Rickson Gracie has been doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu longer than many of our readers and writers have been alive.
The undefeated MMA fighter and son of BJJ founder Helio Gracie, Rickson holds a 7th degree red-and-black belt, and is easily one of the most influential and famous people in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.
It may come as a surprise then that the legend that is Rickson Gracie is still refining his Brazilian jiu-jitsu game.
But he is.
The following is Part 2 of the Jiu-Jitsu Times interview with Jack Taufer, who recently did a private with Master Rickson. You can read Part 1 here.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Any light bulb moments during the private lesson?
Jack Taufer: Are you kidding me? Of course! The biggest was that even Rickson Gracie is refining his jiu-jitsu. Rickson showed me a way to flatten an opponent from a particular position. It is highly effective. I have been exposed to two decades of his techniques but had never ever seen this move. When I told him that, he replied, “Yes, I figured this out several weeks ago after seeing a fight.” He invented a new moved after a lifetime of jiu-jitsu!!! There was another point in the lesson that I told him I had not seen that move and he told me again that he had been giving more thought to a basic principle and then came up with this new solution. Ty and I looked at each other and gave the “WTF?” look.
I was so blown away that Rickson Gracie is still figuring new movements and solutions out after all these years. This makes his concepts and principles so much more important to me. If you can understand the ideas, you can invent beautiful solutions to any problem. You don’t have to be taught everything.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: What will you be working on after that private lesson?
Open Guard. I did not mention this in the above questions. He told me that closed guard was for attacking and open was for defense. He then wanted to see my open guard. I kinda went knee shield and waited to see what he was going to do and was on defense, I did not really move much. We switched. Although, I could not at any point in time touch his face to hit him, I was crushed, off balanced, confused and non-stopped being reminded that I could be hit in the face. (For the record don’t ever try and fight Rickson, I don’t think it will work out well based on personal experience… Just saying.) The way I was introduced to his open guard was incredible. I want to be that deadly one day. I told him I will being working on that for years!
Jiu-Jitsu Times: You are a black belt and have trained with many experienced instructors. What makes Rickson’s methods and concepts special?
Jack Taufer: A few things. I think he likes to simplify things into as few steps as possible. The more steps a move has the more points an opponent has to counter it.
I feel like he likes things to work up to 100 percent resistance. Including all the self defense curriculum. Most jiu-jitsu practitioners will roll against each other at 100 percent but when it comes to doing self-defense moves we treat it like a kata and at best only give 20 percent resistance. That is fine at first, but I can be drilled to the point were you can practice it against full resistance.
Another thing that is great about this teaching method is that it prepares the student to learn. He teaches in a way that allows the student to get past the first obstacle to learning: thinking you know all there is to know. The way he broke down the move made me realize I don’t truly know what I thought I knew.
Lastly, what truly stood out was this: jiu-jitsu is for the weak. The first students to stop training are the ones who need it most. They are timid, smaller, scared, or nervous. If you only run hardcore competition class you will lose the people who need it the most. Jiu-jitsu can be for everyone, so cater to them all. It’s totally cool to have a competition team and to train them for certain tournament rules, etc., but never neglect who needs it most. It is the weak and smaller people who need it the most.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Anything interesting you may want to add?
Jack Taufer: Yes, I would like to thank Mark Mullen and the Jiu-Jitsu Times for this interview. I would like to thank the readers for being interested in other points of view. Lastly, I would like to thank Rickson Gracie and David Kama for being patient enough with me to let them learn from them. Its been a pleasure and its been humbling. Thank you both very much.
What would you want to learn if you had a private with Rickson Gracie?