Joe Rogan once asked Rickson Gracie about a supposed frustration the master felt upon first starting to teach BJJ to Americans, who weren't as committed to the art as himself.
As it turns out, Rickson feels exactly the opposite. Our recent interview allowed him to shed more light on his philosophy. Check out below the first half of his answer.
"The idea of practicing is in me since I was very young. And at one point I was thinking solely of becoming a champion, and once I became a champion, I was thinking about keeping myself as a champion. So, doing that, in that pattern, I was focused on effectiveness, on being on top of the pyramid and focused on growing my knowledge and being effective at 100%. But I never stopped teaching, and I never stopped looking to my students as my important service, because I felt like the way for me to receive... I can receive the people saying 'You're great,' I can receive acknowledgements, I can receive love, admiration, I can fill my ego with so much admiration and respect... But if I can just receive, receive and give nothing, I will explode; I will feel like my ego is bigger than myself. So in order for me to kind of balance that love and admiration I receive, I have to serve people, putting them, in the best way I can, to become and to feel jiu-jitsu like I feel.
"And I've always loved to teach jiu-jitsu to weaker ones, to people who are not exactly tough guys and competitors, because those tough guys and competitors, they're coming to learn jiu-jitsu, but they already have what they need; they're already champions in their hearts—they just need techniques. I love to get involved also with the guys who are very timid, very introverted, very much shy people, or weak. They feel not strong and powerful; they feel weak; they feel like they need something. And that passion for teaching those, and the difference I can make in their lives, make me feel very much motivated to do that."