Reflections: When Gordon Ryan was matched against Ralek Gracie several years ago it was a rather surreal experience. The match was in the legendary Torrence Gracie academy where Brazilian jiu jitsu gained its first foothold in the United States. When I began jiu jitsu in the mid 1990’s I remember being in awe of grainy VHS images of challenge matches in that academy and being so impressed by the way they used jiu jitsu to dispel many of the prevailing beliefs about fighting from that era and usher in a new way of looking at martial arts that we still benefit from now. We were there in effect for a challenge match in a different era so it was a strange feeling. Rorion Gracie was a gracious host and he showed a beautiful jiu jitsu museum he has built inside the academy featuring the history of the Gracie family. I love the history of the old Japanese and Brazilian masters who gave birth to this art. Many of them were fascinating characters. The sport has changed so much in some ways but it’s core principles and methods remain largely unchanged. I always wonder what the old masters would think if they saw the modern changes in jiu jitsu – would they be impressed or horrified? I guessing they’d be both. No matter what their feelings about us – I will always be grateful for them