Choke

“Choke” is a behnd-the-scenes look at Rickson Gracie’s, world. Most agree (with a record of 400+ wins and no defeats) that Rickson is the best jiu jitsu fighter ever. Some argue he’s the most dominant athlete ever.

In Choke, Gracie confronts Japan’s best (including “The Giant Slayer” Yuki Nakai) in the Vale Tudo Japan tournament.

From Rickson’s ritual of meditating in icy rivers to the heart-wrenching concern in his wife’s eyes, you’re pulled into the soul of this highly efficient fighter.

I rank “Choke” #3 in My List of Best M.M.A. Documentaries (I’m up to 14 of them!).

Thanks to Joe Rogan for the tip (he calls “Choke” “One of the greatest documentaries in history…absolutely for martial arts”.

Choke Trailer

The Choke trailer above is, to my memory, the first 4 minutes and 40 seconds of the documentary

Where to Watch the Choke Documentary

April 26, 2024 update: I just found a link to watch the full Choke documentary for free.

Watch it here: https://archive.org/details/bjjdocs/Choke+-+(A+Rickson+Gracie+Documentary).mp4

If the link above doesn’t work, try going to https://archive.org/details/bjjdocs# and you should then see video #4 saying “Choke – A Rickson Gracie Documentary” (1:38:27)

I watched Choke on YouTube (but it’s gone for now)

Choke used to be streaming on YouTube (that’s where I watched it). But there’s now a note on that video that says NBC Universal has “blocked it…on copyright grounds”.

Hey NBC Universal, please sell the Choke doc to Netflix!

Make sure to check in here to see if Choke gets added to a streaming platform: https://www.justwatch.com/us/movie/choke-1999

In the meantime, I’ve included the best clips re: Choke and Hickson Gracie from YouTube below:

Watch the first 10 Minutes “Choke”

This appears to be the first 10 minutes of the Choke documentary:

Watch Rickson Gracie’s workout (from Choke) (4 min.)

This is a scene of Rickson Gracie’s workout routine:

Watch Joe Rogan and Edward Norton Talk About Hickson Gracie (9 min. 52 secs)

Edward Norton Hickson Gracie (of Choke) to be in The Incredible Hulk movie with him. Hickson played an Aikido instructor. Here’s Norton talking to Rogan about his history with the Gracies.

Watch Hickson Gracie teach Edward Norton how to breath (from The Incredible Hulk) (1 min.)

Vitals

  • **Genre:** Martial Arts
  • **Released:** 1999
  • **Director:** Robert Goodman
  • **Duration:** 98 minutes

My Favorite Parts (Includes Spoiler Alerts!)

  • Rickson Gracie quote: “I believe intelligence and fear are very close together. Guys say ‘I’m not afraid of anything’ — he’s stupid, he’s silly for me. It’s something that doesn’t fit into my mentality. I’m afraid of everything.”
  • “The lack of rules (in Jiu Jitsu) is a rule itself” — Koichiro Kimura (The Japanese fighter )
  • Fighter Todd Hayes on how many non-competitive fights he’s been in: ” A low estimate probably 75 to 100 street fights…no holds barred street fights.” Todd’s goal away from fighting is to make the olympic bobsledding team. Part of the reason for him to fight in Japan is he’s guaranteed enough money to buy a sled and “fund his olympic dream”.
  • Rickson Gracie: “Without jiu-jitsu, it’s worse than cutting off both my lefts. It’s gonna be all my philosophy, all my values. It’s hard to understand myself without jiu-jitsu.”
  • Choke shows Rickson’s training. It includes somersaults on the beach, climbing stairs, tying an elastic band to his head and walking forward, fire-breathing, meditation.
  • When Hickson arrives in Japan, his training includles sitting in a cold river “almost to the point of “surrender”…”almost to the point where you wanna die…the pain disappears and it’s just pleasure…it’s very nice.” Rickson doesn’t have sex during the last 2 weeks of training. “By having sex, you waste a lot of energy…the vital energy goes away….you want to acculumate energy.” Rickson points out that race horses are not allowed to have sex until they have finished racing.
  • A few days before the big fight, Rickson’s wife says she worries that the only way Rickson loses is if he falls unconscious or dies. In the finals, Rickson faces the smallest fighter in the match, Tokoyo-based Yuki Nakai (“The Giant Slayer”) whose 2 eyes are nearly shut from the previous fight’s beatings. Before the fight, Rickson tells his family he may not hit Nakai (perhaps out of compassion for him because Nakai’s face is so beaten-up). Update on this: Rickson later told Tom Bilyeu of Impact Theory that he thought he should be “gentle” because he’s more technical than Nakai and can win.
  • Rickson said the Japanese, after the fight, recognized this “kindness” which is more “the spirit of the true samarai”. Gracie easily wins the final match and is, once again, crowned champion.
  • He earns $60,000 along with a huge trophy nearly as big as him. Todd Hayes earns enough to get his bob sled.
  • I learned this after watching Choke: Gordeau’s foul play and Nakai’s decision to forgo medical care left Nakai blind in his right eye. This led to his MMA retirement. To safeguard the sport’s reputation, he and Sayama concealed his blindness for years. Source: Wikipedia
  • In 2019, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Netflix working on an MMA movie centering on Rickson Gracie and another Jiu Jitsu great ( Mitsuyo Maeda) that will likely be called Dead or Alive.

Thanks for reading!

-Rob Kelly