Rickson Gracie interview with TOOL frontman Maynard Keenan
This is a great read. I myself am a big TOOL fan so I was particularly interested
in reading this article when I heard that Maynard did an interview with Rickson
Gracie. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
Author: Maynard Keenan
A conversation with Gracie Jiu Jitsu Master Rickson Gracie and TOOL singer/songwriter,
Maynard James Keenan.
Rickson: Jiu Jitsu is like a philosophy. It helps me learn how to face life.
Maynard: In what way?
Rickson: In every way. To understand our society, to relate myself to people, to
compete in an actual self defense tournament, to feel confident to walk on the street
and to be able to help people, to be strong enough to forgive…
———Balancing the Scales of Justice——–
Maynard: Do you think it is better to avoid a fight rather than to provoke a fight?
Rickson: I believe that you must do what you believe you have to do. If I don’t
believe I should fight, I’m not gonna fight. My decision is based more on
my personal honor than it is on who I’m channeling my anger towards. For example,
if I see a guy smacking an old lady I’m going to do something about that.
I don’t care who it is. It’s a moral concern. I cannot live with this
on my mind without taking action just because I don’t know who it is. In cases
like this my honor, my dignity, and my moral code is much more important than my
——–Balancing Aggressive Nature with Physical Limitations——–
Steve: Do you think that Gracie Jiu Jitsu has something for the person who doesn’t
have a natural talent?
Rickson: Definitely. I can’t think of any one with less physical ability than
my father, Helio Gracie. When my father was twelve the doctor said that he couldn’t
do any exercise because of vertigo. If he ran 200 yards in a sprint, he would pass
out. But he is a very short tempered, tough guy. So with the impossibility of using
power while training with his uncle in Jiu Jitsu, he was forced to develop his own
technique thus balancing his inability. We like to say that Einstein was to mathematics
what Helio Gracie is to Jiu Jitsu. He totally invented 80 percent of the Jiu Jitsu
we have today. Leverage and sensitivity and using the opponent’s energy against
himself are basic to Jiu Jitsu, but the application of these principles was never
done in the way my father developed them. My father broke the mold. He initiated
a different perspective. It used to be that when someone told you, “hey, there’s
a tough guy coming here to kick your ass,” you imagine this big guy with and
ugly face. He’s 280 pounds and has big fists. You don’t imagine a guy
who weighs 135 pounds.
——–Balancing Wants and Needs——–
Maynard: I don’t know if you realize how significant it is but, seeing your
whole family showing up in support of Royce at the UFC is a very moving image for
many people. It seems that you don’t see that kind of family love and pride
Rickson: Especially in the big cities. People don’t make the time to give to
each other. I think that’s just a sign of our times. Smart are the ones who
try to preserve those old elements. People today just want to make money. I understand
that and respect that but… I find myself in a very fortunate position because
I love what I’m doing and I’m good at it. So I make a living.
Maynard: It seems that here in the states, people are more concerned with doing something
to make money than they are with doing what it is that they love to do. They decide
that money is the goal and then begin to figure out what they’ve got to do
to get it. They forget to listen to themselves to find out what it is they really
are not only best suited for but are passionate about as well.
Rickson: Yes. I think exactly the opposite. You need to make money but it should
never be the priority. What you like to do is what you should try your best at doing.
The money is gonna come. That’s the way people really get rich, you know?
They just enjoy what they do and the money comes in some way. It’s the same
with the work out. Some people think that the workout is to increase heartbeats
or flexibility or endurance or coordination. So they make up exercises to improve
one of more of these areas. When I’m doing exercise, what I’m trying
to do is meditate. Get in a state that I feel a balance between body, mind, and
spirit. It’s just enjoyment. When I train in Jiu Jitsu I don’t have
a clock in mind. I’m just feeling and flowing. When playing or surfing or
hiking there are no timings or special rules. If you love it you just get into it
with your whole body. You don’t care that it’s exercise.
Maynard: …and the endurance comes.
Rickson: I can’t imagine going on a stair master or lifting weights or whatever
to get in shape.
——–Balancing the Diet——–
Maynard: I heard that the Gracies also follow a specific diet.
Rickson: Yes. It doesn’t have as much to do with what or how much you eat as
it does with how you combine your foods. You can eat vegetables, fruit, rice, beans,
meat, or whatever. But the most important thing is the food combinations. The digestive
process is the biggest workout your body does on a daily basis. You use energy to
digest. You can save energy by choosing foods that digest better in certain combinations,
and you can absorb more nutrients and gain more energy by choosing food that use
compatible enzymes to digest.
Maynard: So in the reverse…if you eat something that is difficult to digest
and has no nutritional value…
Rickson: Exactly. You waste even more energy. We are not cows. We don’t have
to eat all day long to maintain. We eat, digest, absorb, then rest. For me, I think
three meals a day is enough. I spend at least four hours in between without anything
Maynard: A very traditional Brazilian dish is black beans and rice, but in your diet
this is a bad combo.
Rickson: That’s right. What you really want to fight in your body is the fermentation
process. Fermentation basically is a bad combination between acids you produce to
digest your food. For example, when you eat rice, your mouth produces specific acids
to break down the rice so your stomach can begin the digestive process. When you
eat ice cream, or an apple, or watermelon juice, your mouth produces completely
different acids. And that can create a bad chemical reaction in your body. You feel
heavy or sluggish which is not good. It’s not only uncomfortable, it’s
——–Balancing Perspective/Points of View——–
Rickson: I believe that you should have an evolutionary point of view. You must meditate,
you must pray, you must be thankful, you must give. I think those things are very
important spiritually for you to be at peace with yourself. Once you’ve tried
to improve spiritually, physically, and mentally your are in a good way. Even if
I lost my two legs now I don’t think that it would make me lose the sense
of life. Of course I’m not gonna be a fighter anymore, but I’m able
to allow myself to do other things. I’m gonna try to swim. I’m gonna
try to surf. I don’t know what else, but I’m definitely going to still
be in love with life and learning. I’ve always wanted to learn how to play
the piano, but I’ve never had the time. Or play the guitar. So many things.
Some people have legs and they don’t use them because they’ve focused
on something else. I think every bad thing has a good way to look at it. Of course
I love to do what I’m doing, but if I get sick…understand? The mind
is so beautiful and so wild and you can have so many different things. There’s
always a good side to everything. Nothing is totally desperate. Like “Oh…I
lost my job.” You lost your job? Go to the beach, man. Get some waves.
Maynard: If you have a clear mind like that, and if you have confidence in life and
in yourself you’re going to get fed.
Rickson: Definitely. You can’t be negative all the time.
Maynard: You can, but don’t expect for things to come to you very easily.
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