Master Rickson Gracie On Invisible Jiu-Jitsu

Master Rickson Gracie — one of the most famous and influential BJJ teachers of all time — sat down with Grappling Central to talk about his “invisible jiu-jitsu.”

If you don’t have the 90+ minutes to listen to the entire podcast, I transcribed the portion of the interview dealing with invisible jiu-jitsu.

Rickson Gracie interview – Episode 200 – The Grappling Central Podcast

Grappling Central: Another thing that you’be mentioned throughout the interview many times is pressure. That’s another concept that you’re very well known for and that is “invisible jiu-jitsu”. After I had the privilege of attending one of your seminars..this is an area of jiu-jitsu that I’ve become very fascinated by.

For the people who aren’t familiar with it would you mind describing what invisible jiu-jitsu is?

Rickson Gracie: Man, how you going to explain the taste of wine for somebody who never try it or never see it? It’s hard…

The invisible aspect of jiu-jitsu for me by far the greatest and the most interesting. Because it is not based on what I see it. It is based on how I feel it. That’s why it is invisible. It’s not about seeing. You may see the same guard position, but you feel different if you put pressure here, if you lie a little more here. So the invisible results are the ones that really please me because they are the ones that I really deeply felt you know?

That’s what I try to promote is the capacity once you have to have to develop their own sensitivity for what is invisible.

Balance for example is invisible because it has to be connected with my opponent’s energy. If you push me I have to have my balance based on that push. And if you pull me I have to shift everything and be able to keep my balance on that pull.

So it is an invisible deal of adjustment and weight distribution and connection which has fused the purpose of feeling the pressure or adding pressure or escaping from the pressure or keeping the control or whatever is the position. But for me you saw about those details which makes amazingly different a sense of “Wow man! Now I can feel.” And when the students say to me “Wow man, I understand now!”…wow its not about the visible, what is visible. But is how you feel it and you know it’s experience man which keep me in the game because I love to give that feeling of the students feeling what is supposed to be impossible but based on the invisible aspect you say “Wow! That’s simple.” And that’s amazing man. It’s a special feeling.

GC: Do essentially it is the balance, it’s the distribution of weight, it’s the leverage that you can obtain by using the correct biometrics. Correct me if I’m wrong but does it seem like invisible jiu-jitsu might be something that people may be developing in their jiu-jitsu journey and not even know that they’re using it. Without even realizing that it’s there.

Would you agree that it’s something that some people might be doing subconsciously but not actually understanding what they’re doing?

Rickson: Oh definitely. Jiu-jitsu is the sense of like a physical chess. Where your position is relevant, everything is relevant. You start to develop that sense which is more animal than actual intelligence. Is the capacity to adapt, us the capacity to be comfortable, to breathe, is to adjust, is to grip, is to hang with the weight meaning here or there.

So this is a development of like a sense of position and that all this brings you to the constant checking, the constant feeling of how your position represents this or that. And a lot of things you develop by your own sense of adaptation…For me, a lot of things which I learned through my life have learned to serve for me as a bridge to really understand what I should do and how I’m gonna do the same position. So it’s a little angle, a little twist, a little thing which I change which makes for me executable.

In the same way I felt like my students not able to adjust and I had to break my mind to see what he needs to do to get the same grip or the and then “Ok, put your weight more here. Lean here.” And when I felt like he get it say that. So it’s always a sense of development, a sense of of discovering about you.

Jiu-jitsu gives you awareness of yourself, if your endurance, of your emotional control. Or of how you handle pressure. How you feel pressure. How you feel comfortable in hell. How you can breath and so on.

So all of those elements which are sometimes discomfort, sometimes pressure. Those give you the stretched mind, give you the knowledge within which make you feel like “Ok, I’m under pressure but I’m still alive. So pressure is not that bad. I can still…” So then you start to become more resilient sometimes. More patient. More strategically correct. More able to think under pressure. More able to be time wise perfect and just wait for that particular window of opportunity to take advantage.

So this way you start to become more aligned with your needs with the capacity you have to see things and adapt. For that the lesson is sometimes from somebody that give you the tip that you need to learn or sometimes by interacting with the most intimate feelings in your guts and develop. Because my father has no teacher and for many things I did I have no teacher also. But i had the belief I could find something which is invisible.

So the belief in the invisible give me whatever I don’t have the answers give me the answer because I create it. So it’s an interesting journey which can be done a lot by yourself or a lot by somebody who is helping you. But the objectivity of the journey is to develop that sense if trusting and believing in what you can not see but how you can feel.

GC: How do you think someone can consciously focus on developing their invisible jiu-jitsu?

Are there any games that you play in your mind when you are rolling or are there any drills that you do that help you focus on it exclusively?

Rickson: Yes, you have to basically relax.

You can not fight using power. Then everything that you are able to do which is in the relaxed mode based on angles, based on weight distribution. You minimize your efforts and you maximize your results. And that is your seeking for the invisible aspects.

Which, the less power you do, the better results you do, you get something right my friend. That’s the way.

The way to seek the invisible aspect is the way where you lose the physical resources and become more like gentle and allowing yourself to the minimal effort and the little angles and stuff you start to become better in your results.

Once you get that direction you start to seeking for that easy way to resolve all of the problems. And then you need the right path.


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