Inside BJJ
You’re having a very good 2010. You had an outstanding Pan Ams in which you beat Kron Gracie 11-0, submitted Lucas Leite and only lost in the finals in a very close match to Kayron Gracie. You received your black belt in 2008. There’s a statement you made that, “Anger brought me to jiu-jitsu, but love made you stay.” Can you give us your background? How’d you get started and how did you end up where you are today?

Abmar Barbosa
I started jiu-jitsu because I needed it for self-defense. I competed in three or four competitions at white belt. My first competition I lost. I won the next three or four consecutively. At blue belt, I won fifteen competitions in Brazil consecutively. After that, I won a little and lost a little. I knew I needed to train hard but I never trained really really hard. My family helped me a lot. Friends who would sponsor me and help me with money to compete. I never had enough money for supplements or training jiu-jitsu. I would train hard for a a month or two and when a competition would come up, I would break my training so I could pay for airline tickets, visas, and food. Two years ago I came to the United States and I focused on making money. This year for the Pan Ams, in December, I had the money for competition. I didn’t need to worry about money for registration. I only needed to concentrate on training. This was the most important change. My concentration was on the Pan Ams. This was the first time I had supplements, a personal trainer and training jiu-jitsu three or four times a day. This was my life for seven months before the Pan Ams.

I was really frustrated after the Pan Ams because I dedicated a lot to it. I didn’t focus on the World’s Championships. Two months was not enough time for my mind to recover. I’m not happy about my results for the World’s. I’m sorry to my fans. I gave my best. My body was really tired.

Inside BJJ
You faced Kron Gracie in 2009 and lost to a knee-bar. In 2010, you won 11-0. Can you walk us through what was going through your mind during the match in 2009 and what did you do differently in your preparation and execution of your second match against Kron to win 11-0?

Abmar Barbosa
Everybody tells me Kron knee-barred me in 2009. That’s not the problem. The problem is that Kron tapped me three times. He took my medal three times in Pan Ams and World’s. Each time I lost, it gave me more power. After each loss I would think, “I lost. Was he better or was it my fault?” One time he was better. Let’s go train more at that level. Another time, it was my fault. I went for a sweep, and I didn’t remove my leg, and he knee-barred me. OK, my fault. Let’s go practice the position. The thing about my game is that I don’t like to stop. Sometimes, my opponents break my concentration. They take a break, breathe a lot and they’re really smart. They take off the belt, fix the belt, walk a little bit and talk to the referee. They break my concentration. I like to fight but it’s really hard to focus for ten minutes. I want to give 100%. I prepared the same in 2010 as I did in 2009. The jiu-jitsu was the same. The only difference was my mentality. The time I tapped Rodrigo Teixeira. I knew I had Kron. I tapped Kron. This time, he didn’t take my medal. This is my time. He was better than me in 2009 but not 2010. I have the mentality that yesterday he was better, but today I’m better. If I lose in the future, I’ll have the same mentality. It’s difficult to always win for a long time. You never always win. Sometimes you’re better. Sometimes I’m better. These are jiuj-itsu black belts. Everybody is good. Everybody is the same level.

Inside BJJ
One thing about your style is that you’re aggressive and you don’t stall. You’re always in peak physical condition. Preparing for competition is an extremely important task especially at the highest levels of jiu-jitsu. You started a BJJ school with a strength & conditioning coach Leo Morton. How do you two work to prepare for a tournament? How far out do you start?

Abmar Barbosa
After I start conditioning, I feel different. I feel much better. At the same time, I pay a lot of attention to training jiu-jitsu. People say, “You’re really aggressive for the first fight and the second fight.” It doesn’t’ matter. I don’t like to look at how many fights I need to win. If I lose the first fight, it doesn’t matter how many fights I have. If I lose the second fight, It doesn’t matter. I need to win each fight. I give 100% to every fight. It doesn’t matter if I’m tired or not in my second fight. I want people to see that I’m aggressive, technical and very good. I trust every position. I give my best. I was sad about my fight with Kayron, but I gave 100% and I wanted to win. I didn’t give 99%. I gave 100%.

Preparation and conditioning is really important, but your style is really important too. People want to win but they don’t always have the right mindset to win. I train a lot. I train everyday in the academy. In my training, I see many people make their own limits. I like to push my limits. I try to move and work many positions. In competition, you have to be tight and perfect.

Inside BJJ
There are different styles in jiu-jitsu. Some guys are really aggressive and go for submissions and some guys work a strategy by playing half-guard or 50/50 and looking for sweeps and advantages to win. What is your opinion of this?

Abmar Barbosa
I like to always give 100%. I like to move a lot and work for positions. At the same time, it’s really important to work a strategy and win. Many people just want to win. It doesn’t matter if you win by an advantage of if you’re win is ugly. People just want to win. It’s the same thing with 50/50. Every time people go for 50/50, how do they win? Advantage? Two points? It’s a strategy. I’m not saying it’s a bad position. It’s perfect if you like it and it’s your style. I don’t want that style for me. If your style is 50/50, how many positions do you show in ten minutes? One position. Maybe you’re really good. Of course you’re good – you’re a black belt. My style is completely different. I don’t want to stop. I don’t want to win by advantage. I don’t want to win by a referee decision. With Kayron Gracie, there were 25 seconds left in the match and I did not stop. I did not want a referee decision. I don’t want any questions. If I won, I know I win. If I lost, I know I lost.

Inside BJJ
Getting back to your new school. BJJ is grown very fast in the United States, and there are some really interesting trends in how BJJ is being taught. For instance, Draculino has a very progressive curriculum and methodology. What is your approach to training your students? How do you set your curriculum? What do you expect from your students and what can your students expect from you as their instructor?

Abmar Barbosa
My first focus is to make sure my students stay technical. In the academy, don’t use your power. In competition, you have adrenaline and your power is gone in the first or second fight. What I like to do is train my students really hard first. For 45 minutes, we train hard and everybody is tired. After that, we train the technique. Get a partner and train with your technique and heart. This is a test for my students. It’s important to know how to train with your heart.

For my curriculum, I focus on one technique in a month. For example, the first week will be basic spider guard. The second week will be a variation on the spider guard. The third week will be a review of the first spider guard technique and the second week’s variation. The last week, we will train but we will start only in the spider guard. I only change the technique after I see all of my students are perfect and understand the technique. I train with every student. For example, if I teach half-guard, I make sure I put students who like half guard with students who don’t like half guard. If you like a position, you’ll understand it more and you can help the students who don’t like it because they don’t understand it.

Inside BJJ
What’s your goal moving forward? Is being the World’s BJJ champion your primary goal? Do you think you’ll move into MMA like so many other BJJ guys such as Roger Gracie, Andre Galvao, Demian Maia?

Abmar Barbosa

I like to do the opposite of what everybody does. Everybody goes for MMA and forgets jiu-jitsu. Why do they need to go? Why don’t they stay with jiu-jitsu? I want to stay with jiu-jitsu. It’s the same in my area. Everybody teaches no-gi. My academy is the only academy that teaches with a gi. If you come to this area and you want to train no-gi, you have many schools to decide from. If you want to train with a gi, you have one choice and that’s Abmar Barbosa Jiu-Jitsu Academy. I feel great about continuing with gi jiu-jitsu. It’s an evolution every day, every month and every year. I don’t see why I need to stop. Of course, every body wants money. People go to MMA for money. Nobody likes to get punched in the face. Tell me someone who likes to get punched in the face? If I give you $10,000, you’ll let me punch you in the face. Money makes people change to MMA from jiu-jitsu. I’m happy with jiu-jitsu. I’m going to continue with gi jiu-jitsu. The only extra detail is I have started to train no-gi. I started six months ago. I’m teaching Joe Lauzon for his UFC fight. I give him a private class three times a week. Sometimes he helps me with no-gi. He’s really good. I’m continuing with the gi. I hope to open one more academy in the United States and to keep training jiu-jitsu.
Inside BJJ
Anything else you’d like to add?

Abmar Barbosa
Thank you very much for this opportunity and opening this space for me for an interview. In 2007, I won Pan Ams Open Class Brownbelt. How many people know this? Zero. The same year everybody knows I lost to Kron Gracie. The same day I lost to Kron was the same day I won open class brown belt. Thank you for the opportunity for people to learn more about me.

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  1. maverickcop says:

    Abmar has been truly impressive! I’m a fan, and wish him well in the future.

  2. leftarmbar says:

    dude. this guy has serious energy on the mat and in the interview. he should stop worring about Kron. Abmar has amazing bjj. always a champion.

  3. buckshotbjj says:

    love your jiujitsu abmar

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  5. abmar fan says:


  6. Andreh Anderson says:

    Abmar is one of the best I’ve ever rolled with, and one of the nicest guys on and off the mat. Good luck to him! He deserves all of the success in the world.


  1. Abmar Barbosa Interview - Sherdog Mixed Martial Arts Forums - [...] Check out the interview Abmar Barbosa. He's a real cool guy with an interesting story. Read it…

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