By: Felix Rodriguez, Staff Writer
AUSTIN, TX, December 6, 2012 – Grandmaster Deoclécio Paulo is a 9th degree red belt that has spent the last 70 years of his life dedicated to sharing the benefits of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with his students. Mestre Paulo will be in Austin this weekend to teach a seminar on December 8th and 9th. With seventy years of experience in the art it is safe to say this man has forgotten more than what some black belts know about BJJ. Make sure to check out the link for more information. The seminar is an open event meant to focus on politics-free jiu-jitsu. Mestre Paulo agreed to spend some time talking about his views on the art, his experience and the uniqueness of his lineage. Thank you to Britton Wells for assisting with the translation.
Here is the first interview ever made to a Red Belt in Texas, we hope you guys enjoy learning about and from this living piece of jiu-jitsu history as much as we did:
TXMMA Interview – Grandmaster Deoclécio Paulo (9th Degree Red Belt)
What is your name, age and birthplace?
My name is Deoclécio Paulo, I’m 79 years old and I’m from the City of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
How long have you been training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and what is your rank in the art?
I started training when I was 09 years old. I’m a Red Belt – 9th Grade [degree].
Can you tell us about your lineage? Who gave you your black belt, who gave that person their black belt and so on?
I received my black belt from Master Oswaldo Fadda in 1958. My master [Fadda] had received his black belt from Professor Luiz Franca Filho in 1942. The Confederação Brasileira de Jiu-Jitsu has monitored my progress from black belt and on until my current track (Red – last level in the hierarchy of the tracks). My only teacher was Master Oswaldo Fadda Baptista. Luiz Franca Filho was his instructor and the trainer for the Navy of Brazil. Master Fadda was a sailor at the time Franca was an instructor and he became a student of his. Oswaldo Fadda also had only one professor. Luiz Franca was his Master.
Your answer will be curious to many of our readers because the Gracie family name is not mentioned in your lineage, can you tell our readers a little bit about Luiz Franca Filho and the Oswaldo Fadda line of jiu-jitsu?
It all started with the Japanese [Mitsuyo] Maeda in 1917, he was appointed by the Japanese Government as Honorary Consul of Japan in Brazil. Japan had not contributed any financial aid to Maeda who was a great [Japanese] jiu-jitsu fighter so he rode to the city of Belém – Pará, and opened an academy to teach Jiu-Jitsu. At this time he formed a small group of students, among them were Luiz Franca Filho and Carlos Gracie Sr.
In your opinion, how do the two lines differ from one another? For example, if I were someone interested in practicing “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu” and I walked into the academy of one of your black belts, how would they explain the similarities and differences of the two?
These are two different groups in name but who share the same principles because they come from the same source. What happens is that the two groups were evolving and progressing, but always following the same principle of jiu-jitsu, which is based on twisting joints and choking people through the use of leverage and momentum. I see today that many people become jiu-jitsu teachers without having the qualification to do this. What I notice with jiu-jitsu today is the dilution away from its original premise by taking some of the emphasis away from the submission. Today the objective of jiu-jitsu is to make points at the competitions and holding on until the end of the fight. This is not jiu-jitsu; jiu-jitsu is the pursuit of the finish. Gracie jiu-jitsu and Fadda’s jiu-jitsu or any other family name or team that comes from the source [the Maeda line of jiu-jitsu] differ from newer schools in tradition and real experience of jiu-jitsu. When people seek these new kinds of schools they should acquire information about the teacher to see if he is really a black belt, if he has an undergraduate diploma, if he has an athletic curriculum, his past experiences as a teacher and competitor, his experiences that make him truly qualified to teach Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Nowadays any fighter teaches jiu-jitsu at their school because of s black belt in Karate, [experience in] boxing or wrestling, or other modality, or even because he fought in amateur MMA events, so he opens his BJJ and MMA academy and uses the name of jiu-jitsu.
The Line of Fadda Jiu-Jitsu is accredited with the addition of foot locks to the game we play today. Can you tell our readers how and why your line of jiu-jitsu began experimenting with these types of submissions?
Professor Fadda was a jiu-jitsu scholar and was always fishing around for ways to be more competitive and improve his techniques. The basis of Jiu-jitsu is the use of JOINT LOCKS (arm) and STRANGULATION (use of the kimono to hinder the opponent’s breathing). Master Fadda saw that as the leg twists and is a joint he felt the concepts would also work on the leg (knee and foot). We started to use them at the gym and perfect techniques, we started to use in competitions, and also started to use the “hand cow” [wrist lock] which is a way of twisting the wrist [that] was normal for us in our gym to use these submissions.
The Gracies formerly did not allow these submissions among his students, because he thought it was rude. However they knew and saw that they had a very big effect in competitions. They [Carlos and Helio Gracie] always saw people coming into our gym to see and learn about our techniques. Some students of the Gracies sought Fadda representatives to learn some techniques that, without problems and we taught, always.
There was an example of mine when I was a soldier in the Battalion School of Engineering in 1952 in Ro de Janeiro. A superior who knew that I practiced Jiu-jitsu called me in and asked: “Soldier number 406, know you fight jiu-jitsu and that students apply Fadda different locks, right? I replied! Yes sir Academy Fadda every student develops these keys. Then this senior officer had mats mounted on top of a bed and said I was going to teach [him] the Fadda techniques he was not familiar with.
Can you tell us about the tournament at the Gracie Academy in Which Master Fadda took his students to challenge them at their school and won?
In 1954 Professor Fadda went to the Gracie Academy to make an evaluation of his students. He asked to be able to test their students against his. Professor Helio Gracie appreciated the sportsmanship and positive attitude of Professor Fadda and agreed to this meeting at the headquarters of Gracie Academy, the academy was on Avenida Rio Branco in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
A series of clashes took place between the students, after several battles the Fadda Academy was the winner. That day was special for the accomplishment. It was like a broken a taboo that had existed for many years when the Gracie academy was defeated in Helio Gracie’s own gym.
You have dedicated 70 years of your life to the gentle art, as you have seen BJJ mature and grow up what are some of the changes you have seen that you like and some of the changes you don’t like from BJJ as an art and sport?
The art of jiu-jitsu is a part of my life, to teach the art of jiu-jitsu every day has become a must for me. A positive is that from my day to now jiu-jitsu changed much in the technical sense, today there are many different techniques, I think what I like the least and what I find in poor form today are the federations that regulate jiu-jitsu competitions, many of these groups are not well organized at all.
Rodolfo Vieira’s recent Successes have helped bring notoriety to the Fadda line through his affiliation with Universidade Gama Filho and now with GF Team; can you tell us of some other good prospects from the Fadda line that you think will be doing big things in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the coming year?
Representatives of Fadda’s always existed, but many have never really been in the spotlight.
Can you describe your personal philosophy regarding jiu-jitsu and how it should be viewed?
My main philosophy is that jiu-jitsu is not only for champions, the main virtue of jiu-jitsu is the formation of character it should be seen as a form of therapy and a lifestyle more so than a martial art.
BJJ students in the USA usually don’t know as much about you and the line Fadda as they should. If somebody is interested in learning the line of Fadda Jiu-Jitsu in the U.S. can you recommend some official academies endorsed by your group?
Yes right here in the capital of Texas (AUSTIN) there is a third degree Black Belt and longtime Fadda Jiu-Jitsu student Ronny Lis Macedo and in California we have another Black Belt – Bruno Rodrigues Paulista.
You will be coming to Texas to teach a seminar in Austin this month, do you come to teach in the USA often or is this your first series of seminars in Texas?
Yes this is my first visit to Texas; Austin is the first city I’ve been to in the USA for the purpose of teaching seminars. This seminar will be the first in a series of many in the future. I plan to be coming at least once a year
What can students attending your Austin event expect to learn on December 8th and 9th?
We will present several submissions; we will have plenty of detailed options to add to common positions encountered during the ground game and some variations for traditional jiu-jitsu’s first purpose, which is self-defense.
How do you think Jiu-Jitsu has evolved in the USA? Do you agree with how Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has been imported here?
I think the jiu-jitsu evolved much in USA with the exchange of several Brazilian teachers who undoubtedly contributed much to the quality and improvement of sport jiu-jitsu. Conde Koma was who planted the seeds of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and it has now spread throughout the world.
What are some of the ways you think we could improve Jiu-Jitsu politics both in Brazil and in the USA?
We need better organization. We need to improve the quality and number of competitions, which should be regulated by an accredited and well-constructed federation.
Do you think it is important for students to compete? What is your personal philosophy regarding the jiu-jitsu education of your students and the importance of them competing?
There are students who do not like to compete and do jiu-jitsu as a good physical activity for the large amount of calorie burning and also as a defense; in my gym everyone is free to compete or not compete they feel no obligation to fight in tournaments.
Here we are having a lot of controversy at tournaments when the decision is very close and there is an American fighting a Brazilian. Many Americans feel that the referees are biased and do not want to betray their countrymen so they think Brazilian referees have a tendency to just give the decision away instead of being objective. My question is if you think there is some truth to this situation, do you think we have bias in the IBJJF system of tournaments and how do you think we can fix this problem?
I do not think this bias exists, what happens in general is that by not having a good organization behind most competitions, the judges do not know the rules and they end up hurting the fighters, not just Americans more Brazilians also, my opinion is the same on this issue as the one before. There have to be more and better organized federations that receive the proper recognition and accreditation to make jiu-jitsu more professional.
If you had a magic wand and you could fix anything about the current state of our art in the world, what would you fix?
I would put more jiu-jitsu academies around the world, not only in the big cities. I want them in every little town not just in all the cities.
What is your most special experience that you can share with us that came through jiu-jitsu?
Earning my first black belt.
How has jiu-jitsu changed your life? What kind of person do you think you would be if you had never learned the gentle art?
Jiu-jitsu made me who I am, I started when I was 9 years old, and this is what I know and who I am. I cannot imagine how my life would be without jiu-jitsu.
How big is your extended jiu-jitsu family? With 70 years of your life invested in this I would imagine that you have many many black belts and maybe even some coral belts too, can you share with us who are some of your more distinguished students?
The family is great and is growing more and more. In Brazil we have over 250 students, not to mention with the associations in various cities from other states of Brazil and we also have academies outside of Brazil too.
I’m not the best student, all are equal, I mean, we all follow the same path independent of age. I love every one of my students and always want them to be true representatives of jiu-jitsu because jiu-jitsu is a lifestyle.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to tell TXMMA.com’s readers a little of my life and jiu-jitsu, and would like to invite all lovers of jiu-jitsu to attend the seminar, regardless of your team’s affiliation. Jiu-jitsu is for everyone and I’ll be going to Texas in order to disseminate the way I learned jiu-jitsu for Texas students.
On behalf of TXMMA.com and the entire Texas BJJ Community it was an honor to interview you, thank you for taking the time to share your ideas with us and for your lifetime of dedication to growing the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu! – Felix