Cesar Gracie Welcomes Shinya Aoki With Open Arms
MMA trainer Cesar Gracie said he had an easy decision to make when he first heard that Japan’s top lightweight, Shinya Aoki, wanted to train with his squad following a loss to Gilbert Melendez at Strikeforce last weekend.
Gracie, who said Aoki reached out to him via a third party about training at his northern California gym, said he sees it as more than just a chance to help out a colleague. To him, it’s a chance to help improve the quality of Japanese MMA in general and pay back a family debt.
“My take on it is, it goes back to the origins of jiu-jitsu and how I got into this art, how my family got into it through the Japanese back in Brazil. I’ve noticed that Japan is not faring too well lately as a whole in the MMA game,” Gracie told MMAFighting.com. “To me it feels almost like a chance to give back a little bit and help the MMA game in Japan. A lot of people are making light of it, how the Japanese have just been getting smashed when they come over here and face American competition. They’re a few years behind and I think people realize that. So I said yeah, he should come over and train.”