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Preview – QA – Heather Gracie

Photos by Straight 8

Grace Under Fire
A Member of Martial Arts Royalty, Heather Gracie is Expanding Her Talents Into the Shooting and Business Worlds

Twenty-one years ago, a skinny Brazilian walked into a caged octagon, wearing what appeared to be white pajamas, and faced off against a Golden Gloves boxing champion in a no-holds-barred fight. The boxer, Art Jimmerson, was quickly taken down and choked into submission. The slender South American went on to submit two more larger opponents that night and became the first winner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He was none other than Royce Gracie, and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history.

It turns out that Royce’s ground-fighting and grappling skills were not an aberration, or even unique. Royce’s father (Helio), uncle (Carlos), brothers, aunts, and cousins all trained in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Royce’s family competed and dominated no-rules matches decades before that first UFC event was televised to more than 86,000 pay-per-view customers.

Heather Grace Gracie is a member of this prestigious grappling family and is making waves of her own. Not only is Heather an active Gracie Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and a fitness freak, but she is also a huge gun enthusiast who spends a lot of her time on the range when she’s not spinning the ones and twos as a DJ or working on starting up a clothing line and a supplements company. Despite her busy schedule, RECOIL was fortunate enough to catch up with Gracie and force her to grapple (pun intended) with some questions. Trust us when we say, “She can sweep you off your feet in more ways than one.”


RECOIL: At what age did you start your jiu-jitsu training?

Heather Gracie: The lifestyle, the philosophy, the “Gracie Diet” — I have been living it since birth. I was never allowed to drink soda, eat candy, or even have juice that was not freshly squeezed. There was a way we had to carry ourselves. The martial arts aspect was always around too, but being a girl I wasn’t really focused on that. I was very athletic, but I was more interested in volleyball or running track at the time. The urge to know how to choke out people usually starts once you start driving, anyway. I started to train jiu-jitsu more seriously when I was 17.

Who trained you?

HG: I was training with my uncle, Grandmaster Reylson Gracie, until he moved back to Brazil a few years ago. I haven’t been training much since, but I’m missing it a lot so as we speak, I’m starting back up with my cousin Renzo Gracie.

Did you want to train or was it something forced on you by your family?

HG: I’m Carlos Gracie’s granddaughter. [Editor’s note: Carlos Gracie Sr. was the founder of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu]. How would I dare not to train? [Laughs.] But really, it is the cornerstone of our family, so Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is embedded in our lives. I love it and feel fortunate to be born into it.

What is your favorite aspect of training in jiu-jitsu?

HG: Jiu-jitsu is a chess game, a tactical way of thinking. It’s stamina, it’s strength, it’s discipline, it’s honor, it’s loyalty. It teaches you that even the most hopeless fight can be won — you just have to find a way. These fundamentals of jiu-jitsu can be applied to anything in life; with jiu-jitsu you become better at life.

For the rest of this article, subscribe here: RECOIL Issue 17

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