Do you feel fear now and then in your day-to-day life? What kind of fear?
According to Rickson Gracie, fear is a natural emotion for humans and can even be beneficial if treated with serenity, respect and intelligence.
"It's like a sign that says, 'Don't forget: There's a dog here'," he explains. "Fear is often an ally, our friend, given that it works for our self-preservation. Fear is the feeling that brings us back to reality."
Quite different from that is panic, a state that paralyzes the person and stops them from trying, from being free and happy.
But how should we go about not letting hesitation, insecurity and panic take over our mind when we need our bravery the most? Rickson knows it:
"In jiu-jitsu, training session by training session, challenge by challenge, I learned to differentiate fear from lack of confidence. Paralyzing fear only arises in the face of what we don't understand. We feel fear when confronted with what we don't know, what we don't trust."
Rickson goes on to give a clear, and fun, example:
"If I get an invitation tomorrow, 'Rickson, do you want to sing at the Staples Center?' I'm gonna say, 'Are you kidding!'"
"I'm gonna piss in my pants. I know nothing about singing. I'll be shaking if I have to sing for the president. It's not an activity I know. But if you say, 'Can you teach an armbar to the present?' then yes, I'll do it because it's comfortable for me; it's something I've done all my life. So I'm not afraid of things I know; I'm afraid of things I don't know."
Nobody is afraid of what they know. Fear takes shape when the unknown presents itself. And the person, naturally, acts so as to preserve their life, their ego and their wallet.
So use fear as your alarm, as your best friend, and not as something that clouds your mind and weighs on your shoulders. Breathe, study the problem, face it with courage. It's what Rickson Gracie teaches.
To become a complete fighter, master Rickson Gracie developed and selected techniques to complement his training sessions. And now, he organized the most important in over 40 comprehensive lessons for you.
The Empowerment Course is available exclusively to Rickson Academy premium subscribers. Starting on August 19, we will release a couple of lessons per week through the following months until complete.
To the Gracie family, one of the biggest treasures of BJJ has always been that of, from very early in one’s childhood, knowing how to proceed in order to avoid getting slapped at school -- that kind of episode that makes a child sad, angry and traumatized for weeks, if not months or years.
Check out, in this key lesson, how Rickson Gracie is always protecting his face against any potential slappers.
The day Rickson beat 2 powerful rivals in the same bout
April 25, 1980 is an important date in the history of martial arts in general, and jiu-jitsu in particular. That was when Rickson Gracie, then a young man with talent for BJJ and a passion for surfing, owner of a pretty new black belt, tested himself for the first time in a no-rules duel in a ring in Brasília.
The lessons that 19-year-old was about to learn in the Brazilian capital would change his life forever, and would be branded on his mind as by a hot iron.
Rickson's opponent was heavier, stronger and more experienced. Casimiro Martins, known as Rei Zulu ('King Zulu'), was a colossus of 32 years, 1.9m, about 100kg and only one loss in his career of over 100 vale-tudo matches. Rickson was prepared for his biggest challenge. But how he would come down from the ring was a different story.
The fight lasted 11 minutes and 55 seconds. Rickson remembers: "Around the start of the fight, I threw a very powerful knee that caught him squarely in the face. I had never hit anybody that hard, and in that moment I thought, 'Bullseye -- I win'. It seemed impossible for someone to resist a big knee strike like that. But Zulu shook his cheeks, spat out a tooth and came charging."
Rickson ended the first ten-minute round exhausted, bereft of strength. He thought of giving up, but his father Helio and brother Rolls pushed him back in, with a bucket of ice to the head and some efficacious words. Rickson took a breath and returned.
"After going to his back and finishing, I learned perhaps the greatest lesson of my life. I realized that our biggest opponent, the most powerful enemy of all of us, is inside our mind. If it were up to me, I would have stayed seated on that stool in the break. And, starting that day, I promised that I would never feed enemies in my own head, and that I would never give up when my head ordered me to. And that dying would be more acceptable than retreating."
Learning became part of his essence, and nowadays Rickson endeavors to teach students a jiu-jitsu focused exactly on this: refusing to retreat or hesitate in the face of a great challenge. Creating enemies inside your mind means going against jiu-jitsu.
"To beat a great challenge, and they occur daily in the life of any person, it is mandatory that you not be divided in two -- that is, your heart ready to confront the problem and your mind in doubt, walking backwards,” he says. “Daily, with daily practice of good old jiu-jitsu, adequate breathing and good nutrition, you will see that your emotions and desires are in harmony, and you will be in control to make the best, and wisest, decision.”
Robert Capa (1913–1954), a master of photography, used to say that if your pictures aren’t good enough, you are not close enough. Good for life, good for jiu-jitsu: if your technique isn’t good enough, maybe you haven’t gotten close enough to see and learn.
Your grip on the gi when it’s time to choke, for example. Are you still baffled by the effectiveness of the champions? Does it seem like something is amiss when you squeeze your training partner? Fret not, because our team zoomed in on the invisible details of Rickson Gracie’s grip. So check out this lesson.