Fabio Gurgel Interview

Fabio Gurgel

Inside BJJ
Tell the readers of Inside BJJ how you got started in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Why did you start training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? How old were you? What motivated you to stick with it?

Fabio Gurgel
I started Jiu-Jitsu when I was 13. A friend of mine, actually he was my sister’s boyfriend and blue belt under Carlos Gracie Jr, encouraged me to start and learn Jiu-Jitsu. I began in a very small academy close to my school with Prof Toninho. Coincidentally, he was the first professor of my master, Jacaré, as well, where I moved after Toninho closed the academy 10 months after I started. As soon I learned the first fundamentals, I got completely hooked and knew that Jiu-Jitsu was the thing I would do for living and forever.

Inside BJJ
In 1993, you, Romero “Jacaré” Calvacanti, and Alexandre Pavia started the “Alliance Jiu-Jitsu” team. What prompted the three of you to start the Alliance team? What challenges did you face when you started the team?

Fabio Gurgel
We were the first group that merged schools to get bigger and stronger with an organization that could provide our athletes and students better support. The idea came out because our students started to fight against each other in tournaments which didn’t make sense because we trained together everyday. We were a family, so we built our team to fight against the others and not inside our house.

Inside BJJ
You competed in one of the earlier UFC’s at UFC 11 against Jerry Bohlander. At the time, Bohlander was considered an experienced MMA fighter. You lost the match by decision. What was it like to fight in the UFC back then compared to what we see now?

Fabio Gurgel
The UFC was a nice experience for me as a fighter, but it wasn’t a real job for me. Back then, I fought to prove that Jiu-Jitsu was the best and most effective form of martial arts. Nowadays, the show is simply amazing, and the sport is all over the globe. I’m glad to be part of it.

Inside BJJ

Fabio Gurgel and Marcelo Garcia

Some incredibly talented black belts have come from the Alliance team. Is there a key to building successful black belts? As one of the leaders of Alliance, what is your role in the development of your students from white to black belt? What are the biggest challenges?

Fabio Gurgel
You don’t make good athletes without passion and love for what you are doing. If there is a secret, there it is. White belts are not less important for us at Alliance. All the students have the same attention and dedication. The biggest challenge is supporting our affiliates to keep them on the same page and moving forward with the team. The stronger we are the more support we should provide.

Inside BJJ
In your opinion, what is the most difficult belt?

Fabio Gurgel
For sure the black because it is the longest one. When you get there, you must understand that you don’t know anything. You should keep learning for the rest of your days.

Inside BJJ
In 2001 at the Pan Ams, you lost to Margarida, a former student. Can you describe what it’s like to train a student and then end up competing against him?

Fabio Gurgel
He was my student for a very short time. I didn’t have a special feeling when we fought and I still don’t. He was a good athlete. That’s all.

Inside BJJ
In terms of developing students, the Brasa team came from Alliance. Brasa has produced some of the best BJJ competitors as well. What was it like when the team split in 2002? Was the main issue over the athletes getting paid by the tournaments? Do you believe the athletes should be paid for winning the prestigious tournaments like Pan Ams, Brazilian Nationals and the Worlds?

Fabio Gurgel

The Alliance split was one of the most difficult moments in my life. I couldn’t believe that it was happening.

Alexandre Pavia, Romero “Jacaré” Calvacanti, Fabio Gurgel

After a while, I realized it was a valuable lesson for me. I learned a lot from my mistakes and how to handle these types of situations that are very common in the Jiu-Jitsu world. We built Alliance again from the ashes as a much stronger, united, and motivated team knowing exactly who we are and where we want to go.

The main issue was not the money. This was just the top of the iceberg. All the guys that moved out had their own reason, but they thought that together they could put me against the wall and force me to do what they wanted. They couldn’t.

I believe that money will come to the sport soon but not in the way that people think. IBJJF is an organization to promote the sport and create the idols. Something else should be organized to make the sport professional. It will be above the IBJJF, and they can work together to promote the show where the stars of course will make the money. I don’t believe in money that comes from someone’s pocket. It is not sustainable. The event itself should be able to pay the fighters.

Inside BJJ
Sergio Moraes became a big start in the BJJ community when he finished Krohn Gracie on his way to winning the World’s Championship in 2008. What other new guys from Alliance should the fans look out for in the future tournaments?

Fabio Gurgel
We have a group of guys training very hard everyday here in Sao Paulo and a lot more in our schools all over the world. It is very hard to point someone out instead the others. Keep your eyes open because for sure some of our brown belts are almost ready to show up at the main division and make some noise over there!

Inside BJJ

You are still a successful competitor. Does competition change as you get older? Has it changed it for you?

Fabio Gurgel
Of course it changes. It become harder! The real issue is not that it is harder. Jiu-Jitsu has developed a lot in the last few years but that has not been a problem for me I train everyday with my guys at the gym.

The real matter is how focused can you be for competition?

Nowadays, I have many things to take care of and that makes my day tough. Competition is in my blood. Perhaps, I will show up a few more times on the mats.

Inside BJJ
What’s next for you? Is there anything you’d like to mention that you’re working on? Is there anything you like to mention that Alliance has coming up?

Fabio Gurgel
We are working very hard at Alliance to keep our team on top; not just in competition, but to promote Jiu-Jitsu all over the world in a good way, support our schools, and receive people that want to visit us here in Brazil through our “Alliance exchange program.” Alliance is doing seminars with all of our stars, and if you want to host one of them, please don’t hesitate in contact us. It will be a great pleasure to send one of our top black belts to roll with you. Thanks for the kind interview. It was a pleasure talk to Inside BJJ readers.


Fabio Gurgel 2010 World's Jiu-Jitsu Tournament

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