No one would blame you if you let success get to your head after winning two world championships, seven national championships, and three Pan-American championships, but Osvaldo “Queixinho” Moizinho isn’t that type of person. A black belt under Augusto “Tanquinho”, Rafael Barbosa, Leandro Escobar, and Bruno Mendes of the Soul Fighters association, Queixinho has come a long way in the sport of jiu jitsu. Even though he’s currently one of the top athletes in the world, having recently placed third in the gi division at Worlds, he hasn’t forgotten where he came from or the incredible amount of hard work and dedication that has brought him to where he is today.
Together with his friends and business partners Samir Chantre and Milton Bastos, Queixinho has recently moved beyond the world of competing to start the Ares BJJ association. Though it’s less than a year old, the association already has numerous affiliate gyms spanning from California to South America. Queixinho and Chantre have recently taken the next step by opening the Ares BJJ Academy in Modesto, CA, and their plans aren’t stopping there.
Despite being super busy with training, competing, and running a thriving business, Queixinho is still somehow finding the time to travel around and share his knowledge through seminars. Let me just say this: I’ve been to my fair share of BJJ seminars, and without a doubt, the ones that Osvaldo Queixinho and Samir Chantre put on are the best I’ve seen. These two aren’t just great teachers and incredible jiujiteiros; they’re also extremely down-to-Earth people without a trace of the “rockstar” attitude that often comes with athletes of their status. If they ever come to a gym near you, find a way to make it there. You won’t regret it.
Queixinho recently made his annual trip to Costa Rica for a vacation training camp in the little beach town of Tamarindo and a few seminars in my adopted city of San Pedro. While he was there, we sat down in our sweaty gis and chatted about his past, present, and future in jiu jitsu. If there was ever a living example of why you should never give up on your dreams, it’s definitely this guy.
Jiu Jitsu Times: What inspired you to start jiu jitsu?
Osvaldo Queixinho: In the neighborhood where I grew up, all the “cool kids” did jiu jitsu. One day, my best friend invited me to come with him, and we went to a gym where we didn’t know anybody because we didn’t want to get beat up by our other friends. I fell in love, and I’ve been doing it ever since that day about fifteen years ago.
JJT: What’s been the most difficult challenge you’ve had to overcome since you started?
OQ: It’s all been a big challenge, but things were the hardest around the time when I moved to the USA [from Brazil]. I was broke. When I was a brown belt, I was winning a lot. But then I spent all my money to compete at Worlds, only to lose in the first round. Then I didn’t compete for six months after complaining about a ref and getting a penalty. During that time, I had to focus on making money. I worked out of my little condo giving jiu jitsu lessons, and then things finally changed when I got invited by Samir to live and train in the USA. Still, that was hard both financially and emotionally. I was living at the gym. I had to ask for a lot of help. But this was my dream, and I knew I couldn’t give up.
JJT: You and Samir Chantre run the Ares BJJ association. How has the business grown recently, and what are your future plans for it?
OQ: We started the association last year in December, and a few months ago, we opened a new school in Modesto, California. I’m not competing as much as I was before, but Samir and I still train hard together every day. My goal is to spend more time at the gym. There’s not really a rush to grow, and we don’t have any immediate plans to open more academies. Our current focus is on being more organized and giving our students the support they need to achieve what they want. But in my free time, I’m working on building the brand more. We also have plans to launch an online training program, which is going to be really cool.
JJT: The past couple of years, you and Samir have made it out to Costa Rica for a week-long training camp and a few seminars. What makes you guys want to come down here to train?
OQ: Costa Rica is just a beautiful place with so much to do. The food is great, there are tons of beaches, and we have lots of great friends there. It’s great to come to a place where we can surf and train so much. There’s a lot of BJJ there, and it’s nice to connect with people from all over the world who love it as much as we do.
JJT: Aside from training as much as possible, what steps have you taken to become so successful as a competitor and a business owner?
OQ: Never give up. If you want to be good, you have to keep trying no matter how hard it gets. I’ve been a black belt for five years, and I only just placed in the gi division at Worlds this year [at the black belt level]. Five years, and this is the first time I placed. It was really discouraging for a while, but that moment when you achieve your dream makes it all worth it. If you want to get there, you can’t give up even when you fail.
JJT: What do you believe is the hardest thing for lower belts to get the hang of in jiu jitsu?
OQ: Probably balancing everything. For a long time, I was studying and working until six in the evening, then training until ten at night. That’s really hard, and a lot of people can’t handle it. But if they want to keep training jiu jitsu and doing everything else, they have to learn how to balance it all.
JJT: How has jiu jitsu changed other aspects of your life? How have you changed as a person since you started?
OQ: Jiu jitsu changed me in every aspect of my life. It made me a better person and kept me away from the streets and a bunch of other bad things. It also made me more confident and gave me a lot more patience with other people.
JJT: What advice would you give to someone who wants to make a career out of jiu jitsu like you have?
OQ: I would say to keep training as much as you can and believe in yourself. That’s how I did it, at least. I’ve never stopped training even in the worst situations. I never let myself believe that I couldn’t do something. You have to believe that you can do it if you want to make other people believe you can do it.
JJT: Do you feel like your jiu jitsu has changed since you became a black belt?
OQ: Yeah, it’s changed a lot. I was able to see more of my mistakes, and I’ve started to use more strategy in competitions. Plus, it’s helped a lot that I now have the chance to train with some of the best jiu jitsu practitioners in the world.
JJT: What has been the most rewarding moment for you as a competitor?
OQ: Definitely getting third place at Worlds this year. After experiencing so many changes in my life, being able to compete at the highest level and place at the hardest tournament in the world is priceless.
JJT: It must be nerve-wracking to have so much pressure on your shoulders at that level of competition. How do you prepare or deal with the stress?
OQ: I try not to think too much about the fight or what I’m going to do. I just try to stay calm. A few minutes before I go up, I form my strategy… with Samir’s help, of course.
JJT: What do you think was the difference between this year and the previous times you competed at Worlds?
OQ: Every year I’ve felt like I’m getting a little further, and now I know I’m more mature than I’ve been in previous years. Like I said before, I’ll never give up on my dreams. I’ll always be chasing.
If you want to know what it’s like to train with some of the best in the world, check out Ares BJJ Academy in Modesto, CA, where you’ll find Osvaldo Queixinho and Samir Chantre giving classes together every day!