Filmed by Samuel Rivera, “Embraced” is an insight from BJJ black belt Ricardo Almeida into how Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu changed himself, and what’s the impact of the martial arts on people’s life, in general. Watch the short documentary above and read the transcript below:
“I’ve been a black belt for almost 20 years now. A black belt under Renzo Gracie. Started training at Gracie Barra back in 1992. I started training Jiu-Jitsu because my dad wanted me and my brother to learn how to defend ourselves. As a boy in Rio, you’re going to end up fighting someone. One way or another or you’re going to get pushed around, so he wanted us to feel comfortable defending ourselves.
“Jiu-Jitsu was beginning to take place and to be a lot more known in Brazil but it still had a stigma from some of the Jiu-Jitsu guys would get into fights on the streets, and it was a smaller community. So you had that sort of like hearsay, “Those Jiu-Jitsu guys they get into fights every time they go out” and it wasn’t the case at all. I think everyone in my family has the concern that almost every parent has. If my child learns martial arts, is he going to become aggressive? It’s not the case at all.
“It becomes an instrument for you to become a better person. The way you see the world, the way you interact with the world comes from the lessons and the practice that we have in the martial arts and I think as a martial arts community we have a long way to go because if my parents were worried about this over 25 years ago when I started training and it’s still a concern, how come we’re not doing a better job educating the people who don’t train? That this is amazing. That this is incredible. How come parents are still more comfortable bringing kids to soccer instead of Jiu-Jitsu or other martial arts when martial arts offer benefits above and beyond, you know, just the physical benefits that let’s say a soccer or baseball practice would offer?
“Jiu-Jitsu mirrors life, and in some ways, life mirrors a physical battle. I think that how Jiu-jitsu has changed me and how I believe Jiu-Jitsu changes people is it gives you a very vivid and deeper sense of who you are as a person. It’s shown me strengths that I could never imagine that I had. It’s also shown me shortcomings that should’ve been more evident, and through Jiu-Jitsu I can work on them and be a little bit more pleasant with the people around me. I think that most people walk through this world and they create these personas. Like you see this on social media.
“A lot of people that we see on social media that’s not who they are. They create this character that it’s either super tough or super successful or travels to the coolest places in the world and that’s not who they really are if you meet them in person. They’re not interesting. They don’t really have much to say with substance. Most people, social media or not, we create these fake characters that in some ways allow us to go through life a little bit safer and with Jiu-Jitsu it’s the opposite. You embrace confrontation and you embrace discomfort and you embrace coming up short and you work from there.
“Any little progress in Jiu-Jitsu is always going to start with a step back. Even from the most basic Jiu-Jitsu techniques that you’re going to learn. Let’s say that you walk into a Jiu-Jitsu school. First, you learn how to fall, then you learn how to get up. All the entire self-defense curriculum. First, you neutralize your opponents attack then you think about your own offense.
“I think that when you look at the most fundamental aspects of Jiu-Jitsu when you look at and I know I’m using metaphors here when you look at how it changes people is it changes them because they learn how to fall and get up. They learn to accept failure as a part of progress. They learn to accept discomfort as a work in progress. A little bit of personal sacrifice now to get something that you really want later. We all get a deeper sense of who you are and we learn our weaknesses and we try to remove them and we improve on our strengths and we just help the people around us achieve the similar or same goals that we have and that’s kind of how we all move forward.”