After Rener Gracie of Gracie University testified against jiu-jitsu instructor Francisco Iturralde in a lawsuit brought for catastrophic injuries suffered by Del Mar Jiu-Jitsu Club student Jack Greener, many members of the broader jiu-jitsu community expressed their disappointment in Gracie’s statement. Several social media comments criticized Gracie for mischaracterizing the incident as an act of malice, rather than a freak accident, with some interpreting Gracie’s testimony as an attempt to capitalize on a tragedy by promoting himself and his own business.
One of the most strident voices against Gracie’s testimony was that of Tom DeBlass, who wrote in a Facebook post that — despite his respect and affection for Gracie — Rener’s testimony “makes me sick.” DeBlass then invited Rener to an Instagram Live debate to discuss the facts of the case.
On Tuesday, April 2, Rener Gracie took to YouTube and Instagram in an attempt to provide additional context for his previous words. In captions for both videos, Gracie wrote that he wished to “clarify that I don’t believe Francisco Iturralde’s action’s on November 29, 2018, were malicious or intentionally harmful,” among other points. His full explanation, including both video and text components, is available on both social media channels.
Many of Rener’s critics, however, remain skeptical, with a number of comments from fellow jiu-jitsu coaches on social media accusing the Gracie University instructor of backpedaling in an attempt to make flimsy excuses for earlier missteps, and to save face in light of poor PR optics.
Meanwhile, Gracie appears to have accepted DeBlass’ initial invitation to take their debate public.
“Nothing but respect for you,” wrote Gracie, tagging DeBlass in the comments of his Instagram post. “Now that the facts are out, I’m ready for the iG live when you’re done watching the video.”
“I am in, my friend,” replied DeBlass. “Let’s set it up.”
To additional readers curious about DeBlass’ thoughts on Rener’s new statements, DeBlass simply demurred by explaining that all would be covered during the Instagram Live session.
We will continue to update this story as it develops.