The classic documentary "Choke," from 1999, was the first contact many martial artists had with the philosophy and the world of jiu-jitsu.
But it's not even necessary to watch Rob Goodman's masterpiece until the end to be delighted by one of the biggest points defended to this day by Rickson Gracie.
In fact, this one shows up in the first scene.
In bed, right after waking up, Rickson is playing with his kids. He then asks to see an armlock and taps out, laughing, despite his stretched elbow and the expression of simulated discomfort. Rickson goes on playing and sinks in a hug, an immobilization and a back-take to show his kids that life isn't all victories.
"In my family, jiu-jitsu comes from birth. Instead of diapers, they put me in gis," Rickson said in a recent interview on the podcast Inferno Cast. He first competed when he was six, but he preaches that all parents should give their children this gift that is to practice and play jiu-jitsu very early, regardless of tournaments and medals.
"What changes the life of any kid," he said, "is to start, like me, to get used from a young age to physical contact — the grab, the hug, the base — in order not to get taken down easily and to have the serenity of knowing how to fall and knowing how to stand up. I learned all of that with my family, in a playful, fun and smooth way."
To Rickson, a child who learns jiu-jitsu benefits quickly from the art, because they develop — playing — their sense of space, the instinct of control, the connection with the other, the possibilities of contact and how to be always safe in case someone grabs them to force anything they might not want.
"With jiu-jitsu, you start to comprehend everything that is happening when someone tries to push you, or hurt you," Rickson said. "Jiu-jitsu offers the person who trains, whatever their age, what I call a box of invisible tools, which is ready to be used for any unforeseen events."
An invisible present! What more could your kids want?
Kids are made to learn. When I, as an adult learn, I have to translate. He does this, I do that, and if he does that, I do this. Just like learning a language. I have to translate the foreign language to my native language. A child doesn't translate any words because he has nothing to translate to. He doesn't think, he just absorbs. That's why I think when I use to roll with Rickson that he was always a steps ahead. I had to think first about what to do and then do it. He would just react. Just followed the instinct that was he absorbed as a child. I knew pretty much all the same moves he knew. But it was always, how and when he did them that made the difference and was invisible.