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The lesson by Rickson that changed chef Alex Atala’s career

This one comes from Graciemag.com. 

The Brazilian chef Alex Atala, a black-belt under Demian Maia who first donned the gi in the 1990s, once learned from Master Rickson Gracie a simple lesson, summed up in one sentence, that changed his professional life forever. 

Atala remembered the episode in an interview he gave Fabio Gurgel, and pointed out that the lesson kicked off a revolution in his career. 

“Before I won recognition and prizes, I spent ten years just eating, sleeping and cooking, without doing any single other solitary thing in São Paulo,” said Atala, 52. “I found myself working amid chaos; it was torture, until I finally understood a brilliant line by Rickson, which I’ve kept with myself forever: ‘The secret is to find comfort in discomfort.’”

In that very well-synthesized sentence, Atala realized what he was getting wrong:

“Right there, I learned that I was looking at many of my daily difficulties the wrong way. After all, life, work, daily routine will bring us discomfort all the time, and fighting this fact amounts to burning energy, because it’s impossible to change it. To live is to manage problems. From that day on, I started finding comfort in discomfort, and I was happier.”

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My routine on fight days, by Rickson Gracie

In my times of professional fighting, I liked arriving at the venue three hours before putting on the robe and jumping into the ring. 

I'd go with my team to the locker room and, to the surprise of those who did not know me, I'd go to a comfy corner and take a nap. I'd usually sleep for one hour thirty, one hour forty minutes. 

My recipe for sleeping soon before a decisive match came down to the lungs. I would breathe in, breathe out, relax my body and especially my head, and sleep deeply, like an infant. 

I'd wake up when there were sixty minutes to go, and start a warmup that lasted forty-five minutes. In this stage, my heartbeats would reach 160, 140, and the sweat would start running down. My body was already prepared for the crunch. 

And then I would sit for five minutes. It was enough to use my lungs to breathe in and out, and drastically lower my heart rate. Meanwhile, my opponent on the other side would jump, run, make faces, his heart rate way up. 

When the fight started, I was always at an advantage in relation to the heart rate and breathing. That's what would lead my opponents, sooner than me, to get their heads confused, make tactical errors, see their arms get too heavy. 

Breathing, therefore, was always my best friend as a fighter. And better still: it's the best weapon also for people who will never need to put on fighting gloves or a gi. 

After all, as I learned across so many years of locker rooms and training sessions, the lungs play quite a role in our body: they are the true caretakers of our brain and our heart. 

Try this as soon as possible: fill your lungs to the brim and exhale slowly and gradually. Repeat the process for three minutes. You will comprehend that it will be impossible to think about problems and errands; after all, your brain starts focusing on the commands of the respiratory movement, deterring any stressful thoughts. As a bonus, you slow down your heart. 

Then, you will feel, like I felt on those days of war, a peace that is hard to describe. 

Breathe, and be happy. 
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How Rickson deals with time

How do you handle the time factor? Do you race against it? Do you cling to the past? Or do you live life without even thinking about it?

Once, during an interview, Rickson Gracie was asked about the matter. It was for an article about his ideas and experiences, published as the cover story for the prestigious magazine Trip, issue No. 163.

“How old are you?” asked the journalist Bruno Torturra Nogueira. The answer came with a high dose of wisdom.

“Sheesh. I forgot a long time ago,” Rickson laughed. “It’s part of my way of thinking not to say my age.”

“I believe in mental strength, and educating your mind to repeat your age is a great flaw,” he appended. “You fit yourself into an age that takes you out of a timeless perspective. I have no problem with having been born in 1959, but I don’t know how old I am. If you say you’re 30, 50, you put yourself in an unconscious situation that you can no longer do what you used to do at 15. I prefer to answer that I’m ready to perform any activity for people aged 18 — or a hundred. What matters most is to be ready! Ready to be a child, reckless, responsible, and for whatever life demands. Otherwise, you start limiting yourself. I don’t have a problem with growing old. I’m ready.”

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The incentive Rickson gave his kids in BJJ

At certain stages of childhood, kids like to play ball, practice sports in groups or participate in activities with their little friends. But how do we motivate them to pick up the gi and go train or compete?

To Rickson Gracie, the most effective way to motivate your kids is, first, by respecting their wishes, preventing the incentive from turning into imposition. 

To Rickson — himself a son and father to strong athletes — the biggest error consists of forcing the child. "They, above all, need to be having fun”, he once said. “Any type of pressure from the parents turns an activity into a nightmare for everybody."

Rickson then remembered an episode that happened at home. When Kron was 12, he turned around one day and admitted: "Dad, I don't want to go train anymore."

Rickson reacted with serenity: "Wonderful!"

And added the incentive, "What do you want to do, then?"

Kron explained that he wanted to skateboard, and Dad approved. They went to the store and came back with a brand-new board and safety equipment, to the delight of the young Gracie — who dove deep in the future Olympic sport, even competing. 

One day, however, Kron hurt his foot and was forced to take a break. Then he started practicing again, and again hurt his foot. "Naturally, thus, he again found appeal in jiu-jitsu, and picked up the gi to train with his friends."

To Rickson, the most important thing is to be positive when motivating your kids. If the passion for jiu-jitsu is something that eludes the control of the parents, the best way is to make everything pleasurable, fun and demand-free:

"The advice I give parents is that they make sure that BJJ is always surrounded by a climate that's friendly, positive and pleasant. If the kids are getting tired, give them a week off — invite them to go surfing. The worst that can happen is for the kid to think, 'Oh, no! This is like the army; I need to go to school and to jiu-jitsu even when I don't want to!' In truth, all we need is for them to make it through this phase, until the time in which BJJ will help them even more, starting in their teens."

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What is Rickson's favorite technique?

The other day, a student enrolled in Rickson.Academy's virtual classes asked what Rickson's favorite technique was out of all the ones he teaches and demonstrates in detail. 

Rickson, with a discreet smile, said: 
"Well, this is a slippery one. I'll explain: I have a car that is my favorite. But I couldn't decide which part of my car is my favorite. I mean, I like the tires. I like the engine and the design, and the leather on the seats. And I like the music that comes out of the radio. I love that car, but it's complex to subdivide and point to a piece that is my favorite. What's nice about the car is its functionality, how it works perfectly when it's complete."

He added: "In the same way, in Jiu-Jitsu I don't believe I can compartmentalize and say that I prefer the defense against stabbing over the defense against clubbing, or the choke; I love all the techniques equally. Because they fit together and connect perfectly to give us that extra dose of tranquility, of inner peace, of confidence and calm when it's time to act, which makes us successful in whatever field. So I love everything from the mount escape seen in the first few lessons all the way up to the inverted foot lock I teach the higher-ranked students."
Rickson concluded his thoughts with quite a piece of advice:
"But you may have your favorite technique, of course. I just advise you to have fun learning all of them, so you can then point to your favorite."

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Latest Comments

Manoel Do Vale Avatar
Manoel Do Vale commented:

I'll try this tomorrow rs

December 06, 2022 05:56 PM

Kevin Outten  Avatar
Kevin Outten commented:


December 06, 2022 03:10 PM


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