Rickson Gracie and Japan have had a love affair since the nineties. As the master said in his memoir, Breathe, he loves visiting the country, because he connected so deeply to it and its culture during his years as a fighter.
This connection, paired with the quirks of Japanese pop culture, ended up producing some unique appearances on game shows. We asked Rickson about an episode mentioned in the book. Here's the first half of his answer:
"This show was a very interesting fact that happened. The last time I was with Kron in Japan for his fight... I have an agent there who always tries to find me some work to just keep me active. And this particular time, there was this program of a doctor who's called the Pain Doctor or whatever.
"So the program is: the doctor visits some celebrities, and he has a pressure point on the foot he presses, and he claims nobody can resist a few seconds, nobody will ever pass thirty seconds. And he's sure anyone will quit.
"And the program asked me if I could go and do this test, if I could resist or not, just for the sake of seeing how much I can handle, and they will offer me some money, which at the time was very needed; so, for the money, let's do the fun.
"And I was there in the hotel; the doctor, there; the doctor's a short guy with very thick arms, short fingers but very strong hands. And the producer explained to me, 'Mr. Gracie, this is called... If you accept the challenge, you guys are gonna go into a dispute—if you quit, of if he's gonna make you quit. So, he's gonna press for thirty seconds; if you pass thirty seconds, you win; if you quit before thirty seconds, he'll win.'
"And I felt like it was a very... I mean, I expect painful things. And I felt like, in order for me to get into that kind of perfect mood, I started to see him and feel the elements of a fight, because my mindset for a fight is: I'm not gonna quit, no matter what; and if you get me in a foot lock, you're gonna take my foot, break my leg, and I will still, limping, try to do something; if my brother throws the towel, it's good, if he doesn't throw the towel, I will be there; he'll break my other leg, break my arm, and I'm gonna be alive until he kills me, because I'm not gonna quit."