A big thanks to Tiago Afonso and Sara Farr for putting this interview together. Tiago is the man behind Macau BJJ, a very strong team as we saw in Hong Kong this past April. Thanks guys! -Luke
interview by: Tiago Afonso
Thank you very much for doing this interview with us. Before we start, congrats on another World title, in which this year more than 400 black belts competed. It is a great honour for us and for our readers to speak with you here today. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Name and age?
I am Bruno Bastos and I am 28 years old.
How long have you been practicing BJJ for?
I have been practicing BJJ for 18 years now. I started in 1990.
Where did you start and who was/is your Professor?
I started with Professor Neury Gomes, with whom I trained for a year and a half, then I trained another year with Professor Ailson Brites and I then finally landed in the hands of Professor Wendell Alexander, while I was still an orange belt, and who then guided me to becoming a black belt. Also, I can not leave Professor Andre Pederneiras unmentioned.
Which where the most memorable fights in your career? And which titles are your most memorable?
Against Xande Ribeiro at the absolute final of the Estadual do Rio in 2000. We were still purple belts, and he had won the semi-finals of his weight category by passing the guard. The final of the absolute was my tenth fight of the day, because it was all on the same day. I won 4x3 with a sweep. The titles that are the most memorable are the World CBJJO 2007 and CBJJE 2008, it couldn’t be any different.
For you, what distinguishes BJJ from other martial arts and why did you choose BJJ over any other martial arts?
I think Jiu-jitsu is the complete system. It offers more self-defence options in a forced fight, whether you’re mugged or pushed. I chose BJJ because I liked judo, but when I went to watch a judo class, I was already doing Jiu-jitsu, and even though I was still a child, it fascinated me that [with BJJ] even after grounding my opponent I could still continue fighting until I submitted him.
What ability, in your opinion, should a Jiu-jitsuer develop the most (flexibility, strength, pure technique or others?)
All abilities should be developed equally. Every athlete or individual who does it as a sport has to be complete. This also applies to anything else in life, not just Jiu-jitsu.
Do you practice any sports aside from Jiu-jitsu (surf, yoga, football, etc)? And which do you think most completes Jiu-jitsu?
Because I am Brazilian, I play football but only on very special occasions, since I am not good at it… (laughs)… Apart from that, I only practice sports that complete my Jiu-jitsu, like judo, wrestling and sometimes Muay Thai to relax. I also do my own physical preparation and Pilates to complement.
Which is your favourite technique to submit your opponent on the matt? Arm lock, “mata-leao”, triangle, etc…?
Although I am a relatively heavy athlete, with my weight ranging around 95Kg, I really like doing flying arm-bars and flying triangles. I think these are two beautiful moves when done right.
Any advice for anyone who just started BJJ? Or for anyone who aspires to come as far as you have?
There is no mystery. All you need is a lot of training, dedication, perseverance and to never give up. I don’t think I have natural abilities for fighting, but I work on it and that is how I have been successful.
Do you think BJJ should be structured differently? Have fewer federations? Are there too many politics and too much rivalry that are not always healthy?
I am not going to go into federations’ merits because that is politics, and unfortunately politics moves the world of sports. But I really admire the work Carlão Santos is doing in Abu Dhabi. He is professionalizing Jiu-jitsu and wants to come up with a World series… And I think that is the right way.
What do you think of the general association of BJJ to Absolute MMA? Positive or negative?
Positive, because the public and fighters know that to be successful you need Jiu-jitsu, and the world’s best [athletes] know Jiu-jitsu.
Do you plan on continue fighting absolute? Maybe one day making it to UFC?
I plan on getting back to the MMA circuit in the second half of next year. I think I am having a good moment in Jiu-jitsu and have to make the most of it. In the first semester next year there is the ADCC and Jiu-Jitsu Mundial. After that I want to go back to the MMA circuit and try my luck there too, because it’s completely different. I would be a white belt again. UFC is any MMA fighter’s dream.
Who are your favourite Jiu-jitsu and MMA fighters?
I will only speak about the recent ones, or else I could go on forever… (laughs)… Jiu-jitsu: Xande Ribeiro and Andre Galvao are the best at the moment, for me. They’re the most complete, and winning either one would be a complicated achievement, but I will try... (laughs). In MMA: Minotauto, Fedor, Wand and Couture are legends, so I will say Anderson Silva, BJ Penn and Georges St Pierre, who I enjoy watching the most. He beats the punchers, knocks the wrestlers and submits grapplers. He is sensational!
In which three countries apart from Brazil is BJJ most developed, in your opinion?
The first is the US, of course, which is selecting the best teachers and taking them there. They also organize a number of tournaments and pay well. For all this, the US has obtained great results in all belt categories, in both gi and no-gi. In second, Japan, that has seen black belts get to the finals at world tournaments in recent years. It's only a question of time before a Japanese is ranked black belt World Champion. After these two, there are a lot of countries in "dispute" for third best.
Do you have plans to develop BJJ "beyond borders" with a school of your own or one from Nova Uniao?
I do have plans, and things are heading in that direction. It's one of my dreams to have my own school, with my training methodology, since everyone teaches the way they think is best. Obviously, my schools will represent Nova Uniao. We can never forget where we came from. That's one of the biggest steps towards success. An example of this is Saulo Ribeiro who teaches in San Diego in the US, where he has his own school but never fails to represent his Professor Royler Gracie. That is a great example. Things are heading in that direction [for me], and that's what I aim for.
Tell us a little bit about your friend black belt Daniel Charles who now teaches in Macau and Hong Kong.
He's a mate that works very hard towards his goals. He is an excellent trainer, even though he is newer at Jiu-Jitsu than I am. He helped me a lot during the Nova Uniao Training Camps, which are usually held before World Championships. I like him a lot and hope he has great success in Macau and Hong Kong and anywhere else he may go.
Would you like to one day visit the "galera" here in Asia?
Of course. To travel to Asia is one of my dreams. It's the crib for martial arts. Japan, China… Would be too good. I would like to visit places where Samurais used to live in the past. I hope to be there soon. Invite me! (laughs)… OSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS
(Translation by Sara Farr)
If you would like to contact Bruno Bastos or any of Nova União’s World Champion Black Belts for seminars in Asia, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.