of Team Alliance
Motte, posted 26 July 2002
recently attended a Brazilian jiu jitsu seminar
taught by Romero 'Jacare' Cavalcanti (http://www.alliancebjj.com
) and hosted by Professor Luis 'Sucuri' Togno
at his academy - Sucuri Jiu-jitsu (http://www.sucuribjj.com
) - located in Charlotte North Carolina. The
seminar was awesome and very informational
and Professor Togno has a wonderful academy
with a lot of really good students to train
seminar consisted of a short 15 minute stretching
warm up, followed by over 3 hours of intense
technique training, followed by some mat time
where students could "roll" and
try to practice the techniques they had just
learned. Jacare and Sucuri were both extremely
skilled, helpful and very friendly. Both instructors
took a lot of time with the individual students
to answer questions and to observe that the
students were performing every detail of the
the seminar I had the opportunity to interview
Jacare as well as photograph one of the techniques
which is featured on this site.
When and why did you start training in Brazilian
Jacare: I grew
up in Copacabana in a tough neighborhood and
because I was very active playing soccer,
volleyball and body surfing I felt I needed
to learn jiu jitsu to defend myself, I was
a skinny kid and you know I had to survive,
plus I grew up with the Gracies and it was
love for the art as soon as I saw how well
it worked in a real situation.
made you choose Atlanta Georgia for your academy?
I went to Miami for a while then had an invitation
to open one school in Atlanta by Dr. John
Keating a guy that owned MARS. a company similar
to the UFC. in 1996 and after passing some
difficulties in the beginning everything started
to go well and here I am.
do you consider to be your greatest influence
in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and why?
Jacare: The biggest
influence in my opinion was ROLLS GRACIE he
transformed the old jiu jitsu into the one
the world knows today.
I have noticed that in a lot of martial arts
schools in various styles other than Brazilian
Jiu-jitsu, the higher belts and instructors
appear more as 'figure heads' within the academy,
you never really see them doing anything to
put their skills on the line so to speak.
In Brazilian Jiu-jitsu it seems the opposite
is true. Every academy I have visited and
every seminar I have attended, the black belt
instructor seems to be in excellent shape,
training constantly, and always gets out on
the mat and grapples with the students. There
seems to be the necessity for the Brazilian
Black Belt instructors to continuously prove
their skills instead of just SAYING that they
are skilled. Why do you think there is this
Jacare: In BJJ.
the mat time is very important and I don't
know any real black belt that doesn't have
to keep himself in shape and roll with the
students on a regular basis, of course we
have some that receive their belts because
they mean business to the instructor, that
I don't know, but a real one that really loves
and spends the right amount of time to receive
the belt from a QUALIFIED INSTRUCTOR doesn't
care to much about the belt, just on getting
better and learning the real thing.
When the Brazilians first came into the mixed
martial arts scene, they took the world by
storm -- beating every other stylist with
ease much to everyone's surprise. Now, I hear
comments that Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has leveled
out or may even be on the decline, since other
fighters have made a come back and started
beating the Brazilians. However, my observation
is that these other fighters have started
training in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in order to
accomplish these wins. So, I am not clear
what these fighters are bragging about since
THEY are using Jiu-jitsu to improve their
game. What is your opinion on this?
Jacare: My opinion
on this matter is before it was about which
martial art is more effective and jiu jitsu
proved to provide more tools than any other
art then with all fighters learning BJJ.and
some being experienced in other styles as
well we don't have nothing to prove anymore
but if you look at the best NHB. fighters
you will see some of the best like Rodrigo
Minotauro, Murilo Bustamante, BJ. Penn, Shaolin
and others are primarily BJJ. experts.
are a lot of tournaments popping up everywhere
for the grappling arts. It seems that every
one you go to has a different set of rules.
How do you feel about this and what rules
do you prefer to 'play by'? What rules are
the most advantageous for a traditional Brazilian
we have been having grappling tournaments
since 1970 in Brazil and we've developed very
good rules that if enforced by good referees
it's just perfect, but a lot people here try
to make their own rules it's valid to experience
new things but we have to be very careful
not to dilute the art otherwise in a little
while it's gonna be difficult to control,
you know, look what they did to the traditional
Karate now they have American Karate, Bla
Bla Karate etc... JiuJitsu is Jiu Jitsu we
perfected in Brazil but then we don't call
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu there, we call Jiu Jitsu
and that's it.
How do the tournaments in America compare
to those in Brazil?
Jacare: In Brazil
they are bigger with more competitors, we
have been doing longer there than here and
we are more organized already, but things
are growing here, in a few years it's gonna
be the same, if the real instructors get together
and plan things well.
I saw your Team Alliance compete at the Pro-Ams
2000 in Raleigh NC and most recently at the
ISCF Submission Grappling Tournament in Simpsonville
SC. The rules at these two tournaments were
about as different as you could possibly get,
however, your team dominated at both events.
How do you train them to be so diverse?
Jacare: If you
are a good instructor and know what you are
doing the rules don't matter too much, we
adapt to them, so since I started to teach
on my own in 1985 my Alliance Team has been
very successful always winning many types
of tournaments no matter what: sport jiu jitsu,
no gi, NHB. submissions you name and we always
do well, it is what you train, who do you
train with and the tradition you carry what
makes the difference and of course some secrets
you will just find out if you train with us.
I was very impressed with your fighters skills
and also their apparent comradery . They seem
more like a 'family' than individual Fighters.
Is this something that YOU promote and instill
into your team?
what some people say we are a real family,
we care for each other, we train together,
we do a lot of things together too, and I
try my best to instill a good team spirit,
so we are very close to each other, we really
Team Alliance is world recognized as the most
formidable fighters to go up against, some
of the most technical fighters, and one of
the most successful winning teams. What factors
do you feel are the most important contributing
influence on the success of your competition
Jacare: As I
said before I came from a good background
my teacher was Rolls Gracie a legend and I
put many years to study and train with the
best, now I'm just collecting what I planted
before, I have graduated some of the best
fighters in the world, is more than 35 years
dedicated to train and teach the art, jiu
jitsu is my passion, is my life.
You are renown for being one of the best available
instructors in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and also
as one of the best coaches in the world. Some
people are good instructors but can't coach,
some the other way around, how is it different
being a coach versus being an instructor?
Which do you enjoy doing the most?
Jacare: I enjoy
both going to the school everyday or going
to a tournament makes no difference to me
when you love what you do, is the way of life
I choose to live, jiu jitsu is what makes
me wake up everyday and feel alive.
your fighters compete - they never look as
if they get tired or out of breathe, or nervous
& tense. They are always relaxed and focused.
It has to be grueling training to maintain
the superior physical fitness and the mental
focus level they appear to have. How do you
motivate your team to train this hard and
maintain the level of dedication required
we train hard everyday, the level of my classes
are very high, I try to push my students to
do their best in class, so when we compete
is just another day, they are prepared for
everything, and the rest only coming to try
one class you will find out, we have our secret
weapons, classes are never boring in my schools,
they are always fun and exciting.
train your fighters in no-gi as well as gi.
What do you feel are the merits of each style
and is it important to train in both?
Jacare: We train
both it makes no difference to us, when you
are good and know what to do there is no difference,
it's fun to train gi, and no gi.
I don't know how to ask this without sounding
negative, but it seems that in America, martial
arts students are 'in a hurry' to get their
training or their next rank level, as opposed
to the Brazilians who seem to be unconcerned
about the time required to rank and put more
emphasis on details and technical perfection.
It seems that there are a lot of 'submission
wrestling' classes popping up everywhere as
a result of this desire to see progress 'quickly'.
How do you feel about this and how does it
effect the reputation of true Brazilian Jiu-jitsu?
I got my black belt at 32 years old, back
then it was very hard to achieve that honor,
nowadays with more tournaments and more improvement
in other areas such as physical, supplements
and many other things it can be quicker to
achieve your goals, however if you look around
in general people are in a hurry to get belts
and that is totally wrong, you have to be
patient to get there, train with a qualified
instructor, check his background, his credentials,
be aware that many schools don't teach the
I understand that you are considering organizing
a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Federation in America
similar to the Confederation in Brazil. What
are your plans for this? What goals are you
hoping to accomplish with this organization?
Jacare: Yes to
organize, to have standards similar to the
BJJ Federation, to have decent tournaments,
to recognize the real instructors, to show
to the general public who is who in BJJ. in
I recently read an article in Grappling Magazine
about the need to regulate or certify jiu-jitsu
instructors in order to govern the legitimacy
of the academies and instructors claiming
to teach Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Are you in favor
of this and do you think it will actually
Jacare: Its gonna
be a long war, some instructors as I said
before for business they will do anything,
I know cases of people going to seminars and
getting graduated to new belts, this is ridiculous
but happens all the time, I even heard cases
of people promoting themselves, so my advice
is check truly your instructors background,
ask questions, see who he is under who was
his instructor and only then make up your
mind who to train with.
I know that there are a lot of Americans that
are awarded their blue belts in Brazilian
Jiu-jitsu, then go out and start their own
academy. If these instructors are affiliated
with a legitimate black belt like yourself,
I can see the benefit of these academies since
there are few places in America to get Brazilian
Jiu-jitsu instruction. However, many of them
have no affiliation, nor do they pursue their
training under a legitimate black belt instructor.
They justify their credibility to teach by
saying 'a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu
is equivalent to a black belt in any other
style'. How do you feel about this? Does this
type of thing occur in Brazil?
Jacare: If the
student don't check their background and support
these fake instructors they only will lose,
the real ones even if they are low ranked
have to be under someone capable, a real black
belt otherwise they are risking a lot and
maybe gonna spend money for nothing.
What are some of your goals for your Academy
in Atlanta Georgia and for your competition
Jacare: My goals
is to be one of the best instructors of all
times, is to leave a legacy, is to continue
to teach and evolve and to have the best team
or one of the best always and last but not
least to enjoy life and have a good time.
Do you have any other comments that you would
like to make.
to advise everyone to be aware of the non
qualified instructors around, also when you
join a school work hard to achieve your goals,
respect your teacher and partners, have honor
and pride, try everyday to be a better person
and never give up. Just to finish thanks for
the opportunity is always an honor to talk
about jiu jitsu.
Thank you for your time, it was truly an honor
to talk with you about your life and jiu-jitsu.
I am already looking forward to your next
details about Jacare or for upcoming seminars
visit his website: http://www.alliancebjj.com