Cesalina Gracie – Athlete, Jiu Jitsu Teacher, TV Presenter, Entrepreneur

Cesalina Gracie

My guest is producer, TV presenter, entrepreneur, athlete, and jiu-jitsu teacher Cesalina Gracie.

We know about the Gracie men, but the notion of warrior and champion is taught to everyone in the family. Cesalina is a loving and strong woman who is on a mission to empower women and girls to use their voice, and “posture of the Champion” to create scenarios that make for safe and comfortable environments personally and or in the workplace. You realize that just having a few of the right tools can help you avoid so many hassles or bad situations. Ces and I also discuss that even when you’re determined that taking up a new business venture always takes longer than we like. She shares some of the techniques she uses to endure the path of an entrepreneur.

We had so much fun in this interview and she makes me want to put on a pink gi and be a kick ass compassionate warrior. This conversation isn’t just for the females, it is for everyone.


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Cesalina Gracie – Athlete, Jiu-jitsu teacher, TV presenter, entrepreneur

My guest is a good friend of mine, Cesalina Gracie. Yes, she is of the Gracie Tribe. She teaches young girls the posture of the champion but this is for all of us. How speaking up or using your voice or knowing how to, the first time you feel uncomfortable about anything, avoid so many other things later. The gift of having a skill like jiu-jitsu, the gentle art, creates confidence that you can have that space to decide. For example, if you’re in a conflict, the space to either say clearly what you’re feeling and also the space to de-escalate, remove yourself, and avoid a situation. 

A lot of times people think, “Tough,” or having these skills makes you think that you can fight all the time. It’s the opposite. It’s so that you can avoid these situations or if you have to get into it that you have some skills to navigate it. Ces is a great contrast to somebody who is strong and assertive, but so kind, loving, and gentle. I thought it was important to have these conversations because I’m personally looking for more self-mastery. 

One of the things that she said that was one of my favorite when we were talking about Royce was about how do you not let that person in the parking lot that’s aggressing you or tweaking you that you could engage impact your internal self? That whatever pattern and weather pattern you have inside of you is never impacted by these people. We’re all looking for a little bit more of that mastery and even how to teach kids how to deal with bullies and give them those tools to de-escalate defuse that they can use their whole lives. Enjoy.

Cesalina Gracie, I always laugh no matter what, even if the mother is a Gracie, the children are Gracies. 

How we take on the last name?

Yes. Let’s start there. Let’s talk about being born into this family, which is a great thing but also there are a lot of layers and dynamics. I don’t mean the individual people, but the philosophy that’s passed down. It’s something that’s a flag that’s meant to be held seriously. 

Being born in the Gracie family, at least I can tell from my experience, we are born learning from the people that came before you. You’re already continuing a legacy without you choosing or even knowing exactly what is happening because it’s a play. Before we had diapers, we were crawling on the mats. Everyone has mats at home. You’re living the history as you’re developing into your own person, as you’re developing your own identity. That process is supported and we feel that we are special.

Do you mean that it’s an honored position? 

I felt honored and I’ve always appreciated a lot of the time that was being spent with me because it’s not only the physical skills. The environment that we grow up in and the philosophy and the principles that we learn as human beings set a strong foundation for whatever we want to do in life later on. It’s our choice. It’s not mandatory that you’re going to do jiu-jitsu, but you are representing the family by being born into it and by being raised under those principles and values. For most people, 99% of the family lives through jiu-jitsu. Because we are continuing that legacy, we are carrying on the name. Regardless of the mother or the father, most people use the Gracie last name.

Maybe it’s the name that it represents. It’s like the word love. We know what love means. Maybe the idea of Gracie is bigger than, “It’s a family name. It’s a philosophy. It’s a way we’re going to conduct ourselves.” It’s interesting. I’ve talked to a lot of people. I had a Korean woman. It’s a responsibility. I didn’t grow up like that at all. Nothing. 

It’s interesting when you see families either it’s cultural or in your case, it’s been established by the family that there’s a way that you conduct yourself. I know a lot of other members of your family so the other interesting thing is if somebody colors outside the lines that they will hear from cousins, too. The cousins will call and say, “What are you doing?” “Why are you doing that?” You didn’t take that as pressure but as a gift.

My journey in jiu-jitsu has shifted throughout the years. When I was young, I was forced to compete by my father who wasn’t the Gracie one, which is interesting because he was into jiu-jitsu and that was the common ground where he met my mom. For him, it was important that I was carrying that on as an athlete. Perhaps maybe I was supposed to be a boy and I was a boy but it didn’t matter. The philosophy and the way that I was raised were the same so I didn’t have a choice growing up.

I resented that for a little bit because as soon as I had an opportunity to get out of competitions, I did. I had a bad accident in a competition. I broke my coccyx, the last bone of your spine, and it was one trauma after the other physically. In a way, I transitioned from being an athlete and I never carry that on. When you talk about responsibility, I’ve always felt the responsibility of continuing the legacy of my family somewhere.

Somehow, I always knew that competing wasn’t it. I always felt the competition aspect of jiu-jitsu is beautiful. It was extremely necessary to spread the word and make the legacy continue and prove the efficiency of jiu-jitsu over other martial arts as well but I always felt that there were enough people doing that. In my mind, I was always trying to find my purpose, my reason behind it.

Cesalina Gracie

Cesalina Gracie – The philosophy of you being confident in your own self and knowing that the tools that you need are with you anywhere you go.

I moved to London when I was 17 years old and for some reason, I decided not to put a gi on for four years and I moved away from jiu-jitsu a little bit. Even though I wasn’t practicing at the academy, that’s when I started realizing that I was using jiu-jitsu every single day of my life in interactions with people and setting boundaries. I was so young on a completely different continent and didn’t know the culture well. I was starting to realize how protected I was at home because suddenly, you’re alone and you’re going through scenarios that I could have never imagined.

I started having those wake-up calls where I was like, “I used the tool from jiu-jitsu that I learned in this situation. I started questioning, “What if I didn’t have that? My story would be different. What about all the other women and all the other girls that don’t have that and never had that?” My relationship with jiu-jitsu started shifting where I started seeing that I didn’t have to be a competitor, I didn’t have to be totally immersed in the professional aspect of fighting, but that there was something there. That was the beginning of the discovery of where I would take jiu-jitsu as my journey continued.

I moved to the US in 2011 and I opened a jiu-jitsu school with my brother. It was for men, for women, for boys, for girls. I started working on the methodology with him and working on the classes. Suddenly, I was an entrepreneur in the digital world and learning how to navigate that with people from all walks of life, which is why jiu-jitsu was created in the first place.  It was to serve the people that were less privileged physically who weren’t as dominant, that didn’t need to use their size, that didn’t have anywhere to rely on and pull confidence from.

I started seeing that’s where I find myself being more useful and being more in service. Now, I work with women and girls. I have a school of empowerment with the tools from jiu-jitsu and the philosophy of jiu-jitsu, but also with all real-life scenarios and situations that remote back to the stories that I went through. From my walk of life, that was the most important thing.

From a broad point of view, what are some of the philosophies? Jiu-jitsu is from Japan and it was taught to your grandfather. 

Carlos Gracie.

I appreciate the message that you give in your teaching of Posture of the Champion and such. In jiu-jitsu, what do you think that they were hoping that all the students would receive? What are some of the fundamental beliefs in jiu-jitsu that are important whether you’re a beginner, white belt, or black belt? 

Jiu-jitsu in Japanese means gentle art and it is the art of kindness, of being gentle, of using leverage. It’s not an art that we come in. There’s nothing wrong with boxing or Muay Thai, but the goal is not to disfigure someone’s face. It’s not to break your nose to knock you out. The goal is for me to capitalize on your movements so you could even call it almost a dance, where I’m using your force towards me to reverse the situation and to use that in my favor. A lot of the principles that apply in life, in my life at least, come from jiu-jitsu. This being one, for example, use the energy that is coming towards you to redirect it and use it to your advantage. How can you control the distance with someone?

You’re constantly navigating in a space that is comfortable for you. We need that so much in our workplace. Let’s say we’re in an interview or you’re with your peers and they keep interrupting you. This is jiu-jitsu. When you look somebody in the eye, you take the posture of the champion and you say, “Excuse me. When you interrupt me, you make me feel disrespected. I would like you to let me finish my thought.” For me, that is jiu-jitsu.

It’s for you to navigate life in a way that you are feeling respected and at the same time, you’re setting up boundaries that prevent your relationships from escalating to a situation that you didn’t want to face later on that allows you to have the courage to maybe move to another country. Or to get in a relationship with somebody that you otherwise wouldn’t know how to approach through worse scenarios. The philosophy of you being confident in your own self and knowing that the tools that you need are with you anywhere you go.

This theme has shown up another time for me. I interviewed Christopher McDougall, who wrote a book called Born to Run. He also wrote a book called Natural Born Heroes. What their belief was in the Island of Crete and these were goat herders was this idea of training in a way so you’re ready for anything. You’re capable. You can pull yourself up, you can lunge, you can squat, you can hit something, you can throw something and hit something. Being capable can make you, I don’t want to say more peaceful or more loving, but it seems to be a result. It feels like aggression and all these things come from real fear. 

What I appreciate about this idea is he trained for everything. You trained for jiu-jitsu, you know some moves, you know counter moves, and no matter where you are, you have them. For example, let’s use Royce. Let’s use your cousin as an example because we see Royce often. Royce has such relaxed energy and I know energy, people have energy, but everything is energy. 

You start to wonder, “Maybe if people train jiu-jitsu, then they’re so relaxed that they get to avoid all kinds of hassle in their life because they have this vibration.” It’s good. They’re not either calling in the negative energy or they’re repelling people being like, “For whatever reason, I don’t think I want to mess with this person.” Maybe we could talk about the importance of training, learning those things, and also share how difficult it is and how that is empowerment. It’s not learning how to choke someone out. It’s the fact that you know if you had to subdue or calm down the situation that that is the skill.

We always say, “We learn how to fight so we never have to.” Talking about the philosophy of jiu-jitsu that is coupled with that principle is I grew up with a motor in my house from my grandfather. Before becoming a great fighter, you must become a great human. Once you’re confident in who you are and that you’re not relying on other people to protect you or to prevent something from happening, suddenly, you start avoiding those situations and that’s a part of the skill. Royce is relaxed because he has nothing to worry about. There is no situation where he would feel threatened as a result of fear.

Jiu-jitsu is the art of kindness, of being gentle, of using leverage. Click To Tweet

We see that with kids. Most kids, when they start learning how to move and start learning the principles of jiu-jitsu, the parents sometimes, before they know what jiu-jitsu is, think, “My kid is going to learn how to fight. They’re going to become more aggressive.” It’s the opposite. It’s the kids who are aggressive that have no tools. The more you start realizing, “I can hurt that person,” I don’t want to, and you start avoiding that. A part of that also is you start developing a lot of awareness and that awareness allows you to see something a mile away and you are the one who steps ahead.

Even if it’s in a relationship, you can already see that that person is escalating a little bit and you’ll become more sensitive because it takes a lot of courage for you to tune in with yourself and say, “How am I feeling in this scenario? I don’t feel good.” That isn’t going to impact your decision-making abilities. The line between life and jiu-jitsu is thin because you’re going to pull from those skills to understand how you’re feeling and that’s going to inform your decision moving on from there. When you have people who are confident, you have a more peaceful society because I don’t need to invade your space to prove something to you.

You wonder about this in life so often, where when someone is unsure and untrained, they get into all kinds of hassles and they run towards them. Either they invite them over. Laird always jokes. He’s like, “If I’m looking for a fight, I just have to walk outside my door.” You get people who go through this process of mastery, whatever it is. It could be the mastery of the English language, I don’t care, someone who learns how to communicate or write, or in this case, the art of jiu-jitsu. What do you think that people get or possess through this mastery process that then allows them to go, “I don’t need to get into a hassle. Not only do I not want to, but I also don’t need to.” 

I’ll do an experiment with you that I do at the beginning of my first class, my intro class for my students. Everyone comes in and usually, they’re intimidated, especially women. They’re like, “What is the space? What am I going to learn? Am I going to get beat up here? What’s going to happen?” The first thing I see is their body language. I open the class and I ask them to grab an invisible line, wrap it around their heart, make sure it’s real tight, and pull it to the sky. Suddenly their heart is open, their shoulders are back without even realizing that their chin is up, and they engage with me. That’s when I make a connection where now they’re present in their body and they’re leading with their heart.

I feel that the people that get in fights, it’s almost a protection of their own heart, which is a similar thing to people who are shy. It is somehow a protection layer that they put on and it’s the same with animals. When you feel threatened, you attack first. The person that is attacking first that is speaking on fights, somehow is threatened by their environment or they don’t feel like they’re good enough. They didn’t grow up with a family that showed them their value or gave them any guidance. There are a lot of different reasons and we’re all complex human beings.

You’re trying to discover yourself. You’re trying to get attention and sometimes it’s an attempt to connect with another human being, but you’re connecting the wrong way and nobody gives you tools to connect the right way. When you open your heart and you lead life like that, it immediately changes how you feel. When you change how you feel, then you start realizing, “My energy, my presence is also contagious. Maybe I’m the one causing those things to happen because I’m setting that precedent.” Whereas if I change my posture and if I change the way that I approach that person, let me be the first to be kind, let me be the first to apologize.

I love that you always say be first so it’s the same. If I see that somehow you’re not in the emotional space to be the first even if I feel you’re in the wrong and you should do that, I don’t mind leading. The fact that I’m taking that chance and I’m showing you what it means to be a champion, to be a warrior, or to be a loving human being because I’m confident that if I lead, you’re going to take that on. It’s rare that someone will say, “I’m going to continue this.”

I’ve seen it so many times. It is amazing how kindness diffuses even someone who’s bugging you. You don’t even like them at that moment, but you think, “I’m going to put the olive branch out. I’m going to put my ego away.” It is amazing how I would say the majority of the time the other person will go, “What I meant…” or, “I was thinking you were saying this.” It’s so hard for us to reach out one more time or first but it seems to be the thing that you can avoid so many hassles. 

The hard thing about being the aggressor all the time is that then you’re torching everything. Not only have you created a hassle, but now you’ve got to come back and clean everything up or keep moving because you are burning everything behind you. That is a hard thing for people to take on through time. 

I love to talk about men and women. I know you work with girls and women at this point, but I still would love to know. Let’s say somebody goes, “I’m reading this. I like the idea of not being hit.” Jiu-jitsu is physical, don’t get me wrong. I’ve watched it, I’ve seen it, Reece did it. It’s hard and physical, but you’re not going to get kicked in the shin or punched in the face. You might get hauled for quite a bit. The thing I love about jiu-jitsu is you’ll see an 8-year-old kid and they’re in a bad spot and you can see them thinking, “What should I do here?” To be in the moment and to have the space to figure out a strategy about the way to move next for a young person or for anyone is valuable. Let’s say someone goes in for the first time. What can they expect to occur? 

That’s interesting because jiu-jitsu has grown so much that now each gym has a different approach. The way that jiu-jitsu was passed on and embraced by my family at the beginning from the source and what a lot of people don’t know nowadays that practice jiu-jitsu is that jiu-jitsu is based on five pillars. The first one is philosophy. We have self-defense. We do have traumatic strikes, which are often used as a tool for this distraction, especially if you’re dealing with a woman or the weaker opponent against a bigger person. We have the takedowns and we have ground control, submissions, etc. You have the full arc of life because in a fight or an argument, if someone rear-ends you and gets out of their car, you’re not going to lay down on the street and say, “My skill starts here.”

We got to get on the ground. Take me through each one when you say philosophy. 

Cesalina Gracie

Cesalina Gracie -Ultimately, the only thing that we’re in control of is ourselves.

Philosophy is the principle. If you think about how you connect the mind and the body through jiu-jitsu because it is human chess, it is a strategic game almost. A lot of people will say that’s why jiu-jitsu is so addicting because it’s almost like you flip that switch where now you start understanding that the tools that you learn all interconnect and you have to use them according to what your opponent is doing. The philosophical part of jiu-jitsu is you’re caught in a bad position. You have the physical, which is the actual physical skill, then you have the mental, your strategy on, “How am I going to get out? I’m connected so I need to use strategy to get out of here. Should I capitalize on their movement? Should I wait?”

You have the spiritual where you’re in a bad place. Do you want to quit and tap out or can you go a little bit longer? Can you trust the technique? Can you rely on your breath to calm yourself down, control your adrenaline, and know that you have time? That is when you start developing the philosophical and the spiritual aspect of jiu-jitsu, where it’s all in your mind. Do you have the will to continue? I feel that those are the ones that you take with you no matter where you go because, in life, there comes a time where you’re like, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

You don’t want to do this anymore because you don’t love it or because you’re scared. You feel like you’re going to be judged or you feel you’re not good enough. Those check-ins that you do with yourself, a lot of times you go back to the mats the next day and you have an opportunity to readjust because you’re not going to win all the time.

Jiu-jitsu is extremely humbling because somebody a lot smaller than you can hold you down and make you tap ten times in less than one minute. You’ve got to go back home and think, “It is a skill and it takes practice and persistence.” All the things that require you to keep coming and keep showing up are all part of your spiritual growth in the sport. Because it’s an individual sport but you belong to a team, that also brings a sense of responsibility for being there.

When you say a team, it’s a family and you have your school or such, right? 

Correct. The second pillar is self-defense which involves all of the distance management, the awareness, which is your first line of defense. How do you know if someone is good or bad intentioned? Do you engage with them first so you use your verbal defense? That involves all of the self-defense aspects of jiu-jitsu, the self-defense moves, joint locks, and all the things standing up. Then you have traumatic strikes, which sometimes you have to use to distract an opponent so you can get out of that situation.

What does that look like? 

That is also a jab. We use elbows. You use push kicks for you to establish the distance and decide to go for a takedown if you want or realize if you have enough space to get out. Are you going to knock somebody out with the push kick? If you look at Royce, he used this push kick a lot in the first UFCs.

He had all those huge guys who weighed twice as much. 

Those were part of the traumatic strikes that he used. He’s known for using the push kick on the knee, and always keeping the distance so he would decide when he was engaged. Because in jiu-jitsu, we learned that whoever controls the distance controls the damage. As long as I’m in control of this distance and I’m aware of what could happen here, then I’m okay. If you’re in control of the distance and I’m the one who is in your zone, then it’s a problem. Royce uses traumatic strikes a lot to establish the distance in his favor.

Let’s say Royce is in a real conflict in real life and somebody, they don’t know it’s Royce and they go, “Move your car. You’re in my way.” They’re coming for Royce. It’s a big guy and maybe they’re out of their minds. They’re red hot. Is Royce going to try to keep the distance and get away if he has the opportunity or is he going to keep the distance and figure out how to put this person to sleep? 

We would have to ask Royce what he would do nowadays because when you talk about the mastery, I feel he’s pretty zen.

That’s what I mean. Is the ultimate message, if there’s an opportunity to avoid or get away if someone else is in danger so you’re not there to also protect someone else, maybe the first choice will be like, “I’m going to subdue this person and try to get out of this.” 

Always because no matter what, in every fight, both sides leave damaged. Even if it’s not physically, which most of the time is, if you throw an actual punch at someone, you might break your hand. The odds are high. Fighters in the UFC break their hands even when they’re wearing gloves. Imagine if you’re not. Even if you don’t leave damage physically, emotionally, you’re damaged. There is an effect on the person on the other side? Is it your choice if the guy says, “Move your car.” Suddenly you allow this person to pull you into their world, which is miserable at that point, are you going to allow that?

The spiritual and the philosophical side of jiu-jitsu where you go, “Yes, we always avoid conflict if we can. I don’t need to take you down and to prove to this stranger that I’m better than you. I can prove to myself that I’m getting stronger internally where you have no power in shifting how I feel inside and you have no power in dictating my actions.” If I’m walking on the street, I’m not going to choose to go out and take this guy down and do all those things. My choice is to continue my life. Probably Royce would want to go back home to Kharianna, his daughters, and his dogs. I don’t think he wants to go back home and say, “I took this guy down.”

No matter what, in every fight, both sides leave damaged Click To Tweet

“I’ve got to go to urgent care.” Now, we have a legal thing and whatever else. Let’s go to the other pillars because you said that it is so relevant to life. I used to try to tell Reece and Brody, “You have to live by the code that you set up and not adjust because of the other person.” I even believe that so strongly in marriage. Let’s say Laird is frustrated about how there has been no surfing for four months. 

Four months is going to be a lot.

It happens. Believe me. I’ve been here. I’ve seen it. You see this person and you go, “I’m not going to change who I am because you’re being frustrated.” There’s a line. I’m not saying there’s not a line but the point is it’s that beautiful reminder. I love the fact that you could go to a place and practice this reminder, connecting the body and the mind, which is, “I’m not going to adjust because of you. Who am I trying to be? I’m trying to be a decent person.” “You’re my loved one. You’re my partner. I love you. I’m not going to adjust because you’re acting sideways.” 

I would challenge anyone to try this in their life with a friend, even your kids. It is so powerful because of what ends up usually happening is when you hold your line, stay steady, and if you’re trying to be positive, people will come back up. They’ll wind down. They’ll adjust to you. The minute you dive in and you go, “You’re not being nice. You should not like that,” or whatever, you’re in the game. You’re off your axis. It’s a fun experiment. I’ve been doing a lot with Brody.

She is nutso. You go in, open the door, and you’re like, “Morning,” it’s for school. I even talk quietly. She’s like, “Okay.” With Laird, she’ll do it more than me, “Get out.” You’re not in the room. You’re like, “Good morning,” waking them up. Instead of shifting the energy, you go, “Okay.” It’s amazing. They’ll come around and they’ll even say, “Sorry if I was tough,” or whatever. What you’re saying, even though it’s so simple, is something to work on forever. 

Every day.

Every moment. It’s like, “I am not going to allow this person to get me outside of myself.” It is so hard to do. 

Because they’re on their journey, too. If you look at her lens, she’s trying to establish her boundaries to say, “Get out of my room. This is the only space I have.” Perhaps her communication is not the greatest and she’s going to be developing that as she goes. From her lens, she’s doing her job. For somebody else, they can feel affected by it, so then which is which? How do you communicate moving forward because you’re going to have to see them at dinner and you’re going to have to see them tomorrow? Those are the hardest. For me, those are the most important ways for us to develop as human beings.

I know that I keep going back to jiu-jitsu, but it is where I use the tools all the time. It’s the same. I live with my brother and it’s like, “How do you communicate assertively being the younger sister?” There the whole hierarchy plays in the family. Knowing, “I’m not going to escalate a situation and get in a fight with him anymore but how can I use those tools and understand, ‘This is as far as you can go and this is where the relationship is at the moment.’” A lot of times, he does that as well. I feel like life is almost a game of setting boundaries with each other. With our relationships and with kids, they’re testing our boundaries, and vice versa in friendships. I don’t know if you’re comfortable talking about why Brody started training jiu-jitsu with me.

This is one of the one justices I get. I can talk all about Brody and she doesn’t know. 

It’s the scenarios that they’re going through. They’re going through so much with their friendships. “How do I set boundaries here? Who is the leader? Who’s the mean girl? Who is the one that pleases everyone? Who is nice?” There’s so much going on in those phases. Maybe you are the leader in your group but then at home, you’re not the leader because your mom is the leader so then there’s a little bit of pushback. How can you navigate those different scenarios in life where you’re different people in different groups in different moments? She’s lucky that she’s been raised by you and she has a strong foundation. Imagine if you don’t.

I don’t know how lucky Brody is but we’re going to find out in maybe a couple of years. I did have something happen and I want to go back to the pillars. I went into her room and I was doing something to help her. She needed something or I was going to help her and her reaction was ridiculous. The other part about setting boundaries is also about communicating. I was like, “Is this how you’re going to communicate? Is there not a better way you can communicate to get exactly what you want?”

Cesalina Gracie

Cesalina Gracie – A strong girl takes charge of her own destiny. For you to take charge of your own destiny, you have to speak up.

I walked out because it wasn’t about getting her to get it then but I still have to see her. We’re going to be in the car together in twenty minutes so I don’t want to have this thing building. That’s the other thing. Sometimes by having self-restraint and controlling yourself, you can get a buildup. How do you find ways to not let other people impact your interior mood, however, always still speaking your truth and being as honest as you can with people, but not from a place of a reaction? 

For me, that is also one of the other things. I’m always trying to figure out how to do that, especially with people close to me. Somebody, a jerk in a parking lot takes my space and flicks me off or whatever, I can probably get away from that. It’s exercising it also in your work relationships and your personal relationships. 

It’s interesting because the more I do this work, the more I realize that verbal assertiveness is the most necessary and the most important skill to acquire and the hardest one to develop for a few different reasons. One, people don’t practice that. I started that in my first class. We do verbal assertiveness drills. The scenarios that you move on to life for kids in school, suffering from bullying, calling each other’s names, as you move on to college, somebody’s messing with you and you don’t say anything, and you move on to your workplace and you get interrupted in a meeting. You listen to things and you’re like, “I’m going to let this one slide by.”

You get into situations like WOMO, where suddenly it’s a physical sexual assault. All kinds of assaults and harassment, the majority of them start verbally. People cross their boundaries verbally with you. Women, especially, have a hard time speaking up in an assertive manner so what happens? We hold that in and it starts building up. Suddenly that job that you worked for for ten years, you can take it anymore. You explode and you go, “I quit.”

They go, “She’s crazy.” 

You leave that whole life that you built behind and all that effort because you didn’t know way back in the day five years ago, how to position yourself. It’s the same with kids. Suddenly, someone is making fun of you. You don’t know how to cut that in a way that you’re going to preserve that friendship, but you’re going to show, “This is not okay. This is as far as you can go.” You hold that in and then suddenly, that friendship doesn’t exist anymore and you get physical or whatever happens because it escalates.

When I start doing the drills in class, I have this three-step verbal defense where you state the behavior, you state how it makes you feel, and you state the desired outcomes. You’re in a meeting, you’re being interrupted, “When you interrupt me all the time, you make me feel disrespected. I would like you to let me finish my thoughts.” You can say that with a smile in any scenario. If you start that at a young age, if girls learn to communicate when they’re 3 and how to say, “I don’t like this game. Don’t touch me. Don’t call me that,” and for positive things, too. The posture of the champion is the same as looking people in the eye and saying, “Thank you.”

If your mom made you breakfast, acknowledge her. Show her that you appreciate what she did, but that takes practice. When you get a teenager and you throw her in the world and you’re expecting her to know how to communicate assertively when she never practiced, she never did exercise and drills with different people, she was never taught how to behave in different scenarios. Suddenly, you’re in life and you have elements that you have to master. You have adrenaline when you have other people around. Now you’re self-conscious. If you can create a space for girls, for women to go in and practice that where it’s safe and you’re not dealing with the adrenaline, but you’re emulating scenarios that they’re going to face, suddenly, they’re not being caught by surprise so they’re not as reactive.

It’s a skill. They’ve got something in their pocket that they can go, “I remember that I can use my words, I can stand up, or I can express this.” That’s an interesting point because when we’re in the heat of the moment unless you have a specific go-to, it’s challenging to know what to do. Finish the pillars for me. We’re on the third pillar. 

The traumatic strikes are the third, and then you have takedowns, which is an effective way to use leverage to take your opponent down. What happens is when you’re standing up the strength and the weights are uneven. If I am going against Mike Tyson, I’m not going to have a chance. Am I going to try to knock him out? It’s not going to happen. When our bodies are on the floor and we’re connected, I have a chance of using leverage and of using jiu-jitsu to have a more positive outcome for myself. Because then I can apply joint locks, I can choke him out, I can do an armbar, and you can do a triangle. There are so many different submissions.

When you have a connection, the difference is now you become one body. When I’m standing up, it’s my weight against yours. Once you connect and go to the ground, then now we become one. However direction I’m going to use that weight, if I have more knowledge than you, I have a lot more chances of having a good outcome.

After the takedown, if you chose to engage, the goal is already you’re either all in or all out. If you chose to go all in, then your goal is to go to the ground and control. I like to tell my students, “Your goal is always to defend yourself first in whatever scenario.” Even if it’s a verbal discussion, you want to defend yourself so then you can assess if you can escape or if you need to control and submit so you can buy yourself time.

It’s an assessment tool for strategy. One would be, “If I have the opportunity to get out of here, I will, and if not, then I know it’s game on. Let me see if I can get this person to the ground.”

There are so many scenarios that I go through with my students that it’s going through this arch step by step, scenarios that they’ve been through before. I teach a class on the elevator. “Where do you position yourself in the elevator? Where is the safest place?”

It’s definitely not the front of the door with your back to everybody. I would imagine it’s deep in a corner. The problem with the corner though is, are you trapped in the corner? 

It’s not ideal.

The front with your back to everybody, is it on the front-facing everybody? What is it?

It’s sideways by the buttons because you can look out and see who’s walking. Maybe this guy that is about to walk into the elevator is a little weird. You don’t want to be trapped in there with him so you have the choice to leave. If you’re in the corner of the elevator, it is going to be awkward and you got to go.

This happened with a client of mine. Let’s use real-life examples. I was teaching a class on how to position yourself in the elevator and it escalated. It starts verbally. “Where do you position yourself?” We go all the way to if the guy is dragging you out of the elevator if you fall and they’re dragging you from your wrist if they’re following you to your room. I see a client of mine starting to blush. This happens in every class because it’s all scenarios of real-life and I can see, “Maybe they’ve been through that.”

At the end of the class, I was talking to her and she was like, “This happened to me in Vegas in a hotel. I left the elevator. I was with a group of friends and realized I forgot something in my room and I said that I’m going to go back and get it. I turned back by myself and separated myself from the group and went into the elevator. This guy saw me and he walked right back and entered the elevator. I felt something was weird, but I was like, ‘Okay.’ He got me out of the elevator, followed me, and got into my room.”

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Luckily, somebody showed up to help her so she wasn’t raped or sexually assaulted, but that was the goal. It happens like this when you’re distracted, you’re happy with your friends and suddenly, you’re like, “I forgot something.” You’re operating in that euphoric state where you’re not in tune and aware. This happens all the time.

Ces, this is my fear with the phones, honestly. I tell my kids, “If I ever see you crossing a street and you’re looking at your phone, you’re going to get it.” My kids are bigger. Who walks around a major city? You can go to New York City now and there are people who walk around and they are not at all aware of who’s around them and what’s going on. You’re in these populated places. Knowing spatially who’s around you is how you function in the world. What’s interesting is people don’t realize when you’re looking at your phone and you’re hunched forward, you’re also in fight or flight. Now you’re not even coming from an emotional standpoint to deal with things correctly.

Gabby, I feel like the phone thing is a consequence of an insecure generation that is growing up with the difficulty of looking people in the eye. They are linked but they’re not connected. I talk about this with my students too. If you’re walking on the street with your phone, for anyone who’s reading, guy or girl doesn’t matter, if you feel you have to text, put your back against the wall. At least now you have peripheral vision and you’re isolating your back, which you won’t see anything.

It’s one less place where you can get it.

It is a mechanism of defense. I see this more and more. I find it interesting. A lot of times I go meet friends for lunch and I sit at a table at a restaurant. If I arrive first, I always put my phone down and I look around and there’s not a single person that is alone that is even noticing the spontaneity of life.

It’s uncomfortable to sit by yourself at a table because we’ve all been there. You get there first and it’s like, “I need something to do.” What you’re saying is to notice you’re in a different environment. I will be interested to see but it’s having an interesting impact on people’s awareness. Laird’s whole thing is to pay attention. He’s like, “Nobody’s paying attention.” There’s something about living, we’re animals, we live in an unknown place that it’s important for people to pay attention to.

That’s another thing I appreciate about this training. It brings to the front of mind a little more about paying attention. By paying attention, you can avoid so many things in life. By paying attention, you can also create a lot of positive opportunities. As simple as someone’s exiting, you have an opportunity to open the door for somebody because you could connect the dots. It sounds ridiculous but our lives are made of a string of these events that either make it better or not. What if you get in the elevator and people are already in there? Do you go, “Get out of the way. I’m standing by the buttons.” Maybe you don’t know and you pick up someone in there who’s weird. Is there something for that?

Each scenario is different. If you’re going to an elevator and the elevator is full, the likelihood that someone is going to sexually assault you or follow you from there with a lot of people around is almost impossible because then someone is going to step up. If you think about the mindset of a predator or an opportunist, they’re looking for an opportunity. The goal of this training is for you to start understanding, “Is there is an opportunity here?” Because there will always be someone that is in a situation that you’re being the victim and you will cross paths with a predator many times in your life. If you don’t give them an opportunity, nothing’s ever going to happen.

If you walk into an elevator that is full, can you take the opposite side of the door? I wouldn’t want anyone behind my back. I would never stand in the middle of the elevator. If I feel that it’s too full, go up. I’ll wait for the next one. It’s also knowing that I can buy myself time. People have instincts. When I say your intuition is your superpower is because your brain is able to process so much information before you can understand it. It’s not the woo-woo, “I feel in my gut the energy.” I already read little mannerisms. If you’re smiling like this or you’re smiling a little bit like that, I already know, “This is weird.” Before I understand it, I can pick it up because my body knows.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote an incredible book where he talked about red cards and black cards. He said that in the game the people didn’t know the rules. The black cards were the ones that you didn’t want, but it was only set up by the experiment. There was to be some outcome based on it. By the 12th or 18th card, people’s body temperature was starting to rise every time they would be handed a black card. 

By 35 or 38 cards, they started choosing more of the red cards. By the 70th card, you could verbalize what it is that you were seeing. The book is called Blink. Long before the twelfth card, it was like, “Something’s not right here,” but we didn’t even know. It was your subconscious. You’ve got to remind people, “Are you in a place where there is alcohol? Is it heavily populated like a Vegas hotel?” Give me a break, stuff’s happening so it’s important to know that. We’re almost done with the pillars. 

We’re done. After the takedowns, it’s the floor techniques, the ground techniques, which are all leveraged based and we have different scenarios where you’re trying to control the person on the ground. Are you on the side control? Are you on the mount? Are you trying to submit the person? Before submission, can you negotiate with them?

Is there such a thing where you have someone who’s, “Can you calm down?” 

Cesalina Gracie

Cesalina Gracie – The journey is the destination and it’s what matters because every step of this journey counts.

I would do that before breaking their arm. I would give them a chance.

Can you feel it in their body when you’re in that kind of situation? If someone gets in this, do you think you can feel in their body, “The minute I let them go, they’re going to try again.” How does one know that? 

The reality is those things that happen fast and the scenarios change fast as well. For example, one of my students was walking on Ocean Boulevard in Santa Monica. She was distracted by her phone and a guy grabbed her by the wrist and tried to put her inside his car. She tripped and fell and broke her arm so he freaked out and let her go. She had probably five seconds to get out of this situation. She was lucky in a way that she fell down but she broke her arm.

It’s the same if someone is choking you. If you think about how that situation happened, you’re with a partner, you both went out for a party. He’s drunk, you come back. When you’re drunk, you lose the understanding of strength and your pain tolerance is completely shifted. You don’t feel as much pain. I don’t drink clearly but from what I read, the reactions that your body gets, especially for men, you lose the understanding of how strong you are.

You’re arguing with your girlfriend, maybe you’re jealous about something, and your girlfriend starts responding, escalating the situation. You’re screaming at each other. The first thing that the man does sometimes is to grab your neck to stop that noise. He’s drunk. He loses sense of time. You have six seconds to get out of there. If you’re fighting their arm and you’re trying to tell him, “Are you crazy?” Trying to scratch their face, you lose that time and you pass out. Look at where the scenario went. If you have technique, it takes you 1.5 seconds to get out of this situation.

The scenarios change. Do you need to go to the ground and submit that person? Can you negotiate? Yes. Let’s say with that student that got pulled into the car. If she hadn’t tripped and fallen, if she had more tools, let’s say she took the guy down, suddenly more people showed up. People are aware of that. Does she need to keep going and break his arm? No. She can say, “You’re going to calm down and we’re going to call the police. Are you going to stop with this nonsense?” Now she has people around and you don’t need to go all-in. If it’s with someone close to you, your sibling or something, do you want to break their arm or you want to tell them, “Are you going to get out of my room now?”

Have you ever done that, Ces? You have that look in your own eye. You have girls coming, you have the posture of the champion, and these exercises that you run them through. You talked about scenarios where you first use your voice. Maybe you could break these down for parents out there, and boys need it, too. It’s about the skills to de-escalate and to avoid real problems if you can, and boys are equally as bullied and sometimes worse than girls. 

Girls have a different type of bullying and it’s usually in this unusual period of time. It’s 5th grade through 8th grade, mean girls if you will. What would you take them through first even saying, “This is uncomfortable,” or, “Stop.” A female could use that in a work situation or if a stranger approaches her. Maybe we could migrate through some of those. 

It’s so interesting, Gabby because of so many things that I’ve been realizing about my journey doing this work that I do. The longer I work with girls and women, the more I realize how fortunate I was to have these tools and the more I see the difference when you don’t. As I dive deeper into this program, and I have more and more girls and women coming in, I understand that almost this space that I’m providing for them is a space where they have permission to speak up. It’s almost no one ever gave them permission to say, “Don’t touch me.” “I don’t like this.” For a girl, it’s almost like no one gave that girl permission in school to say, “I don’t like this game.” She thinks that she shouldn’t speak up and that she has to take it in.

When you have a space that they have permission to speak up, to engage, to make eye contact, and to verbalize what they’re feeling, especially if it’s a negative feeling, if it’s a feeling of discomfort, if it’s a feeling of disrespect, suddenly magic starts happening. That is a transformation because then they start taking ownership of their lives. I have goosebumps because I remember my dad always said to me, “Cesalina, a strong girl takes charge of her own destiny. For you to take charge of your own destiny, you have to speak up.” Who allows you to speak up these days? More and more people try to shut down your voice.

Let’s start with parents for children and let’s move to somebody in the workplace. It’s funny because we used to joke a lot. Laird and I would be like, “I didn’t want to squish the girls’ spirits.” They turn 10 or 8 and you’re like, “I wish I squished their spirits a little more.” They’re all telling you how they feel. There are different types of people. Reece had to learn to stand up for herself in a different way. 

Isn’t it interesting? Because physically, she’s the dominant. She’s powerful physically. You see how one thing doesn’t necessarily inform the other.

I can say that as a parent and if I could say to any parent, if you have a child that you know will keep other people’s secrets, you have to be careful about that. I have daughters that won’t and it’s an interesting symbiotic relationship between somebody who is a predator. They know who the people are who will keep their secrets. That’s important because as parents, we think we put them in protective environments and they’re going to be okay. We know these traits about our children and it’s important to teach them different skillsets because sometimes that gets rolled into, “I’m loyal.” “I’m a good friend.” Yes, but at your own detriment sometimes. 

It starts there a lot of times and it can turn into something much heavier later. I want to remind people that standing up for yourself is not an act of disloyalty to somebody else. That’s important to teach your children. You can keep people’s secrets but if it’s something that’s at your cost, you have to be careful with that. We were talking about if they’re at school and they’re like, “I don’t like that.” What if someone’s like, “What are you going to do about it?” “We’re going to keep playing this game.” What does a young person do then?

The scenarios usually start when you stand up for yourself verbally, you’re in an interaction with somebody. The minute that you set your boundary, that person has the choice of setting back or continuing, which is going to lead to physical interaction. With kids in school for bullying, one scenario that happens a lot is one pushing the other. You can use your voice first, make eye contact. We do all those drills, but we do it in a gamification style. If they’re pushing you, you’re going to learn what to do, how to get out of the push, and how to take them down. If it has to get to that point, then it’s okay. The reality is 90% of the cases if you’re being assertive with your voice and you’re making eye contact, they’re going to back up because they’re not looking for that kind of friction. They’re not looking for that kind of resistance.

They’re looking for a chase. They’re looking for something easy. 

They’re testing their boundaries. They’re trying to be the dominant one. Suddenly, if you rise up and you’re not being aggressive with them, they’re not feeling they have to defend themselves from you. You’re being assertive, you’re saying, “This is my space,” then they’re going to back up. It’s interesting, one of the moms had a girl who was 6. The bullying that she was suffering was there was this boy in school that was following her to the bathroom, sitting in her face, punching her in school, pushing her, and pinning her against the wall, all those scenarios. She started training and she started learning.

One day the mom gets a phone call from the principal in the school saying, “What’s happening with her? We saw her training a boy, Santi, who also suffered bullying.” She was like, “Santi, push me.” He was like, “What?” She was like, “This is what you do. ‘Get out. Don’t touch me. I don’t like this game.’” Suddenly, now she’s so confident in her ability to defend herself that she’s not only standing up for her friends, but she is spreading the knowledge. She’s now teaching the boy how to defend himself. Now you have a ripple effect where kids are starting to realize, “That is not okay. I don’t have to take it.”

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If someone’s reading this, go and take a jiu-jitsu class and start to explore the simple tools because the hope is to learn them so you never need them. That’s subtle. The boundary gets pushed in. A lot of times, especially as a woman, we think, “Someone will make a comment.” By the way, it’s not isolated to women. Maybe it’s the other way around. It’s harder when a man is objectified because they’re taught to take it. At some point, we’re also taught that it’s okay in the end for a woman to be like, “That’s not comfortable.” Guys, can you imagine, they have to take it in the training. 

Let’s say you’re at work and somebody makes an inappropriate comment. It starts there usually because they’ll see. It could be five years of it and you think, “If I ignore this, it’s all going to go away.” That’s what happens. We think, “I’ll ride this out.” Instead, let’s say somebody says something that even if it’s subtle, it’s not even that big of a deal, what do you do? 

The thing in the workplace is because you’re seeing that person so often, then they start thinking that their remarks, their comments, or their jokes somehow are going to lead into a friendship. Not everyone means bad all the time. I do agree that men need training. Men are confused nowadays as well. Boys need jiu-jitsu. I agree with all of that. The reason why I work with girls and women is that I based it off of the statistics of the amount of harassment that women suffer and the number of rapes. One in five women still suffers complete or attempted rape in their lifetime. One in three are between 11 and 16 years old. I could have been one of those statistics.

When I was living in London, I was working at a restaurant. One day, I was cleaning the restaurant. I was closing down the shift. We left at 1:30 AM. Everyone was already gone. It was me and this manager who was always weird. As I’m leaving the staff room, he blocks the door. I realized, “This is a bad situation. This is not amicable or joking.” I let a lot of comments that he made in the past about my body. We worked in dresses in this place, I let it slide. I was young and lived in New York. When I say that I’m developing the tools constantly, I mean it.

At that stage, I knew this is the moment that I have to cut a boundary right away, and the sooner you set the boundary, the better. I ended up using jiu-jitsu. I got out of that situation. That guy was arrested later for raping two girls at the workplace. What is the difference? I would be a different woman sitting here with you if I didn’t have that set of tools. With the scenario that we have right now in the martial arts industry, men have plenty of places to go and train and boys have plenty of gyms to go and train.

Women don’t get the same attention. Women don’t get an environment where they are allowed to speak up that they’re being handed the tools that are necessary for them because the scenarios that we go through are different in life. The programming that we have in society is different. It is expected that women will take on certain roles that we’ll be hit on. What is the line between being educated and showing interest or totally crossing the line and being disrespectful? You get in the workplace and it’s the same, women are like, “I’m going to pretend I don’t hear that. I worked too hard to get here.” That creates anxiety. That impacts your productivity.

The guy comes, walks, he’s massaging you, and he’s like, “How was your weekend?” You feel a little tense. What’s happening? This guy has his hands on you and you’re frozen. You’re like, “What do I do? Do I say something?” You’re so uncomfortable so instead of saying, “Excuse me. When you put your hands on my shoulder, you make me feel uncomfortable. Get out,” right away. The sooner you set the boundaries, the better.

I’m not saying jiu-jitsu is the only solution. I would like to encourage women to go and find tools for themselves that will build that confidence for them to speak and create a space for them to navigate so they can live happier and better lives. Suddenly, you are not building that up for something that you worked so hard on and you give up on it because it became so uncomfortable. Now you’re having panic attacks before you go into that situation. You feel like you don’t have an option.

Go out and seek training or education, whatever you feel is recommended for you. I will always say jiu-jitsu. I know I’m biased, but it’s the world that I’ve lived in and I see how effective it is. Go find those tools so you are in control of your own life, so you’re not letting these people dictate how you feel at the workplace, etc. The reality is it is only uncomfortable to set up boundaries when you don’t feel physically and emotionally capable of doing so. Go do whatever it is that you need to do to feel capable because it shouldn’t be stressful. It should be right in your comfort house to say, “Excuse me. This is how it makes me feel.”

The thing is, a lot of times when we’re talking about the interaction between men and women, and when I say the men are confused, not all the time that men don’t want to make you feel uncomfortable. Maybe it’s the way that he behaves. It’s the way that he was taught, it’s the way that he grew up. For him, if he’s sitting in a meeting and he places his hand on your thigh to catch your attention and is like, “Check this out.” Sometimes he’s not like, “I’m going to grab her thigh,” but you freeze and you’re like, “I can’t believe this guy has his hand on my leg.”

You’re not going to say anything, you’re going to leave, you get in your car, and you don’t sleep because the whole night you’re like, “I’m going to see that guy tomorrow,” because tomorrow’s going to get worse. Tomorrow, he’s going to hug you. Tomorrow, maybe he’s doing that little massage on your shoulders when you’re at your desk and you didn’t want to. It becomes harder for you to say something. One day, you’re working late. You’re in the copy room, you’re leaving, and now he’s there. Maybe you’ve been put on to work on a project together.

Suddenly, you’re seeing this person. You’re working with them for hours and you already have that anxiety that builds up from that first opportunity that you had to set a boundary. As soon as he made a remark about what you were wearing or as soon as he placed his hand on your thigh and you didn’t say anything, now you think it’s too late and you take that on. One day, you’ll explode.

If there’s one suggestion that I can make, cut it dry right away, set a boundary right away. The thing with this tool is when you tell them what they’re doing, you state how it makes you feel, and you stay the desired outcome, you make them become aware of what they’re causing in you. When you place your hands on my shoulder, sometimes he doesn’t even realize that’s what he was doing. You’re like, “When you place your hands on my shoulder, you make me feel uncomfortable.” Suddenly he realizes he’s taken an action that is causing emotion in you that he didn’t intend to. “I would like you to step to the side,” and you can say that it was a smile on your face. He’s like, “I’m sorry.”

What’s funny is how we will, more so than men, put their comfort in front of ours. It’s so interesting how we’re like, “I’m not going to say anything,” but it’s like, “I’m uncomfortable but I don’t want to make you uncomfortable.” That’s another thing. 

“I’m uncomfortable because you’re making me uncomfortable.”

It’s okay to offend people a little bit. Let’s say you go somewhere. You’re a beautiful woman Ces. Someone goes, “You look beautiful,” not at work but they’re like, “You look great. That outfit looks beautiful.” I do feel that men can’t say anything. It isn’t like, “You look beautiful. I want to take your clothes off.” It’s like, “You look great.” How do you deal with that? 

We can see the tone behind it. I don’t feel that a man that looks at you and says, “You look beautiful,” and he means it doesn’t affect women or rubs them off in the wrong way.

I feel like we’re going to a place and I totally understand the overcorrection. Simultaneously, we’ve also put a lot of good men, people, humans. Maybe it’ll settle and I understand it but I do find that interesting. I can see even my male friends and if I look and they’ve been training or I could see that they’ve been trying to be healthy. I’m like, “You look great.” I don’t mean like, “I want to get your pants.” You have a brother, your cousins, you have a lot of high-quality men who are protective of all people, especially women. It’s funny how the subtlety of that were allowing a little still space for those kinds of interactions. 

Ultimately, the only thing that we’re in control of is ourselves. It’s going back into, “How do I feel?” It’s okay if you enjoy the compliment and you can thank them. The more comfortable and self-confidence you have, the less you also project onto the other person. Because you’re so scared that anything they say will make you feel insecure and uncomfortable. The more confident you are and the more present you are, the more you can connect and see the intention behind what is being said or what is happening.

When you have the internal feeling like, “I can thank him because if this conversation continues and if it somehow leads into a place that now suddenly, it’s going too far, then I can stop there.” That’s the beauty because when you are comfortable in setting boundaries, society becomes more respectful because I have control of myself.

I can leave my house and go search for tools and work on tools that will make me feel more confident that will allow me to have more interactions and maybe go deeper into them. I’m not afraid that they’ll get into a place that now it’s too far for me to do anything. Anything you say, “This is already a problem.” “Stop it. You’re making me feel uncomfortable.” It’s not the fact that you said that I’m beautiful, it is my fear of what’s next. “What are you going to say next? You’re going to grab me when I don’t want it.”

Cesalina Gracie

Cesalina Gracie – When you have a space that women and girls have permission to speak up, to engage, to make eye contact, and to verbalize what they’re feeling, suddenly magic starts happening.

Do you know how we always say that we suffer a lot more in our imagination than in real life? You don’t have to fear what’s next because whatever comes next, you’re prepared for it. If you feel like you want to continue that conversation, great, you can peel one more layer of that. If you still feel like, “I enjoy this human. Let’s talk a little bit more,” fine.

Maybe we’ll get to a point where there’ll be like, “I’ll walk you to a car.” If you’re not comfortable with that, you can say, “It was great to meet you. Let’s exchange numbers. Let’s meet tomorrow for lunch.” Maybe you’d rather be with this person during the day and you don’t want them walking you into the parking lot. You need the confidence to navigate those situations without sometimes losing an opportunity of meeting someone.

Let’s talk about that. You may have opportunities but you’re single. You’re a beautiful woman who’s warm, kind, and strong. I’m wondering what it’s for you to navigate that balance of the guard up, the guard down because a lot of women experienced that. Maybe they’re in the workforce and they’re like, “Rah,” and then they’re in a different environment and they’re personal. How has that been for you to learn how to switch those gears? If you are drawn to somebody and attracted to them to allow them to move in a little closer without being afraid for their lives.

It’s interesting because I feel that the more self-confidence I develop, the more feminine I become because suddenly, I don’t need to build that wall anymore and I can be more welcoming. I don’t have to show you how strong I am right off the get-go. If the opportunity comes up where I have to show my strength, then we’ll get there. I can be more welcoming and more loving in my presence because I am so confident that I’m in control of my space.

It’s interesting because I grew up in a family where men are strong but they treat the women like princesses. Talking about Royce, I go to his house and he’s the one cooking lunch. He’s like, “Are you hungry? I’ll make you an açaí bowl.” He doesn’t even let me do the dishes. He’s a total gentleman and extremely protective. I have two older brothers.

Even though you can protect yourself, can you receive? Do you enjoy the protection of all of the men? 

I enjoy the protection of the men that I know can protect me. It’s funny when they try to take that role. It’s like, “You’re a tech entrepreneur. Maybe I’m the one protecting us in this case. Thanks for trying.” But it’s true when I go into a restaurant and these are the things I learned, how is my mindset? If we’re going to sit at a table and I’m with a man that I feel he’s more capable of defending us, I don’t mind.

If I’m with a tech entrepreneur, we’re going to switch seats. I’m going to be watching the door because, by the time you realize something is wrong, it’s too late. Hopefully, that will never happen but it’s my program and it’s natural. I’m not even thinking about that but I’m going, “I would rather sit there. Let’s switch.” He’s totally oblivious about why I like that seat, which is another reason why I should take it.

I’m totally trained. Laird will never have his back to the door. Even if I’m first I sit with my back to the door. I’m like, “There’s your seat.”

It’s an interesting place to navigate because I grew up with strong men that were extremely loving and caring. I feel that the biggest challenge for me, which is that I’m single for the first time in my life, is to meet someone that I admire because I grew up with alpha males who are high achievers and that I have extreme admiration for. For me, my idols and my heroes are in my family.

Knowing some of them it isn’t because they’re so good at jiu-jitsu. It’s because they do have that balance.

Also, because they live by that code that you were talking about.

It’s important to highlight that idea which isn’t like, “They’re also badass.” Yes, they are but the badassness comes with the balance of kindness and the service to the friends and the family. Tough is one thing but tough is a full picture. I’m interested to see who you’re going to be with. It’ll be interesting. 

Maybe after this podcast, I’ll be getting some messages.

I know that you’re an entrepreneur and you’re going to take your curriculum specifically for girls and for women on a bigger platform. It’s funny when people are good at things, they are successful, and if they try, it happens. You’ve been on the path of being an entrepreneur. We’ve talked a lot about that. For all people who are on a quest to take something that they believe in and share that, it takes patience. You also have the right teammate who is helping you with the things that aren’t in your wheelhouse. It’s important because someone sees you and they go, “She’s confident and capable,” but you have your own things that you’re pursuing that don’t maybe happen as quickly as you want but that is how it happens. How has that been? 

You have been a great mentor in this process.

I talk about patience. What a great mentor. 

You have plenty of experience and I’ve learned a lot from you. Thank you.

How are you readjusting? There’s a part of you that’s impatient, Ces. You’re like, “Let’s go. In or out.” What is it that you’ve been learning in this process? I have no doubt you’ll be successful. I believe in what you’re doing. It’s always about finding those right partners, that right thing. What have you adjusted within yourself to go through this process of being an entrepreneur and creating this business? 

Patience is definitely still under development. It’s interesting because when you have something that you’ve proven the concept and you know in your heart, you find that thing and it’s almost like the train now is ready to take off. You have that vision. When someone is as passionate as I am about something, being patient and understanding that things happen in their own timing and that you have to take the steps like anybody else has been the greatest lesson.

I’ve always seen other people talking about, “You make assumptions that this person’s journey was easy because they’re the daughter of this guy.” Now I see from the other lens how someone would think, “It’s easy for her to work with jiu-jitsu. She was born into the family. She can create anything she wants.” Once you take something and you want to scale and take it to a next level, then people want to know how you are going to monetize this.

Internally, for you, it’s scary. I feel like this whole journey has been a process of understanding that every time you create something, it is scary and it’s okay. You’re going to find people along the way who support your journey and complement the skills that you don’t have. You’re going to learn and you’re going to have to pivot a million times. It’s understanding that it’s not about having an easy or a hard journey, it’s understanding that the journey is the destination and it’s what matters because every step of this journey counts. There is not a final product.

The product is if I look back to where I started this, then I’m far enough but if I look into where I would like to be, I’m not even near there and I’m impatient because I can see how this amazing business is going to impact and help so many women in the world. As you’re building it and you’re scaling it, there’s a process to that and you cannot go from 1 to 100. That’s a lesson. It’s been the greatest teaching of my life and the greatest opportunity to apply the principles and the skills that I talked about so much because when it’s in your own personal journey, then suddenly you want things to happen faster. You want to be in control of everything.

Things are not magical but it’s also almost a test of life on how bad you want this. I feel that every entrepreneur or any athlete, every single person that puts something on themselves and says, “This is what I want to achieve,” goes through this question many times through different circumstances. Life will throw spontaneous challenges at them. Ultimately, it’s how bad do you want it? What are you willing to do and work for it? Every day and every challenge that comes, I ask myself this question, “How bad do I want it?” It’s easy to walk away from things. Most people try a little bit and they walk away. When you know why you’re doing this for, then nothing else matters.

When you have people who are confident, you have a more peaceful society. Click To Tweet

What’s so beautiful about this idea of jiu-jitsu and even in business and in life, it’s adapting. If we brought in the best movement specialists or nutritionists, the nutritionist would say, “We want you to be metabolically flexible.” The trainer would say, “We want you to be able to be strong and fast but go for a long time. We would want you to be able to adapt.” It’s the same thing. 

When you’re in jiu-jitsu and if you put a move on me that I wasn’t expecting, now I’ve got to adapt. It’s the same thing in a business where you think it’s going to happen this way and you realize, “We’re going to adapt.” It doesn’t mean we’re going to compromise what we’re ultimately trying to do or the value of that but it means that we’re going to continue to pay attention and we’re going to understand what’s happening. We’re going to keep adjusting to reach that end goal. 

It’s been interesting and I appreciate you allowing me to witness you going through this because when someone sees someone like you, they go, “That’s all figured out and that’s easy.” It’s important to share that everybody is on a journey of discovery and growth that is always a little uncomfortable. When someone’s good at jiu-jitsu, it’s because they were put in all of those positions. It’s the same thing. I appreciate you. If you wanted to remind someone, let’s say they’re intimidated, to get started themselves personally, grown women especially would be more intimidating, or a dad who has a daughter could take them and maybe go to a class, see what happens. Do you have to have a gi every first time you go to a class? 

In my first class, nobody wears a gi. It’s too much information. Come in as you want to. Be comfortable. It’s an intro class.

Cesalina’s gis are hot pink. They’re awesome. It’s not having barriers. You don’t have to have a gi, show up and know what you’re doing. 

The most important thing is to research the academy first. Who is the instructor? Where did he come from? What is his lineage? Google. Try to find an interview or a video of them teaching. Feel free to go to a place and watch a class instead of participating. You have that right. Create that space for yourself, “I want to watch today.” You can see from the outside. You don’t have to throw yourself on the mats right away. “I want to sit and watch the class.”

If you choose so, next time, get involved. The closer you are to the source, if there is a Gracie academy next to you, I would be more comfortable recommending it. If they’re not, research an instructor. There are a lot of amazing people teaching. Otherwise, we would have never gotten to where we are. It’s the same in the entrepreneurial journey, look for mentors.

People want to help. I’m not using this as a dating service. If people want to find you, it’s up to you.

Gab, you became my cupid. I was never in those dating apps. This is it.

You’re a grown-up. You’re growing up. You can do what you want. What are all the places people can find you? 

I’m mainly on Instagram. I’m not the biggest social media user. It’s an effort for me. It’s @CesaGracie. We’re launching our website and our physical dojo is coming up. My company is called Manami so keep an eye out because hopefully by the end of 2021, we’ll be up and running.

Thanks, Ces. 

Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading. If you’d like, rate, subscribe and leave us a review. All of my music was graciously done by Frank Zummo and Tom Thacker. If you want to see some of the behind-the-scenes action, follow me, @GabbyReece. Remember, don’t miss new episodes every Monday.

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About Cesalina Gracie

Cesalina GracieCesalina Gracie is a female empowerment entrepreneur, producer and sports broadcaster. She was the official host of the Rio2016 Olympic Games and spent five years writing and producing some of the most prestigious shows for the UFC. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Cesalina is the granddaughter of the Grand Master Carlos Gracie Sr, founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, with a ubiquitous presence worldwide.

 

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