"Helio Gracie is to jiu-jitsu as Einstein is to physics" is usually said in the Gracie family when a newcomer asks to know more about the role of the red-belt grandmaster in the development of the system of techniques. Yes, Helio really was the incomparable genius of the art, capable of creating, in his gym, adaptations that are used to this day.
In a conversation on the podcast of the war veteran Jocko Willink, Rickson detailed some of the technical modifications made by his dad Helio.
"My father had vertigo and he used to faint, and between the ages of 13 and 16 he was forbidden by doctors from practicing any sport, any physical activity," Rickson remembered. "Because of this, when he finally began training, he wasn't a strong guy; he barely had any muscles at all, frankly. His salvation was to hone the techniques. In the choke, for example, he wasn't able to reach the collar all the way, with the arms stretched, and muscle with the hands and biceps. What did he do? He started getting really close to his training partners, gluing his chest to them and choking by also using the power of the torso, not just that of his two skinny arms."
Rickson, therefore, was aware from birth of the discoveries made by the scientist Helio Gracie: "From my dad, I learned that balance substitutes force. And that technique substitutes speed."