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The two brothers who shaped Rickson Gracie

The following question came in as part of Rickson Gracie's live webinar from a couple of years ago: "Among your brothers, family, students, what was your toughest training partner ever?"

The master's answer went much deeper than you might expect, touching on how both his warrior spirit and teaching style were built. Check it out below. 

"I'm born and raised in a champions' family. And, from one point, my vision was towards two guys who would kind of guide me through my learning process in jiu-jitsu: my two older brothers Rorion and Rolls. Rorion was a great technician; he gives great private lessons; he knows how to speak and give the sense of building a student; so I learned a lot from the teaching aspect from Rorion. 

"Rolls was a great champion, was a guy who's just focused on being a guy who does his best in everything he does; he has no quitting in his mind; he is a warrior, he's a champion; he was a guy who was super enlightened in terms of sharing and supporting competitiveness and toughness. So he was my champion; he was my idol in terms of 'what I'm gonna be when I grow up.' So, in that process, I built myself, learning a lot, training hard; and definitely, up to forever, I have Rolls as my idol, as the guy I wanna get there, someday, on his level. 

"So he was the tough opponent; he was the toughest guy I ever met on the mat, because he would not only whip my ass, but also show me the tricks and the... So, until the point I couldn't handle his training, I couldn't be like him, he was the toughest guy. 

"Once I passed through Rolls and I felt like he'd taught me everything I needed, and I felt like I had no more secrets towards him, and I really felt comfortable against Rolls—after that, man, everything else was just... I don't say 'walking in a park,' but it was just, you know, a routine. The guy can tap in thirty seconds, it can be in five minutes, can be in eight minutes... but he always will tap. So I felt like, from the point Rolls graduated me as a champion, I've been feeling like nobody else gives me a hard time; and I'm undefeated for all my career, from eighteen years old to 2000; and I was always submitting my opponents; I never win by points. So I felt pretty comfortable with everybody I put my hands on, up to the retirement.
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How Helio shaped Rickson's views on life

December 2021 brought an opportunity for the Rickson Academy team to do a two-hour interview with the master. This generated a wealth of content and insight into his life and teaching philosophy, which will be split into multiple articles like this one. 

To kick off the series, we bring you Rickson talking about how his father, Helio Gracie, changed his views on life. Enjoy it below. 

"My father and my son, they gave me a good perspective of life itself. One, my father, he introduced me not only to jiu-jitsu, but to the conduct of a man—honor, integrity, respect, courage. So he gave me the meaning and the structure for me to build up myself and get where I wanna get, go to the highest level I can get based on that advice, based on those examples, based on the structure of becoming a Gracie. So he was the element of inspiration and guidance for me to become what I am. Without him, I would never become what I am, of course." 

Check back later for more—a lot more—straight from the master's mouth. 
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How Rickson warms up daily

The question posed by a student during a webinar hosted by Rickson Gracie is as simple as they come—"What's your warmup routine?" 

But the master's answer, provided below, is not only a window into his life, but also valuable to everybody sooner or later—especially people dealing with injuries or planning to become serious fighters. 

"Today, my warmup routine starts on the bed, ’cause my back has some problems, so I stretch a little bit to get the movement, to be able to walk during the day. My body now has many injuries, so I try to keep myself flexible, I always use a ball to stretch, elastics, swimming, stay on the water, and try to [?] my joints, because, as I said, I have many chronic pains and defects on the joints like hips, and low back, and so on. 

"My routine is more gentle than it was, and more effective towards giving me mobility, and then I go through the day. I've stopped doing strength training; I've stopped doing too much stressful things. If I go and train hard with somebody, I'm gonna spend two weeks to recover; so things are not easy for me these days, because my body is really paying the price of a lifetime training. But it's important to do bioginástica, breathing exercises, working light with elastics, mobility training—I think all this is pretty good, and so many gyms and places now give you the access to that kind of activity, so just keep moving yourself and being flexible, and you'll do good." 
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Rickson on how to approach BJJ after 50

Do you feel too old to practice jiu-jitsu, like you missed your window or something? Maybe it's just a matter of adjusting your goals to have more fun. 

A student, who had just earned his blue belt at the age of fifty, told Rickson that he felt he had fallen in love with jiu-jitsu too late, and asked for help with the feeling that his body didn't follow his will to evolve. The master answered thusly:

"I feel the same, man. My mind is, like, flying in jiu-jitsu, and my body's just fading away, so... There's a balance there. Of course, you're not a kid anymore, and your goals in jiu-jitsu are supposed not to be the same as when you're eighteen or twenty. So you don't wanna bring jiu-jitsu into your life to give you injuries, to give you stress, to give you disappointments, to feel like you're supposed to be younger and stronger—that's not exactly the path you wanna go in jiu-jitsu. 

"You wanna go into jiu-jitsu to feel comfortable under uncomfortable circumstances. You wanna be there just to enjoy yourself and play in a family environment with other guys, and share knowledge, and have a good workout. And you wanna go there not to feel stress and get hurt; you go there to be flexible, to breathe, to be gentle, to have a great time. And that, I think, is the purpose of jiu-jitsu for you at your age, in your belt right now. 

"So enjoy it, be relaxed; take your ego, put it aside; take your commitment to be competitive, aside. And allow yourself to enjoy it with stronger guys, weaker guys, training soft, training hard—and spend the jiu-jitsu lifestyle to the end, man. Let's go together, to the end, in the jiu-jitsu lifestyle." 

 
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The essence of jiu-jitsu, in one quick paragraph

Closing out his live webinar hosted a couple of years back, Rickson Gracie received a question as philosophical as they come: "What is the essence of jiu-jitsu?" The answer, coming from a man who has lived jiu-jitsu like few others, went like this:

"Jiu-jitsu is an art form, and the essence of jiu-jitsu is essentially to give you the knowledge of a martial artist. And, being a martial artist, you'll be able to use, to express yourself, to empower yourself to do like you should do in the most clean mind to do the best you can do. So, jiu-jitsu's gonna increase your courage, your sense of respect, your capacity to love; jiu-jitsu will give you the answers for your doubts and will make you believe in the impossible, because all the practice in jiu-jitsu gives you the sense of: nothing is impossible; you can achieve, you have possibilities, you have strategy, you have... So, the essence of jiu-jitsu is to make you develop, within, power, love and appreciation for life."

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Latest Comments

ahoffart Avatar
ahoffart commented:

Train 4 to 5 days a week with your son at age 63--Thank you for your advice

January 25, 2022 02:06 PM

ahoffart Avatar
ahoffart commented:

Qualities I also try to instill in my son..

January 25, 2022 02:03 PM

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