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UFC legend paying Winnipeg a visit
Membership certainly has its privileges at the Gracie Humaita Winnipeg gym.
Rodrigo Munduruca opened the doors to his Brazilian jiu-jitsu training facility in February, and 100 of his students will have the opportunity to celebrate with him when two of the school’s namesakes — Royce and Royler Gracie — come to town for a seminar on May 12 at Windsor Park Collegiate.
Royce, the winner of UFCs 1, 2 and 4, is arguably the most influential fighter in mixed martial arts history. His brother, Royler, is a four-time world jiu-jitsu champion, and spent years running the original Gracie Humaita school in Brazil.
"For me, these guys are everything," said Munduruca, a Sage Creek resident who visited Winnipeg as a photographer with the Brazilian judo team during the 1999 Pan Am Games and decided to move here.
"If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here," said the third-degree black belt.
Munduruca, who trained under Royler for four years in Brazil, said his students can’t wait to meet and learn from such legendary figures.
"Everybody’s super excited," he said. "If they just talk and tell stories for three hours, everyone will be happy."
But according to Royce Gracie, the seminar will be much more than a story-telling session.
"For some people it’s going to be new stuff," the 45-year-old said from his home in California, where he rarely spends more than a couple weeks between his world-wide travels. "For some students it’s going to be a review of old moves. We want to make sure everyone is on the right track and on the same page."
The Gracies will do hands-on demonstrations on the mat with some of the participants, and will also talk about the mental side of the discipline that their family has made famous.
"Teaching is beyond the mat," he said. "We’ll give them the knowledge of not just how to fight and defend themselves, but also the way I think."
Since this is his first visit to Winnipeg, Gracie knows he’ll likely receive some of the typical questions he gets from fans.
Did you expect MMA to become the popular North American sport it is today?
"When I first came to the U.S., it was like Wayne Gretzky going to Brazil and people saying, ‘Who are you?’ But we knew once America found out (about MMA) the world would find out. I was not surprised how much people liked it."
Gracie Humaita Winnipeg is part of a global network of gyms that teach the same methods and style. Daniel Cobb, a longtime student of Munduruca’s, said it’s like being part of an extended family.
"I can go to any gym in the world and there’s a bed for me," said the former University of Manitoba football player.
For Gracie, when a gym bears his name, he expects it to teach the same values he’s always preached.
"They need to carry the same tradition my family has been carrying for the past 75 years," he said. "I’m a pro fighter, but I’ve never had a fight on the street."
Munduruca said the majority of the 200-plus students in his Stradbrook Street gym are there to get in shape — not to become the next UFC champion.
"All kinds of different people come here," he said. "A lot are just older students who are bored with lifting weights."
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(1 of 12 articles for this week)05/22/2013 1:00 AM 0
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