#170 Rickson Gracie, Carlos Santos, and Niko Han


Rickson Gracie stares intently while watching his son Kron compete at the 2009 BJJ World Championship.

Last month when the cohost of The FightWorks Podcast Dan was invited by the Art of War to cover their mixed martial arts event, we knew he would come home with great interviews from the jiu-jitsu world but we did not know how good! This week’s show will feature a sampling of some of the conversations he was able to capture while in Beijing, China. All three interviewees this week are pioneers in spreading Brazilian jiu-jitsu to different parts of the world.

First off is the legendary Rickson Gracie. Rickson needs no introduction and in the conversation you will hear in this episode, Rickson talks about his role in the jiu-jitsu world at this point in his career, as well as his Invisible Jiu-Jitsu seminar series.

From there Dan’s interviews take us to Indonesia, with Niko Han. Niko has been the pioneer in bringing Brazilian jiu-jitsu to his corner of the world and is now a black belt. We will hear all about the interesting passage of BJJ to Indonesia from Niko himself.

Carlos “Carlao” Santos has a similar story of being a jiu-jitsu disciple in a foreign land. Santos accepted a temporary offer to teach Brazilian jiu-jitsu in the United Arab Emirates and has been there ever since, fostering the adoption of BJJ in public schools and the military, as well as organizing the star-studded World Professional Jiu-Jitsu Championship which took place recently.

Finally we bring on 2009 black belt gold medalist Penny Thomas to answer an email we received from one of the Mighty 600,000 . (Email us or leave a message at 877-247-4662 if you have a question for our guests!)

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TRANSCRIPTION OF RICKSON GRACIE INTERVIEW

FightWorks Podcast: Hey everybody, this is Dan, with the FightWorks Podcast. I’m sitting here with Rickson Gracie, and we’re chatting a little bit about what’s going on with his life now, some of the things going forward, and what he sees on the horizon.

So first of all, Rickson, thanks again for being on the podcast. How are you doing?

Rickson Gracie: Excellent my friend, and hello to everybody. Now we are here in China, watching this Art of War, which is the event in China, and brings a lot of attention to the mixed martial arts here. The idea is to promote and excel in every way, and I’m very excited to see the results of this, and the evolutionary process here in China.

Since I decided to retire, I’ve been focused on my next goal, which is to promote jiu jitsu, promote the essence of jiu jitsu. It is not about teaching my guys how to compete, it is not representing the flag of Rickson Gracie Association. It is more being an ambassador of jiu jitsu, and welcome everybody who likes grappling to learn the essence of our lovely sport.

This is because, over time, what I see is jiu jitsu displaying a lot of effectiveness, serving as a reference. For anyone in MMA, for anyone interested in the real effectiveness aspect, they’re using jiu jitsu to become more effective, and that’s part of why we believe jiu jitsu is so good.

But with this being said, there is a philosophical aspect, a profound aspect of leverage, an invisible force which favours not only fighters, but favours anyone. I see jiu jitsu as a perfect complement to the family as a whole. I think a five year old kid can learn the same way his sister of twelve can learn, the same way the father, an executive, out of shape can learn, and also his wife.

So, jiu jitsu is a very complex art, and I see that has been put aside a little, in terms of just giving tough guys a little more effectiveness. I think jiu jitsu has to be incorporated at a social level as a facilitator for developing social skills, for developing self confidence, for developing inner peace.

Based on all this, my goal for the rest of my life is to favour the elements which anyone can take advantage of. It is not exactly how to compete, or how to fight. That of course will also favour the competitors, because the more they know the profound aspect of leverage, invisible force, the more they will be effective, of course.

But sometimes, if you don’t have that kind of finesse, those details, a lot of weak people, a lot of shy people, a lot of people who are not competitors or tough, they cannot see it, they cannot understand. So, my goal now is to just create a venue where jiu jitsu can really favour society as a whole.

FightWorks Podcast: Right, so no longer just the technical aspects or the fighting aspects or the techniques per se, but a more holistic approach in terms of some of the other benefits and advantages.

Rickson Gracie: Yes, because if you see in a very global context, understanding, we are all warriors. We are all searching for happiness, we all have to conquer something. I don’t care if you want to conquer a new job, or a girlfriend, or a peaceful mind, or money. Whatever has to be conquered has to follow the same pattern of self confidence, strategy, method, techniques.

Once you learn the martial arts concept, in the way you think. Not exactly how to fight, because if I stop fighting from today on, that doesn’t take away from me the psychological elements I’ve already gained from the practice of the art. That psychological element can be passed, even without the heavy training. It is like, understand the concepts which take a guy to become a champion.

The formula is very simple, but has to be applied, you know? The same formula can be applied to any aspect of life, in any segment, no matter what you really want to conquer. I feel like, by giving this theoretical and practical application of the invisible jiu jitsu, I think that is – I don’t know, I don’t want to about say the secret – but that is the formula of success, there is no doubt about that.

FightWorks Podcast: Yeah, I think that is a very good insight, that a lot of folks now, especially, they’re so focused on the techniques of jiu jitsu and the competition and the fighting that I think, yeah, I think they definitely overlook some of that.

Tell us a little bit about your shirt – your shirt says ‘the invisible jiu jitsu’, there’s a lot of talk about that. Tell us the concept of that a little bit, for some of the guys who are wondering about that.

Rickson Gracie: Yeah, in my class seminars, I normally have at least sixty percent of the people, they are all black belts. They are all well trained, they all think they know jiu jitsu. But what I’ve been confirming every seminar I do is they lack an understanding of where is the invisible force.

The reason I say that is because the invisible force is not in the result you get, but in the feeling of making it easy. Sometimes you train very hard, you make the action sixty percent right, and it still works. But for a guy who doesn’t have the same potential to make that happen, sometimes you’re not able to do it, and you feel like “I’m not capable of doing it, because I don’t have the strength, or the speed, or the personal qualities.”

Then, at that point, I feel like if he understands where is the ultimate detail to the position, and he feels this kind of possibility, he feels like the detail makes all the difference. To understand that detail, you cannot look in a book. In a picture, all the positions, the so-so one and the good one, doesn’t seem different. But when you feel it, you really understand what I’m talking about. That’s why I say it is invisible, because you have to feel, you cannot just understand…

FightWorks Podcast: Just see it?

Rickson Gracie: Yes, you cannot see it, you just have to really feel and say “wow, I never thought that was so much different and so much easier.” Once you start to understand that kind of particular aspect, you start to search in all the techniques for the same facility, the same basic concept which guides you to a different mentality when you fight.

You’re looking to make it easy. You’re looking to surf your problems, you’re not wanting to deal in confrontation, and bang head to head, start to get cauliflower ears and get stronger, tougher. It is just the smart way to solve your problems, and that’s invisible, you have to feel it.

FightWorks Podcast: That’s a great concept. So, should we expect to see some more seminars, around the US? I know there are a lot of guys who would love to train with you a little bit, and some of the seminars are starting to pick up steam, but you were saying a lot of the times now, they’re booked in advance. Are there more coming up that some of the guys should be looking for?

Rickson Gracie: Oh definitely. I have, until the end of my days, my purpose in life and my motivation is to feed the whole world with this concept, because I don’t want to take this to grave with me. I want to leave it to the next generation, for our kids and the future generation.

So, I definitely plan to do many seminars. Right now I’m adjusting the schedule for the second semester. Based on some projects I have, involving a documentary and involving a TV series and different things, I’m not exactly sure how the seminar schedule will be, but I’m starting to be more and more organised in terms of my agenda. As soon as I have the details, I will inform the public. I will be very happy to have new students to share with me what is my passion and our passion in general.

FightWorks Podcast: Great. Rickson, thank you very much for your time. Is there anything else you want to add for the guys out there?

Rickson Gracie: It is a pleasure to here with you guys, and I tell you man, jiu jitsu is a life saver. A lot of people can understand what I’m saying, because under this world we live in, so much stress, so much competition, I think the more you sharpen your sword in a passive way, in an intelligent way, the more prepared you are to deal with the world we live in today.

Definitely, my expectation is to see we’re all peaceful warriors, and taking this to the next generation and make a better world. I hope to see you guys soon.

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