The strangest question I've ever been asked about jiu-jitsu

Sometime in the 1990s, I was doing a series of interviews in Tokyo for all the Japanese press. In a hotel suite, I'd be visited by interviewers from all outlets for 20 minutes of conversation, questions and answers.

Then came a journalist from an important Japanese magazine, a short, respectful reporter, and explained his angle:

“Mr. Gracie, I only have one question for you. I won't take up much of your time, but it's just this: How does Rickson Gracie go about fighting a polar bear?”

I heard that question, kept my face unaltered and didn't laugh, so as not to ridicule the job he had to do. Looking serious, I answered:

"Look, my friend, the last thing I plan to do in my life is to do hand-to-hand combat with a polar bear. But I guarantee one thing to you: If that happens, I'll have plenty of bear meat in my fridge, a warm bear coat to wear in the winter, and I'll make a bear-tooth necklace to gift my wife."

What I showed him, then, is that, no matter my opponent, no matter the mission or the enemy, my winning mindset doesn't change. Faced with the impossible, I visualize what I need to do, and I'll die trying. It may be while biting the face of a bear, but without ever thinking of running away or avoiding the danger at hand.

Is it an impossible situation? It may be, but your mind doesn't need to feel that it's impossible, since the mind is often capable of capturing the impossible, and transcend reality.

Having heard my answer, the journalist was visibly moved and basically kneeled in front of me before leaving, satisfied, to go write his piece.

I bet that, on that day, many professionals asked me much smarter questions, which generated long and instructive interviews. But it was that weird question that I never forgot -- a question so unpredictable, and which made so little sense, that it enabled me to fetch, also, an answer from the bottom of my heart.

Peace and good training sessions to all.


rgotatoudji Avatar
rgotatoudji commented:

great attitude of a great champ!

August 26, 2021 12:40 PM
Jun Nu Avatar
Jun Nu commented:

Rickson what can i say... Your mindset and wisdom taught me a lot and i started jiu jitsu last saturday - Thank you man.
Respect from Finland!!

August 19, 2021 02:15 AM
jarretcooper Avatar
jarretcooper commented:

Great story!

August 17, 2021 09:40 PM
jarretcooper Avatar
jarretcooper replied:

Great lesson too!

August 17, 2021 09:40 PM