Advice From Master Fabio Gurgel

Ask the Nail

“The secret of this sport is, while you’re the nail, hang in there, let them hit you, until the day you become the hammer, then you smash them back!”

-Renzo Gracie

This addition of “Ask The Nail” is brought to you by special guest columnist, Master Fabio Gurgel. Inside BJJ would like to extend a special thanks to Master Gurgel for taking the time to answer the questions.

Fabio Gurgel is one of the best coaches in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The head instructor and leader of Team Alliance Sao Paulo, Fabio Gurgel has also been a top competitor in the BJJ scene with many important titles such as World and European Open champion. In 2010 he competed once again at the European Open at the age of 40 and managed to pull the win, just a few months after he made his 20th black belt anniversary.
From BJJ Heroes

Ask the Nail

Master Gurgel,
With the constant advances in BJJ, do you believe the best competitors are the ones that keep up with the times and try all of the “new” things out there? Or do you believe the best come from the people that stay simple and try to make constant improvements to their “basic” game?

From C4BJJ

First of all, I think that you should be open minded to learn what comes to you.
With that said, I believe keeping the game simple is the best. There are so many details that take a long time to master just for basic Jiu-Jitsu. The basic game can be so hard to learn properly that sometimes people move to new positions because they are just easier than sticking with the basics.

Master Fabio Gurgel

Master Gurgel,
Do you have any advice for people who train just as a hobby and for fun, and/or who are older (say, 40’s on up)?

From TraneUFCIsBack

What I learned, I’m almost 42, is that the worst thing that you can do is STOP. Your recovery won’t be like it used to be when you were young and then the lack of motivation comes. No matter how tired or sore you are, try to move just a little bit everyday.
Try training not against your partner but against your moves, making them better than the last time. For example, focus on one thing like defending yourself well from the mount position. It can be really fun to train this way. If you need to submit someone to make yourself happy, you will go home frustrated many days.

Master Fabio Gurgel

Master Gurgel,
BJJ is such a physical sport and sometimes conflicts come up. Is it considered acceptable to settle some conflicts on the mat. I have a military background and I feel ok with this, but I understand that others may not think so. Of course I suppose it depends on the instructor and the culture of the school. What do you think? Is it ok to settle some conflicts on the mat with a good hard roll?

From Chance

The most important thing in Jiu-Jitsu is the friendships that you make. The environment of the school should be the best as possible. I understand that you are comfortable with settling conflicts on the mat, but this is definitely not the attitude or approach that helps the school as a group. A good talk to settle the conflits would be a better idea.

Master Fabio Gurgel

Master Gurgel,
Who do you think is the best Alliance athlete of all time?

From Anonymous

It’s really hard to say but I would guess Marcelinho!

Master Fabio Gurgel

2 Responses to “Advice From Master Fabio Gurgel”

  1. Chris says:

    Master Gurgel

    What stage do you find to be the most difficult part of the journey from white belt to black belt and beyond?

    Because thinking back I found the first two years the most enjoyable but also the most frustrating. Now seems very different to when I started and I wonder who much things will continue to change for me as I develop.

    I would love to hear your philsophy on this, if you have one?

    Many Thanks

    • insidebjj says:


      Sorry, Master Gurgel already answered the questions for the column. I understand your sentiment. The first two years of my training was extremely exciting because everything was new but also very frustrating because – everything was new! As I progressed, my expectations and knowledge of Jiu-Jitsu changed and some of the mystery was taken out of it which I think sometimes lessens the excitement. A couple weeks off typically renews my passion though.

      Good luck to you and your training!

      — Tim

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