Rickson Gracie: Breathe-A Life in Flow

Larry Shealy // Uncategorized


August 11  

It has been many years since I’ve read a book in one sitting, Breathe, a life in flow: but Rickson Gracie’s new book hit my door step yesterday, and I completed it late in the evening.  Perhaps the last book I read front to back was an old Sports Illustrated magazine in college!

Why the urgency?  

Well, I’ve been very fascinated in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu since 1994 when I took a seminar that was taught by Rickson Gracie.  I was a taekwondo black belt (and not a very good one!), and was able to secure a site for my instructor to have a seminar at a local high school.  For securing the spot, I was given free entry into a ‘ground fighting’ seminar.  

The seminar was a success on many levels.  We had a great turnout with all of the Taekwondo students from around Jacksonville, FL.  We all thought we were pretty good in our own right, but this mellow, incredibly humble man stepped on the mats and immediately commanded our attention.  Little did I know that this man would change my world with the information that he shared.  

He showed several techniques of self defense and what we refer to now as fundamental techniques (the backbone of BJJ) and they were clean and effective.  At the end of the seminar Rickson Grace sparred with everyone in the gym who wanted to ‘try’ the Jiu-Jitsu Master.  I was one of the first and was able to survive for maybe 20 seconds, until he made me tap from the Mata Leao (Translation: The Lion Killer) or what is referred to now as the RNC or rear naked choke.

I was blown away with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu from that day, until now, and simply had to learn this ‘new way’ of fighting.  Rickson made it look so easy and effortless as he ‘tapped’ each person who wished to ‘roll’.  Looking back I would guess that he grappled for over an hour, with nobody lasting over a minute… Fascinating.

With that said, I followed Rickson Gracie, from afar, since that fateful day.  As I said, it changed my world.  I’ve been training since that day, with a few breaks for a divorce, a few moves, and several unrelated to BJJ knee surgeries….but I had the bug, and stuck with it.  

 The book Breathe: A Life in Flow is literally a walk down a history lane of one of the world’s greatest fighters. From his growing up in the ‘Gracie Family’, training with his brothers and cousins, the effect that Rolls Gracie and his father Helio Gracie had on him….. all the way up to being the being the cream of the crop in the Gracie fighting lineage.

The details of Rickson’s life are pretty cool, and his mental, physical, spiritual and emotional challenges and victories were greatly detailed…coming from the heart of one of the worlds toughest, yet humble men.

Rickson Gracie doesn’t know me from Adam’s house cat, but he changed my world. Over 27 years, I only trained with Rickson, via seminars, 3 times. Each time he was the same, very humble. After reading his book, I have even more respect for him, as he shares his inner being in such a direct, poignant and humble fashion.

I’m no book reviewer, but the fascination continues after reading Breathe by Rickson Gracie and Peter Maguire. Rickson Gracie, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and the Gracie Family continue to fascinate me, and challenges me to stay in the ‘fight’ of training and teaching BJJ as a Rigan Machado (Cousin of Rickson Gracie) BJJ Black Belt in Hendersonville, NC.

It’s been a nice ride these 27 years of training. I’ll never forget, when Rickson so easily tapped me with a RNC….his words when he took my back…..’Thank you for the early Christmas present’….and seconds later, I’m on the sideline watching this man, flow like water, and submitting every person in the gym.

I’m still amazed……… 

About the Author

Training in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu since 1994. 4th-Degree Rigan Machado Black Belt Instructor. Christian, Husband, Father, Grateful Small Business Owner.

Larry Shealy