By: Stanley Tam

Professor Chet Quint is the founder of the Gracie China academy in Beijing and is also the affiliate instructor of the Shanghai BJJ club. Professor Chet visits our Shanghai club on a monthly basis for weekend seminars and last week we had the opportunity to interview him. Hope this will be an interesting read.

1. Professor Chet, for those who don't know you, can you tell us something about your background and how you got started in BJJ?

I started reading about Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in the '80's. I was already a black belt in a few different styles and I had been training other grappling systems (like wrestling, judo and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu) for some time. When I saw the video 'Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Action' I knew I needed to train this style of Jiu-Jitsu. Unfortunately, I was living in Miami and at the time, the only place I could train Jiu-Jitsu was in California or Brazil. In 1996 I had the oppotunity to move to Salt Lake City, Utah. My father had re-located there and as fate would have it, Rickson Gracie Black Belt, Pedro Sauer owned a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy there as well. When I went there I finally had a chance to try this stuff out. Even though I was 100 kg and Pedro was 65 kg, he beat like I was a little kid. I signed up that day.

2. How long did it take for you to get your black belt?

It took me 9 years to get my black belt.

3. In what ways has training with both Pedro Sauer and Rillion Gracie influenced your game? How are their styles different?

They both have a very technical style that is based on basic Jiu-jitsu principles. My focus has always been on fighting and not so much sport. The environment we had at Pedro's school supported this kind of training. Since both Pedro and Rilion are smaller guys, they teach a Jiu-Jitsu that is accessible to everyone. Their philosophies about Jiu-Jitsu are exactly the same. The differences in their styles can only be felt when you roll with them. It can't really be discribed.

4. Would you say your BJJ is more self defense oriented or more sports oriented? And why do you train with this emphasis?

Like I said, I teach Gracie Jiu-Jitsu for defending yourself in a real fight. However, of course when we roll in class we have to make certain allowances for safety. I feel like you can use a sporting environment to hone your skills, but we should never lose sight on the real purpose of training: Preparing to defend yourself in a street fight.

5. With your law enforcement and military background, did you ever have to use your BJJ in a real situation?

I started training BJJ after I left law enforcement, but while I was in Salt Lake City I worked for a time as a professional bouncer and from time to time with a corporate body guard company. During this period, I was in countless fights but there were only a few times that the altercation ended on the ground. Twice, I was forced to break someones arm. In one situation, I had a guy in and arm-bar and was trying to get him to calm down. Instead of calming down he bit my leg. So I was forced to break his arm. When he screamed, he had to open his mouth which, obviously made him let go of the bite.

6. What brought you to Beijing, China?

I was living in Brazil in 2004 and while I was there I met a couple of guys from Beijing. They were training a small club that was run by a blue belt. They invited me to come to Beijing to check it out and I liked it. I spoke a little Chinese, which I learned in the military, so I decided to move out there and teach Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. That was in 2005. The next year, under the direction of Pedro Sauer, I opened the first Gracie Jiu-Jitsu School in China. We also, have a world champion Muay Thai coach and offer Thai Boxing as well.

7. BJJ is obviously a very young sport/art in China, how do you see BJJ progressing and do you think it will become as popular as it has become in the US?

I think that it will one day catch up with the rest of the world. It is only a matter of time.

8. I heard you are opening up a 2nd gym. Can you tell us a little about your academy in Beijing?

We have been opened since 2005 and have been doing very well. We offer Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai seven days a week. We are also the offical China representatives of Kaewsamrit Muay Thai Gym.

9. What advice would you give to a new student when choosing a BJJ academy or teacher?

My advice is to try to find an academy that has authentic instruction and the right atmospere. Nowadays, you see all these gyms advetising that they teach 'MMA' but infact they are teaching watered down Jiu-Jitsu and incorrect Thai Boxing. Guys who have competed in a few low-level events are out there trying to teach when they are still students themselves. Make sure that the teacher's credentials are there before you sign up.

10. Can you tell us what your requirements are for students to progress form white to blue belt, blue to purple belt and all the way to black belt?

In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu only a black belt can promote a student in rank. I often hear about purple belts and even blue belts promoting students in rank. This is crazy. This is not only illigitimate, but is a great disservice to the student and to Jiu-Jitsu as an art. I promote students based on mat hours and mastery of the curricculum that was designed by Rickson Gracie and Pedro Sauer. It takes approximately 100 hours of instruction to earn a blue belt and about 10 years to get a black belt. However this is just a guideline. The ultimate decision is up to the instructor. Just train technically and consistantly, and advancement will come.

11. With BJJ gaining popularity around the world, some people are concerned that the quality of BJJ belts will become dilluted, how do you think we can maintain a high standard for BJJ belts?

The only thing one can do is make sure they are training with a legitimate black belt and train hard. There is no 'Jiu-Jitsu police' so we can only worry about ourselves. Keep a good attitude, leave your ego at home. The proof is on the mat.

12. What is your advice for students wanting to excel in BJJ?

This is the secret to getting good in Jiu-Jitsu. Find a good teacher and every day you can, come to class, put on your kimono and train. If you do this, in five years or six years you will be a killer on the mat. I guarantee it.

13. Just out of curosity, who is your favourite BJJ competitor currently active?

All those guys are great. I like Roger Gracie because his Jiu-Jitsu is so basic and precise. Marcelinho Garcia is also one of my favorite guys. He is technical and has a great defense. He of course learned from Fabio Grugel, who has always been one of my favorite guys. I also Xande Rebeiro. His has such great heart and courage on the mat. He is a pleasure to watch.

14. Any closing remarks?

Just that I owe everything I know to my teachers. Without them I wouldn't be here today. Obrigado.

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