This post was first published in 2016.
He’s always on the run and needs no introduction, but Jits Magazine was fortunate enough to catch up with Fabio Gurgel a few years ago and ask him a few questions about his current situation and his opinion on our beloved sport of jiu-jitsu.
Jits: Can you give us a brief summary of how Alliance jiu-jitsu was formed with you at its forefront?
Gurgel: Alliance was created in 1993 – the idea was to bring together all the students from Jacaré’s school and other schools like mine and Alexandre Paiva’s. Our students were starting to fight against each other in tournaments and it didn’t make any sense since we were training together everyday, so then we decided to build just one team of all the schools – that was the beginning and the main reasoning behind the formation of Alliance.
Jits: Alliance has produced countless champions, including Marcelo Garcia, Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles, Lucas Lepri, Michael Langhi and the list just goes on. What new generation of Alliance champions can we expect to see in the near future at both brown and black belt?
Gurgel: We are working now in the same way we have been working for all these years, so of course new talents will come up soon in the main divisions, but it is hard to point to a name, otherwise a lot of guys will be jealous!
Jits: You have been to New York several times now with Marcelo Garcia and Lucas Lepri. What are your thoughts on the New York jiu-jitsu scene and its development?
Gurgel: New York is a great place and everything there needs to be of high quality in order to get established. The jiu-jitsu scene there is not any different; all the guys there are very good. For Alliance alone we have two of our top athletes teaching in the city, plus Fabio Clemente who is a very important teacher for us! Besides, there are many other great guys out there like Renzo and all his crew, Shaolin and many others. NYC is definitely a place that offers good jiu-jitsu academies.
Jits: Looking back at your earlier days as a competitor, what was your greatest obstacle in preparing and improving your technique? What has been your greatest asset?
Gurgel: Looking back, the biggest obstacle was trying not to give up after many years and waking up everyday to train as hard as possible. But to be honest, it wasn’t really that hard because when you do what you love to do, work and fun become almost the same thing.
Jits: What is the most important part of competition preparation before a tournament? What should one focus on?
Gurgel: Of course the preparation should be permanent and continuous, but once you are already in good shape, it’s time to get more focused in your strategy. Train with a time limit, set rules and be careful not to get hurt.
Jits: The connection between yoga and jiu-jitsu is growing stronger with the popularity of both sports. How important is it for a jiu-jitsu practitioner to practice yoga and why?
Gurgel: Yoga helps to keep your body more flexible and prevents injuries, but when you go a bit deeper, you learn how to breathe and then you get all of the other benefits that yoga can give to a fighter.
Jits: During everyday training, what is the most important thing for beginners to focus on? It seems that many white and blue belts become discouraged whether they are just starting out or trying to obtain their purple.
Gurgel: Beginners are the most important thing in our organization. We built a program just to make them understand the concepts behind the techniques. It makes the classes much more interesting for them – fundamentals are what they must focus on!
Jits: With all your responsibility with Alliance, you must do a lot of travelling. What is your favourite destination that you can suggest to our readers and where do you wish to go that you have never been before?
Gurgel: I’m glad that I could travel all over the world because of jiu-jitsu. I’ve been in many different places with different cultures and have met so many nice people. It’s hard for me say my favourite; NYC is always nice, Helsinki is the place that I have travelled to most and Bahrain is totally different than the others. I would love to go to Canada, a place that I’ve never been. Let’s see if I get any invitations from your readers!
Jits: What are some of your hobbies outside of jiu-jitsu? What do you like to do in your spare time, if you have any spare time that is!
Gurgel: As I said my job and my fun are pretty much together, but I have my place at the beach to go when I want some peace. Hobby – I don’t have any in particular but I like to try many things like wakeboarding for example. I’m planning a snowboarding trip for the end of the year as well.
Jits: Lastly, do you have any message for your fans?
Gurgel: I would just like to thank you all for the support and motivation. That’s what helps me a lot to keep working hard and spreading our sport in a nice way.