“When you move your life all towards your goal you going to get it or at least get close to it.”
Jiu-jitsu Times interviewed one of the most successful BJJ competitors of all time: 5-time World Champion Bernardo Faria.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Bernardo, when you first started competing was your BJJ game much different than it is now? Were you winning the gold from the start of your career or did it take you a while to find your game? Which competitors inspired you at the start of your training?
Bernardo Faria: When I started competing, I was a yellow belt and I just remember that I won my first tournament and I lost my second and I won my third. As I was training more than probably everyone my age, I was doing pretty well since the beginning.
In the big tournaments I was having a hard time. In my first and second years of competing in big tournaments I had a hard time. My biggest accomplishment was in my third year in jiu-jitsu ,my 2nd year as a blue belt.
I got second place in the Worlds. It was actually my fourth year in jiu-jitsu. I got 2nd place in the Worlds as a juvenile.
When I first started competing as a yellow belt, my A Game was closed guard. So I always try to do closed guard against everyone. I always try to start the match in closed guard. After that I moved into the half guard.
Nowadays is good because I have both. I have closed guard and I have half guard.
Who inspired me in jiu-jitsu the most?
I think it was my first teacher of course (Prof. Ricardo Marques). It was my example and today is almost like a father for me. And I think Fabio Gurgel, Marcelo Garcia, Roger Gracie and Jacare. I think that those were my idols.
I was very lucky to be able to train with Fabio Gurgel in Sao Paulo. I also now teach and train here in Marcelo’s. So I had a very lucky career to be able by these guys, my idols. People who inspired me a lot.
Jiu-jitsu Times: Can you talk a little about what it takes to prepare for Worlds-level competition? What does a typical training week look like for you (ex. conditioning, nutrition, technical training and sparring)? What sacrifices have you made in your life to become a world champion?
Bernardo Faria: In talking about preparation for the Worlds, nowadays I prepare a little differently.
When I was a little younger – now I am 29 years old – when I was a little younger there was not too much difference between one or two months before the Worlds and the rest of the year because I was training really hard all of the year.
Now that I am getting a little older, I see that if I train really hard all of the year I see that it is very easy for me to get injured. So now I am trying to share my training better.
I focus more on first semester. The second semester I keep training but not as hard as the first. I think that it is all about real desire and sacrifice.
It’s all about who wants it more? Who wants to get there and win? To be able to do that you have to do a lot of sacrifice. You have to focus all of your life to that goal. It is very hard but it is a great feeling when you go there and you win. Because then you see that everything was worth it.
It is all about that. It is all about the dedication, sacrifice, so whoever desires it and has more will for it.
Since I started jiu-jitsu I think that all of my choices in life are towards jiu-jitsu. This helps a lot when you have all of your life focused on some goal. I think that sooner or later you end up getting closer to it.
I always had a dream to win the Worlds Open class. I never knew if I would win or not but I always close to that. I got second or I got third three times, so even if I hadn’t won, I would be happy because I got really close to my goal.
But actually last year (2015) I won the Open class – my first Open class Worlds title .
I won other open classes as well: Pan Ams, Europeans, Brazilian Nationals, South American Championships. I think that when you have this goal, when you move your life all towards your goal, you going to get it or at least get close to it.
My favorite quote is “Shoot for the moon because even if you miss you still around the stars”.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: You have reached the top of IBJJF competition in winning the World Absolute Gold medal. What drives you to compete at the top level of the sport of jiu-jitsu? Which competitors have pushed you and brought the best out of you?
Bernardo Faria: I think that one of the hardest parts in jiu-jitsu is that after you have done it for so many years to keep motivating yourself to do more and more and more.
For example, this year has been my eighth year as a black belt. I have close to nine years as a black belt, competing as a black belt. And I have competed at all other belts as well: yellow, blue, purple brown. So, it has been really hard to find the motivation to wake up every day and train really hard. To keep your life focused on that goal. Go to the tournament. After that, travel for seminars, teaching and all of that.
The way I try to motivate myself is that I always fought really hard to be where I am. So now that I am here, I am not going to stop. I am going to go more.
I believe that the competitor who brought the best out of me was Rodolfo Viera. I competed against him a lot. I lost to him so many times, but every time I competed against him I thought that I was getting closer to my goal. I thought I was improving my jiu-jitsu. I believe a lot that last year when I won the open class at the Worlds, that all of the experience that I had competing against Rodolfo helped a lot.
I think that in jiu-jitsu, when people say that either you win or you learn, that is really true.
You are going to win or learn a lot and the next time you going to do better.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Can you give some advice for BJJ students who want to prepare for a tournament? How to adjust their normal training to be best prepared for tournament day? How important is it to do some extra physical conditioning?
Bernardo Faria: My biggest advice for everyone who wants to compete is to keep the ego very low in the training. You should not have ego at all when you are training. Training means nothing.
The only thing that training means is how hard you are doing that thing. If you are winning or losing the rolls in sparring and training, it doesn’t mean anything.
I know a bunch of people who do very well in training, and can beat everyone in training. In the tournament doesn’t do that well. And then a bunch of people who in training is just like a regular person is not that tough, and in the tournament kills everyone!
I believe that the biggest advice is don’t have ego when you are training. Just keep focused on what you are doing and always trying to improve, improve, improve! It doesn’t really matter if you are winning the roll. What really matters is if you are really learning. And always try to train tired. This is the most important part of the training.
Many times you see people when they start getting tired, they stop training. And that is the time when you will improve the most.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: Many competitors say that they have difficulty with the stress and nervousness pre-competition. Do you have advice on how to prepare mentally before a tournament?
Bernardo Faria: My advice for people who get nervous is to try to compete more. When you start competing more and more and more, at some point you are going to get used to that. I always believe that if you have adrenaline before and are a little nervous that is good because it means that thing is really important for you.
You only would not have adrenaline and not get nervous if you don’t care for that. And if you don’t care for that, is not good. You should really care and you should really worry and you should be really nervous.
But remember of you are getting too nervous you should compete more to get used to that.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: How can students interested in learning more about your half-guard game find your website, instructionals, and online training?
Bernardo Faria: Most of my DVDs and instructional you can find at BJJFANATICS
Or I’m teaching at Marcelo Garcia’s gym in New York so everyone is welcome to come here.
Also I made a blog for my website. I post a lot of tips over there and I think that is good one.
I post a lot of tips, links for my instructionals, and free videos and everything.
Just join my email list on my website and you can get it all.