The name Hélio Gracie is not only synonymous with Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, but also the philosophies and way of life that comes along with it. He created a martial art that both challenged the stereotype of martial artists around the world and gave smaller, weaker practitioners a fighting chance.
Gracie’s influence off the mat is undeniable. Those who practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can wax poetic about how much their lives have changed because of it. The more they train, the more they realize that BJJ is so much more than just a martial art. There’s a reason why practitioners find it easy for them to devote years and years of their lives to BJJ.
Today, Evolve Daily has compiled 6 important life lessons we can learn from Hélio Gracie himself. Whether you are a BJJ practitioner or not, these lessons can also be applied to your daily life:
1. Disciplina (Discipline) :
Self-discipline involves taking control of our actions instead of giving power to other people and circumstances”
Gracie emphasized the importance of making the right decisions that would result in success in martial arts. When we choose to skip our Muay Thai classes in favor of sitting at home and watching TV, it is a conscious decision to let our laziness take control.
It is our responsibility to make the right decisions that will benefit us in the long run and ignore temptation to do otherwise.
2. Alavanca (Leverage) :
Jiu-jitsu is personal efficiency to protect those that are weak. It is the force of leverage against brute force.”
The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that Gracie created allowed smaller and weaker BJJ practitioners a fighting chance against their opponents. He emphasized the use of leverage, which meant using your opponent’s strength and weight against them.
Finding other ways and means to overcome the obstacles in our life is sometimes a necessity. As complicated as life is, we must realize that the answers might not always be so straightforward.
3. Respeito (Respect):
A tranquil man is tolerant. There is no reason for me to beat someone up if they call me names. This confidence is moral, not physical.”
Although Gracie was more than capable of taking on any opponent, he always believed that violence was never a solution to any problem. He chose to respect others and avoid conflict.
Instead of instantly being aggressive and angry, take a few seconds to calm down and re-evaluate your actions. You’ll find that this is a much better option than starting a fight.
4. Paciencia (Patience):
The quickest way to lose is trying to win.”
In order to be successful in BJJ, a large dose of patience is required. Gracie believed that personal growth and development was an essential part of BJJ. Not everyone has the patience to stick it out, sometimes causing them to give up or while in class, use strength and speed to overpower their opponent. The more you rely on your strength and speed, the less likely you’ll be able to learn techniques. Be patient and go with the flow.
5. Eficiencia (Efficiency) :
For the choke, there are no “tough guys”. With an arm lock he can be tough and resist the pain. With the choke he just passes out, goes to sleep.”
Gracie believed in utilizing techniques that were not only effective but efficient as well. This meant using minimal effort to achieve maximum results. One of these techniques was the choke – in one deft movement, Gracie was able to put his opponent to sleep. By assuming that your opponent is always bigger and stronger, you should always use techniques that require the least effort. This helps you conserve your own energy as well.
6. Coragem (Courage):
I never defeated anyone. I just helped them to defeat themselves.”
Sometimes, the biggest opponent you have is yourself. You may be unsure of what you are capable of because you keep doubting yourself and your abilities. For Gracie, learning BJJ gives its practitioners the confidence they need in themselves. Through training, you are able to achieve goals that you never thought was possible. All we needed to do was to believe in ourselves.
There’s no doubt that Gracie is truly a martial arts legend. He defeated many worthy opponents, including world-renowned Judokas and wrestlers. He braved shark-infested waters to save a man from drowning. Of all his accomplishments, what stands out is the legacy he started, the famous Gracie family. May he continue to be inspiration to us all.