By Lars Dalseide | December 10 2010 16:11

The Gracie family name is widely considered to be the most influential name in modern martial arts, specifically the practice of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This week, Relson Gracie, the son of Grandmaster Helio Gracie, visited NRA Headquarters as a guest of the Law Enforcement Division. As part of the Gracie legacy, Relson is an 8th degree red-black belt with nearly 50 Gracie Jiu-Jitsu training academies in 16 different states with 3 academies operating in the capital region. Instructors from Relson Gracie/Kaizen MMA and Relson Gracie/Calvert MMA academies accompanied the legendary trainer. Mr. Gracie toured the National Firearms Museum where he took the opportunity to view the new Petersen Gallery as well as the “Guns of Hollywood” exhibit and other areas of the museum.

Relson Gracie and his DC-area instructors demonstrate Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for NRA Law Enforcement Division
From left to right: Jeff Overcash, Jim Hannan, Relson Gracie, Toney Waldecker, and James Thrift.

After his tour, Mr. Gracie met with Dave Gledhill, Manager of Law Enforcement Training, & Law Enforcement Training Instructor Jeff Overcash, where current trends in law enforcement training were discussed. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu instructors Toney Waldecker, Jim Hannan, & James Thrift were in attendance to talk about their experience and observations with training law enforcement and military personnel in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu techniques. Discussions were had on self-defense techniques for police/military as well as civilian concealed carry considerations. Recognizing that the national capital region is the nation’s foremost location for law enforcement and military personnel, these techniques have been evaluated and implemented by many of America’s most reputable protection services. As is the family tradition, Mr. Gracie invited Overcash to train with him to evaluate the effectiveness of the Gracie self-defense techniques first-hand.

Flanked by his capital region instructors, Mr. Gracie began a concentrated seminar on the subject of firearm retention during a physical confrontation. With Overcash wearing a police duty belt, Mr. Gracie demonstrated a retention technique which transitions into a swift moving arm-bar takedown. The technique begins with Mr. Gracie grabbing the training firearm located in Overcash’s holster. Using a strong-side grip, Overcash secures the wrist of the attacker while stepping into a position of control and applying pressure to the extended elbow of the attacker and forcing him to the ground. After Overcash demonstrated proficiency with this technique, Mr. Gracie moved on to another possible scenario.


Partnering with Jim Thrift, who is not only a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu instructor at Calvert MMA, but a federal law enforcement officer, Mr. Gracie showed a technique for use with holsters common for concealed carry purposes and plain-clothes law enforcement. Mr. Gracie begins by approaching the student from behind where he attempts to quickly remove the training firearm from the student’s holster. By securing a grip on the arm of the attacker, then turning to apply the standing Kimura technique, Jim is able to defeat the attempted disarming and maintain a control technique upon the attacker.

During the course of the training, several other firearm retention techniques were demonstrated and practiced, giving students the opportunity to perform the techniques at full speed. Afterwards, the students donned traditional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gis for additional grappling and submission training. At the conclusion of the training, it was evident that the techniques shown were effective and appropriate. Toney Waldecker noted that the Kaizen MMA Academy located in Fairfax, Virginia not only teaches sport style Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but regularly conducts classes where techniques such as the ones shown above are taught specifically for self-defense and weapon retention.

The class concluded with Mr. Gracie thanking the National Rifle Association for its service to the community and commenting that both the NRA and the Relson Gracie Academy have the same goal of promoting service and safety. As they have done many times in many venues throughout the years, the Gracie Family has shown that their life’s labor has produced a superior defensive art.

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