Title: Breathe: A Life in Flow
Author: Rickson Gracie
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Audiobooks, Biographies, Martial arts, Sport
Format: Audiobook, Novel
My coach told me about this book and, after a bit of a delay, I decided to download and listen to the audiobook. I knew that it would be good and interesting. But I had no idea just how… unforgettable it would be. Not to mention seriously confusing, overwhelming and intense. I’ve always joked that BJJ is a bit of a cult – I didn’t quite realise how correct and true to reality that comment would be.
Listening to this story of the origins of BJJ and the history of the Gracie family while I was driving to and from BJJ training was definitely a bit of a surreal experience. I had some basic understandings of where the martial arts form comes from. And I had some understanding of the intricacies and politics of the Gracie family. But, honestly, until I read this – I didn’t realise that I just had no idea.
Although the focus on this biography is very much around fighting and martial arts, it also talks about family and love. Rickson Gracie talks about his (many, many) brothers, his father, his children, his wife… and all of it intertwined with his life and love of BJJ. There are many moments of wisdom and love that I took away from his story that I really wasn’t expecting. I know that BJJ was developed for those who are smaller and not necessarily stronger than their opponents. But I didn’t expect such a spiritual journey and attachment, such a beautiful acceptance of life in all of its glory and horrors.
For anybody who is interested in sports, spiritual wellbeing and the growth of an international phenomenon, this is the biography for you. I love that not only does Gracie talk about the origins of BJJ, his own family history, and his training, but the origins of UFC also take centre stage here. I honestly had no idea how intertwined BJJ was with UFC from the very beginning – I thought it was just something that had evolved over time. Definitely a book that I will be picking up again and again and again.
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