Meet the Instructor: Movement Drills for Jiu-Jitsu with Professor Gustavo “Guga” Machado Pinto

GB Online would like you to meet Professor Gustavo “Guga” Machado Pinto of GB Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia.

Professor Gustavo is the instructor behind the new Drilling Video series coming December 20th to GB Online.

Professor Gustavo started his study of martial arts with the Brazilian art of capoeira and judo as a child in Sao Jose Dos Campos near Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo. When his young cousins came from Rio to visit, the young people would get together and do a little training on mats in the backyard, exchanging judo and jiu-jitsu techniques.

He started training in Jiu-Jitsu in 1992 when he was introduced to Jiu-Jitsu when an instructor moved to his city. Around the time Professor Gustavo was 12 years old, Prof Sergio Lisboa conducted a self-defense seminar at the capoeira school.

“He did a self-defense seminar. Just escaping from headlocks and guillotines, he showed how to do an arm lock from the guard, those basic things. And I fell in love with it. That is what I want to do.”

Professor Gustavo trained all the way to the black belt with his instructor, and after he graduated from university, he developed a desire to travel the world and learn English. Professor Gustavo sent many emails to gyms in different parts of the world inquiring if they would invite him to come and teach Jiu-Jitsu in their country. A friend in Australia gave him the idea that he should try to come to Australia.

Professor Marcelo Resende and Gracie Barra Oceania

Fortuitously, one of Professor Gustavo’s emails reached the pioneer of Gracie Barra in Australia, Professor Marcelo Resende. Professor Marcelo invited Professor Gustavo to come to Australia and teach Jiu-Jitsu under the Gracie Barra organization. In 2003, he arrived in Australia, and Professor Gustavo started teaching at Professor Marcelo’s GB school, competing for Gracie Barra and representing Australia in ADCC and the World Championships.

Competition experience
Professor Gustavo competed in the early days in Brazil in many regional competitions. In the early days of Jiu-Jitsu, there were few competitions held. He won multiple state titles in Brazil. Later, after relocating to Australia, he continued to compete in international-level events like the ADCC and the IBJJF World Championships. Professor Gustavo won the Pan Pacific championships on two occasions at black belt, competing in the Featherweight class. He had a 7-year undefeated streak in his weight class in Australia.

The Drilling System

When GB asked Professor Gustavo about how he developed his drilling system, he explained that his drilling system originated in judo.

“I came from a school in Brazil from Master Osvaldo Alves and Professor Sergio Lisboa. We used to do a lot of drills. Because Osvaldo was a judo black belt, and he developed a lot of Jiu-Jitsu techniques as well with the Gracie family. He came from a judo background, and in judo, you do a lot of uchikomi.” says Prof Gustavo.

Uchikomi is a Japanese term defined as the “winding in,” referring to entering into a takedown without actually following through with the throw.

“It’s the entry for the takedown. Rather than do a full takedown, you do the entry as fast as you can. As many times as you can. Because the entry is the hardest part, so if you do a proper entry with timing and speed, the throw is going to become effortless.” says Professor Gustavo.

The Drilling System for Jiu-Jitsu borrowed from the training methodology of judo and applied it to the ground positions of Jiu-Jitsu. The drills would be used daily. Sometimes as a warmup or after class as a sports-specific form of physical conditioning.

“Using ground drills to improve speed, timing, to improve reaction time so that you don’t need to think about it, you just do it on the spot,” says Professor Gustavo.

Professor Gustavo believes that performing the drills in his system is the best way for students to build the specific type of physical conditioning required for Jiu-Jitsu.

“We would do it after class to get more conditioning for Jiu-Jitsu. Rather than running up a hill, you do passing drills as fast as you can. That’s going to improve your cardio, and specific cardio for Jiu-Jitsu.” explains Professor Gustavo.

One day Professor Gustavo was demonstrating some techniques in Queensland, and some students asked, “Professor, why don’t you start recording the techniques that you know, because you know a lot! Everyone comments that I’m kinda like an encyclopedia of Jiu-Jitsu,” he smiles.

How to add drilling to your training

If you attend a GB1 or GB2 class at your Gracie Barra school, the hour will run according to the class clock, with all available time allocated to warmup, technique, or specific training. How can a GB Jiu-Jitsu student incorporate drilling into their weekly training regimen?

Professor Gustavo sometimes gets the students to perform drills following the regular GB warmup. Professor Gustavo recommends allocating 10 to 15 minutes to a drilling session. Repetitive drills are performed as fast as you can – performing each drill for 1 minute to 90 seconds.

“Depending on the difficulty of the drill. Sometimes 2 minutes. Drill, drill, drill. And then move on to the next one. For about 10 to 15 minutes, and then we go through a technique, and then sparring.”

If your GB scheduled class doesn’t include drilling, students can wait until after the class is over or before the regular class starts as a warm-up. Many Jiu-Jitsu addicts have an extra room in their homes or have a training partner with mats in their garage. This can be the ideal way to get additional drilling in and improve specific parts of their game.

Importance of drilling to White and Blue belts

When we asked Professor Gustavo about the importance of drilling for white and blue belt Jiu-Jitsu students, he was emphatic: “I think that it’s the most important for a white belt to a blue belt to drill. Because it’s safer as they are not going straight away to sparring.”

Professor Gustavo elaborates, “You can learn the technique a lot easier and faster because of the repetition. You are going to be doing repetition, repetition, repetition until you get it. You aren’t doing it only for 5 minutes and then stopping and seeing the technique again in two days.”

Professor Gustavo also believes in students drilling at home with the use of a training dummy. “You can do some of these with the dummy if you have one. Because it’s a static drill, one person doesn’t need to do anything. You repeat the drill as fast as you can. I think it’s highly important for them to use drills as a tool to improve their Jiu-Jitsu.”

Professor Gustavo uses the example of the armlock from the guard. “Is a very hard technique for white belts to do. You need a lot of your body angle. You need to climb your legs properly; you need to get the tightness in your legs, and you need to close the gaps. Doing a drill is going to help them to get the body positioning right. The legs climbing properly. They can do it at a slow pace, and then they add speed as they go. So doing the drill is going to help them to improve a lot quicker.”

Advice for Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu students to use the Drilling concepts

Professor Gustavo says, “Drilling a technique is different than drilling a speed drill. Some of the drills are speed drills. You have to do it as fast as you can, as many times as you can.”

According to Professor Gustavo, the benefits of drilling extend beyond less experienced students learning the correct mechanics of the techniques  “So you can get the timing, speed, and muscle memory so that when you do it, it’s just a reaction. You don’t need to actually think about what you are doing.”

Physical Conditioning from drilling

In addition to technical development, Professor Gustavo points out the less obvious benefits of Jiu-Jitsu-specific physical conditioning derived from drilling at a high tempo.

“We used to ask my instructor: What do I need to do to improve my conditioning? Do I need to go to the gym? Do I need to run? What do I need to do? I need to get fitter for Jiu-Jitsu. And he used to say, ‘Just train Jiu-Jitsu.’ ” says Professor Gustavo.

Modern Jiu-Jitsu competitors supplement their training with additional physical conditioning outside the GB school. But in the early days, many Jiu-Jitsu students only trained Jiu-Jitsu for their fitness.

“Whatever you can do to have an edge, you do it. You can use drilling toward the end of the class as extra conditioning when you are already tired. When you are fatigued and don’t want to spar more, you can do those drills to improve your cardio and your conditioning overall.” says Professor Gustavo.

Professor Gustavo’s favorite drill?

“Wow…that’s a big question,” Professor Gustavo grins. But when pressed, he answers, “It’s one of the drills that I show in the videos. It’s a combination of attacks from the guard. You go from an armlock to omoplata, to triangle, triangle to an armlock. It’s linking submissions. If you do that very often, your attacking from the guard is going to be a lot more effective.”

Subscribe now to Gracie Barra Online, so you don’t miss when Professor Gustavo’s Drill Series becomes available.


Blog written by Mark Mullen, a Gracie Barra Black Belt