Winning vs. Not Being Beat

Here is a good story that I read in Saulo Ribeiro's new book "Jiu-Jitsu University." The book is one of the best Brazilian jiu jitsu books that I have read and I thought his story about Helio and surviving was great!

When I was out in California training at the Gracie Academy I almost met Helio a couple times. One time I arrived a day late and another he came a few weeks after I had gone home. Too bad that I missed him...who knows though maybe our paths will cross sometime, someplace...

Well anyway, here's Saulo's story:

The last time I trained with Helio Gracie was a truly memorable experience and is to this day the most important class I ever had on Jiu-Jitsu. What struck me most was how Helio addressed me. He did not hold me in awe for my titles or championships, and what he said more than surprised me. He said, "son, you're strong, you're tough, you're a world champion, but I don't think you can beat me." At the time I just looked at him sideways in disbelief. After all, how could a ninety-year-old beat someone who is in his athletic prime? It was at this moment that I realized how he deftly put all the responsibility on me to defeat him. This is the key to Helio; he never says he will beat you, only that you will not beat him.

This is important because he believes he will survive. His survival has nothing to do with perfect timing or strength. Instead, it has everything to do with mastering the defensive aspects of jiu-jitsu. He didn't say he would escape from my position, or that he would do anything else. He said he would survive.

The result of our training only validated that fact. Helio did survive, and I was not able to impose my game on him. Helio proved to me the importance of survivability and the defensive nature of jiu-jitsu. Furthermore, I took from him one of the greatest lessons ever: It is not enough to be able to defeat all of your challengers. To be able to tell any man that he cannot defeat you is to wield true power.

~Saulo Ribeiro


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