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Mauricio Gomes

BJJ legend Mauricao Gomes talks to Carl Fisher, March 23rd 2003, Jersey, Channel Islands

Another brilliant seminar and a fine weekend of training; have you enjoyed yourself?

Yes indeed Carl I have; Rob and his group always make me very welcome out here and it’s nice to be appreciated.

When was the last time you visited Jersey?

About a year ago; after that my son Roger came over and we swap about so the guys can receive different methods of teaching and different techniques to practice.

You have also been awarding belts today as well?

Yes I am very happy and always happy to give out the belts, first because you are awarding somebody’s hard work; you don’t just get a belt because you’re a special person. I never give a belt to somebody where he will not be able to use and defend his belt properly anywhere he goes. I would look ridiculous and they would look ridiculous and as a whole the guy would end up saying why do I use this belt if I can’t defend it.

Sticking with the belt promotions, you’ve been busy promoting others in the UK?

Yes, we now have some more purple belts; they have been training and entering competitions as often as possible, especially the guys from Birmingham and have so many local competitions and they now have a strong group. The London guys are gonna get jealous (laughs) but I think the Birmingham guys train harder you know and work harder, that’s why I gave Rachel her purple belt alone you know; Ande, Barry, Glen and Dan, they were all going to get the belts together, but I wanted to give Rachel her belt separately as she has been putting in a lot of hard work, a lot of hard work, so many hours and she is so good, so I wanted her to have a special day to herself. Dan Elmer had the belt first, he was one of the first guys with me from the start, when he first came to me he was almost blue belt level, so it’s a reward of all the years hard work. A purple belt is one stay towards the darker belts brown and black and a very significant step forward and you’re kind of leaving your teenage groundwork on the way to the adult level and I feel very proud to give them their belts as well as John Donnelly, Jude Samuels, a very very good player, very dedicated and Kevin Chan from London.

Birmingham was the first club, now we have two clubs in London, the guys in Belfast, Rob in Jersey and now one in Guernsey and clubs in Leeds, Exeter, Edinburgh, Bradford, Doncaster and it’s growing all the time; after all these years with me and Roger coming out here, people are trusting us a little more and seeing that we have been doing a pretty good job here, trying to pass on the information about BJJ.

How long are you here for this time?

Almost three months; last June I was here and I was going to come out at the end of the year, but Sal was here, as well as Roger and Philipe Souza, so there were too many guys here and came out this year instead. I leave near the end of April after the Seni 2003 event 20th April and go back to Brazil and come back in the end of May as I will be opening Gracie Barra in Shanghai, China.

How did this come about?

It was a guy that was training with us and he wanted to start a club in the Golds Gym in Shanghai, so it’s a good venue, so let’s see how it’s received. In 1997 I was the first Brazilian to teach BJJ in Japan, in Tokyo, so I hope it goes well in China.

How did Japan happen?

Carlos Gracie is my ex brother in law and he called me for the gig in Japan as they needed someone who could speak good English and sent me out there to start an academy and I went out for three months and another two three month periods after that and it was good fun and have now been here in the UK for nearly five years. I’ll go out to China to set things up and then come back here to the UK as I have some seminars and workshops at the start of June and at the start of July and then off to Brazil as Roger is at the Worlds and I want to compete in the International Masters this year at the end of August in Brazil and have been training pretty good. Last year I broke my thumb, so I couldn’t go (laughs).

Who trains Mauricao Gomes then? You’re a seventh degree, you know it all.

Seventh degree means that I’m older (laughs); so you get to a situation where my ex brother in law Helion, Carlinhos and the guys at Gracie Barra, Marcio Feitosa, I train with these guys. Helion I train with a lot as his academy is close to my house and I live in Ipanema and is easier to come and go and Barra is far away; sometimes I end up training with ten or twelve black belts, we just make arrangements to meet up somewhere and train.

Roger’s in the Mundials this year; who’s he training with now?

He’s with his cousin Renzo and will be training hard til May and then goes back to Brazil and he’s been doing well.

How’s he going on there; are they coping with him?

I think giving Roger a hard time is not an easy task anymore (laughs). He’s staying with Renzo at his house and he’s helping to polish off his game.

He must be due his black belt soon?

He should be going into the Pan Ams as well so let’s see what happens; I think he a strong level to change the belt but it’s not up to me, that’s up to Carlinhos and Marcio, as they are his coaches throughout the belts. It’s not up to me just because I’m his father, I would not give him the belts, it wouldn’t be good, it wouldn’t look and I wouldn’t look good and neither would he. His uncle would probably give him his belt.

When will the UK have a brown belt?

Soon, very soon; I’m not naming anyone yet (laughs). Maybe by the end of the year, start of next year. Gracie Barra UK will have its first English black belt as well and I hope I have the honour of awarding it.

How does Carlos value the UK scene?

He’s very busy; since we started we have had a very good conversation about the future of BJJ in the UK and it’s been growing a lot. The last time we spoke we settled things to start the Association here to hold championships under the Confederation and it won’t be long before the UK is holding official competitions. Anyone wishing to compete in Brazil will have to go through these competitions, they will be the official European BJJ events and it’s all in the process, a lot of red tape to get through, but it’s looking well.

In Europe, it’s going well, we have Kazeka in Belgium and one in Paris and the Marcelo Yogui guys in Scandinavia. Marcelo and I get along very well and have the keys to his academy in Rio that I can use any time I want. I know him very well and usually when guys come to Rio I take them to his academy, like Rick Young, my London students and put them near Marcelo’s academy.

You’re here for three months and have a heavy schedule training and teaching; where do you get the energy to keep going?

Ju jitsu gives me the energy and my kids; it’s the only thing we really have, the art and the family, not counting on the ex wives (big laughs). It’s the kids that make me try my best and do my best. Ju jitsu will relieve stress, give you a good workout, make you leave your troubles behind until after the session; some people spend thousands of pounds in therapy you know, go to a ju jitsu school and get on the mats instead and sweat and train. It’s been in me before I was born; he used to take me to the academy when he trained at Helio’s first place.

What was his name?

Sylvio Gomes, he was from Brazil and he took me when I was a little boy and in turn I took my son there; he had no escape, he had my father’s side and his mother’s side (laughs), he could never have gone away from ju jitsu.

Mauricao, it’s been a pleasure to interview you as always; see you next week in Birmingham.

Thank you Carl

Interview and photo Carl Fisher


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