This is my second interview with Prof Tinguinha and for those who haven't read the first one, you can check it out HERE. This time around I wanted to focus on his experience as a teacher and comment on the increasing variety of sources for techniques from online-teaching, youtube, DVDs and seminars. What's remained consistent from the early days of BJJ and what has changed over the past 10+ years. I'd like to thank Prof for taking time out of his busy schedule and sharing with us his wealth of experiences. -Luke
Thanks again for taking the time to chat with us at BJJ-ASIA. With your new online teaching program, we'd like to talk about your teaching process and how you've seen your style of teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu develop over the years.
As an instructor, do you see any major differences in the type of students you have from the early 90's compared to today?
Yes, it is a lot different. Back in 90's specially in the beginning, BJJ was practiced mostly in Brazil and in few other places in the world. So the students that were more interested were younger, the teens and adults from 16 to 30 years old. We didn't have as many kids as now because the parents didn't know what kind of martial art it was, so they preferred to choose the traditional martial arts. I remember a lot of times hearing people say they would wait for their kids to get older, like fourteen years of age to start training and that would drive me crazy and the people over 30 had the impression that this martial art was for younger people so they thought they were too old to train. Nowadays BJJ is all over the world and people has a better knowledge of our Martial art so we have people of all ages training for all reasons, recreation, self defense, competition and professionally.
The internet and DVD instructionals have done a great deal to spread jiu-jitsu techniques to the world. How do you think this has changed the new white-belt student that came to your class 10 years ago versus the new student that comes in today?
Most of the students I taught 10 years ago didn't have a clue what bjj was in their first class, a lot of times they thought they would be learning how to punch, kick and stuff like that in a bjj class, so we had to give all the education about bjj and etc... Now everybody is familiar with this martial art, they know it is a grappling martial art, mostly they are familiar with the basic chokes, arm locks and positions like the guard and etc...
Does having more information at your disposal make for a better prepared student?
Definitely. It helps. Education and information is always good, the only thing that is important to keep in mind is what kind of information you are getting. In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu it is extremely important to have a good foundation and learn the basic techniques first.
Do you believe DVD/internet can become a handicap? How do we control the quality of information when anyone can post an instructional on sites like youtube?
It certainly could be a handicap specially in the internet, it is important to understand BJJ is a very simple and at the same time very complex art, you see guys like Roger Gracie making history in BJJ by how impressively he has been submitting fighters in competition just with basic Jiu-Jitsu and guys like Cobrinha with a very sharp Jiu-Jistu with very high and advanced techniques. It takes time, doesn't matter which is your game, it takes a lot of mat time and most importantly it takes a good instructor to guide you to get those things. A new student is like a kid, he doesn't know what is right and what is wrong somebody has to teach them in which phase of his learning process the right information comes into play. There is no way to control the quality of information that is out there, any one can post any technique, the only thing we can do is to try to educate the student,make sure he knows who he is learning the technique from, if it is a qualified instructor. Because not only he could be learning the technique wrongly done as he might be learning something right at the wrong stage of his learning process, messing up his game going forward.
As the pioneer of the spider-guard I'm sure you've dealt with your share of complaints against your style of guard, similar to what the 50/50 guard may be experiencing now. How do you see jiu-jitsu's evolution and how teaching jiu-jitsu may also need to evolve?
As everything in life, evolution is something natural with time. The foundation will never change but this martial art is always evolving, which is a great thing. We will never get bored. Anyone can create and develop a technique in Jiu-Jitsu, there are too many ways, too many details to use the same technique. There is no only one way to do any technique. And I think that is great. It opens a lot of space for growing and evolving. About the teaching,as I mentioned before the foundation of the martial art will never change but as an instructor you need to be aware of what is happening out there specially if you are teaching a student in a higher competitive level, like for tournaments and MMA fights, as an instructor you need to always be learning as well, you need to be interested, to evolve with the art. I think that if you don't evolve with time and is not up to date with of is happening out there definitely you will be outdated.
What do you do differently as an instructor compared to 10 years ago and what have you kept the same?
The way I teach the basic techniques and the importance I give to the foundation is the same but today I am much more organized as far as my classes curriculum goes, I have a better process and follow up on my student's evolution and progresses and I have a better understanding of what my student's needs are and how to better assist them in reaching their different goals, so today I can say that my teaching method and classes are 100% directed to the needs of my students and helping them learn and grow compared to 10 years ago. Every year I go back to my curriculum and my teaching method and see what I can make better, if I can add something to my class curriculum or change it.
What qualities in the teachers you've had in the past that you find most valuable for the student? How did these qualities effect you and your sucess in BJJ?
The best one I think is that the teacher be an example, the school is a reflex of the head instructor so aside to what you are teaching I think the way you hold yourself as far as how you conduct yourself, behave, talk and etc... inside and outside of the school is very important. I believe that having the opportunity of training in a safe and competitive enviroment gave me the competitive edge but made me very humble and level headed at the same time and it gave me a stability necessary to grow and a confidence to believe in myself and pass that to my school and my students.
Please share with us some details about your new online program and how it can benefit all jiu-jitsu students.
The TBJJ.TV is a project a long time in the making, the website was all very well thought out, always having in mind the students and how to offer the best way of learning. The online training englobes all the aspects of Jiu-Jitsu from what to expect on your first day of training to more complex and advanced techniques. The idea was to create not only an online training with a lot of techniques but to go beyond that. I wanted to cover all areas of Jiu-Jitsu, attacks, escapes, beginning, developing the different games, but also the different views of the games, preparation, give the members an insider's look into all aspects of the Jiu-Jitsu art. The website is also divided in different areas which makes it easy for different rank level students to find their areas of interest or different needs, that way members can follow a class curriculum to develop different games if they wish as well as a guide into those games with full assistance in each game and techniques. The website is divided by The Ultimate Beginner, Step by Step instruction, guiding the member through BJJ basics; Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and NOGI (Submission Wrestling), hundreds of Gi and NoGI techniques, divided by categories and skill levels; Survival Guide, how to escape certain positions and difficult situations that are presented during training sessions;Training Sessions & Fight Footages, All access pass to training sessions at my school and tournament fight footages-vintage and new; Interviews, Insider look at the Jiu-Jitsu art around the world-fighters, coaches, practitioners share a little of their knowledge; We have way more in the website, the best way to have a better idea is to check for yourself, take a tour around the website, www.tbjj.tv
You've also recently moved to a larger location in California. What do you credit to your sucess and the growth of your school?
A lot of hard work and dedication and off course loyalty from my students. I didn't start this now, I have been teaching and training for a very long time. A long time ago when I decided I wanted to teach, that it was what I wanted to do in life I wasn't sure if I would be able to pay my bills since Jiu-Jitsu wasn't popular and well known like today, so when I chose to do this, was from my heart, to do something I loved doing, I am not in this business for the money or the status but I believe that you cannot go wrong in life doing something you love to do. When you put your heart into something, naturally the other things will come to you.
What advice could you share with the potential BJJ instructors out there and for those that dont' have access to a brown/black-belt instructor?
My advice for those who want to be instructors is to take your training seriously, and prepare yourself just like you would in any other profession, you are gonna have a lot of influence in people's life, more than you can imagine, it is a lot of commitment and a lot of time you need to put in to be an instructor. I see a lot of people who like to train so they assume they will like to teach but it's 2 different things, you need to love to teach, you need to like helping people and you need to have a lot of patience to be a good instructor, don't do this for the money, don't do this for your ego, if you have the wrong reasons it will burn you out, do it because that is what you want to do and that is what you like.
For those who don't have access to a higher belt they have many ways to get the information by networking, doing seminars, dvds and internet, there is no secret techniques, the key is hard work and training smart.
Just to add, I would like to thank BJJ-ASIA for the opportunity and space to talk, you guys are doing a great job spreading Jiu-Jitsu in Asia. And for those who wants to get upcoming news and everything that happens in my school, projects, interviews, techniques, they can check my website www.bjjoc.com and my blog http://tinguinhabjj.blogspot.
com/ where I share techniques reviews, tips and more... I am always trying to share my knowledge and spread the positive aspects of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu martial art with the BJJ community so on my website and blog I am always uploading FREE videos, techniques, interviews and more... My goal is to see the BJJ art grow even bigger but with quality and integrity. Thanks for everyone's support, from my students,my associated schools, my online students, and all who support my projects.