Wednesday, November 20, 2013

THE WISDOM OF ... Rickson Gracie

Source Photo:  mmacarnivale

CORRECTION:  It has come to my attention that I misattributed the author of this piece to Rickson Gracie when in fact it was Dan Lukehart who wrote it. Only the quote towards the end was Rickson's. My sincerest apologies to Mr. Lukehart. He can be contacted via:

Deepest appreciation to Underground Forum member "26018" for bringing this matter to my attention!

Do you train a lot and want to rise to your maximum potential? Read on.

First: training 2x per day entitles you to nothing. It simply evens the score with the other guys training 2x per day. If you feel you deserve to win because you trained hard, you're going to feel a serious drop motivation when you eventually lose an important match. It will leave you questioning what it is that you did wrong in your preparations .

"Win or learn" is a phrase that has worked its way into the jiu-jitsu world. This expression has a general sentiment to appease the fear or disappointment of a loss and chalk it up to a learning experience. Losses are frequently source for over analysis which have a negative impact on jiu-jitsu progress and wins are validation of methods. This is the financial equivalent of to buying high and selling low. It takes a keen mind to be disappointed in a win if you didn't live up to your potential or be satisfied with a loss when you really gave everything you had physically and technically.

A jiu-jitsu identity crisis is augmented by improper goal setting. The wrong goal for training is to be the 20XX world champion. There is only 1 world champion. As a competitor you need to believe it will be you - but it might not be.

As competitors and martial artists you need to learn live in the moment and this type of goal setting is conflicting with this philosophy. Here is why...

Many of the all time great competitors of any sport develop their ferocity and propensity for success as a way to fill a void that exists in some part of their life. Running from a difficult past, a painful childhood or as a way to garner positive attention of overbearing or inattentive parents. World titles are frequently an attempt validate who they are are as people. Success glory is only (very) temporary. Almost universally these athletes discover that the void is not able to be filled by competitive success. They are simultaneously living in both the past (void) and the future (world champion 20XX) but are ignorant of the moment.

Ask yourself. Why do you want to be a world champion? What is the internal motivation behind it? I know you have this why? Don't answer. Just ask yourself and come up with something.

Here is something shocking: Jiu-Jitsu is far less special than you probably think. Health benefits can come from a number of places. So can confidence, discipline, self defense and the like. These things are far to broad of strokes to paint Jiu-Jitsu as something unique from other endeavors. Jiu-Jitsu, like anything else, is a one of the many activities that serves vehicle for personal growth and exploration. Its practice and subtle differences to other activities just appeals to us.

Living in the moment is one of the most appealing things about our martial art. When you are giving or on the receiving end of a choke, there isnt a thing you are thinking about other than what is taking place in the moment. You generally are not thinking "I want to be the 20XX world champion" when actually rolling. If you are, you are probably one of THOSE guys.

Goals should not be predicated on winning world championship. Its too specific and too focused on the future. Even if the goal is reached, there is a psychological drop off afterward. Getting up to train for the tournament is what guided every moment of your day for months. It gave purpose and meaning to every aspect of your life. Now what? Post marathon blues is what runners call it.

The overall goal should be to take your individual jiu-jitsu to the highest level possible. Achieving this absolutely requires your development as a human being and reflect inward on what in your own psyche is holding you back. You will be stagnant and average if you don't - even if you train a lot. You will certainly reach black belt, but you will be right in the middle of a bell curve - give or take.

You should have specific goals as well but ones that have no quantifiable measure of success or failure. Setting the goal for the week to be to work on your open guard is a balanced way to approach your future goals. You don't bring your body to the edges of its limits because you have an open guard test coming up in 2 months. Its much more open ended and gives you some breathing room.

Adjustment in goal setting effects how you structure your training. You will be less inclined to have a "training camp" for a tournament and just always be ready for whatever test awaits and always be challenging yourself and training hard. This is one of the main differentiation between a sport and martial artist.

How does this personal advancement directly transition to a catharsis of sorts in your actual skill on the mat? It can change your approach to Jiu-Jitsu and your approach is the most fundamental aspect which determines how high your peak skill ceiling will be.

Do you conceive somebody who has "mastered" Jiu-Jitsu as one who thinks 4 or 5 steps ahead of the opponent or is one who doesn't think at all and only reacts?

Do you think:

"I go here and I think he is going to react this way and that way?"


"I don't think at all. I already know the moves. I only pay attention to what IS with the current situation and react on instinct."

Both are correct, but are looking at the same idea from different angles. In my experience, those who transcend the other practitioners is the one who exists only in the moment and pay attention to the subtle things the situation is telling them. This concept of listening to what the moment is telling you is much harder to convey to a white or new blue belt. Its far easier to say "chain techniques together," but this is too blunt at the highest end of the black belt level.

I personally came from a wonderful childhood. My parents loved me, loved each other, I went to good schools, had many talents, interests, good friends, good self esteem and support structure.

Jiu-Jitsu didnt save my life.

The biggest secret BJJ has taught me is that of the moment.

"The most interesting aspect of Jiu-Jitsu - of course the techniques are great - is the sensibility of opponent, scene of touch, the weight, the momentum, the transition from one move to another. That's the amazing thing about it. You must allow yourself to go as an automatic pilot. You don't know exactly where you are going until the movement happens because you can not anticipate what is going to happen. You must allow yourself to be in a zero point - in a nutral point - and be relaxed and connected with the variations. So you pretty much flow with the go. This is a point beyond the knowledge."

-Rickson Gracie

Flow with the go.

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Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps