The Jiu-jitsu Wisdom of Rickson Gracie from 2 Black Belt Students

One of my absolute favorite quotes about HOW you should train your jiu-jitsu comes from the legend himself: Master Rickson Gracie

“Even when you spar during training, you should minimize your natural talents.
By limiting yourself, you may find yourself in much worse situation, but you are forced to think your way out, using techniques you would not have otherwise used.
When you start doing this, you begin to understand what is really wrong in a certain situation and you begin to understand what actually needs to be done in a technical way in order to improve the situation.
You then begin to develop a real, deep progress, understanding the mechanics of any situation.”

“It is important to remember that in a serious fight or in a competition, the mechanics of the fight will be exactly the same as when you are training in a gentle manner.
The only important difference will be your mental attitude.
When you train, you should put more emphasis on learning than on competing with your partner.”

“You don’t learn when you are fighting, bringing in all sorts of tension and emotion.
You learn when you are having fun, training in a smooth and gentle way.
You need to work on improving your technique until you are comfortable in any situation.
Eventually, you will develop a subconscious understanding of the techniques and they become reflexes.
Only after you have done all this you are ready to take your natural abilities “off the shelf” and add them back into your game.
Now the effectiveness of the technique will be at least ten times better.”

source: Rickson Gracie Association Newsletter

Jiu-jitsu Times recently published 2 different interviews with black belts who have trained with Rickson Gracie and shared their own interpretations of this lesson from the master.

Henry Akins
on Jiu-jitsu Times: Off the Mat with a Bjj Black Belt: Henry Akins – part 1
“The second concept is weight distribution and that concept is how to constantly transfer your weight onto your opponent in different positions to make their movements more difficult or impossible.

In many situations weight distribution allows you to constantly apply pressure on your opponent without actually having to use muscle or do “work”.
So it’s a huge benefit in helping you conserve energy while forcing your opponent to work much harder.
Henry Akins:Yes I have a few pieces of advice that I know were crucial to me.
First is try not to muscle or force things, if you feel like something is requiring a lot of effort then either the timing is off or the technique is off.
Remember everything we do is supposed to work against someone who is bigger and stronger.

With jiu-jitsu its all about using your opponents energy and movements against them so even against a strong person things should feel easy because they should be helping you.
Try to relax more in training… it might be difficult to do at first because of fear but remember whats the wort thing that can happen?
You tap and start over… Relaxing allows you to be more sensitive and feel your opponents movements better, it also allows you to react quicker.”

Jack Taufer
on Jiu-jitsu Times: Off the Mat with a Bjj Black Belt: Jack Taufer

“A principle you can apply when training is to never go harder than 60%.
This will force you to develop good technique.
Relying on strength or speed will work for a while but eventually you will get tired, older, weaker, etc.
You might get tapped out a lot in the beginning, but soon you get sharper and sharper and you will be tapping out others.
Jiu-Jitsu takes time to get good at, there is a lot to learn. You will get there too if you keep at it.
There is a nice psychological benefit about never training harder than 60%… in the back of your mind you KNOW you have more… and if there was an emergency, you know you can go 100%.”

What do BOTH of these black belts stress?

Mimnimize your use of physical strength and emphasize the use of proper leverage and technique.

How Rickson Gracie feels about modern BJJ, and why we should learn ‘invisible’ BJJ

on Jiu-jitsu Times: Old Man Jiu-jitsu


  1. I dont think he’s wrong at all when it comes to mma. Every great fighter that stood the test of time and fought the best of his era took on everyone regardless of their size strength or physical abilities. Any fighter who only relied on his personal edges got their game figured out sooner or later. Mirko had the deadliest kicks in mma and made a career out of them, until they figured out how to take him out of his game and he started to get KO’d. Wanderlei was the most dominant fighter of his time until he traded blows with fighters who could withstand his barrages and keep fighting. Fedor was the GOAT (and he STILL is in my opinion) but even he lost when he became too confident on his own power. I mean he jumped into Werdum’s guard, tried to overpower Silva and traded blows with Hendo, 3 things everybody (including him) knows is suicidal.
    To me, it’s all about adaptation, so I think his philosophy applies to everything whether in or outside the mats


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