The concept of connection is at the center of Rickson Gracie's teachings in jiu-jitsu and self-defense. But what is it really? We had a chance to ask him in a recent interview. The first half of his answer, which you'll find below, reveals that it goes beyond even jiu-jitsu itself.
"I believe connection is a huge element to be used by the practitioner in order for him to not only understand the mechanics of things, but also become more aware. Because connection can have like a double standard: you can be connected with somebody by just grabbing him or feeling the body, feeling the energy, feeling the mass; but you also can connect with a good idea, you can connect with some line of thinking, or you can connect with nature. When I go out with my dog on the street, as soon as I leave my house, about twenty different crows stay around me, and as I go around the block, the crows go around me because I have peanuts to give them. So I feel connected with the animals, and they're connected to me: they know the bark of the dog, the peanuts will come.
"So I like to be connected with the environment as the same thing I like to connect with my opponents, I try to read their mind. Because, if you're connected, any difference of distance, any difference of eyesight, any difference on the grip, any difference in the smell, you can perceive and can take advantage of it. If you're not connected—you're just thinking about 'I'm gonna do the punch' or 'I'm gonna do the movement' and you're not pretty much connected with your opponent or with the situations you're facing—sometimes you lose that connection and you're still wasting time or wasting energy trying to do a different setup, because you're not connected with the little change.”