In our 2021 interview with Rickson Gracie, Luca Atalla had a rather complex question for the master. It went like this:
"In science, there's something called 'first principles of thinking,' which is, reduce the thing to the most elementary part to solve the problem. And I don't know whether you are aware of the first principles of thinking, but it seems to be your approach to solving technical problems in jiu-jitsu. So, when you see a move or a submission, a crazy leg lock that you've never seen before, it seems like you come back to the basics, to the concepts, to the principles that you know, to find the solution, to see things clearly. Can you go through your process of approaching these problems? Because I'm sure there are a lot of new submissions and very complex problems, and I know that you are very interested in all of this, especially submissions—crazy leg locks, anacondas, and things that, if you don't know the defense, you're going to tap. So what's your approach?"
And here's the first part of the answer:
"I feel like jiu-jitsu never stops evolving. And especially in terms of submissions and control positions, the situation always gets a little tune-up, a little more upgraded somehow, because training makes perfect. And if you're training, and the guy puts the hand there, eventually you're gonna set up a way for him not to put the hand there for you to be— So, it's very little details on the grip, on the escapes, on the movements, on the control, the weight distribution, that can play a big, important role. And those evolve.
"Sometimes the weight distribution works for that movement; now it doesn't work anymore, because the guy moves the angle a little bit, so you have to change the weight distribution for a little angle, to cope with that change. So the evolutionary process is always there. I'm being very curious about the new movements I see, submissions, etc. And normally they fall in two categories:
"Either you get me because I was unprepared, because I have no-good posture, because I overstretched my arm, because I made a position where you surprised me, and once you surprise me, I'm in a deep [?].
"Or your extreme ability to develop new things creates a movement which surprises me. Even though I'm in a good posture, the surprise of your connection on my back, or your way to backpack, or the grip, makes me a surprise and makes me feel like you get what I don't expect you to get and submit me."