interview by: Prof Stephen Kamphuis

(l t r) Prof. Stephen Kamphuis, Grandmaster Osvaldo Alves & Prof Fabricio Martins

While in Rio I was invited to have lunch with Grandmaster 9th-degree red-belt Osvaldo Alves recognized by IBJJF as the worlds top BJJ instructor and head of the Fabricio Team, under 6th-degree Black Belt Master Fabricio Martins. Grandmaster Osvaldo is one of the signatories on all Black belt Certificates and is the Technical Director of IBJJF.

I would like to share this story with others as it gives an insight into the mind of one of the most important Jiu Jitsu innovators and instructors on the planet. His list of students reads like the who’s who in BJJ. He is and has been the Master of the Masters, the instructor to the teachers and even today still has his own school. From within his team and the people who have trained under him there have been black-belts in every division at the World championships such as Daniel Otero 2006 World Champion 4x Mundial medalist and 8x Brazilian Champion, a Black belt under Master Fabricio, Jacare started as a student in one of Osvaldo’s schools. The Grandmaster is still very active teaching most days, doing seminars, teaching private classes and his students run his school.

Grandmaster Osvaldo is called the encyclopedia of BJJ. Being with the grandmaster was like being with a rock star people where coming up all the time bowing and shaking hands. It just so happens Grandmaster Osvaldo loves Brazilian barbecue so we spent 4 hours with Master Fabricio doing the interpreting and this is just a portion of what was discussed.

Firstly I’d like to thank Grandmaster Osvaldo for honoring me with his time and allowing me to ask him questions about his life. Some of what is written below is direct quotes interspersed with some information that was given.

The first question, which must be asked, how did you get into BJJ?
At the age I was walking along the street going to Judo practice when this little blond kid about the same age asked me why I did not do a real mans sport. So we had a fight and the next day I was training BJJ. This little kid happened to be the very respected Reyson Gracie (son of Carlos Gracie) and they went on to become great friends. ( estimated age of the Grandmaster is 69 -73 but his age may change each time he is asked )

I first started training under Carlos Gracie Senior the Sports Originator and went from White to Black with Master Carlos as my instructor. At age 17 I received my BJJ Black Belt.” While doing BJJ Grandmaster continued training Judo under Suji Inata a student of Kimura.
Grandmaster Osvaldo was a former Brazilian Judo champion.

One of his proudest achievements and one that he is very humbled by is that each year he goes back to Japan to teach Jiu Jitsu to the land that created the art. He is deeply moved by the appreciation and respect given to him by the people of Japan. Grandmaster Osvaldo has taught at all the famous BJJ Academy’s in Japan including Budokan the Japan Institute for Judo which is open to invited guests only.

Grandmaster Osvaldo talked about Count Koma who taught  Grandmaster Carlos Gracie techniques from the Samurai form of Jiu Jitsu which where further developed by the Gracie family.  Grandmaster found during his training that many techniques needed too be refined. So he spent time studying all the positions and introducing new moves into the BJJ system over a period of more than 60 years in the sport and 40 years as an instructor. He studied  techniques from Boxing, Judo, BJJ and Vale Tudo. In his schools he taught  techniques from each art to create complete fighters, even from the early days he would train both Gi and No Gi on a regular basis during the week. His students like Master Fabricio are skilled in Judo, Boxing ,Vale Tudo, and BJJ.

It was Grandmaster Osvaldo who was responsible for the closed guard, he introduced sweeps originally there where only 8 techniques practiced and he developed another 42 to create a range of 50 techniques, wrist locks, arm bars, passing techniques, and much more he has been attributed as the creator of modern BJJ.

He started introducing conditioning classes to his students and people where calling him crazy. 40 years ago he created explosive exercises to improve the cardio of his students. Now this is an important  aspect of modern day  training. Grandmaster Osvaldo, will release a new DVD of  some of the  techniques he developed as exercises to compliment training and also some of his own favourite techniques.

As a Master Instructor he has created a lot of champion fighters, people like Fabricio Martins, Sergio Pana, Amaury Bitteti, Jacare, Fredson Paixao, Bibiano Fernadez, Paulo Caruso, and some of the following fighters have sought him out Minotoro, Vitor Belfort, Pat Militech, Jens Pulver, Matt Hughes, Mario Sperry for advice and instruction.

I asked the question how he made a Champion. The following is his reply.
I will usually work with a group of athlete’s number approx 6 persons” .
First the training system is different from a normal routine,  to make a champion he will start by implementing specific rules, which relate to hours trained  and  training discipline.

Every training session begins at 6am with a warm-up a jog along the beach or in the jungle."

The first session of the day is training outside the academy. Then back to the academy for further training positions and techniques, which are timed.”

The afternoon session continues with working techniques from different positions. In the afternoon session Master Osvaldo would get the athletes to work on certain positions that he feels are lacking in their game, he would dissect each athletes game and develop them as individuals using the group environment to improve their techniques. This strategy continues till today with certain students. At night the real training begins with sparring. Master Osvaldo would then watch his players looking for mistake or areas that needed improvement, which he would then work into their game. His objective is to work with the students to develop both their body and mind,  and to create tactics of each fighter. “As an Instructor I would be imparting the experience I have has gained from over 50 years of teaching and what I learned from my own teachers.

How do you make a champion?
To make a Champion you must teach the person how to think, so he can make the right decisions and his body can respond. Teach the person to focus in the moment of combat. A professional fighter has only this way to train. He needs to believe and know the right way. The friendship and bond between the fighter and the teacher must be honest.

When did you open your own academy?
Osvaldo would teach private lessons in his house some of the students where Relson Gracie, Carlinhos Gracie, Rolls Gracie, Rocean Gracie he became one of the most important teachers of the art. I opened my own academy in 1960.

I asked Grandmaster how was his relationship with the Gracies.
As a student of Carlos I was close to the master and have a good relationship with all the Gracie’s we deeply respect each other and it was Carlinhos Gracie the IBJJF President who appointed Grandmaster Osvaldo as the recognized no 1 Instructor in BJJ today, the highest honor you can have in the sport.

Who are your Senior Instructors?
Fabrico Martins, Segio Pana, Laerte Darcelor, Elvis Pamaceno, Raimund Nonato, Roberval Masgranhas, Radames, Ricardo Buldogue, Franklin Sergio Lisboa, Juniro, Ricardo Tanque, Carlos Toyota, Tomil, Toshil, Mario Masokataiama, Fontes, Gabril Ktober just to name a few.

Do you give seminars?
Yes I will be going to Japan this year and I always bring one student. Next year I will go to America I have made five seminars in America.

Are you surprised by the growth of BJJ?
No, the World is surprised but not me. Bjj is so beautiful so efficient everybody wants to learn. It will continue to grow in the future. The IBJJF are also doing a great job developing the sport at competition level.  All guys who practice MMA need to learn BJJ.
We then talked about the beauty of the art and he asked my thoughts.

Which fighters do you admire?
In MMA I like Anderson Silvia as a fighter, but for character I like the Nouraga brothers. In BJJ I like Roger Gracie and Marcelo Garcia and of course I like my student Daniel Otero, in the past Rolls Gracie and Sergio Pana stand out with the best technique and Fabricio also made his mark as 6 times Brazilian Champion when there where no World Championships and winning the Brazilian Championship was the highest honor .

Master Fabricio is the 1st and only person you have graded to six degree and given your own personal certificate, which is a big honor for any student, can you tell us more about this.
Fabricio has been my student for over 40 years he started with me at 4 years of age and is still my student.  When we first meet both student and teacher where very young. All students are different a good relationship with each student is the objective. The teacher must know the spirit of the student, which is possible for all your students. The teacher must care for his students and the students care for the teacher the principle quality of a student is belief and loyalty to their teacher, Fabricio has these qualities.

I asked his thoughts about teaching techniques.
BJJ is not only about techniques BJJ is something more. Invisible BJJ this is the concept, teaching the concept of the techniques this is what a skilled instructor can teach. Bjj is an art, which will develop for the whole World, but few can teach the full game.”

Are you aware you have a team in South East Asia, including the Philippines, Taiwan and Korea with branches in Jordan, Dubai and Germany.
Master Osvaldo knew and thought it was very interesting and proud of the Teams and individuals in these countries and the relationship to him. “ It would be an honor to visit my team in these countries.

I asked him about the future plans for the team and we talked about the different teams under Osvalo. There are approx 7000 – 10,000 students in various teams that are all aligned to the Grandmaster but carry different names.

In the next year some of these groups will come under one umbrella making it one of the Worlds largest network of students and teams.
I believe we have a great team with good people. Our knowledge is very good. If people want to learn BJJ learn with members of the team they will learn real BJJ. I am very excited with the creation of the new team. Everybody needs to work together to grow the team.

I asked him what he though about belts being earned on the Internet or via online training.
Some Instructors take another way. All belts should be earned in the academy, the student should support the academy. It is difficult to teach and correct real BJJ without seeing it live.
Finally Grandmaster gave Master Fabricio his blessing to award me my second degree under Master Fabricio and the Grandmaster.

Before we parted I just had to know. Grandmaster who won the fight between you and Reyson Gracie he just laughed.


Ben W. said...

Great interview, thanks for sharing Stephen!

Anonymous said...

Nouraga brothers?

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