enforce that boundary and stay safe if violently attacked, it’s backwards. You can’t do that.
It’s like telling the child, “Hey, honey, go surf. Go, go, go. You’re going to love it. Surfing is so fun,” prior to teaching them how to swim. That’s how backwards that is. It doesn’t work. It shouldn’t be tried. It’s a disaster. So, you have so many parents out there who will tell their child when the child is crying and depressed and they’re not eating or they’re not wanting to go to school, they say, “Hey, go tell the boy to stop. Punch him in the face.” Hold on. You can’t tell a child to do that if it would lead to their own demise because the attacker, the bully, may retaliate and it would cause injury. So, now you’re asking the child to lean into a boundary-setting behavior or physical or verbal behavior that could ultimately lead to their own injury. Humans aren’t wired to do that. They’re wired to survive, not to self-harm. So, setting a boundary you can’t enforce could self-harm. And this is why the world needs the Gracie Bullyproof program and why it’s been so helpful because it’s giving those children the physical tools. And then once they have those, Brad, and they can verbally assert, they don’t ever have to get physical. That’s what’s so wild.
Brad Johnson: Yeah, that’s so good and such a rewarding work. I can’t wait to expose my kids to jiu-jitsu. So, counting down the days. Two final thoughts here, because I know our time is almost up. So, you kind of went into self-defense at the child level. I know you’ve also rolled with some very large individuals. One of them, Tamba Hali, we are in Chiefs Nation. Here’s my backyard. So, I mean, that’s a large man, 275 pounds, I think. So, if you’re not Tamba Hali and let’s just say you have never been to any sort of jiu-jitsu or self-defense and let’s say you find yourself in a situation in life where your approach like what you were just talking somebody in a parking garage that’s trying to cause harm to you. If you were to say just basic 101 self-defense that I know it’s specific to the situation, but if you were just to give one, two, three tips to the audience, what sort of things would you talk about?
Rener Gracie: Yeah. Without having the opportunity to physically show and the way that I do physically show, if you scan this QR code on the back of the book right there, it’ll get you cracking. Everyone scan that for the introduction to the book, but without physically showing, what I’ll say is this, Brad, whoever manages the distance, manages the damage that can be done. This is the number one principle that Gracie family has brought to America. It’s in the book, Distance Principle. But here’s the point. First of all, boundary setting. If anyone is encroaching on your space, let’s say even, Brad, or you’re just dealing with a belligerent person who’s emotional and aggressive because of a road rage incident. When you get out of the car and both you guys are puffing up, right, because you’re a little emotional as well, and you guys are puffing up, all you have to remember is distance management. You cannot let that person come within two arm lengths of your body, Brad. It can’t happen. It just can’t happen. You cannot allow it.
So, if you were to stick your arm out and I stick my arm out and our fingertips touch, that’s two arm lengths. It’s COVID distance, COVID-19, 6 feet apart, right? Because if you’re within two arms distance, Brad, they can punch you without warning or notice. If you’re outside of two arm’s lengths away and even if this means they say this is the aggressor, this is you, both you get out of your car and you do this. When the aggressor starts moving forward, you have to do this. You have to. You have to make distance. Now, your pride won’t want to let you do that. I stand my ground. I don’t care. But here’s the problem. If you allow this close range to exist where you guys are within one arm’s length away, the problem is, at that point, whoever has less regard for the ramifications of their poor decisions will strike first. You understand? It’s not about like necessarily who’s faster, who’s the better martial artist. It’s in that moment, typically, whoever has less regard for what happens tomorrow will strike first.
And if we can imagine, if you’re dealing with some homeless person or you’re dealing with some person who’s just having a terrible day and they’re so emotional that let’s assume that you’re the good guy in this equation. If someone else is violating you, you can imagine that if they’re that emotionally charged, they’re less aware of what’s going to go down tomorrow and what the consequences of their actions will be. So, as a result, they’re more likely to punch without thinking about the ramifications. You can’t allow yourself to be the recipient of an unpredictable punch at that range because it could end your fight and it could end your life. You could knock out, hit your head on the ground and die. So, that’s why you have to have that padding between you two. Now, you might conclude, Brad, that I’m going to fight this person. I’m going to fight them. That’s a totally different thing because once you made a decision to engage, now you can go from all the way out to all the way in with all the skills that I’m going to teach you at the retreat, and you’re going to be well equipped to do that and to do it in a way that’s safe for you and safe for the attacker. That’s the irony of all of this. We know how to protect the attacker.
But you see what I’m saying? All the way out or all the way in, we are still the ones managing the distance, Brad. You have to manage the distance. The moment that you allow the attacker to be responsible for the distance between your two bodies is the moment that you’re subject to an ambush. You’re exposed for an ambush and you never want to be exposed for an ambush. That’s the best advice I can give. So, even without training jiu-jitsu, once you’re keeping your distance, Brad, if they go to ambush you, they go to attack you now and you’re safely out of range and you can’t back up any further, maybe there’s a cliff or maybe there’s traffic or whatever, a wall, at that point, what do you do? You close the distance, you go all the way in, and you grab a hold of them. And by being within full clinch range, their strikes have no more power. Strikes have power at this distance but once you get inside that, you’re actually in the eye of the hurricane and those strikes have very little, if any, power.
And then you hold close. Until when? You push off and you get all the way out. So, this is my whole point. You’re either all the way out or you’re all the way in. It starts with boundary setting and then distance management. Those are the tips I can give without demonstrating, except for these awesome hand demos that I think are going to be revolutionary. This is my point. Manage the distance. Manage the damage. Never ever let someone get in your personal space without pushing yourself away and making more distance or without closing the distance and grabbing a hold of them. Because the risk of that single punch by that person who could care less about what the ramifications are or the new considerations, like you and I, we have a lot to lose, right, if we punch someone in the face. So, you would very much hesitate before sucker-punching someone at a bar or at a restaurant because you know what they’re coming for if you do that, right? So, that’s my whole point is that people who have less to lose will throw first, right? Not necessarily good person, bad person. It’s just whoever has less to lose. And if you and your audience, you have a lot to lose, I assume, you got to be very careful about what distance they allow people to interact with in a contentious and combative interaction.
Brad Johnson: As my dad used to tell me, “Don’t start a fight with someone that has nothing to lose.” That’s essentially what you summed up right there. Well, last question. This is the Do Business Do Life podcast. I feel really fortunate, Rener. You’re actually going to be hanging with us in Tahoe at the live experience of doing business and doing live. So, I’m curious. I know you’re a dad, a husband. I would love to hear your definition. We say do business, do life. And what we mean by that is build a business that blesses your life, that doesn’t become your life. So, I would love to hear your definition of what do business do life means to you, Rener.
Rener Gracie: Great question. First of all, I love surfing. It’s my passion and I haven’t surfed for two months, but it’s still my passion. Luckily, you say do business but don’t let your business take over your life. I’m in a blessed situation where the thing that I love most, I love to teach. I love to do jiu-jitsu. I love to teach others to teach and to teach others to do jiu-jitsu. I love to empower the world with videos that are going to change their lives. I get paid for all of that. So, I’m in the rare unique position where the thing that I would do if I was a billionaire is the thing that I’m doing and I’m not a billionaire. Isn’t that interesting? So, I think I play by a different ruleset to some degree because so many people, especially in finance, it’s such a high stress. There are elements of my job that are stressful. Don’t get me wrong. And there’s elements of the desk work that I got to monitor the thresholds. But luckily, the realm of my profession is a realm that is me and I am it. And we are inseparable. And I feel like that’s a major blessing.
Obviously, it’s consuming sometimes, like, “Wow, this is for real. I’m all in on this.” So, I am doing life as I’m doing business. That’s the unique blend. The same way a professional surfer might say, “Hey, this is my passion and I’m getting paid to do it.” So, there are some rare categories where that is the case. But for everyone out there who has a job that they do to pay the bills and to be successful and financially free, and then they also have their passions outside of that, I respect that. And in fact, I have 2,000 students in this building right here. We are that release for all of them. We are the do life for all of those 2,000 students who do business elsewhere. So, I feel like I get to play at Disneyland and I own Disneyland at the same time. That’s what this feels like. So, are there stresses and struggles with owning Disneyland? Of course.
But is there a joy in going to Disneyland every day? Seeing the smiles on kids in people’s faces, being happy yourself that you’re creating that opportunity for people, it’s nothing else like it in the world. I can’t imagine any other way and so much so that when I start other companies like Quikflip or I just invented the world’s best travel pillow. It’s called the Sleeper Hold and SleeperHold.com is the website. When I start these other companies that are not jiu-jitsu companies, right, like Quikflip is its own company, I have other people run them because those are hobbies for me to start those and finance them and support them. But let’s be honest, I’m doing business and doing life at the same time when I’m doing jiu-jitsu for life. So, I don’t know if that was a good enough answer for you, but that’s my reality.
Brad Johnson: Hey, it’s the truth. I love it, my man, and you embody. I mean, you can’t fake the energy and the passion you have about the subject matter. So, I think this whole conversation speaks for itself on that front. So, with that, Rener, I know you’ve got plenty to do. And I’m counting down the days until our time together in Tahoe. So, thanks so much for coming on the show for all of the wisdom you shared with the Do Business Do Life audience and look forward to connecting in person and rolling. It’ll be a first and I can’t wait.
Rener Gracie: Likewise. Thanks, man. I appreciate it. Congrats on everything you built. And to all the audience and the listeners and watchers out there, all I’ll say is this: Give jiu-jitsu a chance and find a good instructor. We have 250 schools. Go to GracieUniversity.com. Watch the first lesson online if you’re too scared to go to a school and if what you watch is mind-bendingly compelling and attractive to you and like, “Wow, I want to learn more of that,” then go find one of our certified training centers. And if you can’t come to us, we will send an instructor to you. Tell us where you are. We can send an instructor for one week, one month, six months, you name it. We have the best instructors in the world and I think they would love to work with you. Especially if you feel unsafe learning in a general learning environment, jiu-jitsu is for you. It just has to be taught correctly and that’s what we do best. So, find me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook @RenerGracie, spelt with an R, pronounced with an H, and check out our Gracie Breakdowns on Gracie Breakdown YouTube and Facebook and then all the stuff on GracieUniversity.com I think you’ll love. There’s a bunch of free lessons there, so please check it out.
Brad Johnson: Love it, my man. We’ll put it all in the show notes too to make it easy for everyone. And, yeah, until we meet in person, Rener. So, thanks again, my man.
Rener Gracie: My pleasure. Thank you. Will talk to you soon. See you later, Brad.
Brad Johnson: All right. Take care.