Steve Maxwell, is most widely known for his world-renowned fitness coaching and physical education. Along with of course being the first American born Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, having studied under Relson Gracie. Maxwell recently spoke at length with Brian Rose at London Real about his life and times.
He explained his journey into the world of BJJ. And the very foundations of what we today know as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He went on to detail the origins of the martial art. And how it’s Godfather Helio Gracie. Had brought the far Eastern martial art form to the masses of the Western world.
“Gracie elder Gracie taught Japanese, judo jujitsu. The terms were almost synonymous, judo Jiu-Jitsu, the Brazilians continued to call it jiu-jitsu. But it was like the old Kodokan style, there were self-defence movements. Defences against punches kicks, weapons defences. All the throws of modern judo and a lot of ground fighting. They knew just about everything we know today. There was nothing new Under the Sun and what Helio did was he polished up the Japanese system a little bit.”
Maxwell breaks down the reasoning behind Gracie’s desire to spread the sport. Factoring in how he felt that this was something that could be used by anyone and everyone. From the businessman on the street to the housewife looking to protect herself or her family.
He discusses the format and training regime on which BJJ was built. Allowing for slow steady progress, as opposed to learning something, then quickly moving on the next element.
Spreading BJJ Worldwide
“What really differentiates this is just a Gracie jiu-jitsu is the teaching style. He’s created this very interesting teaching system … What I did with you today you know you introduced step by step, I introduced the movement patterns. And then you showed the combat application, you start with real simple things.
Like we did today and you just build on that foundation and notice how we would stop and repeat the first move, then the second. And then we’d add a third move and then we go back and we view the first the second the third. That kind of repetition is really good to get it in the nervous system. Also, notice I kept saying slow down, slow down, They’re really really big into slow motion.“
Steve discusses the lineage of training in BJJ. And how there is just a few people left who have directly taken their Blacklbelts from Master Helio himself. Of course his grandchildren such as Rickson, Relson and Royce Gracie. All of the above are carrying on Helio’s legacy. And continue to teach in the same style and format of the great man.
Brian Rose visits top team rio
Then Brian Rose, who is himself a huge fan of the sport and mixed martial arts. Gives a quick story on how he ended up in Rio De Janeiro back in 2006. After emailing Top Team in Rio, he unceremoniously rolled up to the gym.
And there on the mats, he found both the Nogueira brothers, Anderson Silva, Ricardo Arona and Murilo Bustamante. For these legends of mixed martial arts, it was just another day on the mats. And Rose was invited right in to roll and hang out. Quite an experience right!
Steve goes on to talk about how it’s perfectly normal to feel somewhat anxious going on the mats to train. How you are putting your body in the care of someone else, not to hurt you.
Blackbelt under Helio Gracie
“Grappling it’s a different kind of mentality and I think it’s a different kind of camaraderie. I mean as opposed to straight karate … There’s something different about actually punching someone, as opposed to grappling and rolling around in each other’s sweat. And everything very much I need to develop a kind of closeness that you don’t get in the striking.
At least that’s what I found yeah because you’re close, I mean you’re holding your body’s next to each other. You know it’s like a I don’t know there’s something weird going on there. Whereas it’s like puppies or kittens yeah, you know. It is rolling around and grappling. I mean if you think about it most of the apex predators are grapplers.”
Finally, Steve talks about the ability of Jiu-Jitsu to keep people young. Allowing them to keep their bodies supple and avoid much of that stiffness, which leads to falls and accidents. But he also says that there are people for whom BJJ can destroy them.
Hitting the gym tearing into each other like wild dogs and that is not the way to go. It’s those big strong blue belts and brown belts, who do not know their own strength. These are the guys that will hurt you when training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.