Ricardo Almeida is a perfect example of someone who has dedicated his life to the martial arts. Ricardo is not only a UFC veteran but he is also is considered to be one of the best Jiu Jitsu instructors in the world. Aside from fighting Professor Ricardo divides his time between running his school Ricardo Almeida Jiu Jitsu Academy in Hamilton, New Jersey, helping his brother Flavio run his Gracie Barra school’s in San Clemente and Dana Point, as well as staying active in the MMA community by coaching fighters and judging events.
Professor Ricardo took the time to share with us his history with Gracie Barra, some of his goals, as well as provide some tips for students and instructors alike.
Tell us about your history with Gracie Barra and what it has meant to you in your life?
Master Carlos Gracie Jr. had been a real positive influence not only in my life but an entire generation of young men that grew up in Barra and studied under his direct guidance.I started training at Gracie Barra in Brazil in 1992. My very first class was with Master Carlos. I was 15 years old and there were many distraction growing up in Brazil. While most of the young man were focusing on parties and a lifestyle often corrupted by drug use, to most of us on the team, it was all about training, competing, and spending as much time on the mats as possible. Don’t get me wrong we all had our fun times too! But even at a young age the Gracie Family culture of a strict diet and active lifestyle dictated most of what we did wether we were getting ready for competition or not.
You recently made the move out to California to help your brother out with his schools as well as help Gracie Barra Association with many important projects. What made you decide to go back to your roots?
I am splitting my time about 50/50 between California and New Jersey. My brother Flavio is really hands on with the “Jiu Jitsu for Everyone” project and travelling a lot. I love the San Clemente/Dana Point Area and over Christmas we were talking about spending more time together and working on some joint projects. The opportunity came for me to become a ‘Technical Advisor” for GB Dana Point and San Clemente and teach most of the Black Belt classes and I didn’t think twice. I am very happy to be able to spend more time in California but I still have my school in Jersey and a big team of guys who still need my help also so for now I’ll be travelling back and forth between South Orange County and Jersey.
Your school in New Jersey embodies Jiu Jitsu for everyone. Not only is it one of the largest schools in the world but it is successful while teaching everyone from the average person to Jiu Jitsu and MMA Champions. What do you think an instructor needs to do to be so successful on so many levels?
I believe the main quality of an instructor is genuine and sincere interest in his or her students. I love Jiu Jitsu not as a set of techniques that wins fights but as a way of life guided by principles of health, respect, courtesy, discipline, and off course diligent physical training on and off the mats.If an Instructor truly loves his craft and his students then success is a foregone conclusion no matter how big or small the school is.
If you could give one piece of advice to any martial artist what would it be?
Live your life not not looking forward to pleasure and personal gain. Work very hard to find your gift. And once you do give it away. Overcoming challenging circumstances and creating value for others are two of the most rewarded activities one can devote his or her time and energy to. Personally and financially!
What advice would you give to an Instructor?
Don’t ever forget that you are a student first.
What are your goals for both yourself and Gracie Barra?
I want both my children Renzo and Flavia to become Jiu Jitsu Black Belts.I don’t really care if they compete or win championships but I am very inspired every time we are able to share “Jiu Jitsu Moments” where we are able to talk about health, exercise, discipline, courage, and other important principles that regular schools have forgotten to include in the curriculum.
For myself I want to keep training and learning and continue to be a positive resource for my students and team mates. I feel I sill have so much to learn as a student of Jiu Jitsu and Martial Arts and also as an instructor. My goal as an Instructor has always been to train Black Belts and have as many of them become instructors as possible. It is a privilege to work closely with Gracie Barra and share the same vision.