One of the most respected names in the Jiu-Jitsu scene, Fábio Gurgel remains attentive to the development of the new coronavirus, classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). So far this pandemic  has infected more than 8 million people and killed 445 thousand worldwide.

Em seu site oficial – ou nas redes sociais -, o “General” da Alliance vem atualizando os fãs e praticantes da arte suave sobre o tema.  E depois de informar sobre os cuidados básicos e ressaltar a importância de, mesmo durante o isolamento (em casa), manter uma rotina e fazer dela a melhor possível, desta vez Gurgel falou sobre a relação entre “risco x consequência”, fazendo um paralelo com o momento atual.

On his official website – or on his social media networks – the Alliance’s “General” has been updating fans and practitioners of Jiu-Jitsu on the topic of the pandemic. Fabio is not only informing about basic healthcare, but also emphasising the importance of maintaining a routine even during isolation (at home). Fabio Gurgel also spoke about the relationship between “risk x consequence”, whilst making a parallel with the current global pandemic.

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Some time ago, I heard the question: ‘What is the difference between risk and consequence?’ I confess that I had difficulty in answering this, because even having lived my whole life in this sport, dealing with adrenaline, defeats, victories, joys, sadness, anxiety, nervousness, confidence or lack of it, I had never stopped to think about this question of isolation.

I like to practice stoic exercises, I like being focused on the things I can control and not worry about the things I can’t. This is a daily exercise for me. I can’t always do it, but as everything in life is training, I keep practicing and although hard work, I can feel my evolution.

When we take this concept to our daily challenges, it becomes even more important. Let’s use a Jiu-Jitsu fight analogy. What is your best chance to win a fight? Probably by bringing your your opponent into your game plan, trying to mislead him and capitalising on his error. Using your best technique to finish the fight… I correct?

Well then, if I need to bring my opponent into my game plan, it implies that I have to take some action, which is in my control. Your opponent’s reactions start to be more predictable as he reacts to something you know. Again, it’s up to me to know how to act and connect the next technique to take the fight under my control until the end.

For things to be under your control , you need to generate actions and these actions have consequences. Your focus should be just that, as it will minimise risks. Conceptually, risk is composed of probability and consequence. The more you train, the more you know the dangers, and are able to deal with them, minimising the risks.

I watched a documentary about the climber, Alex Honnold. He participates in a form of climbing called ‘free solo’, which means climbing mountains alone, and most surprisingly, without any type of equipment. In this documentary, his challenge is the most frightening mountain Yosemite (USA), a vertical wall. The few climbers that have managed to completed the route, did so with equipment and took 30 hours.

Alex defines his climbing route, studies the route in detail, trains each section, each footprint, separates all the stages of the climb, exhaustively trains the technique in each stage, memorising all the footprints and all the cracks in the path. He then trains, trains and trains, until he masters each movement to perfection.

Another element that can be works with intensity, is concentration. This is  essential for a challenge like this. It allows you to focused on technique, it’s an exercise in cleaning your thoughts, you control your breathing and connects you with the mountain and your mission to conquer it. Where most would see an opponent, he sees a just a necessary obstacle to reach his goal. Often asked about the risk of dying by journalists and fans in general, Alex explained very clearly and conceptually, the danger of getting the technique wrong.

As risk equals probability x consequence, if they trains a lot, the probability of making a mistake is low. This explanation made me reflect and see this difference much more clearly. Let’s look at the moment we are currently living in, where people are dividing into two groups: those who do not believe in risk and those who are afraid of the consequence.

Let’s look at other facts to create a correlation: 1.35 million people die every year from car accidents (WHO data), even with safety rules and equipment in vehicles that help a lot to minimise the deaths. The numbers are scary, but do you stop taking your car, do you stop driving because of it? Or worse, do you stop getting in the car when someone else is driving?

Probably not. Even though you know that there is a risk, you understand that it is reasonably controlled and that, even if a hit happens, it still has a low rate of causing you serious damage. Even though the consequence of a high speed accident may be fatal.

In Brazil, there are more than 60,000 murders a year, a shameful and scary number. Even though you know this, do you not leave your home to go to work or have fun? Probably do leave your home, because you understand that taking security measures can minimise the likelihood of something happening, reducing risks and not having to worrying so much about the consequence.

If we look at the current global pandemic caused by Covid-19, we see a frightening number of deaths, and this brings us insecurity and fear. Looking a little more at the statistics, I understand that the risk is controllable, and as with violence or car accidents, if we take preventive safety measures, we can lead our “normal” lives and live with the risk that the virus imposes on us.

What can we control? Our health, what we eat can strengthen our immune system, doing physical activity, can help us have positive thoughts. Get out of the mind frame of anxiety and worry, that are normally linked to factors beyond our control, and that are responsible for our fears and insecurities.

We can go back to the beginning of the text and do the parallel with Jiu-Jitsu and fighting. Our pre-tournament nervousness is always linked to anxiety and movements that we are not in control. Being healthy is, without a doubt, the best defence against the virus and this is, in most cases, within your control.

People who carry a pre-existing disease or are more vulnerable should be very careful and perhaps remain in isolation for a longer time until we have a vaccine or the virus is no longer with us. But if you are not in this range, if you are young, healthy and productive, do not let yourself be overcome by the consequence and focus on working on prevention and living better with this risk. And if it makes sense for you, then live. After all, we don’t know whats happening tomorrow and we need to live in the present as it is.

Stay Strong,

Fábio Gurgel