Andre Galvao’s hand is raised after defeating the very tough Braulio Estima to win first place at the Mundials.
This time on The FightWorks Podcast we bring you Andre Galvao, of Brasa Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Galvao is a multiple time world champion who has had an amazing year, which recently culminated in taking the gold medal in the middle heavyweight division of the 2008 BJJ World Championships.
In this interview lead by FightWorks Podcast cohost Dan, Andre Galvao offers insight into…
- the recent schism in Team Brasa, and details about how it unfolded
- his controversial first match at the Mundials, which was made into a very popular YouTube video (and later removed), in which he played with his opponent like a cat might with a toy
- his thoughts on entering MMA
…and much more.
Also in this episode of the FightWorks Podcast, we’ll debut a new feature we are going to call “What Are You Working On?” If you (yes YOU!) would like to ask our elite BJJ guests a question, here is how you can get on the show! Our question this time around comes from Steve of SteveBJJ.com.
EXCERPT FROM ANDRE GALVAO INTERVIEW
The FightWorks Podcast: First of all congratulations Andre on winning your weight class at the Mundials (BJJ World Championship) and winning your weight class and the absolute division at the Pan-Ams. How are you today?
Andre Galvao: I feel so good. Thanks man. I’m happy right now.
The FightWorks Podcast: Andre tell us a little about how you got started in jiu-jitsu.
Andre Galvao: I started training jiu-jitsu when I was sixteen years old. I trained just for three months. This was in 1997, 1998. Then I needed to stop after the three months because I needed to start to work to help my family. And then I thought of my brothers. They kept training because they trained for free. We knew the gym owner and I talked to him and he gave me training for free too. I left my job and started in jiu-jitsu in December 1999. And then I started with Luiz Carlos Aguimar. His nickname is Careca. He’s from Sao Jose dos Campos. It’s a small city from Sao Paulo, one hundred kilometers from the capital of Sao Paulo. When I was a blue belt, I lived in Rio de Janeiro for a couple months and trained there with Osvaldo Alves for six months. And then I won my first Mundial in 2002. And then I came back to train with Careca. He gave me my purple and I started training with Terere when I was purple. He gave me lots of privates, every day. And when I was a brown belt, he had his problem, you know, inside the planes, and so on. So then I moved to Team Brasa. And then I trained there with Demian Maia and Leo (Vieira), and right now I am still there. And now I just keep winning tournaments, thanks to God.
The FightWorks Podcast: When you first started training, did you start competing right away, or did you train for a while and then start competing in tournaments?
Andre Galvao: My first championship, I was a white belt. I had only been training two months and I tried competition. I won two fights and I lost the third fight. The guy caught me in a flying armbar. Then I needed to stop jiu-jitsu to work, as I mentioned. Then I came back to training in 1999 with Careca. Two months after training with him I started to compete and I won every tournament as a white belt. I started to fight early, and I trained every single day, morning, afternoon, and night, every day, when I was a white belt. And I keep training like that.
The FightWorks Podcast: Tell us a little about your training now. You still train a couple times a day, but you break that up in terms of some weights, some judo, with some cross training. Explain that a bit if you would.
Andre Galvao: I train hard every day. I train a lot of drills, for technique. I like technical jiu-jitsu the most. I train a little judo right now, like four times a week. It’s good because every fight starts standing. I think this is so good. And it’s different. The “gas” is different. Judo is a different fight. When you train just standing, a lot of guys get feel so tired. So this helps improving your “gas”, and growing your technique for the fight. The guy will feel bad when he starts the fight with you. You learn a lot about breaking grips. It’s so good to train judo. And I cross train, you know, like circuit training. I like training specific drills on the ball. Those big balls, you know? I think you don’t need to train weights so hard, like lifting weights. I just train isometric training, like pushing and pulling. Kind of like what you use in jiu-jitsu, because you use a lot of technique but sometimes you need to hold the guy and sometimes you need to push the guy. So I train things kind of like that. And I train a lot of circuit training two or three weeks before the tournaments. I take the time of the fights, like ten minutes, and do specialty training, like sprawls. Thirty seconds of sprawls, thirty seconds of ropes, thirty seconds of pull ups… different kinds of training. Fast, you know? Just a little bit of weights, small weights, but fast and explosive, because in the tournaments you need to go fast. You’ve got to go try to kill the guy, to make points very fast, quickly, and catch the guy. That is my idea.
The FightWorks Podcast: There has been a few videos out there of you doing some acrobatic-type stuff. A lot of guys have questions about that. It’s similar to the Ginastica Natural. Do you feel like that helps with your BJJ training?
Andre Galvao: Yeah after training I make a lot of acrobatic moves. I like standing up on the ball, putting my knees on the ball, I like turns… I learned this with a Cuban guy. He taught me a little bit of wrestling, and he said that when you finish training, you should roll, turn, and make movements like Ginastica Natural and capoeira. This is good for you in recovering your body and stretching. And it’s good for the health of your mind. You relax and finish a good training. In [the video you’re referring to] I made some movements like that, because it was my first fight in the open class of the Mundials. In your first fight you need to “feel yourself”, like feeling that “this day is my day”, so I just played with the guy because I knew the guy was not very techincal. But I play with him just for my fans too, you know, because I know a lot of people like jiu-jitsu like that. I don’t like boring fights. I don’t like holding fights. I like playing jiu-jitsu that makes exciting fights. So I did that with that guy. I apologize to some people because they say, “Oh [Andre] did not respect the guy” because he pushed the guy. But I did that so the guy would move. The guy just stopped. And a minute before he tried to catch me with a heel hook. But [in that video] they just put the highlights of the fight. After seeing that I felt so mean. I [pushed the guy] just for the public because people screamed, people liked that, and I just made my show. That’s it.
The FightWorks Podcast: So Andre right now you’re still training with the Brasa team. Of course Brasa has some of the most incredible jiu-jitsu names in the world right now. It’s an incredible team. Is there any truth to Brasa breaking up, or people splintering off at this point?
Andre Galvao: Yeah it’s true. Leo [Vieira] just left the Brasa team. I trained with him for like one year, one year and a half after I left TT. So he left Brasa, and some guys left with him like his brother Ricardo Vieira and his younger brother Leandro Vieira, and his friend Chico Mendez. So yeah, some guys from Brasa [left]. But I continue in Brasa because I have a lot of friends there. I have Demian Maia, I have Comprido, Traven, I have Castelo Branco, he’s my friend. Leo is a great professor. He’s a great master in jiu-jitsu. He’s awesome, you know? But I think it’s good for a person to walk with a team, you know? I learned this with Terere. He left the Master team and opened TT. And when his problems started, it’s too hard to survive. So because of this I’m still in Brasa, because of my friends. Leo is my friend too, but I think the team is great. They help me a lot. So for now I wish Leo and his team good luck and I will keep training in Brasa.
The FightWorks Podcast: Are you going to keep doing jiu-jitsu for a while, or are you thinking about getting into the MMA? How long do you think you will keep competing in the Mundials and Abu Dhabis before you make the transition to MMA?
Andre Galvao: Right now I’m thinking about MMA because I am a world champion a lot of times [in BJJ], like seven times. Two times in black belt. Last year I split it with Lucas and I gave it to him. So now I am thinking about my debut fight in MMA. So of course I will train more no gi, more standing, more wrestling. So I will keep training technique and rolling with the gi two or three times a week, so I don’t forget anything about the gi. And I think it’s very important to train with the gi. So maybe I will keep competing in the Pan-Ams and Mundials. The biggest events, you know? Because in jiu-jitsu they don’t give you prize money, and it doesn’t make you excited to fight. So right now I’m thinking about my career and I wish to conquer the other world. Because you can catch people in other places in MMA, not just using jiu-jitsu. Everybody knows MMA now in America, Japan, Europe, Brazil, and Africa. So I am thinking about this. And I love it, I train MMA sometimes with my brothers, my students. So I will do my best. So I will do MMA and fight in the bigger jiu-jitsu competitions just for my fans.
The FightWorks Podcast: So what are you trying to improve in your game? Are there any specific techniques you want to improve in your jiu-jitsu?
Andre Galvao: Every year and in every tournament I try to do something different. Like everybody, I have my game. But I try to learn spider guard, I try to learn hooks guard, I try to learn half guard. I try to do every position. I have a lot of good training partners and they train a lot of different games. I learn a lot with them. I think this year was my best year because I trained hard every day and everything anybody shows me, I try to include in my game. So I am talented at copying others’ games. I can fight like Terere, I can fight like Leo Vieira, I can fight like Ronaldo Jacare Souza. I can imitate others like that. I have my idols in the sports, so then I try to make the same techniques. Because of this I think my jiu-jitsu is growing every single year. And that is the idea, to make my jiu-jitsu the complete jiu-jitsu.