Fans who read Rickson's memoir, Breathe, have gained insight into many moments, private and public, in the master's life. But they might have thought that there was something missing—namely, any mention of his promotion to black-belt. He cleared up the reason behind the omission in a recent interview:
"Among many different beautiful memories I have in my life, the one that's most insignificant is the day I got my black belt, because I was not exactly surprised by that. And I got my black belt exactly on the day I turned 18 years old. It was not exactly something I was feeling like 'Oh... I achieved the black belt and I deserve it now.' I was already deserving the black belt before I turned 18 years old. I was already with the brown belt and had no black-belts in front of me which could resist. So I was already a black-belt at heart; I just didn't have the age.
"So when I turned 18 years old, my dad just gave me my black-belt diploma, and that was like a gift on the table—nothing important, as a ceremony with other students or something. Just from one day to another, I put my black belt, and I felt like it didn't change anything; it just increased my responsibility, because now I'm gonna be under Rolls closing the brackets in the open division and getting my weight division as a black-belt.
"So I took very lightly, this kind of change of color of my belt, because it's never been about being surprised about deserving something; it's about making sure I'm overdue to receive it; that's what I have in my mind. 'What do I need a black belt for if, with a brown belt, I can kick ass?' So when I got the black belt, it was good for others, because now they get beat by a black-belt, not by a brown-belt. But, you know, it was just kind of something that felt like naturally part of a process which didn't change much in my life; it just got worse and tougher."