“If we fight for money, I’ll stop hitting you when you ask me to. If we fight for honor, I’ll stop hitting you when I feel like it.”-Rickson Gracie
If you are a jiu-jitsu player, then you know Rickson Gracie. If you are a true mixed martial arts fan, then you know Rickson Gracie. But, that still leaves a wide sample of humanity that has no familiarity with this legend. Born in 1958 to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Grandmaster, Helio Gracie, Rickson is one of nine sons. Raised to practice jiu-jitsu like the rest of his family, Rickson was very active in martial arts at a very early age but only focusing on his family’s style of jiu-jitsu (later referred to as “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu”).
Unlike many of his predecessors, Rickson began to cross train in other martial arts disciplines to participate in vale tudo fights which would later evolve into the popular mixed martial arts sport that we enjoy today. However, none of this in itself makes Rickson more unique than other athletes of his generation or time. So, let’s instead make note of the key factors that make Rickon Gracie a Featured Alpha.
- Rickson began his fighting career at 18 years old against a much larger and experienced opponent. He won via rear naked choke. He also received his black belt at 18.
- Rickson has had a passion for yoga since the 1980s (he is mentioned in our article on breathing technique) and is credited to bringing it mainstream into the fight world.
- Rickson’s breathing techniques and training regimens were so unique, a 1995 documentary called “Choke” was made about his life.
- Rickson challenged a famous Japanese fighter and refused to fight publicly. He slowly beat him instead of a quick victory to prove a point. The fight footage has never been released.
- Rickson claims to have over 400 fights with 0 losses. His own father disputes this however, but either way, Rickson is officially undefeated in both mixed martial arts and jiu-jitsu.
- Rickson abruptly ended his fighting career in 2001 after the loss of his son, Rockson. Rockson was a 3x world champion before his tragic death due to a drug overdose.
- Rickson is often credited as being the greatest jiu-jitsu practitioner of all time and an innovator. These accolades are given to him by his peers.
- Rickson was awarded the high level of red belt (9th degree) in 2017 but refused to wear it as he felt a group needed to make the designation, not a single person.
- Rickson is often regarded not only for his athletic ability but his mindset. He abides by the samurai lifestyle.
- Rickson’s son, Kron, is regarded as a top fighter and is under contract with the UFC. He also runs his own jiu-jitsu academy in California. He credits his father for his upbringing.