We previously covered the drastic way a young Rickson Gracie taught himself not to freak out when being headlocked.
But that didn't stop him from begging his dad to throw in the towel between rounds in his vale-tudo debut some eight years later. There was still one crucial lesson to be learned, which Rickson told us in a recent interview. Here's part 1:
"The experience I had with Zulu was a little different, because it was not claustrophobic in my brain; it was a lack of energy to lift my arm, to be able to stand up and keep moving, and then be able to recognize the attack and be able to effectively, on time, precision...
"So I knew, when I finished my first round with Zulu, I had already lost all my efficiency physically; I was already... I could not even stand up to walk to my corner; I was crawling to my corner. And I was dead tired. And it was not panic; it was just a sense of, 'I'm exhausted; I cannot lift my arms anymore; I'm just gonna move...
"I tried to argue with my dad in a sober way, in a very clear way. I said, 'Dad, I cannot make it anymore; I wanna quit, because—' And Dad didn't hear me; just, 'Oh, you did good. He's gonna be more tired than you; he's worse than you; now you're gonna kick his—' And I keep arguing with him: 'Man, but I cannot do it, and if I cannot do it, doesn't matter how tired he is; I'm—' So I tried to create that kind of argument, and my brother Rolls throws me a bucket of ice and [heavy breathing]... And then [bell sound], and I push in, without even thinking about anything; it was just pushing in.
"And then I was able to do what my dad said, and after three minutes in the second round, I was able to capitalize. And then I realized the worst monster in my mind was created by my own fear, by my own mind."
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