The other day at Rickson Academy, a jiu-jitsu student seized the opportunity during an "ask me anything" session to clear up one of the most persistent questions about Rickson's career.
Who had been, in Rickson's own opinion, the toughest guy he had ever trained with? Before answering the question posed by our friend Sergio, Rickson displayed a slight smile, perhaps nostalgic, and said: "I felt the roll was going to be a nightmare from the first instant."
The man elected by Rickson as one of his most memorable opponents may be a surprise. After all, we're talking over 50 years of training, and the name does not belong to a jiu-jitsu teacher. Rather, it's an Olympic champion, record holder and UFC veteran.
"I've had many training sessions and valiant opponents, many guys that I consider tough, of course. But if I have to choose one here from memory, I point to the Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz."
Mark Schultz is an American legend, a champion at the 1982 Olympics (freestyle wrestling, 82kg), who fought in the UFC and whose life became a movie.
The historic roll between Rickson and Schultz took place in 1993, when Rickson was in Utah and visited Brigham Young University, where Schultz was head coach.
"Mark Schultz wasn't familiar with jiu-jitsu techniques, but soon I saw that the roll was going to be a nightmare from the first instant," Rickson said. "It was a really tough roll. I knew he was a guy with a huge heart, very tough. And even when I was able to execute some of my jiu-jitsu moves against him, even so I felt that my life was hanging by a thread. To this day I have lots of respect for him. It was an extremely tough roll, but in the end jiu-jitsu prevailed."
How about you? What did you learn from the toughest roll of your life? Let us know.