Gracie Barra Black Belt Motivation

The path to black belt in jiu-jitsu is a long one (some say average training time of 10 years or more) and involves overcoming many obstacles, training injuries, frustrating plateaus and periods where just getting to the Gracie Barra school for class seems like an effort.

In these times we need motivation. We need the internal motivation that comes from staying connected with our personal goals. Remembering why we started training jiu-jitsu.

And motivation can also come from outside sources as well. A quote we remember from a black belt who has walked the road before us can give us that nudge of motivation that we need to get over a hump and into the jiu-jitsu class.

Here are some words of advice and encouragement shared by Gracie Barra black belts and instructors that might help fuel your motivation.


Prof. Vinicius “Draculino” Magalhaes on consistency

GB: You have been training jiu-jitsu for many years.

What are your secrets to continue to stay in great physical condition, injury free and keep training everyday?

Professor Draculino: Almost 32 years. I think consistency is key for a long run journey in JJ.

Like every other sport, if you compete and train at high level, injuries can happen but JJ is far more than competition and it is perfectly possible to train and live the lifestyle with minimal injuries.


Prof. Cristiano Dantas on goals

GB: What is the  most important life lesson you have learned from Jiu-Jitsu?

Prof. Cristiano Dantas: If you have a dream, you have to fight for it , because nothing falls from the sky and many adversities will appear along that way.

If you don’t get to reach the sky ( your dream ) will get to reach the stars (close to it ).

GB: How did training Jiu-jitsu change your life?

Prof. Cristiano Dantas: Jiu-Jitsu is a lifestyle.

That is why I believe that everyone can benefit from jiu jitsu, no matter your age or physical athleticism.

The benefits of doing this martial arts for me go far beyond knowing how to protect yourself.

I truly believe it is a legitimate vehicle for positive change in our lives.

Jiu-Jitsu taught me the value of hard work, promotes my persistence, gets me to face my fears, builds my mental toughness, taught me to be humble, gave me confidence, helped me to get in shape and become more athletic.

So I am very grateful to jiu jitsu for all you have done and continues to do in my life.

GB: If you can give a single piece of advice for bjj students who want to improve their games, what would that advice be?

Cristiano Dantas: Get out of your comfort zone during training and put yourself in conditions which you usually do not fall.

Repeat those positions several times to the point that they start getting automatic on your game.

Remember, in jiu jitsu you do not lose. You win or you learn.


Prof. Fabiana Borges on living the Jiu-jitsu Lifestyle

GB:  Can you talk about your philosophy of Brazilian jiu-jitsu – How do you live the Jiu-jitsu Lifestyle?

Prof. Fabiana Borges: My philosophy is helping others to be more confident and believe in themselves. I believe that jiu-jitsu can help you be a better person, overcome your fears and obstacles. Also, it’s a great work out, you have fun while doing it and make lifetime friends.

My life is the bjj lifestyle, all my friends were made through bjj, I make a living from bjj and live to do bjj!

I have to think about whatever I eat or drink, so I can have energy to teach and train. On my rest days I try to do something around nature to recharge my energy.

I like reading and watch video about bjj. That’s my life!


Prof. Aleksejs Kalins on learning and progress

GB: How did training Jiu-jitsu change your life?

Prof Aleksejs Kalins : From my own I respect any Martial Art practitioner in World.

If you find something that you love you need to work for that with all your heart.

GB: What do you try to communicate to your students about the benefits of training Jiu-Jitsu?

Prof Aleksejs Kalins : Jiu-jitsu has no limits.

You can learn and learn and learn and you will find new options even that you have never seen before!

GB: What is the  most important life lesson you have learned from Jiu-Jitsu?

Prof. Aleksejs Kalins : “There is the Progress with your Professor’s help and individual progress ” – this is what makes Jiu-jitsu the best in the World!


Prof. Andre Almeida on competition mind set

GB: What is your philosophy about winning and losing in the tournaments?

What inspires you to train so hard to compete?

Prof. Andre Almeida: Like everyone I always want to win, but more than that I always believe I’m going to win. I get really frustrated when I lose a match that I know I could have won.

There are some matches that you can easily see the mistakes that you did, the positions that you lose and the opportunities that you missed, and that really pisses me off!

Besides that, if I lose because my opponent did a great job on simply blocking my attacks and were able to overcome my defenses I try not be mad and learn from my weakness to come back stronger.

For years of my life I stayed full days on the library studying for uncountable hours and I believe that gave me a profound notion of discipline, and with good disciple almost anything is possible.

About the inspiration to train so hard to be able to reach a competitive level, the only thing I can say is that you have got to love the path, not the end.

On my life I have always tried to love, or learn to love, the path.

When I say that I workout from Monday through Saturday some may think of this as unbearable, I think I am lucky to have the time to be able to workout 6 days a week.

Of course some days are rough, but life is like that with everything, some days you just have to push through, but the majority of the days I’m doing tremendously grateful.

GB: Can you give some advice to Gracie Barra students who like to compete?

What was the most helpful advice that either of your brothers Ricardo or Flavio told you about competing?

Prof. Andre Almeida: If I could give one piece of advice it would be go forward! The benefits of you registering for a competition are uncountable, winning or losing you will already have a great take away from it.

You will always feel nerves, it’s not a friendly game, its fighting, you will fell stressed.

The best advise that I have gotten from brothers was really simple, give your best and then you will be comfortable by knowing that you did all you could do.

They always supported me 100% and gave me all the tools necessary for me to perform at my highest level.


Prof. Randall Huot on what jiu-jitsu taught him

GB: How did training Jiu-jitsu change your life?

Prof. Randall Huot: Training jiu-jitsu has taught me many things. First, it’s taught me to better control my ego. While I’m definitely still a work in progress, I feel as though jiu-jitsu has taught me to win and lose with dignity and to detach my understanding of my progress from the outcome of any single match or tournament.

Understanding that I don’t need to live and die with every win or defeat in life is a lesson that has had far-reaching implications for me both on and off the mats.

Jiu-jitsu has also of course contributed greatly to my quality of life in terms of my physical health and well-being. The demands of jiu-jitsu training, as in any rigorous sport, require that the athlete recognize the advantages of proper nutrition and sleep hygiene in order to perform at their best.

I don’t know that a person can truly optimize their health without at least occasionally testing themselves by pushing their physical limits. Jiu-jitsu is the tool I use to test mine, and it provides immediate feedback on whether I am doing the things I need to do to ensure my body is optimized.

GB: What is the  most important life lesson you have learned from Jiu-Jitsu?

Prof. Randall Huot: For me jiu-jitsu is about reconnecting to what is real. We’re constantly bombarded with what seem like critical issues and decisions in our daily lives and for many people it can become overwhelming and lead to anxiety or even depression. The reality however is that most of the things that cause us anxiety aren’t really all that critical in the grand scheme of things and there is, for me at least, no better way to come to this realization than trying fight off a submission from a skilled opponent. I challenge anyone to worry about whether they remembered to send a work email while trying to escape from a triangle. It can be done.


Prof. Max Goldberg on self improvement

GB: What is the most important life lesson you have learned from Jiu-Jitsu?

Prof. Max Goldberg:

Anybody can pick their dream and with hard work make it come true all I need is a gi and a way to get to jiu jitsu.

GB: What do you try to communicate to your students about the benefits of training Jiu-Jitsu?

Prof. Max Goldberg: Jiu Jitsu improves your mind, your body, your diet and your life. You are not just learning a skill you have the opportunity to experience the jiu jitsu life style that includes health, happiness and confidence.

BJJ is about self-improvement and for everyone that looks different.  Jiu Jitsu is a vehicle to help individuals achieve their goals in any aspect of their life.


Prof. Fabiana Borges on patience

GB: What advice do you have for girls who are thinking about trying jiu-jitsu classes?

Any advice for beginners just getting started?

Prof. Fabiana Borges: I see that the first months of your jiu-jitsu journey is very hard.

Be patient with yourself, don’t be hard on yourself, have fun and try to listen to all advices.

One day it will click and you will be doing all the techniques.

Also, don’t compare yourself with others, each person has different ways of learning.

Try to understand what is yours and go from here.


Prof. Lucio “Lagarto” Rodrigues on overcoming cancer

GB: A few years ago, you successfully overcame cancer and returned to training and competition.

Can you tell us about that experience and what it taught you about your life?

Prof. Lucio “Lagarto” Rodrigues: That cancer just knocked on the wrong door ;))

I didn’t change anything in the lifestyle Carlos Gracie Jr taught me. I looked at it as a challenge I had to overcome.

It’s funny to say it, but it was a very good experience, I learned things I would not have learned in any other circumstances.

Appreciate every second as your last in every little detail, life becomes so beautiful.


Prof. Marcelo Rezende on achieving the black belt

GB: Which advices can you give to those who want to achieve the black belt as well?

Prof. Marcelo Rezende: Persistence, dedication. Do not resist too much in a submission. Avoid positions that may endanger your health. If you are hurt, keep going to the classes to train some positions, specific subjects or to practice with lighter people. If you really can’t train, at least go to watch the classes. This way you will be always in contact and your journey to the black belt will be being built.


Coach Carol Gracie (the daughter of Master Carlos Gracie Jr.) on the jiu-jitsu lifestyle

GB: What is your philosophy in life ?

Carol GracieI believe that to live an active life in its fullness you need to take care of the mind and body . It’s impossible to exist without one or the other. For me the pursuit of happiness lies in finding a purpose in life that is larger than you as an individual. And health is fundamental in this. Maintaining the mind and body healthy , enables the individual to fulfill their social role , remain active in society through their work , and their family, performing activities that benefit others as well as themselves.

GB: What lessons did you learn from your father about health and lifestyle ?

Carol Gracie: I learned that when it comes to health you are what you eat . And that my food is my medicine in the sense that eating well can prevent many diseases and not only increase longevity but what is most important in my opinion – healthy aging keeps us active and feeling good for many years .


Prof. Ana Laura Tinoca Cordeiro on giving your best

GB: What is the best training advice that someone gave you about jiu-jitsu?

Prof. Ana Laura Tinoca Cordeiro: Not just in bjj, but in all you want to do, you have to give your best, trying to be the best. It doesn’t matter the area. Just do your best and you will get the best. “Hard work works”


Prof. Flavio Almeida talks about jiu-jitsu and the art of war

“Martial arts means the art of war…Jigoro Kano came out with the idea for the first time that people were not just in war against somebody else unless you actually are on the battlefield and you are going to war for your country like many of the Marines do.

The reality of it is that we don’t actually go to war against other people. We are not learning martial arts to go to war with our training partner on the mats. We are not opposing each other.

We go to war against who? We go to war against ourselves.

Every single day that we step on these mats we put these gi’s and we tie our belts we have to embrace our best and play at our best because we decide to dedicate 1 hour or 2 hours of that day to go to war against ourselves.

Our training partner is a tool that is going to present us with so many different obstacles and dilemmas. Some of them are physical, some of them are technical. Some of them are emotional.

We have to put ourselves in a position to overcome them. So we are going to war against ourselves.”


Please share in comments your favorite jiu-jitsu motivational quote.


See also on Gracie Barra : To read more Gracie Barra interviews:



Credits: Mark Mullen 

Gracie Barra Black belt based in Asia