‘Breathe’ is a close view of the enduring legacy of BJJ legend Rickson Gracie and his way of facing life with grace.
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1958, Rickson Gracie is considered the most athletic and talented direct son of Helio Gracie, the father of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a ground fighting technique that became one of the world’s most prominent martial arts. In his autobiography, Breathe: A Life in Flow, released in August, Rickson tells what it was like growing up Gracie and how he and his many brothers and cousins have grown the family tradition into a global phenomenon embraced by everyone from MMA fighters to Hollywood actors to suburban kids across America.
Undefeated from the late 1970s through his final fight in the Tokyo Dome in 2000, Rickson was widely known as the best fighter of the Gracie clan and one of the toughest individuals in the world. He’s been training since he was six, received his black belt by 18, and amassed hundreds of victories over the years which put him in the pantheon that includes Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and Jackie Chan as one of the most famous martial artists of the twentieth century.
In Breathe, Rickson shares his full story, from fighting on the beaches of Rio and in the rings worldwide, to the principles and philosophy that helped him to overcome a great tragedy in his life, and the aftermath of that trauma.
Rickson hasn’t fought for two decades now. He was set to go against top Japanese MMA fighter Kazushi Sakuraba in a highly anticipated fight, when his oldest son, Rockson, died of a drug overdose soon after moving to New York to pursue a modeling career. The Sakuraba bout fell through, and Gracie never fought professionally again.
“My big mission now is to not just prepare a small group of people to kick ass in tournaments. There are a lot of beneficial aspects of jiu-jitsu regardless of kicking butt in a fight. My biggest goal now is to win without a fight.” he said in an interview to GQ.
With never-before-seen photos and profound insights into the sport and lifestyle, Breathe is part of a campaign to cement Rickson Gracie legacy as the greatest of all time, which includes the 1999’s documentary Choke and the upcoming Netflix documentary called Dead or Alive, directed by José Padilha (Elite Squad, Narcos), with no release date yet.
Watch below Rickson Gracie’s interview for Impact Theory:
Photo: Daniel Carettoni / Courtesy of Rickson Academy