I’ve always been a fan of history. I love the facts behind how or why something or someone came to be. In Jiu-Jitsu, there just hasn’t been enough of it so when came across this book I jumped at the opportunity to read it right away. My first book review is “Worth Defending: How Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Saved My Life” by Richard Bresler and Scott Burr.
The book itself is a first hand account of Richard’s journey from lost drug addict to Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt under Rorion Gracie. After a chance meeting, Richard becomes Rorion’s first student in America. On this journey you’re taken from the various steps that the art took before finally gaining national prominence in America. Richard was fortunate enough to be at nearly every key moment in the growth of the art. He details the Gracie garages, the challenge matches that he witnesses, the Gracie In Action tapes, the creation of the first Academy, and down to the early UFC.
“No one did more to help my dad – and my family’s art – establish a foothold in the US than Richard Bresler. From the garages to the original Academy to the UFC, Richard was there doing whatever he could to make it happen. Anyone training Jiu-Jitsu in America today owes Richard Bresler their thanks.”Rener Gracie
What I love most about this book is how genuine Richard is with his account. For example, he describes a moment after a class where he walked to his car after a frustrating training session as a White Belt and cried. He hears a tap tap on the window and looks up to see Rorion at his window. The exchange they end up having changes his perspective about what happens and encourages him to continue training.
It was a scene that many of us could relate to, where we feel so much the nail that we don’t ever feel like we can somehow be the hammer at some point. The difference between then and now is that it genuinely took forever to be promoted. The details that Richard provides on how different everything used to be are a fantastic reminder of the growth of the sport and martial art.
“Richard is definitely one of the pillars of Jiu-Jitsu in America.”Grandmaster Rorion Gracie
Richard Bresler is an unknown figure to most of the Jiu-Jitsu community, myself included until this book, so my hope is that this book sheds some much needed light on how much of an integral figure he really is. He deserves the recognition and praise. So, if you are a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner or even the fan of the UFC, I highly recommend this book.