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Helio Gracie's best bit of advice for beginners

One time, during an energizing conversation with the VIP members of Rickson Academy, one BJJ fan asked Rickson: what was the most memorable piece of advice you ever heard from Master Helio Gracie when you were still taking your first steps in the gentle art?

Rickson then remembered a great lesson that changed the course of his journey. "Master Helio once told me: if you want to be a special fighter, different from the others, you need to be confident to do what needs to be done, but you must keep yourself in permanent doubt to learn what can be learned."

The piece of wisdom proved valuable like few others: no matter how much Rickson learned, or how many opponents he beat, he should remember to have a curious, inquisitive mind, open to new things — and willing to test everything out. The curious mind is the only type that never stops learning, and that in BJJ is the winning path. 

"Master Helio then added: use your heart, but use your head even more," Rickson recalled. "You won't want to win your battles just because you're stronger and more tenacious than your opponents, because eventually that energy runs out. To go far in jiu-jitsu, you must be attentive to the details, to the apparently invisible minutiae, but which make an outsize difference in a fight. Despite your being stronger than your opponent, always try to see the fight through the eyes of a weak man. And so I opened my eyes and mind to the deficiencies that nobody saw, to apparently invisible resources of our martial art."

How about you: do you look at BJJ from the point of view of a weak student? Just something to keep in mind, coming from the eternal master Helio Gracie.

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Helio Gracie's power of adaptation

"Helio Gracie is to jiu-jitsu as Einstein is to physics" is usually said in the Gracie family when a newcomer asks to know more about the role of the red-belt grandmaster in the development of the system of techniques. Yes, Helio really was the incomparable genius of the art, capable of creating, in his gym, adaptations that are used to this day. 

In a conversation on the podcast of the war veteran Jocko Willink, Rickson detailed some of the technical modifications made by his dad Helio. 

"My father had vertigo and he used to faint, and between the ages of 13 and 16 he was forbidden by doctors from practicing any sport, any physical activity," Rickson remembered. "Because of this, when he finally began training, he wasn't a strong guy; he barely had any muscles at all, frankly. His salvation was to hone the techniques. In the choke, for example, he wasn't able to reach the collar all the way, with the arms stretched, and muscle with the hands and biceps. What did he do? He started getting really close to his training partners, gluing his chest to them and choking by also using the power of the torso, not just that of his two skinny arms."

Rickson, therefore, was aware from birth of the discoveries made by the scientist Helio Gracie: "From my dad, I learned that balance substitutes force. And that technique substitutes speed."

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Helio Gracie's final message for Rickson

Legends never die. And neither do the wise, because their lessons traverse the years, decades and centuries. With Master Helio Gracie, history is again repeated. Especially when we realize that Rickson has in his secret files a video, unseen by the public until recently, where the king of levers leaves an eternal message for his son and his students. The video was recorded right after a training session between father and son, a few days after another great victory by Rickson. Check it out and carry this wisdom with you into eternity.
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Grand Master Helio Gracie's cross-choke

Have you still not mastered Helio Gracie’s cross-choke?

To the great champion and teacher Helio Gracie, the choke from the guard with the adjustments he used was one of the most useful resources in Jiu-Jitsu. And he proved it by using this choke against some of the strongest Japanese fighters he faced. But are you already able to execute the maneuver without wasting the opportunity offered by your opponent?
According to Rickson Gracie, the big secret to Helio’s choke from the guard is the speed with which the collar is controlled, and the space Helio used to create for his hands to do their job. The hands go very deep in, almost touching each other, as pointed out by Rickson in another exclusive Rickson.Academy video. 
Check out an appetizer to help you brush up on Helio Gracie’s cross-choke. 

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Latest Comments

Carlos Avatar
Carlos commented:

amazing article!! thank you!!

August 08, 2022 09:17 PM

Kim Liu Avatar
Kim Liu commented:


August 08, 2022 06:49 PM




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