Rickson grew up admiring his brother Rolls. One important episode in the younger Gracie's evolution, mentioned in his memoir, Breathe, took place due to Rickson's desire to redeem himself after disappointing Rolls. Half a century later, we got to ask him about his memory of that day. Check out the second half of his answer, and find part 1 here.
"So the first thing when I got home: 'I wanna roll myself like a burrito in a carpet in this kind of environment—hot, 120 degrees, humid, in Brazil.' And I just rolled myself in; and fortunately, the same claustrophobic feeling of being trapped and not having air flow in my lungs, I felt like the same agony; and then I closed my eyes and I started to think about seagulls and ocean breeze, and palm trees flowing with the wind... flying like an eagle. And started getting a peaceful mind, and started to become more calm, controlling my mindset, because if I did not, I would die there.
"So I said, 'Let's get peace. Let's get tranquil. Let's get...' And I was able to transform that kind of panic feeling, that claustrophobic feeling, into something I could recognize as just a mindset, a negative mindset. Because I will not die if I'm in control of my breathing. So this was a transformation in my attitude towards panicking.
"So I changed not by elaborating techniques for the physicality of my problem, but I was targeting my mindset of being trapped and being calm, like a Houdini, waiting for the moment to escape from the locks and the chains and the box. So I was able to capitalize on that kind of mindset of 'I'm here; I'm trapped; but if I keep calm, I'm not gonna die; I still have some air coming from the pipe inside the carpet; so just keep breathing, keep calm.' And I could recognize that kind of sense of empowerment I achieved because I could control myself under a very uncomfortable situation. And that was the first step for me to be curious about breathing in the future."