Kasai (n.) – A Japanese word for fire or conflict that rages out of control.
Coincidentally, KASAI is also the name of the professional and amateur Jiu-Jitsu organization founded by Rolles Gracie, CEO Rich Byrne, and COO Ken Gelman.
Professor Rolles Gracie took time away from his brand new academy, The Rolles Gracie Academy, in Old Bridge, New Jersey, to speak to me about KASAI’s first professional event this past December, and what we can expect to see in the months and years to come.
KASAI Pro 1 was held at the Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse in Brooklyn, New York on December 9, 2017. Reflecting upon their first big event, Gracie said, “We loved the turnout and loved all the fights. The feedback we received from the fighters and the fans was all really good!”
Given the success of their first event, Gracie and his team are already looking forward to KASAI Pro 2, which will be held on April 14, returning to the Greenpoint Terminal Warehouse. This past week, Gracie, along with KASAI CEO, Richard Byrne, announced the first two men who will compete. The first is local New York standout and Marcelo Garcia Black Belt, Matheus Diniz. The second is 2017 breakout star, Craig Jones, who will be returning to the KASAI stage after competing in KASAI Pro 1 super-fight. These two men will be joined by six others, one of which will be crowned the KASAI Middleweight Champion (185 lbs.).
Gracie also has his sights on several other fighters for KASAI Pro 2. He said, “We are working on some more big names. We should have deals finalized in the next few days. We definitely want to get KASAI Pro 1 tournament winner, Renato Canuto, back for a super-fight, plus another big name super-fight for a stellar card.”
The KASAI team is currently accepting applications for the undercard and will review and select the most qualified fighters to start the night off with a bang. When asked if he would ever compete in a KASAI Pro event himself, Gracie said, “I would for sure compete once we get everything in order. At the first event I was helping out and running around. I have a few injuries, and I haven’t competed since 2016 so once they heal up too I would compete.”
On March 3, roughly 20 men will be meeting at Renzo Gracie’s in Brooklyn, NY for the second KASAI Elite Grappling Championships amateur tournament. The winner will clinch a spot along with the seven other fighters in the KASAI Pro 2 middleweight round robin tournament. Gracie shared that they plan on doing three KASAI Pro events this year, in addition to three amateur events. He said, “If everything goes to plan, then next year we could do five or six pro events.”
Gracie anticipates KASAI Pro 2 tickets may be a fast sellout, like they were last year. If so, Gracie said they would look at bigger venues in the area for future events. After the success from their first event, they have been getting inquiries about out-of-state, and even overseas events. Gracie explained, “We are proud to be a New York based company, but with all the inquiries and success from our first pro we are excited for the future.”
Aside from being President of KASAI, Gracie continues to teach Jiu-Jitsu at his new academy in Old Bridge and at his cousin’s academy, Renzo Gracie Academy, in Middletown, NJ. Gracie is happy about the success of KASAI so far, “We put our heart and soul into the first KASAI Pro and KASAI is here to stay for sure!”
Keep an eye out for more big name announcements in the coming days for KASAI Pro 2. And If you aren’t lucky enough to be in attendance at KASAI Pro 2 on April 14, you can watch it live on flograppling.com.
I am a Personal Trainer and Nutritionist in New Jersey. I have been a martial arts practitioner and fan for along as I can remember. I have a background in Jiu-Jitsu Muay Thai and Tae Kwon Do. I have a passion and love for sharing my knowledge on Jiu-Jitsu and MMA.