A Training Program based on Rickson’s storied career (part 2)

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[First published in 2010. Scroll down for plain text. Continued from here.]

[Wanna learn self-defense straight from Rickson Gracie? You can!]


Cristiano Marcello, 31, was a Rickson student since he started

out in Jiu-Jitsu. Now commanding his own team in Curitiba, CM

System, the black belt highlighted the basic positions he incorporated into his game, and which may be easily adapted to no-gi

Jiu-Jitsu. “His pure Jiu-Jitsu is the basics performed to perfection,

thanks to details like always being glued to your adversary. Nowadays it’s fundamental to reinforce the value of Rickson’s basic Jiu-Jitsu, especially these days when folks in championships neglect

the fundamental positions and do everything but origami with their

gis,” says Cristiano.


1) Armbar from the mount

With your shoulder pressuring your adversary’s head and your

knee trapping his hips, start from side control to put a good deal

of pressure on the opponent’s upper body. Without ever raising

your hips, which should work independently from your upper

body, quash your opponent’s movement and slide your knee for

the mount. After faking a choke, keep the pressure on: plant your

foot at his side, reach side mount and grab the arm.


2) Sweep with choke

Grabbing the sleeves from the top of the arm, roll them up and pull

your opponent to you. With your hooks, start the motion to sweep

your adversary as in an overhead sweep, over your head, obliging

him to concern himself with his balance. Gently, though, you will

tip him to the side of the arm being held and mount. the trick to

the choke, observes Cristiano, is not the total strength in the grip,

but in the continuous pressure of the squeeze: “Rickson teaches

that in choking you use the weight of your back and shoulders in

unison, and not just your fingers. thus he is able to stay on top

for hours, till it sinks.”


3) MMA position

“Rickson’s stomp,” says Cristiano, “is very effective both in attack

and defense.” it is with a stomp that the Gracie tends to distance

his adversary, and keep the distance; but that is also how Rickson

measures the distance to close – and thus attack, clinch the waist

and get the takedown. before using the hook to get in for the

takedown, there is another vital detail: the head goes to the side

opposite the hooked leg. With that, besides you not hitting your

head on the ground, you avoid elbows, guillotines or any blows

to the face. upon landing in the mount, turn sideways, plant your

right foot on the ground and keep your knee snug against the guy’s

head, with everything tight so as not to lose side mount.



Fabio Gurgel never forgets two times he’s trained with Rickson,

both in California. “Once we were training and we’d been rolling

for a half hour non-stop. I must confess I was dead tired. I’d held

on to each position for dear life, since I knew I wouldn’t be able to

replace guard if I’d lost them. I looked at him and saw he was chill,

as though we’d only just started right then. In the end he got me

and, to my surprise, he dropped to the side exhausted, as did I. That

was another lesson he taught me. If you can’t disguise what you’re

feeling in a match, your adversary will use it against you.”

The second story shows a bit of how Rickson views Jiu-Jitsu,

in the general’s opinion. “The X-guard had just been created and

there was a huge discussion on how to get out of it. When I showed

it to him, what he was interested in was how I was going to make

him get into that guard…”


1) escape from side control

“Rickson is a master of getting out from the bottom,” recalls Gurgel, before demonstrating an escape with his brown belt Helio. on

bottom, extend your left arm while bridging. the extended arm

pushes your adversary’s head and opens up room for escape. With

the space, slip your hip to the left, control your adversary’s right

arm and complete the spin in the same direction till on your knees,

controlling your opponent’s back.



2) escape from armbar

With your opponent positioned for an armbar, sink a protective grip on your own lapel

with your right hand, and put your left hand

on your forehead. now you do a “comb-your-hair-backwards” movement, which opens

up room between your body and your rival’s

leg, at which moment you shimmy to lift

your body and land in guard.


3) Side control reversal

With your opponent in side control, perform a bridge to open up space. next, slip

your hip to the left and throw your legs to

the right. in the space created by the legs

placed at the side, project your rival with

the grip with your left hand on his collar

till you land in side control, consolidating

the reversal.


Raphael Abi-Rihan, 28, doesn’t miss a Rickson Gracie seminar.

“My vision of Jiu-Jitsu changed,” he reflects. “But what was most

special was when my students noticed how my class evolved a lot.”

A black belt since 2002, Abi feels Rickson’s lessons certainly helped

in his memorable campaign on his way to winning gold at the 2009

Brazilian Nationals, which culminated in his submission of Tarsis

Humphreys. “It was the greatest moment in my career till now,” he

says, warning that he wants more.


1) Rear-naked-choke hooks

Abi-Rihan starts by highlighting the role of the hooks in the rear-naked-choke. notice how he uses his feet to stretch the torso and

lift the adversary’s neck, increasing the choke’s efficacy


2) Arms in the rear-naked-choke

it is important that the rear-naked-choke is performed in continuous motion, otherwise you telegraph the impending move and the

opponent may grab your arms to hinder you. So the trick is to send

your arm through behind the head, grabbing the shoulder while

your hand goes in behind the neck.



3) hip slip in conjunction with ground

Raphael Abi-Rihan closes by showing a basic jiu-jitsu move often

used as warm-up, but which a lot of people perform wrong. “i finally learned that the secret to expending less energy is to move

the hip with the force of the feet on the mat, and then slip the hip

with as great an amplitude as possible,” as he demonstrates alone

and, afterwards, escaping from side control, in two angles for you

to notice the foot movement.

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