One of Rickson Gracie's favorite quotes is credited to the Scottish entrepreneur Thomas Dewar: "Minds are like parachutes—they only function when open."
To Rickson, that attitude of opening and emptying the mind isn't just beneficial to those who practice BJJ; rather, it's essential to evolving and winning any contest on the mats.
"The perfect strategy is the utilization of your strong point against your opponent's weak point," he says. "So if you feel like your opponent's weak point has left your sights, that they escaped your trap in some way, the smartest thing to do is not to hang around there hammering away, muscling and wasting energy. The path consists of changing ideas and seeking another option."
To Rickson, the BJJ fighter must be like a customer at a restaurante: to know what they will choose, first they must know what the menu offers. And only then do they attack.
"In jiu-jitsu, as in life, it's no use to try to force things," he sums up. "It's more efficient to move forward and look for the best entry point to conquer your target. If the initial plan didn't work, fine: just move, adjust your attack according to what the opponent presents you. The basic idea of jiu-jitsu is to capitalize on the opponent's mistakes. If they have corrected themselves and blocked, you need to be alert, flow and change your approach, and change, and change again until checkmate. The secret is to avoid expectations. For example, you can even aim at a choke, but you have to know that the foot lock can happen. It's all unpredictable; what's important is to be ready and calm for whatever comes."
By the way, eliminating any preconceived ideas on the mat has always been a key concept to Rickson—even back in the day as a teacher in his small California school.
"My first generation of students in the U.S. was made up basically of professional fighters, surfers, security guards, soldiers and police officers. My first gym in California was a neutral environment, where you would only enter after leaving your prejudices and preconceptions in the locker room. I did not allow those on the mats."
Eliminate your expectations, leave your preconceptions in the locker room, be ready. Advice by Rickson Gracie to help you go far.