Rickson Gracie Breathing Technique: Master the Art of Breathing

Last updated on 16.02.2023 by

One of the most important aspects of jiu jitsu training that many never seem to learn is the concept of breathing. The BJJ practitioner that’s most credited with pioneering the art of breathing is the legend Rickson Gracie.

Let’s go over the Rickson Gracie breathing technique and how you can master the art of breathing. We’ll detail how Rickson came up with his breathing method and the benefits of using the Gracie breathing method.

The Importance of Breathing in BJJ 

Breathing is arguably the most important aspect of BJJ training. You can be a great athlete, but if you don’t know how to breathe correctly while rolling, you’ll gas out quickly.

That is why learning to control your breathing under these stressful situations is a must. The ability to control your breathing allows you to relax, slow your heart rate, and strengthen your cardio.

When a BJJ student learns how to control their breathing, they’re able to elevate their game to another level. They’re able to train for longer without getting tired and really start to develop their technique.

Rickson Gracie Breathing Technique

Rickson Gracie Breathing Technique
Image Credit: Facebook / Rickson Academy

Who is most credited with stressing the importance of breathing in jiu jitsu is Master Rickson Gracie. Rickson credits taking the time to learn how to breathe properly for improving his abilities and making him a better fighter. Here’s how he learned his famous breathing technique.

Origins of Rickson Gracie’s Breathing Method 

Whenever Rickson is asked how he came up with his breathing method, he credits his friend Orlando Cani. Orlando Cani is a yogi that developed his own top of physical training called “Ginastica Natural”.

This method focuses on the importance of using natural body movements along with yoga and breathing techniques. By using the Ginastica Natural method, Rickson was able to learn his legendary breathing exercises.

Learning to breathe and strengthen his body through natural movements is what helped make Rickson a great fighter. It enabled him to fight for hours without getting tired.

How to Learn the Rickson Gracie Breathing Technique

Rickson believes that you can learn his breathing technique in a short time. You just need the proper instruction and put in the work and remember three important things.

The first thing you must learn in his breathing method is to first exhale. He believes, by exhaling through your mouth first before inhaling, empties your lungs and brings more oxygen into your lungs.

Rickson also believes by first exhaling, you take out your bad gas first before fresh oxygen comes in. When you have all natural gas, you’ll be able to train for a longer time span before getting tired.

Then, along with first exhaling, you will also need to practice breathing through your diaphragm. Most people learn to breathe at the top of their lungs, but never their full lung capacity.

Making this error shortchanges them and limits their ability to improve. By learning diaphragmatic breathing, it not only allows you to take in more oxygen, but also strengthens your lungs. 

To condition your lungs, you must breathe down to your diaphragm and use what is called percussive breathing. These are quick exhales/inhales repeated quickly for a short period of time to condition your lungs.

If you follow these three principles, you’ll learn the Rickson Gracing breathing method in no time.

What are the Benefits of Gracie Breathing

What makes the Gracie breathing method so effective is that it has numerous mental and physical benefits. Here are some of the best benefits from learning this breathing method.

Rickson Gracie Breathing Technique
Image Credit: Facebook / Rickson Academy

Mental Benefits 

The breathing method that Rickson uses allows your mental self to stay connected to your physical self. Using this type of breathing allows more oxygen to flow into your body.

Thanks to this extra oxygen entering your body, you’re able to have continued blood flow to your brain. Keeping you conscious and aware of what’s happening in front of you.

By having this mental clarity, you are able to make better decisions during a roll and keep yourself calm. The grappler that is able to keep this mind and body connection is able to perform at a higher level and usually performs better.

This improvement in mental conditioning is what separated the great athletes from the good athletes.

Physical Benefits

Due to the increase of oxygen in your lungs from using this breathing method, it will show almost immediate physical benefits. By having more oxygen in your body, blood will continue flowing into your muscles.

Enabling you to become bigger, stronger, and faster with better cardio over time. Just look at the success of Rickson as an athlete to see that this is a true statement.

Rickson Gracie Breathing Method vs. Wim Hof Breathing: What is the Difference?

There’s another type of breathing method that grapplers are turning to, and that’s the Wim Hof breathing method. Here are the differences between the Rickson Gracie and Wim Hof breathing method.

The Similarities of the Rickson Gracie and Wim Hof Breathing Method.

One of the biggest similarities that these two breathing methods share is the importance of breathing more deeply. They believe that most people are not reaching their full potential due to shallow breathing.

To get your body to work at 100% efficiency, your lungs must be filled to full capacity. Developing strong lungs through deep diaphragmatic will enable you to be stronger and train longer.

The other similarity that these types of breathing methods share is the use of yoga and natural movements. As you’re doing your breathing exercises, you should also move your body in a natural way in order to strengthen yourself.

When you’re moving your body and breathing in unison, it allows you to perform at a higher level. Which is why Rickson and Wim spent years developing their breathing techniques. They wanted to reach their full human potential and did so by learning to breathe.

The Differences Between Rickson and Wim Hof’s Methods

While the two breathing techniques may seem similar, they are actually very different from one another. Let me explain a few of the differences.

In Wim Hof’s method, you focus on inhaling first and expanding your lungs, then letting the air out. Emptying your lungs to a 50% capacity.

Rickson on the other hand focuses on exhales and contractions in his breathing technique. He then relaxes and refills his lungs to 50% capacity. Sort of reverse to what Hof teaches in his method.

What is the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique for?

There is another breathing technique that is more similar to Rickson’s and that’s the 4-7-8 breathing method. It’s a breathing pattern created by Dr. Andrew Weil.

Dr, Weil developed his breathing technique based on the breathing techniques taught within “pranayama.” A style of yoga that shares similarities with the style of yoga that Rickson learned from Orlando Cani.

In the 4-7-8 breathing method, you start with an exhale, just like in Rickson’s technique. Then exhale through your lips for a count of eight. Practice this cycle four times at first, and then work your way up to improve your breathing.


Learning is one of the most important aspects of BJJ. For your growth as a jiu jitsu practitioner, it’s extremely important that you understand the art of breathing. 

You should really consider using the Rickson Gracie breathing method or another proven, effective technique. It will not only improve your jiu jitsu game, but give you a better quality of life.