By TXMMA Staff (Felix Rodriguez and Nathan Stolzer)
Alvarez BJJ’s Head Instructor Daniel Alvarez discusses competition focus, accomplishments, and goals
ARLINGTON, TX, January 6, 2014 – Daniel Alvarez is a second-degree black belt based out of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. As the owner and head instructor of Alvarez BJJ and a representative of the Bruno Bastos Jiu-Jitsu Association, Mr. Alvarez was recently inducted to the Bruno Bastos Association’s Hall of Fame and also gained recognition for an exemplary year in the 2013 edition of the TXMMA Awards. Alvarez and his students have had a banner year in 2013 taking the competition scene by storm. From white belts all the way up to Danny Alvarez himself, the Alvarez BJJ crew have been a fixture at podiums from Texas to Italy and everywhere in between as they competed primarily on the IBJJF circuit, widely acclaimed as the most prestigious tournament circuit in the world..
We caught up with the head Spartan himself to get to know what it takes to reach the levels of success that he and his students have experienced this year. He shared that 2013 is just the beginning for what Alvarez BJJ has in store for the Jiu-Jitsu community. Check out the first part of our interview where we focus on Coach Alvarez as a competitor:
TXMMA Interview – Daniel Alvarez (Alvarez BJJ)
TXMMA: 2013 has been a big year for you. Can you tell us what some of your personal accomplishments as a competitor this year?
Daniel Alvarez – Let me see, I have quite a few, I had a big year, and I have competed a lot last year. I think I went to 8 IBJJF tournaments last year, so this year I set a goal to not only do ten IBJJF tournaments, but to take gold in everyone. I thought it was a stretch and would take me all year to do it, but I ended up completing it around September. I ended up taking 13 gold medals in 16 divisions. That was a major accomplishment for me. I also wanted to go to a few places that I didn’t go last year. Rome, Italy was one that we went to and won. Japan was another cool one. I was a two-time New York open champion and I went to Vegas and won two golds there.
TXMMA – It is very hard to be a successful competitor and it is very hard to be an effective coach, but you make doing both things at once seem super easy…what is the secret?
Daniel Alvarez – The secret is just staying true to the goal. I’m a very disciplined person; I can’t be kind of lazy. Every day is a grind to push my team and myself. What helps is having students that love to do what I do. There are days where it’s just not a 100%, but I feed off my students’ good energy and we just help each other with that. I’m not a higher black belt, I’m not a black belt where someone is paying me a salary to teach classes, I have a business, a pretty successful one at that. I still have to stay after and clean the mats and make sure the numbers are in check. I still have to make sure the business side of things are going on the right track and I have to make sure I make time for training and have enough mat time. There is really not a lot of free time, especially this year. It seemed like every time I was back from the airport I was getting ready to go fly somewhere else and come back for rest, and cut weight and get my guys ready for tournaments here. A long time ago I heard that you had to be one or the other, and I just thought that was not right. I wanted to see for myself to see if I could not only be a successful competitor and be a successful coach. It’s just something I wanted to see if I could do, and I’m doing it. The goal is to go out there and win, and see my team win. I don’t want to be just good at one thing, I want to be good at everything and be at the top.
TXMMA – What is a normal day of training for competition like for you?
Daniel Alvarez – It might be cardio day, or strength and conditioning, four or five rounds, minimum four rounds, six or seven minute rounds morning and night, picking the right training partners, I don’t have black belts in my academy like others, I have a lot of blue and purple belts because this is our 5th year as a business. I have a lot of guys who just want to get in there and give coach a challenge and try to get me. It makes for tough fights. I can’t really look around and pick an easy fight, my guys know I need them to bring 100% and that really helps us make each other better. Towards the end of the week you’re a bit beat up but you make it happen.
TXMMA – If you could change one thing about the current state of BJJ what would it be?
Daniel Alvarez – I think jiu-jitsu is growing really fast, and its constantly changing and it’s hard to keep up, and new things are always being developed, so I guess maybe competition-wise, if tournaments had more of a universal set of rules. We compete a lot so we always have to focus on the rules. Some tournaments have it set one way while others have it another. That makes me feel like a set thing of rules would be best for everybody. It would make it easier, so it wouldn’t cost anyone matches.
TXMMA – . How do you feel about the use of the 50/50 guard and other techniques people perceive as “stalljitsu” tactics? For example, do you agree with the decision to double DQ Keenan Cornelius and Paulo Miyao during their ADCC match?
Daniel Alvarez – I don’t play a lot of 50/50; it’s something we’ll train and work out of but we don’t really try to get there on purpose. You know if you got a minute left in your match and you go there to make sure you get the W then that’s different, but it’s not really what we teach our guys. I’m a smaller guy so I move a lot, I like the action, I like to pass the guard and I don’t like being restrained so it’s not something I spend a lot [on]. It’s not something fun to watch, if I am watching a DVD like the Pans I’ll fast-forward when people are in 50/50. It’s not exciting for the spectators, if you’re new to jiu-jitsu it looks like two guys not really doing much. The referee DQ’ing Paulo and Keenan if they both had a fair amount of warnings to get moving then that’s alright, but if they just got disqualified then I think they should have had a fair amount of time to get to another position and their adjustments but I have to go back and watch that match again.
TXMMA – What is your favorite jiu-jitsu technique and why?
Daniel Alvarez – My favorite one’s probably bow and arrow choke from back mount. I just really took a liking to that choke, being a smaller guy taking a bigger guy’s back. When I take the back that’s my goal is to finish with that choke, because it’s really hard to defend when you have a good grip on the collar and really stretch him out. It’s a great choke once you get it going so my kids and my teens and all my adults have hit that that choke in tournaments. It’s a technique we drill and practice a lot. I ask my students to give me that choke when they take the back in matches. So that’s probably the top technique.
TXMMA – Can you share an anecdote of something awesome you got to experience thanks to jiu-jitsu?
Daniel Alvarez – the awesome thing is the great people. I mean, really the awesome thing about jiu-jitsu is the experience with the people. I’ve met so many awesome people. I’ve made so many friends, great friends because of jiu-jitsu throughout the state of Texas, the United States and the world because of the places we travel. You know, but also as a coach, being able to help my students to achieve their goals is a great feeling. Being able to see guys lose 80 or 90 pounds and look completely different, their body language and self-esteem are different. Of course they feel great but to me that the greatest feeling, but as far as a personal thing it’s the places I’ve been and people I have met.
Make sure to check out the second part of our interview with Professor Alvarez where we discuss the benefits of the jiu-jitsu lifestyle, what it’s like to run one of the most successful BJJ academies in Texas, and much more.