DALLAS, TX, July 27, 2011 – This weekend at Newaza Fight’s inaugural Inception event, the Dallas BJJ community will be for a treat in the form of two world-class superfights featuring Rodrigo Pinheiro of Gracie Humaita taking on Daniel “Jacare” Almeida of Novo Uniao and Gracie Barra’s Roberto “Tussa” Alencar taking on Octagon MMA Jiu Jitsu leader Bruno Bastos, also of longtime member Nova Uniao and the senior man for the team in all of Texas.
In preparation for this event, we recently spoke to Bruno Bastos to learn more about his background in the sport and how he has achieved such a respected stature in the sport.
Bruno began training Jiu Jitsu in his native Brazil twenty-one years ago this year in 1990. Balancing Jiu Jitsu with his original passion of becoming a soccer player, it wasn’t until the age of fifteen that he lent all his sporting focus towards BJJ. Since then, he’s given his life to the sport, winning at all levels before and after attaining his black belt from Nova Uniao co-founder Wendell Alexander at age of twenty-one.
Now a four-time world champion, Bruno moved to Dallas, TX in 2009 and now heads up the area’s Nova Uniao affiliate schools, training with the likes of Travis Lutter, James Brown, Kenny McClure, Robert DeFranco, Brandon Quick, and many others.
Competing this weekend in front of all those affiliates and the community at large, we thought it’d be a good idea for Bruno to share some of his BJJ perspective via this interview with TXMMA.com.
Bruno, thanks for speaking to us here at TXMMA.com. Can you begin by sharing some of your Jiu Jitsu history with our readers?
No problem. I started training Jiu Jitsu twenty-one years ago in 1990 when I was 10 years when I was just ten years old. I competed all the time and got my black belt when I was twenty. Some of my proudest accomplishments include winning the Rio State Championships, which was one of the biggest tournaments during my time. After I got my black belt in 2011, I started competing even more and more. I fought in the CBJJF, CBJJO, Copa de Mundo, and all these organizations. I won Copa de Mundo three times and won CBJJE also.
In 2009, I went to the US to compete in the (IBJJF) Mundials and lost to Roger (Gracie) in the quarterfinals. He said his toughest match was against me there. After that, I can to Dallas to train with my friend Travis Lutter and his students. That’s when I met Greg Seal who is the owner of Octagon MMA. At that time he was looking for a BJJ instructor and I thought it was a good opportunity. I had an invitation to ADCC 2009 in Barcelona so I went back to Brazil to train for that but when it was over I went back to Dallas to start work here at Octagon MMA.
I’ve been very happy since I’ve been here. It’s a very good place, a very good facility, and I have a lot of new students! There are plenty of white and blue belts but also purple, brown, and black belts that train with me. Guys like Travis Lutter, James Brown, Kenny McClure, Robert DeFranco, and the owner of Octagon, Greg Seal, who’s a black belt under Carlos Machado. It’s a pleasure to train with all of them. I’m lucky to have all these guys to train with because it’s a luxury. A lot of Brazilians, when they move to the U.S. they only have white and blue belts to roll with but here there a lot of higher belts; a lot of talent.
Has BJJ always been a fashion for you? What was it like coming up?
BJJ has always been a passion for me ever since I was a kid. For sure when I was young, I thought I wanted to be a soccer player like every other kid in Brazil but then when I was 15-16 and I had the opportunity to play soccer, it changed for me. I don’t know for what reason but from there I decided to just be about jiu-jitsu so I quit player soccer. Maybe now I could be a great soccer player… <laughs>
Ever since I decided to focus on Jiu Jitsu and especially when I got my black belt, I knew this was what I want for myself. Jiu Jitsu really changed my life because growing up and it helped make me who I am. When I was younger I didn’t have a lot of money and all that other stuff but people would help me to be able to have Gi’s and be able to compete. By teaching I can give some of that back. Even when I was teaching as a purple belt in 1998, I would give free lessons to kids, especially from the poor areas of Rio. For me, I just wish those kids had the same opportunities that I had so I try to help them.
You’re well known for this type of work and charitable contributions, specifically with projects for underprivileged youth back in Brazil. What’s life like for these kids down there?
You compete to survive. In the favelas, it’s sometimes a choice between life on the mats and soccer fields and life in the streets. Brazil has a very big sports culture so oftentimes training is a way for kids to try to make it. If nothing else, it keeps them away from crime and the bad elements.
With our work there, we try to give those kids an opportunity to train and stay away from bad influence. While they’re training with us, we try to give them structure and request that they go to school and do well while they’re there so they move up in life. We hope that they look up to guys like me, Robson Moura, Vitor Shaolin, Jose Aldo, and all our guys. We can identify with those kids out there because we all went through the same thing.
Speaking of kids for Brazil, I heard you’re hosting a few very special Jiu Jitsu talents for the summer in Kaue Vitorino Damasceno, Isaque Bahiense, and Marcio Andre. Tell us about how these three came to be here.
First of all, I would like to bring all the kids here from Brazil but that’s impossible. These three (Kaue Vitorino Damasceno, Isaque Bahiense, Marcio Andre) were able to take advantage of a very special opportunity using their Jiu Jitsu. Kaue, the oldest one, he won CBJJE worlds in Brazil last year and he also won open class. When he won there, the prize was to come here to the US. So I told him to work on his passport and visa stuff so he could get here and stay with me to train and compete. Marcio was sort of the same story. He competed in Abu Dhabi last January and even at 16, he won the adult division and also got the opportunity to train here. And Isaque, he is just such a good kid and deserved the opportunity so I bought his ticket myself with help from guys like Travis Lutter, Paul Halme, and Daniel Alvarez. They’ve been here training with us for the summer and will be here until November when they have to go back for school in Brazil.
I heard that Marcio won his weight at the Mundials this year at the adult level even as a sixteen-year-old and the others did pretty well also. What is it about these guys that make them promising BJJ players?
For Kaue, it’s his toughness. He knows how to compete and he doesn’t care who he fights. He goes for it. He just earned his brown belt and took gold at the last world championships. I really believe he’s going to keep doing good and be at the top of the podium at the next world championships. As for Marcio, he just has a lot of natural talent. He does things by himself that he never saw or tried before and it works. He’s always thinking and improvising. For sure he trains a lot and is dedicated. He’s always going and trying to finish his opponents all the time. He’s special. Lastly, Isaque is just so aggressive and he never stops. He’s a big kid for 15 years old. I think he weighs around 180 now so when he gets older, I think he’s going to be like between 205-220 and he has a great future to maybe be an open class champion one day. He’s very aggressive in his BJJ. Look for all three of these guys at the world level in the next few years. And they’ll all be competing this weekend also.
As a well-respected instructor what advice can you offer students of the sport in order to get better in their own games?
I pretty much tell everybody this every week but for me, Jiu Jitsu is something you have to approach the same as whatever you approach outside the mats. Whatever you do outside the mats will reflect what you do on them and vice versa. Life is about competitions. You compete when you’re born, you compete to grow healthy, to be the best in school… and then you compete for jobs, girlfriends, money, and everything else. That’s the way I think about life so what I tell everybody is to take whatever you do and try to be the best at it all the time. That’s reality and how life is going to be. So you might as well compete your hardest.
Do you have any last words before your super fight against Roberto ‘Tussa’ Alencar at Newaza Fights?
For sure. Since I moved to Dallas I haven’t fought for my students so it’s going to be an honor to finally fight in from of them. Tussa is a great guy and I have a good relationship with him. We’ve had some battles where I’ve won and he’s won – actually more than me. <laughs> It’s always a war with us so I think that’s good for my student to see me fight against someone this tough. After that it’s ADCC in England this September for the first time since 2009. I’m training really hard to do well this year and also the next Mundials. I’m not sure how long I’ll keep competing at the adult level so pretty much every tournament I’m doing now, I’m treating as my last tournament ever. I want to focus on my family, my students, and my kids so I’ll just treat every tourney like my last ever and do my best possible. See you guys Saturday! Osss!
YOU can help us grow Texas MMA! Please take a moment to read this article to see how YOU can help us grow the sport. Please make sure to LIKE TXMMA on Facebook when you get the chance and let us know if you have any feedback on how we can serve you better!