Text by Martin Rooney, Rafael Werneck and Raphael Nogueira
Jacaré, Roger Gracie and Shogun, Ronaldo, Roger, Mauricio explain their preparation and help you evolve in Jiu-Jitsu, Submission wrestling, MMA and everyday struggling. If you live in Curitiba, Manaus, Rio de Janeiro or London, you may very well have ridden the bus, walked by or met by an academy entrance any of these seemingly common young men, the youngest a 23 year-old and the oldest, a 26. The normality, however, ends when these three are in guard, in action, in combat, or while their opponents last. Mauricio Shogun, Roger Gracie and Ronaldo Jacaré, undisputed 2005 standouts, were only unable to resist GRACIEMAG.com, which has gone out to the battlefield to endow the reader with what has made them the best in MMA, submission and competition Jiu-Jitsu.
From Curitiba, reporter Rafael Werneck reveals the aspects of body and mind which made Chute Boxe’s name of the year defeat four tough adversaries in order to reach the top of the hardest MMA tournament in the world, Pride’s middleweight Grand Prix. Physical preparation specialist Martin Rooney dived into Roger Gracie’s routine in England and New York, right before the 2005 ADCC, in order to decipher the lessons that enabled Gracie to promise and carry out: he, so he’d said, was going to submit all of the eight opponents in the greatest no gi tournament on the planet. And finally, Raphael Nogueira went to Manaus and scrutinized Jacaré’s tips for being an efficient Jiu-Jitsu machine – he became in 2005 the open titles record holder (five, from purple to black belt) and gets to the middle of the decade as the man with most chances of becoming the first three-time open champion in history.
Read, keep these teachings and re-read every time you need incentive or tips by three worldwide phenomena that look just like ordinary Brazilians. They can very well be that guy sitting beside you on the bus. Better be polite.
6 JIU-JITSU HINTS BY RONALDO JACARÉ
Why did Ronaldo Souza, a.k.a. Jacaré, become the best Jiu-Jitsu fighter in 2005? The unadvised tend to look for the answer in the fighter’s recent past, probably in his preparation for the recent World Championships. A keener look, however, finds in the star’s childhood, a time when he didn’t even know what Jiu-Jitsu was, some factors determinant of the black-belt’s current success. Some even say that, at the exact moment he was conceived by his parents, Jaca already had one of the most important virtues for becoming the greatest name in Jiu-Jitsu last year: high quality genetics.
Owner of contusion-proof muscles, elastic strings, catlike reflexes, a lumbar that resembles hydraulic suspension mechanisms, ankles as thick as his calves, forearms strong as a jeep, Jacaré is no lab champion. He was born with all these potential resources, which have been lapidated in training all these years. That which gym-addicts try to achieve with anabolism, nature gave this descendant of blacks and Indians. The talent came as the tip.
But besides body and ability, a Jiu-Jitsu exponent must have true warrior spirit, which life has inserted in Jacaré’s life in strange ways, especially during the ASLE athlete’s childhood and adolescence. Fighting and living have always been synonyms for Ronaldo. Conditioned for bearing adverse situation since birth, he lived in poor areas of Espirito Santo until the age of 14, when he had to abandon his parents and run away to Northern Brazil: “I got into some heavy shit, crime and stuff, and went to live with my brother in Manaus,” Jacaré told Gracie Magazine in September 2003.
The stranger got around as he could in Manaus, he worked even as a car watcher before getting acquainted with martial arts at 16, when he began training the judo-like Jiu-Jitsu of master Henrique Machado. Dedicating to a sport in order to overcome the difficulties of a tempestuous youth turned Jacaré into a man with an obstinate soul. He learned in practice the need to have willpower in life, of struggling for one’s desires, among other teachings that many fighters know but in theory.
When exposed to an extreme situation, the person raised in the street stands out in comparison to the ones raised in apartments, used to luxuries and having their decisions made by their parents,” analyses Jacaré’s physical preparer, Joao Zaranza. Taking that statement to the mat, Zaranza meant Jacaré doesn’t back away at the critical moments, he knows exactly what to do at the moments of difficulty, has the instinct conditioned to react immediately, knows how to fight under pressure – actually, he not only can, he loves doing it. Right, Ronaldo? “I get stimulated when fighting under pressure. I love when somebody tells me I am going to lose. It gets me energized. Gets me motivated.”
This triple foundation, composed of genetics, talent and warrior spirit, of current two-time world Jiu-Jitsu champion should be analyzed in a realistic way by the reader. As everyone has got their own DNA and each life history has its own peculiarity, one shouldn’t waste time, for example, in trying to get a body like Ronaldo’s or trying to get motivated by the same sort of situation that “energizes” Machado’s pupil. Take this advice (not by Jacaré, but by GRACIEMAG): be yourself, find your won body’s virtues and strive to develop them. The same is valid to your life history. Find in your biography whatever can strengthen you in combats.
There are, nevertheless, details in Jacaré’s training that can, indeed, be imitated by the reader. GRACIEMAG.com has fathomed a few of them:
Jacaré usually goes to ASLE academy on foot. It’s about 45 minutes of fast steps and friendly greetings to the people who recognize him on the streets of Manaus. Jacaré’s physical trainer, Joao Zaranza, says the walks give the athlete an excellent physical condition, for it works Jaca’s metabolism so that he doesn’t lose any muscular mass. The world champion says the exercise is also good for a fighter’s mind. Walker Jacaré goes over his life while strolling, thinks about how he can improve his career, thinks about his love life, everyday issues… We often find stressed athletes, right? Walking may be the solution. Oh, and after the training there is no ride either. Jacaré just walks back the same path, with the same swift steps.
As soon as he gets to the academy, Jaca performs an average 15-minute stretching to then start warming up (also around 15 minutes long), a moment when the black-belt enjoys dedicating to a recreation-like workout, but he guarantees there are few activities more efficient in lapidating an athlete’s agility. Ever heard of flesh jumping, dear reader? Jaca explain the exercise’s efficiency: “Notice that in my fight, whenever I am tangled up with my opponent, they seem to get a little dizzy. I, on the other hand, always stand up in perfect equilibrium. While the adversary is striving to find himself, I’m ready for the spring. That virtue I develop by jumping flesh.” Jacaré switches between legs in going under the partner’s legs. This exercise is to be repeated several times as quickly as possible.
After warming up, Jaca begins his standup practice, which lasts about 20 minutes. If the reader is willing to enhance their standup play, besides strengthening grip and explosion, they should do many reps of takedown thrusts. Jaca sometimes goes beyond and, during the intermissions, goes up and down a 15ft rope as smooth as a pineapple. Quite the grip, huh?
Loose ground training
Unlike the standup trainings, when Jacaré dedicates to ground techniques, he doesn’t resort to repeating movements. He practises what he calls loose training, using a minimum of force and a maximum of moving around. This stimulates intuition, improvisation and the speed of the Jiu-Jitsu fighter’s reasoning. If you have a mechanical game, you’ll become a more versatile fighter by imitating this particular trait of Jacaré’s preparation.
Jaca hates muscle training, but in tournament season he resorts to it for at most 30 minutes three times a week. The series have short intermissions and are programmed in circuits (approximately 8 exercises, each with 3 sets of 10 reps). The black-belt raises the weights with explosion and little retention. This intensifies the ability of muscular recuperation after a sudden overdrive during fights. Jacaré’s muscular exercise tip is to always switch styles, so that the session doesn’t get boring.
Liking what you do
Jacaré says he loves Jiu-Jitsu and, above all, he loves the way he practises it. He goes to trainings and tournaments just as happily as a surfer attending a tournament in Hawaii. This is his final hint: “Find in Jiu-Jitsu whatever makes you happy and invest in it.”
6 LESSONS OF SUBMISSION WRESTLING BY ROGER GRACIE
If you are a fan of the martial arts, then at some time you have heard the name, Miyamoto Musashi. You have probably also heard of his amazing feats during his “Warrior Pilgrimage” and that he was never defeated. What you probably may not know is that much of what Musashi learned about strategy and the sword was on his own. There was also part of Musashi's life that he spent living apart from society while he devoted himself with an aggressive single-mindedness to the search for enlightenment through his discipline of the sword. Musashi wrote, "When you have attained the Way of strategy there will be not one thing that you cannot understand", and, "You will see the Way in everything." This was enlightenment that he gained training by himself in the 1600’s alone in a cave named Reigando.
Now fast forward to the year 2005, the discipline of submission grappling, and to a young fighter on his own “Warrior Pilgrimage” named Roger Gracie. Like Musashi, Roger would walk away from this pilgrimage undefeated in historic fashion. In an interesting parallel, what you may not know is that much of two years spent prior to the 2005 ADCC, Roger also used to reach another level on his own as well.
To really understand the level that Roger has risen to, we must first look at his performance at the 2003 ADCC. Even though his win over grappling legend Zé Mario Sperry demonstrated his promise as a grappler, he lost focus in later matches and finished 3rd in his weight division. So how, in 2 years’ time, does this 23-year-old improve his game so much that he goes on to submit all 8 world-class opponents in his weight division and the absolute, records the fastest submission of the entire competition and is named Most Technical Fighter? According to Roger, just like Musashi, he focused on “training his mind even more than his body.”
The way to learn is to teach
Over the last two years, Roger has spent most of his time teaching jiu jitsu at his academy in London, England. As we all know, England is not known for its deep pool of jiu jitsu talent for Roger to improve his game. So how did he do this? The secret lies in his students. Roger states, “By teaching jiu jitsu to others, you are forced to understand even the smallest details”. “The movement of a leg or a slight twist of the wrist may be the difference between success and failure”. By teaching his students, Roger was forced to look at his jiu jitsu more technically than ever. “This way, I was working on my mind, in addition to my body. Knowing I was often alone out here gave me the will to train and develop my mind to be even stronger”. Interestingly, you might think that teaching is for the students, but as Roger has discovered, the teacher has as much to gain from the experience.
The confidence of a champion
Over the last 3 years, I have had the luxury to handle some of the physical training for Roger and have gotten to train jiu jitsu with him many times. I helped prepare him in the months before both the 2003 and the 2005 ADCC. Even though the training was more demanding and precise in 2005, the main difference I saw in the 2 Rogers that went to those events was in their confidence. In 2003, Roger was excited to be going to the competition, but in 2005, winning was the only goal. Two months before the 2005 ADCC, Roger told me he was going to “tap everyone out and win all 8 matches”. At the time, I was encouraged by what he said, but I cannot say that I believed it would happen. Even as the training progressed and I saw that he was in both the best physical and technical shape he had ever been in, it was still hard to imagine this feat could really happen. Then there was the day that Roger and I worked on the Back Choke (Mata Leon) and I understood his confident mentality.
Roger let me get the choke completely on and told me to finish him. Having won numerous competitions with this choke, I was sure he was crazy to think he could escape. Over and over, however, he would get out and I was not only fatigued at my failed attempts, but I was stunned by his ability to resist. At that time, Roger taught me the personal philosophy he had developed on his own over the last few years. “In Jiu Jitsu, it is never too late”, he told me, “You must relax because there is always an escape”. As we all saw in the 2005 ADCC, even though there were solid attacks mounted by his opponents ( Xande Riberio’s triangle, Fabricio Werdum’s armbar and Cacareco’s guard pass) Roger’s confidence in his ability to escape allowed him to “go for it”. That kind confidence allowed him to take the competition by storm.
Someone has to give
There is an old saying, “When an irresistible force hits an immovable object, something has to give”! In grappling, you can often see the point where one athlete mentally breaks and gives up. This shows that a great grappler must not only be technical, but also mentally strong. The ultimate example of this was during Roger’s epic match with grappling powerhouse, Cacareco. Roger states, “All of my training leading up to the 2005 ADCC strengthened my mind to never give up”. “During that match, I could feel Cacareco getting tired and he knew I was not going to give up”. “Even though he could have beaten my body, there was no way he could have beaten my mind that day”. This will to win was only strengthened with many of the Gracie family in his corner. “With Renzo, Ralph, Rickson, Cesar, Igor, Kyra, Kron, and my father there, I was pushed even harder to win. Cacareco was not just fighting me, he was fighting the whole family”! When Cacareco did not answer the bell for the overtime period, Roger had won by the hardest submission of all: mental attrition. In addition to that match, the mental strength Roger had developed to persevere was also evident by winning 8 matches in a row. “This ADCC, I took the matches one fight at a time and would not let myself quit”. This step by step approach allowed Roger to stay focused on the next task instead of looking ahead.
The sweet taste of revenge
If you follow jiu jitsu, you must know of the 2004 Mundial’s match between Roger and Jacaré. There is much controversy surrounding this match in that Jacaré’s arm was damaged, but the match was allowed to continue and he took the title. The Absolute final at the 2005 ADCC would not only give Roger the chance to finish the competition 8 for 8 with 8 submissions, but also give him another shot at his rival Jacaré.
With all of the physical training and technical work with Renzo Roger had done in the 2 months before the competition, he knew he was ready. Now it was down to this final match to determine if he would be considered the best grappler on the planet. “I was focused and motivated to tap Jacaré during that match”, said Roger. ‘I knew that this was my opportunity and I was not going to blow it. As I took his back and put my arm around his neck, I squeezed with every ounce of strength I had left. As the choke sank in, I thought to myself, “Now we will see if you will tap this time””. With that choke and Jacaré’s subsequent tapout, Roger signed his name into the history books by completing a grappling feat that had never been done before and may never be repeated at such a high level. In 2005, Roger Gracie established himself as the king of the hill in submission grappling by “going for it”. This attitude is summed up well by a famous quote by Musashi, "To die with one's sword still in it's sheath is most regrettable." In 2005, when it comes to submission grappling, we all know that Roger Gracie’s competed with an empty sheath
It’s party day at the Ruas’. In the kitchen, Mrs. Clementina prepares the side-dishes to the barbecue scheduled for tonight. The house is full, the family gathers to celebrate that which they themselves chose to classify as “the best year of our lives.” Coincidently, the major responsible for so much joy is also the person honoured today. In November 25, Mauricio, Mrs. Clementina’s and Mr. Antonio Maria’s middle son, turned 24. GRACIEMAG.com accepted the invitation, went in and found out what are the secrets that made Mauricio Shogun, Pride middle weight Grand Prix champion, the best MMA fighter in 2005.
The fear of been struck or submitted usually makes the fighter start losing before entering the ring. Being conscious that the work done so far was tough is mandatory. “From the moment Shogun started believing he would be the champion, it all became easier. At no point did he think he could be defeated,” says coach Rudimar Fedrigo. “Our work boilds down to making him keep that in mind. He can, he will get it,” the Chute Boxe leader completes.
The moment of the fight is unique. Any sort of outside worry must be left out. Relationship problems, contractual arguments, all this should and must be left for after the bout. Even shaken by friend and idol Wanderlei Silva’s loss, Shogun kept focused. “Don’t worry, I’ll knock him out,” he kept saying.
One must have their team’s complete support. Regardless of whether the athlete is deemed an underdog by opponents and even the crowd, such judgement must be dismissed by the fighter. “Few people would bet on Shogun when he was chosen to fight Quinton Jackson in the first round. However, we’d tell him over and over, ‘Go in there, you’re gonna be the champion, finish him’,” recalls Rudimar Fedrigo.
Results won’t manifest themselves overnight. Work must be gradual, one step at a time. It is no good for the athlete to try and do all at once. “The body can’t take it. Muscular stress ensues and the fighter gets more exposed to lesions,” teaches muay thai instructor Rafael Cordeiro.
No work performed without pleasure can, well, work. Raised in a middle class family in Curitiba, Shogun could have chosen any other job, but decided to earn a living by fighting, and he takes it very seriously. “You could see in his eyes before he fought the GP’s final match that he was just loving it. He was very comfortable and a lot more relaxed than Arona, whose confidence was very low. On one side, happiness; on the other, sadness,” says Fedrigo.
Once the victories start happening, success must be wrought in the fighter’s benefit. Many temptations will arise along the way. Money, fake friendships and women trying to take advantage from fame invariably cross the way of the successful athlete. Keeping the mind in place is step one towards maintaining oneself on top. Remembering that an athlete’s career is short, and that a few years of hard work may guarantee a brighter future not only to the fighter, but to their family.
“The taller the tree, the more the branches bend down,” warns Rudimar Fedrigo referring to an Oriental teaching, when he mentions Shogun’s modesty. “Shogun is in the beginning. There are still a lot of things that are going to happen to him. Becoming Pride’s middle weight champion will come about very naturally to him.”
No one gets to the top alone. Having an efficient, coherent team is fundamental. “Shogun takes his training as if it were a fighting university. Each coach stands for a discipline. Of course talent helps, but professional supervision is necessary too. Being beside someone who can arrange good fights, someone who looks for an opportunity for the fighter to show what they know,” says Rafael Cordeiro.
Kicks and punches
Being able to throw high kicks, fly onto opponents and giving powerful stomps might seem simple, but it’s not, especially for someone who weighs 96kilo. But Shogun did all this in his way toward winning the Grand Prix. “As in Jiu-Jitsu, move repetitions is fundamental. It’s as if the athlete trained armbars, but with kicks on the thigh in addition. First you attack kicking the thigh, then you defend, dodging the mate’s attacks. You then move on to a punch sequence, followed by a kick on the thigh. Now you proceed to mid-height attacking. You try to hit your adversary rib-high. There you repeat all the basics: attack, defense, sequence, rib-kick. Finally it’s time for the head-attack. The athlete tries to hit the opponent with kicks. This work is done by inserting a bit of boxing into the routine,” says Cordeiro.
The athlete must go to class. Like that student who always get to the academy early every day and starts warming up. That is the great differential of top athletes. “I must improve always. There are people in the academy that are better than me, be it in muay thai or Jiu-Jitsu, and that stimulates me into continuing to train even more. I like surprising myself at the end of each session,” says Shogun.
Making force your priority and forgetting all about elasticity just doesn’t work. Stretching more and more your muscular fibers enables you to surpass limits, both defending and attacking. “Shogun is very strong, as well as flexible. His natural weight is 96kilo, and he drops down to 93 to fight. And it ain’t easy for a guy his weight to throw the flying kicks he throws. This is made possible by his body’s versatility combined with muscular explosion. He can make the mixture very well,” Cordeiro comments.
The omoplata given Ricardo Arona in the middle weight GP’s final shows Shogun pays good attention to the Jiu-Jitsu training at Chute Boxe. The black belt given him by Nino Schembri after the conquest was only another evidence of the Paranaense when it comes to ground play. “Shogun is a great, very talented student. The truth is I wanted to give him the black belt before the Grand Prix,” says Nino. Responsible for gi-training at Chute Boxe, Cristiano Marcelo adds: “Our Jiu-Jitsu is an aggressive one, always endeavouring for the best position in order to make our athlete’s attack easier.”
What gives you the ability of throwing a good high kick is working on it daily. “It is no go to stretch one hour a day, for you’ll never be able to give high kicks. Muay thai training is exhausting. It consists of a lot a repetitions, so much that we don’t even notice the three ours passing by,” says Cordeiro.
If fighting is a profession, then the body is most important tool, and for a machine to work properly it is mandatory for muscular exercise to be performed daily. “The most important hint is for the athlete to grant his body time to recover between series. I work with Shogun in three different intensities, always shifting according to the proximity of fights. When the competition is close, Shogun works with 120kilo in bench-press, 130 in the squat and does shoulder work with 36, 38kilo on each side,” says Gerson Queixo, responsible for the GP champion’s muscular workout. “Shogun is a very good fellow to work with. His discipline and perfection in performing exercises are greater than those of some weight-lifters,” the coach completes.
As fighters are well aware, food is the body’s fuel. No matter how much he loves lasagna, Shogun has no way of escaping a balanced diet, based on lots of fruits, vegetables and different sorts of meat. Feeding on supplements is also a part of the routine of most top fighters. The shakes help them keep their disposition and energy up during trainings.