Breathe: A Life In Flow by Rickson Gracie
文章來源: 7grizzly2021-08-21 08:53:41


Since starting to read a dictionary late 2019, I have had little time for any

other reading. Out of the four books borrowed early June (including one

re-read), I haven't even finished one. Over the last weekend, however, I

purused twice Rickson Gracie's new book "Breathe: A Life In Flow" and I also

listened to the audio version.


A matter-of-fact biography in about 250 pages, it was an easy read. Quite a few

stories (mostly of his fights) were already familiar to me but I greatly enjoyed

the details of his life out of the ring. He was a son, a brother, a friend, a

father, a husband, and an American immigrant. The book pictured a real and

down-to-earth person that I could relate to. I didn't have to fight in MMA

to agree with him on parenting, or to disagree with him on managing personal

finance, etc.


Showing the human side of the living legend sure makes it harder to worship.

Rickson himself, however, seems comfortable with being a mere mortal like everybody

else. He observes in the book: "I realized at a very early age the value of

interacting with people from all walks of life." This sounds like my kind of hero.


Rickson repeatedly regarded the Gracie diet as one of the pillars of his

family's protocol. The three typical meals, fruit, starch, and salad were

almost exactly what I heard from Maxwell. The specifics were nonetheless

impressive when they came directly from the master, e.g.,

    Sweets to us were not cookies and ice cream. They were papayas, mangoes,

    figs, or watermelon juice. Sugar, processed foods, alcohol, and coffee were

    all strictly prohibited. I grew up thinking that eating chocolate was like

    drinking rat poison! Coca-Cola? Poison! Cake and cookies? Poison! As kids,

    we were amazed by how much longer uncle Carlos took to finish his meals; he

    would chew each bite for over a minute, and it would take him more than an

    hour to eat a small plate of food.


I have already suspected it, but his following observation about a figher

confirmed that Jiu Jitsu should be as much a life style as it is a fighting


    What I noticed most about him was that although his Jiu-Jitsu was

    technically excellent, he could not apply it to his life off the mat. This

    fighter took drugs instead of finding a more hollistic way to balance 

    himself, which only left him more uncentered. He was a superficial warrior

    who lacked the spiritual component.


I can also relate to his experiences as an immigrant to America.

    [Compared with Brazil,] America had a much more idealistic constitution and

    grew into a more orderly society--literally. People here did things that I

    had never seen before: They stood in line, stopped for traffic lights, and

    mostly obeyed the law. 



    People here live according to what they can prove and explain. If they can't

    explain something, they deem it unacceptable and unbelievable. However,

    rationality has its limits; not everything can be explained on paper.


Created by Helio Gracie for self-defense, BJJ has exploded globally with the 

UFC, an event launched by the Gracies to showcase the effectiveness of their

family martial art style. Since then, however, competitions have attracted the 

most attention, and Jiu-Jitsu has become to many people a sport. That is what

most schools teach 90% of the time these days. The situation reminds me of the

second chapter of the Tao De Jing, which basically says that when everyone thinks

something's good, it ceases to be good anymore.


Rickson, however, has always been passionate about bringing back the

self-defense element, what Gracie Jiu Jitsu was originally created for, to help

the average guy instead of just the athlete. After failing to unite the

established organizations to achieve this goal, he now is content with sharing

his knowledge through seminars and online courses.


Of course, his mission of empowering the weak through Jiu Jitsu sits well with

me, an aging Chinese immigrant in the storm of Asian Hate. My training is not

about the belt-level and neither do I care about competing. My goals are health,

self-defense, and community. I am grateful to the master for his humility and

service. Half-way through the book, I subscribed to Rickson's academy.