Written by Matt Little | Foreword – As a passionate Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast and practitioner, I am pleased to support our site’s initiative to feature more grappling based content on the website. Personally, I feel that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu lives within the heart of MMA and needs to be well represented to our community of readers. With that in mind, I’m going to begin a series of articles that explore the talented grapplers of BJJ with this piece on one of my current favorites to watch, Caio Terra.
September 26, 2011 – A native of Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Caio originally began training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 2003 as a way to defend himself from being bullied at school. Although Caio himself was reluctant to train, he caved in to the pressure from his mother who was concerned about his situation. He quickly found a passion for the sport and became very committed to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
He first began training under Ricardo Vieira, Rodrigo Medeiros, Marcelo Ribeiro, and Felipe Costa. Eventually, Caio began training under Grandmaster Paulo Mauricio Strauch and Grandmaster Reyson Gracie. His ability to attend classes was poor at the time and he was only able to manage one class per day. By the time Caio received his promotion to blue-white belt, his motivation was unquestionable and he built a mat system at his house so that he could train multiple times per day. Caio received his black belt under Grandmaster Stauch and Gracie in 2006 after only 3 years of dedicated training. Being awarded a black belt in such a short time frame is very uncommon and an incredible achievement.
In 2007, Caio moved to the United States and today spends most of his time teaching at his school, the Institute of Martial Arts in San Jose, California.
Caio’s initial motivation to travel to the U.S. was to compete in the various large tournaments. His tournament record is incredibly impressive. Caio is a four-time Rio de Janeiro state champion, a five-time Brazilian National Champion, and thirteen-time World Medalist, but he is also a three-time International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) Black Belt World No-Gi Champion, capturing the title in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Additionally, he was the IBJJF Black Belt World Champion in 2008 and finished in second place in 2009, 2010, and 2011. Caio continues to regularly compete and add more championship titles to his resume.
He has recently experienced multiple absolute division championships at IBJJF tournaments, which is impressive for an athlete that spends most of his time competing in the Rooster, or Galo weight class. For those unfamiliar with those classes, we are talking about a guy that stands between 5’6” and 5’7” and walks around at 133lbs on a normal day! I find that to be pretty incredible and inspirational to smaller grapplers who are regularly challenged dealing with larger opponents both in the gym and competitions.
Caio recently released a DVD titled 111 Half Guard Techniques. I purchased this DVD back in June and I believe that it is the most comprehensive half guard instructional on the market. The series consists of 3 disks that begin with a focus on the basic concept of playing the half guard game, working out of bad spots, and recovering the half guard. It moves on to cover intermediate through advanced level techniques.
One of the things that impressed me in this series is that nearly every technique provides an option to modify the original move based on the reaction from your opponent. Caio does an excellent job of explaining in detail so that there is a complete understanding of the mechanics of each movement. I found that many instructional videos show a move and do not explore other possible situations that may occur, so I was pleased to find that is not the case with this series. I own instructional DVD’s by other world class Jiu-Jitsu practitioners and they pale in comparison when it comes to the method of instruction they utilize. In my opinion, this DVD set is a gold mine that will keep most grapplers busy working through the material for many months.
I had the opportunity to interview Caio Terra and get the answers most BJJ enthusiasts want to know:
One-on-One Interview with Caio Terra by TXMMA’s Matt Little
Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us Caio. First, how old are you?
Caio: I am 25 years old.
What were the circumstances for you coming to the United States?
Caio: I wanted to compete at the 2007 World Championships. (TXMMA note: Caio Terra won silver at this tournament)
Afterwards, I was encouraged by family and friends to stay here to teach in America so I decided to stay. I’ve been here since then.)
Describe your style of BJJ.
Caio: I am patient. I wait for the right moment for whatever technique is needed at the moment.
Do you get nervous during competitions and do you game plan for opponents?
Caio: Yes, I still get nervous but I feel 100% that everyone is also nervous when they compete as well. I do not use any game plan. I’m confident in my abilities and take risks to force my opponent to react.
I know you spend a lot of time teaching at your gym and traveling for seminars all over the U.S. How do you find the time and motivation to prepare for tournaments?
Caio: It is very hard for me to prepare. I’m not a big fan of training terribly hard. With my busy schedule I only train Jiu-Jitsu. I put so much time into the mat and will usually train for two weeks before tournaments. I feel I can trust my technique to help carry me through to the end.
So do do you train at all outside of the mat?
Caio: No, I’m always drilling. No additional conditioning like lifting or cardio. I really feel that some people were born to be very strong and I am not one of those guys. So I just focus on technique through lots of drilling/mat time.
Tell me about how you deal with larger/stronger opponents in the Absolute division you’ve had so much success with.
Caio: In some regards, it’s easier going against bigger guys. Most of the bigger guys are way heavier and stronger. They feel like they have to push the pace and attack. That allows me to play more of a counterattack style, which I prefer. Also, by pushing pace sometimes forces them into making mistakes. When competing at my weight class I have to push the pace as they don’t risk themselves against me.
Earlier this year you were very outspoken about PEDs (Performance Enhancing Drugs) and that you feel many competitors are using them. How widespread do you think this is? Has there been any backlash for those statements?
Caio: I feel that most of the finalists in big tournaments are using them. There was a good amount of backlash for my statements. I see no reason unless you are using them you know? It makes no sense.
Do you have a preference between GI or No-GI grappling?
Caio: I feel I like the gi most of the time. It really depends on what we’re training for. I guess it doesn’t matter. I enjoy both and whatever my friends want to train is usually fine with me.
It is pretty well known you have a strange diet (consumes large amounts of sweets/candy) and it was discussed a bit on your DVD, have you seen a doctor to figure out what is wrong with your diet?
Caio: Yes I did actually. I found out that I am hypoglycemic! I had to make some changes to my diet to help me recover from training. At least I can understand now what is going on but it’s still difficult. I don’t over train as much now.
So ADCC is right around the corner in London. I was shocked and disappointed that you were not on the competitor list having recently won the 2009 & 2010 World Nogi Championships (IBJJF). Why is that?
Caio: I felt like it was ridiculous. I had been battling some injuries and always said I would have to play it by ear. I never received an invitation to compete at ADCC. Guys like Rafael Mendes need competition. They keep inviting the same guys every year. I have never competed against some of these guys like Mendes and Cobrinha and would like to while they are still in their prime.
With that said, who are your picks to win in each respective division?
Caio’s ADCC 2011 Predictions
Under 65.9kg ► Rafael Mendes or Cobrinha
Under 76.9kg ► Marcelo Garcia
Under 87.9kg ► Andre Galvao
Under 98.9kg ► Roger Gracie if he competes, otherwise Rodolfo Viera.
+99kg ► Vinny Magalhaes or Fabricio Werdum
Under 60kg (women) ► No comment
Over 60kg (women) ► Hannette Staack
Who are your favorite grapplers to watch?
Caio: I really like to watch my teammates compete because I have an emotional attachment to those matches.
Who are your favorite MMA fighters to watch?
Caio: Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, Gilbert Melendez…all Gracie Fighters of course!
With the success of your Half Guard DVD series, do you have plans to release any future DVD’s?
Caio: I can’t talk about any specifics now but I do have plans and it will be out sooner than most would expect.
Do you have any plans to visit Texas for a seminar?
Caio: I was supposed to come out for a seminar a while back but plans fell through. I’d love to come visit Texas but waiting for an invite.
With that, we conclude our conversation with Caio Terra. We look forward to seeing what the future has in store for him as he is definitely a world class Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and has a lot to offer the grappling community with his technical ability and instruction in addition to what how he’s able to perform in competition. Please visit his website for information on booking private lessons and seminars, and of course to purchase his instructional DVD’s , including his most recent 3-disc release, 111 Half Guard Techniques.
About the Author: Matt Little has been a contributing writer for TXMMA.com since 2007. He is currently a blue belt under JD Shelley at North Dallas Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (NDBJJ) and competes regularly on the Texas competition circuit.
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