What is the first step for a student to become skillful at defending against an aggressor who has weapons, like knives or pistols?
According to Master Rickson Gracie, the absolute first step is to relax: don't go to jiu-jitsu motivated by fear.
"Practicing self-defense is an activity that can save the skin of soldiers and officials of security forces, and it will also be useful to kids against bigger people," says Rickson. "But the adult person who doesn't deal with danger daily should not learn jiu-jitsu inspired by the fear of being attacked, but rather by a desire for personal growth, enlightenment and increased wisdom. It's a learning process that increases your range of alternatives, makes your mind more alert, and brings technical knowledge, in case some unforeseen thing happens one day."
As Rickson points out, the best way to live life is with positive thoughts, and not walking around like a Viking fearing a surprise attack.
"Prepared as I am, I don't want to get tangled with anybody who has a weapon. Jiu-jitsu is not a Viking shield that you carry in the street. It's much more akin to a guardian angel who's there for you," he says. "If a villain really wants to come shoot me, they will probably succeed, because they’re going to ambush me or get me from the back. The jiu-jitsu practitioner should not be afraid of dying, but they should be afraid of not knowing what to do in an emergency situation. Before using your jiu-jitsu, calculate the risk, call the police, run away from there — use your head, basically."
And if the problem spills over and gets too close, you will be calm — after all, jiu-jitsu will be there for you, like a good guardian angel.