In March Zenith Jiu-Jitsu head coaches Robert Drysdale and Rodrigo Cavaca will be preparing their young team for the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation’s Pan Championship with a BJJ training camp in Las Vegas. ZJJ was formed in the fall of 2013. We wanted to learn more about the new team and its camp and received these answers from Drysdale.
The FightWorks Podcast: Tell us how Zenith Jiu-Jitsu came to be.
Robert Drysdale: Me and Cavaca first spoke a few years ago about the possibility of working together. We have a lot in common and a similar vision of BJJ. It just made sense. Coming from the same school (Brasa) and having the same teaching/training methodology and ethics. We both have a great relationship with our previous team members from Brasa and Checkmat but we decided it was time to pursue our own paths and strategies.
The FightWorks Podcast: Alliance Jiu-Jitsu has a base in Atlanta under Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti and another in Sao Paulo, lead by Fabio Gurgel. Is this the same model Zenith Jiu-Jitsu is pursuing, with you in the United States and Cavaca in Brazil?
Robert Drysdale: Exactly. Cavaca holds the fort down there while I do the same here. We also have schools worldwide where we have blackbelts that do an amazing job representing ZJJ. I feel we have a great team and much will be accomplished in the upcoming years. We have a plethora of upcoming blue, purple and brown belts. That’s where our strength lies, in the future of BJJ.
The FightWorks Podcast: You’ve had years of experience in competition jiu-jitsu. Knowing what you know now and looking back at other BJJ camps you’ve participated in, what should the ultimate training camp for a big jiu-jitsu event would look like?
Robert Drysdale: I think it has been a refining process. A very thorough selection if you will. Not only has JJ itself been refined and evolved but the training methodologies have improved along with the techniques. An ideal camp goes year around in my opinion. I personally dislike the idea of getting ready for a tournament. It leads people to believe that they only have to train hard before a big competition. I prefer a mind set where hard training goes year around. The eve of a big competition is only for getting in peak shape, verging on over-training and sharpening what you have been developing the entire time.
The FightWorks Podcast: If memory serves, the last time you competed in the IBJJF’s events was in 2007. That ended in a silver medal in the Super Heavy division and Roger Gracie took the gold. Do you plan on competing any more in events like this?
Robert Drysdale: I do. I love JJ for what it is. The strategical battle, the complexities of the techniques the endless possibilities and combinations. JJ is infinite times infinite. I could never move away from it. However at the moment I have different goals set for myself. But I am still 32 years old. Plenty of time to win medals.
The FightWorks Podcast: Competition jiu-jitsu changes rapidly. What differences have you observed over the past several years?
Robert Drysdale: The same differences people in the mid 90’s observed or in the early 2000’s. JJ is constantly changing. To say that it is different now should go without saying. It’s always going to be a changing game. That’s the beauty of it. Some people fall into the fallacy of “new” or “modern” JJ or that “now” it’s different. These are only temporary labels until the next trend comes along and everyone realizes what was obvious from the beginning: It’s only JJ.
The FightWorks Podcast: Do you have any estimates of how many competitors Zenith might have at the Pans, and who some of the big names will be that we can expect? Any secret weapons who will surprise us?
Robert Drysdale: We definitely have some big surprises for the BJJ community this year. Those are a secret for now. As for the number of competitors, it’s hard to say. I can only say this though: We plan on competing against the big dogs this year.
The FightWorks Podcast: What have you been up to off the mats over the last couple of years?
Robert Drysdale: Training more than ever. Refining my JJ while learning other skills. These years training and fighting MMA made me understand JJ better. A complete different perspective of the art.
The FightWorks Podcast: Thanks for your time Robert. Best of luck to Zenith.
Robert Drysdale: Thank you. All the best.
Robert Drysdale on the podium at ADCC in New Jersey in 2007 after winning the absolute division.