Thursday, November 01, 2007


Ultimate Fighting star teaches cops new restraint technique

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Royce Gracie made a name for himself in Ultimate Fighting Championship matches as Octagon, taking down heavier, taller and angrier opponents with unique grappling holds that turn his arms and legs into clamps capable of inflicting serious pain.

Now 40, and 14 years past his first UFC win, Gracie trains police in the moves that brought Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stature as a way to win a fight with a twist of the wrist, instead of bloodshed.

This week, Gracie is teaching the craft to 40 local law enforcement officers enrolled in a weeklong program sponsored by Palm Beach Community College's Criminal Justice Institute.

PBCC, which gets state dollars through its continuing education program, is paying half of the $600-per-student fee.

"This is a more humane way to win," said Gracie, who was raised in Rio de Janeiro, but now lives in California. "We don't rely on punching someone out."

Instead, Gracie's father and uncle invented leverage techniques that can be used with traditional jiujitsu against much bigger competitors.

In case a physical altercation ends with officers on their backs, Gracie teaches them to defend themselves and prevent the suspect from running away by having them wrap their legs around the suspect, keep their heads to the side to avoid being head-butted and grasp the suspect's upper arms in a way so he can't take a swing.

To turn the tables, Gracie thrusts his hips up, throwing the opponent forward and off balance while turning him over into a position where an officer can deal an elbow blow to the suspect's face.

In matches, Gracie has wriggled his way out of seemingly immobilizing positions, using holds that twist and squeeze opponents until they submit.

Gracie's first UFC win in 1993 pitted him in the finals against Gerard Gordeau, who outweighed the 6-foot-1-inch, 180-pound Gracie by 40 pounds. Gracie won the match in less than two minutes with a chokehold.

In 2004, Gracie used a wrist hold to beat the 6-foot-8-inch, 500-pound sumo wrestler Akebono Taro, who, despite having Gracie pinned to the mat for much of the match, tapped out in two minutes and 13 seconds.

"The message is, it doesn't matter who you are up against," said Patrick Kelly, director of PBCC's Criminal Justice Institute. "The techniques officers can use to survive when they're on the ground and overwhelm their opponent are Gracie techniques."

Gracie also concentrates on helping officers keep control of their weapons, which can be easy targets for criminals during a confrontation.

"Royce pays attention to a lot of the details involved," said Sam McCoy, an officer with the Boca Raton Police Department. "Anytime you have to put your hands on someone, this will come into play. You never know when a guy might jump you."

Gracie said he participates in professional matches about once a year, but spends most of his time teaching.

"You don't have to be big. You don't have to be strong. You just have to know the right leverage," Gracie said. "I tell them to avoid going to the ground with someone, but if it does happen, they better know what to do."
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