EXCLUSIVE | Ricky Lundell talks BJJ, wrestling | Fist-Ta-Cuff Radio
You want to talk grappling?
Ricky Lundell is a Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu second degree black belt under Pedro Sauer and considered by many to be Sauer’s most technical black belt. Lundell started BJJ at age six and is known as the youngest North American to receive the rank of black belt in Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 19. Lundell is a two-time Pancrase Submission Wrestling World Champion at 149-pounds and an Absolute Pancrase World Champion. He was the smallest person to win the absolute division of Pancrase by over 20-pounds.
Lundell was a recent guest on BJPENN.COM’s Fist-A-Cuff Radio Show where he talked plenty about grappling and much more.
Be sure you listen to the entire interview HERE.
The Early Days
“Starting out in the sport of jiu-jitsu was a lot of luck. My father met Pedro Sauer back in ’92, which was a year before the UFC even got started. At that time there was Pedro and he came over with Rickson Gracie. At the time there was a Gracie Academy in Torrance (Cali) and there was one in Provo (Utah) and that was it. My dad meeting him was beyond lucky. My dad was talking about putting me in some karate, he wanted to do something with me because he has a martial arts background. And he talked with this Brazilian guy and then he put me in his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school. At the time it was $20 a month. I was his sixth student and Pedro was doing construction out on top of the mountain just to make it by.… It was this crazy byproduct of luck with the situation and a lot of people working hard at the same time….I believe I started really, really knowing that I wanted to do jiu-jitsu, I wanted to grapple, I wanted to wrestle, when I hit my teens. I knew that this was the thing for me and I wanted to be the best in the world at it. From that point on I just kept pushing, pushing, and pushing and did everything I could to make it happen.”
Black Belt at 19
“I do remember how hardcore it was. I remember just two years before getting my black belt, being a part of a group and seeing guys come into the room and being, ‘that is a brown belt, holy crap.’ I remember when a blue belt came into the academy from Brazil and it was like, ‘that is a real blue belt. Holy crap. That is the baddest man ever’…It’s crazy to think now when you see so many black belts out there. At the time it was pretty drastic. Even now at the hardcore schools where they are going 8-to-10 years for a black belt, it’s quite the feat and I’m happy to hold it. I always make sure I put out the best product and the best grappling that way everyone knows I deserve to hold that.”
Who need a weight class?
“There was a time where everybody was competing that way. Size had nothing to do with it. Obviously we all know size plays a roll but you did what you could to win. Thinking back to those competition days and stepping out on the mat against a 270-pounds or 300-pounds. I remember years and years ago I was 16-years-old and I went up against this guy Sergio and at the time he was over 450-pounds and he just neck cranked me. I was like 16 right when I got my blue belt and I made it to the semi’s and he just freakin’ crushed me. So to come back later, finding my to Pancrase Worlds and coming away with a win in the absolute division, that will always be something I’ll be excited about and to do it by smallest amount, I’m sure someone will beat it someday, as of right now, it’s exciting.”
Being a BJJ wrestler
“Cale Sanderson, arguably one the greatest folk-style wrestler of all time, he was the head coach at Iowa State University. He watched me compete at the world team trials and asked if I could come out and wrestle at Iowa State after he watched me do grappling. He liked my style and liked what I was doing. Because I started college at 15, the NCAA first said no problem. However, once I got there and made the team and became a starter, the NCAA came back, they went to the schools and the region, and they all boycotted the fact, and said no, I couldn’t compete. What sucked about it was, at 15-years-old, what could you have done in any sport? However there are guys starting college in their 30s yet they get the opportunity to compete. It was frustrating but while I was there, 2007 and 2008, we rolled every day and he was my true mentor in wrestling. We’d roll in the morning and then I’d go do practice at night. It was beyond a blessing in my life.”