What did the Olympic champion learn from Rickson?
What is the fundamental recipe for persevering and being successful? In 2003, Bernardinho Rezende, a coach, economist and former volleyball player, had the opportunity to get some tips from Rickson Gracie on this theme, and on how daily BJJ training feeds a positive, victorious mindset in the medium and long run.
The eventual two-time Olympic gold-winning coach (Athens-2004 and Rio-2016) started with this question:
"Rickson, what are the characteristics that differentiate a good fighter from a superchampion like you?"
"I believe that difference exists in an almost invisible field," Rickson answered. "The champion managed to get there because they are talented and received good orientation. But the superchampion goes beyond that point and makes adjustments and adaptations without being guided, but which work out. They start being creative and an improviser."
Bernadinho then asked: "How do you think you developed that warrior spirit in the course of your education, and how did you resist the pressures?"
Rickson reflected and said: "The warrior is always concerned with conquering, whether it's territory, a medal or any challenge. They excel due to trying to defeat any and all foes. And that is something you only develop by always facing more challenges. Once victory is reached, it must no longer have any meaning."
Rickson continued: "If unable to achieve victory, you must restructure yourself so that it can be achieved next time. This constant struggle, without dwelling on conquests, this samurai spirit then becomes a part of every aspect of your life, not just on the mat. It's a desire that you have, that of being at a higher point than you were yesterday.
"The more you train, the more confident you get to take the next step. But the pressure of having to win could explode anyone. What can be done, therefore, through the dedication of a big part of the mind and the spirit, is to surrender to a higher power: Simply do as much as you can, but know that the final result does not depend on you alone. It is with that that I remove the pressure from my routine. I'll just do what is possible -- what isn't possible is already settled. Whatever the result may be, I'll go back home satisfied."
Being creative and an improviser. Knowing how to armor yourself against pressure and finding maximum self-confidence to face challenges. A universal recipe, whether you're a lawyer, a coach or a wise BJJ master.