BY: Eddie Fyvie
CEO @ Fyvie, Inc. & Promoter of The Rickson Gracie Cup - ALBANY
a lack of inspiration
I have spent 2/3 of my life on a Jiu-Jitsu mat. I feel as if I am one of the luckiest people on earth to have found Jiu-Jitsu so early and so young. For me, training was always fun; competition was always fun and came natural. I knew I would do BJJ forever.
Over the years, there was always ONE THING that I struggled with and also watched countless others struggle with. The struggle occurred, whether it was in the BJJ world or the MMA world. There was nobody around to personally draw inspiration from...
When the Gracie's and other Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu experts came from Brazil -- ZERO, high level instructor's or fighter's moved to Upstate NY. It seemed as if they landed in any direction, three hours or more away. This was to be expected. It was only natural for their migration to have traveled towards the more metropolitan and populated areas.
As Jiu-Jitsu rose to the national and international spotlight, the art in Upstate NY was only available to those who had the dedication to make trips to NYC or other distant regions and to the few of u crazy, 518 locals, who were dedicated enough to watch and learn from the VHS, Gracie jiu-Jitsu instructional tapes at the time.
If the art was to ever grow, we needed someone to transplant themselves or we needed to miraculously CREATE our own reality. This is not easy.
Creating a movement
The first 4 years of my training, I was forced to take part in the Jiu-Jitsu by VHS learning system. Although it sounds terrible - at the time, we realized the gift we had stumbled across. We treated the techniques on these videos as if they were precious treasures.
One day, a Purple Belt named Chad Beatty moved from New Jersey, to the Albany region. Chad was a regular on the tournament circuit and a Purple Belt, under legendary competitor and instructor, Ricardo "Cacharrao" Almeida.
In our modern time, Purple Belts are a common sight in everyday BJJ academies. In the late 90's and early 2000's, it was like witnessing an endangered species.
The amazing thing about Chad's move upstate...I can reflect back and point to this singular moment as the moment in time when the doors to greatness were unlocked for me and many others. Those of us who started practicing and learning the amazing technique with Chad, were given the gift of personal connection to the FAMOUS Renzo Gracie - NYC Clan. This was priceless. There was an almost infinite list of incredible BJJ practitioners who were there at the time and came out of that academy.
Through Chad's connection and network, I began traveling and training with whomever I could get in contact with. I was obsessively determine to learn. This opened my eyes to something...
A "movement" can be created by a single source. It can be created by an accidental moment in time. A moment in which the universe aligns just right to allow a SPARK to ignite. This moment can be missed easily. It is important to use our intuition and knowledge of our history to capture these chances.
My mission: create a hotbed
When you think of the word "hotbed" you might picture the corn stalks in Iowa where some of the best wrestlers in the world are training. The Brazilian soccer fields where Soccer's rising stars are being developed. What we all must realize is that these were not created out of thin air. In Daniel Coyle's great book, "Talent Code", he describes these factors in depth. There is a common occurrence. There is ALWAYS one anomaly or one event that creates the ignition.
Have you ever heard of Pele? Have you ever heard of Dan Gable? Exactly...
Before these two greats, the sports were a part of that particular area's culture. However, the achievements of these two. The inspiration others from the community drew from them, allowed for a MASS wave of Soccer and Wrestling development to truly begin.
When you live in a particular area that has never had something achieved on a GRANDIOSE scale, it becomes very easy to develop a defeatist attitude. It takes just one person to break through the barrier and unlock the potential of the downtrodden. We all need inspiration and it can be difficult to drum up our inspiration when we can't visibly see a success story.
If someone like Dan Gable is your neighbor, and you grow up wrestling with him ad see his success, firsthand...It is easy to say, "I can do that"! Maybe it's because you have had the chance to feel mild success having actually practiced with this anomaly. Or it can be related to the fact that you feel connected to this anomaly; having grown up with similar living conditions and in a similar way. When you witness their success, it doesn't seem like it is as much of an impossible possibility.
something from nothing
In 2013, I retired from professional competition. I have always been someone who prefers to focus on one thing and focus on that one thing, FANATICALLY. Sometimes this focus is actually unhealthy. Even though it is a somewhat, "unbalanced" way of being, it seems to be an important trait to overcome adversity and do something out of the ordinary.
When I retired, it became my mission to dive into teaching and running an academy full time. For 11 years, I have been teaching classes six days a week, morning and night. As I started to feel a sense of fulfillment teaching at my academy, I decided I wanted to do something bigger. Something that would help the Jiu-Jitsu community in my local area ad all around the Northeast.
reaching our potential
How I envisioned this happening was by bringing in the "GREATS" within the BJJ and MMA world. I believed that if these iconic figure came to this area and were treated well and saw the potential, they would start to think of our region as "the place to go".
My focus turned to getting the ONE & ONLY, Rickson Gracie to come to town for a seminar. After TWO YEARS of attempts and working on different ideas to convince him to come, it finally happened. He came to Sarat0ga Springs, NY and put on the BIGGEST BJJ seminar in U.S. history. This put us on the radar. It started to create a spark.
The success of that event and the treatment that was put on display, not just by me, but the people in our great Northeast communities, made Rickson remember our area.
When he was interested in putting on a tournament...my phone rang!
We must understand, this Jiu-Jitsu tournament is going to be something that will allow the country and international BJJ community to point us out on the map.
It will be something that will inspire others to look in our direction when they are thinking about doing an event or a seminar. It will allow the prospects of our art who haven't found Jiu-Jitsu to hear about, read about, and witness a GREAT event occurring. It will make these prospects feel inspired to join the momentum of this movement.
I can promise you this, the collective gathering at The Rickson Gracie Cup will be something that goes down in the BJJ history books and it will be an event that allows all of us to feel the incredible sense of pride - associated with achieving greatness. Event's like these and those to come will ignite a new era of Jiu-Jitsu growth, training, and development in Upstate NY and the surrounding Northeast region!