One time, Rickson Gracie, a black-belt at the time, gave Graciemag a long, thorough interview about his career, ideas and philosophies. From his home in California, Rickson spoke about the role of instructors and the essential mission of those responsible for teaching the art.
"The life of the martial artist is, first of all, to serve. It's to help, it's to be a person who participates in the community," he taught. "The martial artist, therefore, has to be a positive person, and not an individual who feeds war and confrontation. A person who, through this power — which is the power of technique and the power of ideas — manages to benefit all of society, and not just their circle of students."
Rickson went into more detail: "I see that my functions as fighter and teacher have always been similar. The distorted image that the fights carry makes people believe that our goals are just a knockout, a win, a trophy. But when you learn to see the martial art as a whole, you then learn to accept a defeat, to forgive an opponent, and to be more patient and levelheaded. You also learn to apologize just the same as you don't run from a fight if it comes to that."
To Rickson, all that is learned at the gym, training, asking or teaching, can be carried over to life at large.
"That's when you understand the essential mission of the teacher," he added, "by realizing that the weakest person at the gym is also the one who needs help the most, and is the student whose life will be most gratifying to alter. Sometimes, in the midst of all our wealth of information about jiu-jitsu, teachers bypass these moments of joy and only focus on teaching the guy to win championships and get tough — but our mission goes far beyond."