Since taking home the absolute brown belt title at the 2018 World Championships and receiving a black belt on the podium from Andre Galvao, 2017 ADCC trials champion Kaynan Duarte has been off to a scorching start in his black belt career. After reaching the finals of Copa Podio in his black belt debut, Duarte has taken home wins in the absolute division at ACBJJ Worlds, the IBJJF New York BJJ Pro, and more recently at the World Series of Grappling (which landed him a $20,000 check). The Jiu-Jitsu Times caught up with Duarte at the World Series of Grappling tournament to learn more about his training history, tournament preparation, and lifestyle.
Jiu-Jitsu Times: What originally got you into jiu-jitsu?
Kanyan Duarte: I have twenty years old now. I started jiu-jitsu when I was twelve years old. My cousin invited me to train jiu-jitsu. I started in judo and my cousin invited me to jiu-jitsu. I just started and I loved it. After two months I competed in a tournament. I loved competing. In 2014 I came to the United States for the first time competing for juvenile worlds and I won. After this I said ‘I want to do this for my life, for my career.’
JJT: Who was your original instructor?
KD: It was Jose Luis, I get my white to purple belt from him. In my city we don’t have an affiliation. It’s a very small city. My city has 40,000 people, a very, very small city. When I come here to the United States for the first time to compete my gym didn’t have an affiliation, you know? I need to ask one guy—for Cicero [Costa in Sao Paulo]—“I can fight for your gym but I am still competing and training with my first professor.” After two years, [Cicero] joined with Paulo Ledesma, part of Atos. Three times per week, I tried to train with Paulo. I improved a lot with my jiu-jitsu because it was more new jiu-jitsu. My first professor was more old-school jiu-jitsu. Paulo, my second professor, asks ‘Hey Andre, this guy wants to compete one tournament there, can this guy come train with you for two months?’ Andre said ‘Yes of course.’ I did my no-gi camp for Worlds, I won double gold at purple belt. Andre asks, ‘Oh are you going to Brazil now?’ I say ‘Yea.’ He says, ‘Next year come here to train for Pans and for Worlds.’ I said ‘Of course!’ I come and I’m here now.
JJT: Do you live the same lifestyle day-to-day or do you prepare for a big tournament and maybe relax a little bit after the tournament, like a cycle?
KD: Yeah for sure it’s a cycle. I can’t train hard all year. I can’t eat every day the same thing. I always prepare two or three months before a big tournament my diet, my body, I start lifting, and when I finish the big tournament I like to relax. You can’t train hard all year, your mind you have to relax a little bit. It depends, sometimes when I need to cut weight I need to train a little more before the tournament. One week before the tournament though I don’t like to train too much, just very easy. Two weeks before the tournament even, I like to go easy.
JJT: You won the 2017 ADCC trials as a purple belt. Can you talk about your preparation for the tournament and what was your mindset going in?
KD: Here in the United States the no-gi is very, very good with everybody having wrestling. In Brazil they do more gi, they don’t do a lot of no-gi. I did my camp for No-gi Worlds in 2016 when I was a purple belt. I learned a lot, before this I never trained no-gi like that. I’m learning wrestling, guillotines, very different. And then I come back to Brazil and Andre tells me ‘Hey they are having ADCC Trials in Brazil. You need to go.’ I said ‘Ok’ but I knew nothing about the ADCC. [laughs] I just see the guys, the big names competing there but I don’t know nothing about the ADCC. I tried my first trials in Sao Paulo, beginning of the 2017 year. I got third place, I lose to Murilo Santana. The next week there is another trials in Rio. Andre said “You need to go because ADCC is an amazing event, it’s good for you, a lot of people see it.” And I say “Ah ok, I am going.” I submit all fighters and I win the trials.
JJT: How has training with Andre Galvao changed you? From when you started with him until today, how has he helped you improve specifically?
KD: I think when people see Andre Galvao, they think ‘oh he just does power.’ But he’s very, very technical. A very good professor. He shows everything. Gi, no-gi. He’s won everything. He has a lot of expertise on a lot of events. He’s always asking if there is anything he can show me. The team has a lot of champions there. You just need to train there and you’ll agree.
JJT: Do you have any plans to coach in the future?
KD: Yeah for sure! I just have twenty years old, just started my career now. I get my black belt after Worlds, after I win double gold. I don’t think about too much now. Sometimes I’m a teacher a little, not very serious. I like to just train now. I want to show other guys to become a champion, but not now. For now, I just want to gain the experience.
Faixa preta 🥋 Um novo ciclo que se inicia na minha vida, um dos momentos mais importantes que já me aconteceu, me tornar faixa preta aos 20 anos de idade. Agora vou continuar a fazer o que já estava fazendo e com mais vontade para começar a escrever na minha nova página que se inicia. Muito obrigado a todos que fizeram parte disso desde quando comecei no Jiu jitsu, não vou citar todos para não esquecer de ninguém, mas podem ter certeza que tenho todos no fundo do meu coração ❤️
Keep an eye on this hot prospect as he continues to climb the ranks in the black belt division, especially as no-gi season kicks off.