The doctor Hippocrates, who lived in Greece in the years before Christ, created a thesis based on the four primary elements of the universe—water, earth, fire and air. For him, there were also four types of humor in human beings—one hot, one cold, one humid and one dry.
His hunch wound up establishing, a long time later, four types of people, based on their temperaments: the "sanguineous" type, which is happy, calm and not rancorous; the "choleric" type, which is bossy, impetuous and angry; the "phlegmatic" type, which is level-headed and more rational than emotional; and the type deemed the most common on the planet, the "melancholic," which is pensive, creative, a little pessimistic, resentful and slow to act.
Nowadays, while BJJ seems to have high acceptance among happy and impetuous individuals, the gyms, on the other hand, drive away the melancholic, who are more fragile regarding their temperament. One of the key points of the behavior of these people is the victory of inhibition over excitement, which can result in unhappy or incomplete lives.
It is especially for this weaker type, Hippocrates' melancholics, that Rickson Gracie recommends BJJ. They are the ones, after all, who will make the teachers fulfilled and proud of their work—and the gyms more profitable in the process.
Or, as Rickson deftly summed up in recent interviews:
“The jiu-jitsu teacher needs to get the student who's afraid to go outside and make the person feel comfortable enough to say: 'Sorry; this is my place in the line.' Thanks to weekly jiu-jitsu, the person starts loosening up, being able to express themselves."
So you've advanced quite a bit compared to your early days in your jiu-jitsu journey, and you feel like sharing the gift with friends and family. Maybe you even live in a part of the world where BJJ knowledge is so scarce, that you may actually be one of the biggest experts around. Maybe you're the white-belt student, wondering whether someone who's an intermediate is teaching you all wrong.
Lucky for you, Rickson Gracie was asked about this in a live webinar a couple of years back, and he had some thoughts:
"There's a saying in Brazil that says 'In the blind's land, he who has one eye is the king.' So, if you have a blue belt and you want to teach at your house—your kids, your family, your friend, your cousin—you're gonna be able to teach them some.
"The process of sharing what you know can come from your first class to your black belt; you always can share something you know. How valuable this is is based on: you don't wanna teach somebody in your house as a blue-belt and not go into a school to learn from a black-belt. So you have to seek for knowledge, the best knowledge you can have close to you. And your students, also.
"So the process is: whoever is there to offer me more techniques, I will embrace, I will learn it. If I have nobody to learn, I have to ask, I have to practice gently at home, and you have to provide yourself the best knowledge; but the searching for the perfect techniques, for the invisible jiu-jitsu, has to be part of your daily focus, and whoever's there closer to you, to teach you, take advantage."
The other day, a cinephile went over the data, added up the punches, divided by the knockouts, and announced: it was Roy Barcroft, who played the villain in hundreds of B westerns between 1937 and 1957.
Born in Nebraska, Barcroft fought in World War I, and was a rancher, a sailor and a saxophone player in Chicago clubs. That is, until he became the villain of all villains, a master of falling, dusting himself up and returning with just as much confidence in the next film.
Coming to blows with criminals and cowboys is an activity better left in the past, but in a tribute to old Roy—who was one of the most gentle actors ever to arrive in Hollywood—today we bring a simple, effective lesson by Master Rickson Gracie, so that you and your students never get caught unprepared by a cowardly strike. Yippee Ki Yay, friends, and enjoy your training.
Rickson on how to learn the philosophy of true Gracie jiu-jitsu
The site brainfodder.org has a neat explanation of the Dunning-Kruger effect:
"When someone begins to explore a new field of knowledge, they’re usually full of enthusiasm, but completely unaware of how much they don’t know or understand yet. They’re confident about their new knowledge and believe that they can make sense of new information quickly.
"On the other hand, if a person continues to obtain in-depth knowledge in the same field, they slowly realise how vast the field actually is. The more they learn, the more they are humbled by how much they don’t know. Hence, real experts are often hesitant about making definitive statements."
Being humble will get you far. So here's a video of Rickson Gracie answering a question from a humble student who, having just started out, wanted to learn the philosophy and tradition of true Gracie jiu-jitsu passed on from Hélio, Rickson's father.
If you practice BJJ and still suffer from anxiety crises and similar maladies, there may be something missing from your routine outside the dojo.
Contact with nature, for example.
Master Rickson Gracie once taught in an interview with a Brazilian magazine:
"I'm an eternally childish person; I have fun all the time, with family and nature. I don't allow stress to knock on the door. In my view, the planet's great electromagnetic pole is in the water. It is my natural equalizer. If I start getting stressed, I jump into the water to relax."
But the contact with trails, the sea and nature isn't just therapeutic, as maintained nowadays by doctors themselves. As Rickson pointed out, the ocean can also be a great BJJ master—if you're looking out for its signs.
"Catching waves to me goes far beyond the maneuvers and skills on top of a board," he said. "It's an activity connected to the power of the ocean, to the force of nature. When the sea rises, for example, the first intelligent act is to feel fear. Never to the point of panicking, of course, but instead that feeling of fear that keeps us alert. Aware of the danger, you start acting in such a way as to avoid being submerged and falling off the board, and to think in a strategic way to avoid the risks and go back to land in one piece."
To Rickson, the ocean teaches one of the most valuable lessons a person can learn in life: that every now and then, things can—and will—escape your control. You have no power over the tides, the winds and the currents. But, like in the ocean, you just need to be calm, analyze the situation, swim with intelligence, and act correctly to avoid a crisis.
Rickson concluded: "In the ocean, we start to learn the importance of trying to become comfortable in the midst of discomfort, in the midst of the breaking of the waves. The ocean, therefore, has always been a great teacher to me—because we can't fight nature, or keep moving forward when the wave hits your head. You need to understand nature, and learn to deal with it in the best possible way. The sea brings great lessons, and surfing is just a wonderful bonus."