Kron Gracie took hold of the room at the pre-press conference of Metamoris on October 13th as he spoke not only about his training but about his goals, hellish growth to becoming a man and his view on the evolution of jiu jitsu. He leaned forward when it was his turn to be interviewed and he managed to capture the full attention of everyone in the room by turning the friendly and light tone onto its head. He was serious, now. What had changed in 5 years since he last fought Otavio Souza was his evolution into becoming a man through "a whole lotta hell." But the most interesting part was to follow.
When asked about what he would change about the IBJJF system, it wasn't the points system, but the lack of action. He blamed this type of stalling on steroids because athletes are strong and rely on their grips throughout the match without initiating action. After his fight with Otavio, was it purely ironic that almost half of the match he was stuck in the confines of Otavio's grips? In his own words:
"I don't think I would necessarily change the point system. The point system is great. I think what's stopping the sport is the grips. Guys will get a grip and then they'll stop when they want to. It's very easy to do that and it's really hard to break the grips. Guys are taking steroids, guys are really strong, it's hard to break those grips. So, I think when the guy grabs a grip and he stops and his intention is to hold those grips and not intend to go to the next move, I think that's the problem. So if you just take away the-- you know in Judo, guys only have 20 seconds with a grip or 15 seconds with a special grip or they have to let go-- I think that should be the rule in jiu jitsu. The guy should have a special grip, you can do what you want to do, but if you don't do it then you gotta let go. You can't just hold the fight and stop the fight. I think jiu jitsu has great rules, great time. Ten minutes is enough time if the guys are not holding and stopping the position."
Kron's game is aggressive, diligent and submission-based. While his family members Rener, Ralek and Ryron, who double as his training partners, are of a different focus, he aims to go for the finish.
Many have said that Kron's style is a great asset to the community, an inspiration for what jiu jitsu should be, but that it is not quite fit for IBJJF. He was able to prove his abilities in the 20-minute submission only setting of Metamoris, however, when he submitted Otavio Souza in the last few minutes of their superfight. He managed to break free of Otavio's grips after multiple attempts during the match and take full advantage by passing, and going straight for the complete armbar submission.
He may not be able to say he's a world champion black belt yet, but he certainly gained some confidence by beating one at the Metamoris event.
After the match was said and done, I took a look at the action with the perspective of Otavio's grips. Not including the time that Otavio spent within Kron's guard and only paying attention to his own role as guard player, Otavio held onto Kron's sleeves for 40% of the match. What may have looked like a stagnant attempt by Kron, was really Otavio's way of waiting for a submission to open up. Perhaps a triangle, an omoplata, an armbar. But Kron knew better and defended well, causing a battle centered around the very grips that Kron spoke about just one day before.
It was an ironic statement given the way the match unfolded, but we should put into question the reliance of grips in our jiu jitsu games and focus on whether or not we are initiating action as Kron said we should be.