If you have been grappling in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu long enough the name Rickson Gracie always seems to come up in some form or another. A debate regarding one of the if not THE best grapplers in the world can be stifled instantaneously by mentioning the name Rickson Gracie. Synonomous with legends like Muhammad Ali , Rocky Marciano, Gene Labell, Rickson Gracie stands atop one of the most successful fighting familes in the world.
Yet not very many people outside of the Jiu Jitsu world seem to know who he is. Many a younger generation grapplers have heard the name, but don’t know the true meaning. If asked of young generation grapplers who the best there is most people would say Anderson Silva, or Demian Meia , both excellent grapplers in thier own right. But the old school Jiu Jitsu players ( much like myself who have researched and witnessed 1st hand older grapplers ) can name on one hand the very best, the elite if you will, world class Jiu Jitsu players.
Rickson Gracie Choke is a documentary leading up to the 1995 Vale Tudo World Fighting Championship in Tokyo. With mixed martial arts in it’s infancy, Choke goes beyond the ring, beyond the violence of takedowns submissions and ground n pound as we know it today. Choke dives into the behind-the-scenes of the combatants competing in the tournament, the preparations & the day to day lives and anxiety leading up to the eventual demise of all but one competitor.
As we follow Rickson through his daily life, his training regime and his Jiu Jitsu academy we see that , with most fighters, they are normal everyday people. It is we who admire the accomplishments , the hard work , the dedication because if for nothing else, we can see what it is like for ordinary to become extraordinary.
We also see the interactions between a young Rockson Gracie and his father playing around after a playful checkers game gone comedically wrong. Rockson for those who don’t know, died at the age of 19 of a motorcycle accident. Quite possibly the next heir to the Rickson Gracie academy. In the movie we see interviews with Rickson , at one point revealing his vulnerability quoted as saying ” I believe intelligence and fear are very close together. Guys who say they are not afraid of anything, they are stupid. They are silly to me…I am afraid of everything” While not showing this vulnerability during combat, his interview gave a different look into his mind and idealogy. If one didn’t know who Rickson is one would think he is a coward by this statement alone. He, as we all know, is not.
While Royce was making his mark in the early days in the UFC, Rickson was competing in Japan earning a name for himself and rocketing into super stardom. The very 1st mixed martial arts dvd i owned was Rickson Gracie Choke. And to this day it inspires me to become what i can never be , but only hope to be,a grappling legend.