Friday, January 23, 2009

Rickson Gracie Opens His Box...


If this synapsis of Rickson's seminar series in Brazil is anything like what we're about to experience in Nashville in March, then we're in for an experience of a lifetime:

Rickson opens his box

In 2009, Gracie plans to hold seminars in eight Brazilian cities

The man who most knows Jiu-Jitsu decided to export, at the end of 2008, the knowledge he has acquired over nearly half a century of life. Thus, when Rickson takes a seat and prepares to open the box he carries, everyone’s eyes fix on him, with unmasked eagerness. It’s not a metaphoric box, but a Styrofoam cooler.

From it, the icon of the gentle art removes a morsel of white cheese, half a watermelon and a vast bunch of bananas. The scene plays out in the glorious Flamengo rowing club, where the restaurant is nearly as run down as the current Carioca squad is, which explains the suspense. What could the master from that pitiful buffet?

And thus fed, and with the aid of a two-liter bottle of an American brand of isotonic drink that Rickson has noticed had the best effect on his body, the professor replenishes his energy for a 150-person seminar, over 12 hours stretching over Saturday and Sunday. The idea is, in 2009, to take the series of seminars, which is actually a “course” divided over ten stages, to eight cities in Brazil. 

The class in Rickson’s city of birth, Rio de Janeiro, on the 11th and 12th of October, was the first stage of his personal project, which was covered in a six-page report in the mainstream press. “I want to take awareness of the martial art to the mainstream. Today, Jiu-Jitsu is efficient as a fighting style, but not to the point of boosting one’s development,” said the Gracie to the “Jornal do Brasil” newspaper on December 14th. On the seminar in Rio, he remarked: “It was one of the most moving moments in my life. I realized Jiu-Jitsu is still a family.”

And there really were even family members among the participants, alongside world champions, veteran black belts and young white belts from an assortment of academies. “When I was really small,” says Kyra Gracie, “I remember having asked Renzo: ‘Uncle, is Rickson everything they say he is?’ And the answer has stuck in my head since: ‘No. He’s much more.’”

Kyra didn’t regret it, and confirmed her cousin’s technique. In three hours, before lunch time, the Gracie has escaped every mount, surprised everyone with technical details and tought details even regarding solid base standing. He showed it in practice to all the students. And he didn’t even come close to getting tired, perhaps the most impressive part.

“For every position, Rickson showed invisible mistakes, practiced by all fighters or competitors, whether amateur or world class athletes. Hence, he would show the reasons for losing positions or excessive use of force when performing simple positions, in which minute details in adjusting or angling, posture or balance, mean enormous differences in the final outcome of the position or, the greater objective, in finishing off the opponent,” related Breno Sivak, Rickson black belt and co-organizer of the event.

Felipe Costa, roosterweight world champion, approved: “Rickson’s seminar was without a doubt a great investment in my career. I didn’t learn any revolutionary new technique in the seminar, it was work on the basics with very interesting concepts, aimed a pure technique, the whole time.”

After lunch, Rickson re-started the seminar laying out the importance of eating properly for quality of life and physical conditioning. And, on moving his diaphragm to show the benefits of yoga-based breathing, one of the younger participants at the seminar realized he was living out a moment from the movies: “Hey dad! That’s from the movie The Hulk!”

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