As a good master, Rickson Gracie has gotten used to hearing and reflecting about a wide variety of questions, from the simplest to the deepest. Among the ones he's been hearing most often in the last few years is a classic — one that he knows sooner or later gets repeated by a student, interviewer or jiu-jitsu–teaching friend. It's this:
"What is success to you, Rickson?"
His answer usually comes from the tip of the tongue, thanks to his familiarity with this mysterious concept that makes somebody, as they say, "successful" in the eyes of others.
But when both master and interlocutor have some time to spare, a valuable lesson ensues.
"Success, to me, is a concept that relates to what each individual wants from life. What are your aspirations, desires, dreams?"
According to Rickson, the first point for measuring a person's success is finding out what they really like to do in life. And to what degree they are capable of dedicating themselves to that activity, to perform it with quality.
He then explains, "A successful lifestyle is connected to four essential aspects:
"Whether the person sleeps well.
"Whether the person eats high-quality foods.
"Whether the person maintains high-quality relationships.
"And whether the person has time to do what they like.
"Starting from this perspective, I usually answer that success, today and always, should not be measured by fame, popularity or a nice watch on someone's wrist.
"A successful person is one that is able to freely express themselves in their way, and who becomes known for it."
But, to Rickson, there's another aspect by which we can measure someone's success: whether the person, through their actions or ideas, is capable of helping and serving their fellow human beings.
"Because true success," he clarifies, "is born of people's gratitude and love of what you do, and how that helps them live better. When you love what you do, and others love what you accomplish, it becomes a perfect exchange — I do something with passion, people demonstrate appreciation and share it, and we keep moving forward full of positive energy to continue our work, each time better and more motivated."
How about you? Have you had success in a project recently?
The self-defense maneuver that saved Rickson’s skin
Has BJJ ever saved your skin? That was the question that Master Rickson heard the other day from a VIP member of the site. Rickson then recalled a terrifying episode, when he saw himself endangered by a huge log that was falling toward him on a carnival night in Southern Brazil. He narrated:
“I was on a trip with friends and saw myself in the middle of a hellish melee. In the middle of a fight, someone threw a giant log. I saw that thing falling above me, and there was only enough time to raise one arm, a simple self-defense move I repeated many times in my jiu-jitsu training, in the classes about defending against blunt-weapon beating. The steel piece went whizzing past me, and I remember having felt as relieved as I was thankful. Without the technique, I believe it would have been quite a bit of damage.”
Now rewatch Rickson’s lesson on defending against big, heavy objects.