Exploring the Gracie Diet with longtime practitioner and coach Joshua Lauber
The Gracie Family is considered the founding family of modern MMA. They brought their unique approach to combat into the public view in the early UFCs with Royce Gracie debuting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (read: Gracie Jiu-Jitsu) to the world with his superiority over opponents coming from martial arts. Fast forward 20 years later and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is still considered to be on the cutting edge of combat sports. Anyone who has watched MMA has seen the effectiveness of grappling as it pertains to finishing and controlling a fight, but even now there are many subtleties to being a combat athlete. One of the most important elements of any kind of athletic activity is the lifestyle choices of its athletes, and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in particular embodies this maxim with the Gracie Diet.
The Gracie Diet promotes what some view as a radical change in lifestyle. Developed long ago by BJJ originator Carlos Gracie, it provides an emphasis on the proper mixing of foods and eating clean. The Gracie Diet focuses on eating foods rich in antioxidants along with fruits and vegetables. (see more here) While it isn’t a new fad, many descendants of Carlos and his brother Helio Gracie are still known for being very outspoken about their adherence to the Gracie Diet.
Aside from the Gracie family others who practice BJJ have adopted the diet as well. One of them resides in Texas in Josh Lauber of Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu San Antonio. For anyone who doesn’t know, Relson Gracie is the second oldest son of Helio Gracie and a Gracie Diet practitioner himself. Having trained under Relson for many years now, Josh didn’t just learn BJJ but also became a student when it comes to the Gracie Diet as well.He believes deeply in the Gracie Diet, which promotes specific eating patterns to enhance ones endurance and health in general, and took part in an interview where he shared many of his perspectives in this interview.
Interview – Josh Lauber discusses the benefits of the Gracie Diet
TXMMA: How did you first get introduced to BJJ? And more importantly what were the early days like for you?
Josh Lauber: The UFC and Royce Gracie was my introduction to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. I had done traditional Japanese martial arts as a teenager so it was familiar but totally different. I started in 1995 with Relson Gracie when I was visiting Oahu. I moved there 3 months later and he was a big part of why.Those early days were paradise. It was like a basically secret society. If you knew about it you trained if not you were kind of clueless!
TXMMA: Early in your training you lived in sunny Cleveland Ohio, how did that affect your training? Namely where did you get your knowledge from?
Josh Lauber: I started in Hawaii, trained for 2 years or so and got pulled back to Cleveland when I was a 2nd degree blue belt. I trained with some friends, I think at the time I was one of the highest ranked guys around! heh heh! I moved back to Hawaii about a year later.
TXMMA: At what point during your initiation into BJJ was the concept of diet brought to your attention?
Josh Lauber: Right away. Relson has been a follower of the Gracie diet his whole life. He had a great way of introducing you to it without pushing it down your throat. If you were interested he is always there to guide you. If not he is cool with that too. I think the first thing he made me was bananas, apple juice and cream cheese, the Gracie breakfast smoothie. It took me a few years to really get the combinations but I have been a strict adherent for about a decade now. It has cured me of migraines, hypoglycemia and given me lots of energy and vitality!
TXMMA: Do you believe in strict adherence to the Gracie Diet?
Josh Lauber: 100%, if you follow it the benefits are incredible. I don’t get sick, period! Haven’t for years. I also been a professional Jiu-Jitsu instructor for 8 years now full time, 6 of those years I taught 7 days a week. Now I have Sundays off. I am 42 and 150 pounds so it matters trust me.
TXMMA: What are your thoughts on other diets like the Paleo diet?
Josh Lauber: Healthy eating is always great. The cornerstone of the Gracie diet is that digestion is the most exhausting process our bodies perform. When you give your stomach 4 and a half hours between meals with nothing but water it keeps your ph levels balanced and doesn’t require excess acids to continuously breakdown food. So I don’t like any diet that has you constantly eating every few hours.
TXMMA: Does the Gracie Diet address anything along the lines of drug use (including but not limited to Marijuana), alcohol consumption and smoking?
Josh Lauber: It doesn’t recommend any of them of course. On the other hand the reality of our society is intertwined with a lot of harmful substance. If one must moderation is always the key but certainly none is much better for your long term health. Helio didn’t touch anything like tobacco, alcohol or marijuana and he died still able to choke and roll at 95!
TXMMA: Speaking of substances, how about performance enhancing drugs?
Josh Lauber: The general principle of win, win ,win is not one I am comfortable with. Life is loss, how we deal with it is what determines our character. Helio fought not to lose which is very different. Competition has made teachers and athletes feel as if any loss will lose those students, sponsors and financial revenue. So people resort to extra edges in attempts to always win. In a real life street fighting situation a draw, in which you get away safely, can be a win.
These days I think there are no secrets and it is very hard if not impossible to maintain a spotless competition record. Are you going to fall to pieces and retire your Gi? Or learn from the loss and try again. We must have a moral component to Jiu-Jitsu or we are just well trained thugs!
TXMMA: What about as a method to enhance one’s training? A person I once trained with told me that steroids are not necessarily about strength and that they can be taken intelligently.
Josh Lauber: As a teacher of children as well as adults, I worry about things that have not been fully proven over time. Furthermore there is always natural means to improve health as all PEDS are based around plants and minerals. Also After 18 years in Jiu-Jitsu I fully believe the only way to really get better is repeating, repeating ,repeating, followed by intelligent rolling with equal, superior and beginner partners! Proper diet, rest and stretching being another aspect of improvement.
TXMMA: Given that your specific tie to the Gracie family is through Relson, do you think that your experience with the Gracie Diet is any different than someone with exposure to one of the other Gracies? How about Relson’s cousins?
Josh Lauber: It is possible I am pretty sure not every Gracie follows the diet or those that do don’t have the exact same recipes. I have spent a good bit of time around Rorion, Rener and Ryron and they are very similar in dietary habits to Relson. I can only speak about the ones I have been around.
TXMMA: Do you have any other thoughts that you’d like to share with the readers of TXMMA?
Josh Lauber: I love and teach the sport, I even run a tournament, Gracie Grappling Cup, but I can’t stress enough the importance of the self-defense aspect of our art. If you don’t know self-defense you don’t really know Jiu-Jitsu. Everyone, your mother, sister and daughter included should know basic self-defense against a headlock, a sucker punch, a tackle and grabs from behind at the very least. For your own empowerment and confidence. On the concrete you are not jumping to guard or pulling 50/50!
TXMMA: Thank you so much for your time Josh.
Josh Lauber: I really appreciate the interest! My academy is open 7 days a week, I have a big kids program and around 100 students, that are the best! My website is www.graciesa.com, first class is always free and we have specific self-defense classes as well as sport ones as well.