Come, read, first rate interview of Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida. Buchecha talks about growing up, moving to America, personal student pet peeves and the possibility of fighting MMA.
There are not many instances where bribery in any form denotes positivity. In the case of Marcus Almeida bribery is EXACTLY what led to his love of BJJ. Some say stay away from candy and chocolate cake (not good for training) but if it wasn't for those guilty pleasures the BJJ World may have never come to know who Bucheca was. 12 years in BJJ, is it time for a switch to MMA? BJJLegends talks with Marcus Almeida about where he has been and where he is going.
“Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?” -Garth Nix
BJJL:Where did you grow up, any siblings?
MA: Santos, Brazil. I have one sister three years older than me. She got me and my dad into Jiu-Jitsu but doesn’t do it now. She started, then my father, then me.
BJJL: Did you have any other hobbies growing up?
MA: As every kid I tried to be a soccer player. But it didn’t work out really well for me, so then I tried to surf, but not so good as well. Then went into Jiu-Jitsu I end up doing better at that.
BJJL: Who inspired you while you were an up and coming practitioner, who was the biggest influence in helping you get to where you are?
MA: I wasn’t like this size when I started like back in 2003, 2004. So I grew up watching Marcelo Garcia, Hunter Reyes, Saulo Ribeiro, Jacare, Leo Vieira. So this was the guys that I always looked for, always liked to watch and learn from them back in the day, watching videos and stuff, you know.
BJJL: What was your first BJJ memory?
MA: I remember like when I was like twelve years old, my father always tried to push me to do it. But back in the day when I was a kid I wasn’t just like, I wasn’t quite enough and serious, and he always like walked me, he used to give me like buy me a chocolate cake and like coke just to go there to train, you know? Every time when I went to train I knew he would give me like chocolate cake, candy, and stuff. So that’s one of the reasons why I used to go. And it worked, you know? I can’t complain.
BJJL: Who or what is your support system here in the US?
MA: The first time I came to the U.S.A. was 2010. I remember the guy who gave my support was Rodrigo Cavaca. He gave me the opportunity to come to teach but the guy who taught me everything in the U.S., and the way of life here was Rafael Shad. The U.S. lifestyle is very different from Brazil.
BJJL: What is your biggest pet peeve as an instructor (students late for class, belt not tied properly….)?
MA: If a student hasn’t been respecting the class. I’m OK, but if the guys are not listening, I show them positions, I teach them one move, the guys’ doing another move. It kind of bothers me a little but not that bad.
BJJL: What do you consider a well-rounded practitioner to be?
MA: I think if you want to be good you have to know like a little bit of everything. Even if you know your best game, if you don’t like the other stuff, you still have to train everything. That’s how you learn, that’s how you grow up, and that’s how you do it. You develop more technique so you have to train a little bit of everything otherwise you never learn. I’m not saying you have to do it tournaments, but at least you will know how.
BJJL: When you see a student struggling, that is ready to quit, how do you help them adapt and overcome?
MA: If they have their reason, if the student just doesn’t like to train, that is part of the game. You have to train. I’m not going to force them to do stuff that they don’t want to do. It’s better you get lost in the gym than to get lost in the tournament. It’s better to work through your problems in a gym, in your gym with your friends, with the instructor, than to be stuck and not know why over and over against your opponent in a tournament.
BJJL: What rank was the most challenging for you?
MA: It was no doubt the blue. Because it was at the beginning when I started competing and that’s where I learned how to compete. It was the hardest I knew, not a lot of winning, mostly losing and learning all that came with the blue belt.
BJJL: Was there ever a time that you did not want to continue with your journey?
MA: Oh yeah. I remember too, one time in blue belt I lost like the first ten tournaments that I competed in. I lost the very first round, so I remember one time I tried to give up. I remember the instructor told me, it’s up to you, you can be the weak one and give up or you can show up in the gym tomorrow again to train. So I thought to myself, I don’t want to be the weak one. I came back, and my eleventh tournament I won, after that just winning, winning, winning. My first World’s I lost in the final. After that I got better but still lost a bunch of tournaments. It was not easy, I worked very hard and wanted to give up many times. I did not win World’s for the first time until 2012.
BJJL: Were you ever so upset over your loss that you threw your medal away after you placed 2nd or 3rd?
MA: No. I think that’s ridiculous, you know? I think that’s ridiculous, that’s the most ridiculous thing that I have ever seen, people throwing away medals. You know? I’m really proud to have all the medals, I won them. I have a bronze medal, I have a silver medal and I have like six gold world medals. So I’m really proud. I went there and I got first place, I got second place, I deserve it. The other guy was better than me, so no reason to be like keyed up and throw the medal away. I think that’s like stupid. That’s so ridiculous. I think if you don’t know how to lose you don’t deserve to win. I think people who do that they’re going to learn the hardest way. You know, you’re in the final, you did your best, you lose, alright. There’s no reason for you to be there complaining, crying, if someone is better. It’s part of the game. Show up the next tournament better. That’s how it works. You don’t need to be throwing medals away, show respect.
BJJL: How do you think BJJ has evolved since you received your black belt?
MA: I think I changed a lot, because you start getting mature and you start getting more experience. It changes a lot, not just your body but your mind, your vision. As BJJ evolves, so do you, you think differently, you tailor your training. I think I have improved a lot. I remember the first year as a black belt was really bad because I lost a lot. Then adjusted the way that I train. The following year, 2012, the guys I could not hang with in 2011, I could in 2012.
BJJL: You recently competed at Abu Dhabi and won, that is an experience of a life time, how do the rules at Abu Dhabi differ from IBJJF, CBJJE, or any of the other tournaments you have competed in?
MA: It is something unique. You’re fighting two in two years, you never know if you’re going to be invited or if you’re going to win a prize. That makes the tournament very different. There are people from different types of sports and styles of fighting. So it’s really something amazing, I fought just one time in 2013 and won. The rules were different. You’re always fighting a different location, somewhere that you’ve probably never been before and I love it.
BJJL: This year at World’s you gave it all you had against Keenan Cornelius, you could have conserved some of your energy but you went out there and put it all on the line, do you ever worry about running out of steam during your fights? Some like to play it safe and you did not do that at all.
MA: That probably is because I was in control the whole fight. I was up in the whole fight. In the end he was trying to hold one position and I was having a hard time getting behind him. That’s the thing about fighting. I couldn’t stay there and win by two points, I was ahead, so now I tried to improve the score and tried to like get the guard. So was like something of a fighter, you know? I remember I was told me it’s not what you win, people are going to remember how you fight. I don’t want to be the kind of guy that just wins. I want to go there and give my best, not win due to one advantage or one point, not go there and hold one position for ten minutes, that’s not me. I want to go there and give people Jiu-Jitsu to watch.
BJJL: What’s your training regimen like? How does it differ day to day from when you’re getting ready for a tournament?
MA: I always train twice a day. No matter what, if I’m training or not. In the morning I always train really hard with the pro training, all the black belts, and one day on and off I train Jiu-Jitsu twice and the other days are different just for conditioning. It’s Jiu-Jitsu, Jiu-Jitsu, and the other day, Jiu-Jitsu conditioning. I don’t train more than two, two sessions per day.
BJJL: Are there any female practitioners that you have enjoyed watching grow and evolve over the years?
MA: Oh yeah, there’s like a bunch of fighters I like to watch. Michelle Nicolini, McKenzie Dern. I used to watch Leticia Ribeiro a lot. I like Bia Mesquita. There are a lot of women I enjoy watching compete.
BJJL: If there is one thing (across the board) that you would like to be standardized when it comes to BJJ rules, what would it be?
MA: I think a lot of things. They stop the fights when you are right in the middle of fighting it breaks the momentum. They can change the rules in the middle of the fight. People just want to fight.
BJJL: You are in your prime, have you considered trying MMA and starting a career as an MMA fighter?
MA: Yeah, yeah. In one or two years I’m doing it.
BJJL: As a young practitioner were you always the biggest in the class?
MA: No. I was an average boy.
BJJL: Once you reached the heavy weight class did you have a sufficient amount of training partners your size?
MA: Yeah, I always had guys of my size.
BJJL: Who are some of your favorite ultra-heavyweight fighters to train with or fight?
MA: The guys I train with every day. They are my favorites. They are the ones that helped me to get where I am, you know. The guys from Check Mat California especially. They are my favorites.
BJJL: How do you handicap your game in training for smaller training partners?
MA: I use my technique and not my strength.
BJJL: Is there anything you would like to pass on to a person that is starting out in BJJ? Some sound advice you wish you had known that would have prevented injury, aggravation, etc?
MA: If you take the time, you learn how to stand, how to like use strength the right way, you will learn how to like play the game. It is the best way to stop getting hurt. Injuries happen in the beginning, it’s normal. Once you start learning how things work, it’s going to be more fun and you’re going to enjoy things more.
BJJL: What has been your proudest moment since you began the practice of BJJ?
MA: Oh, when I won my division, the open division of worlds and Abu Dhabi. All three titles. That was the proudest.
BJJL: What are your plans for the future? What goals do you still have left?
MA: I just keep training hard and whatever happens, whatever comes my way I look forward to it. I don’t think too much about it.
BJJL: Is there anyone you would like to thank that you have never had the opportunity to thank for helping you get to where you are today?
MA: I would like to thank ALL my sponsors. Also Mark and Muscle Pharm, Fighter’s Market, Hayabusa, Jiu Jitsu World League, of course my Team CheckMat and everybody who helped me a lot during my journey.
It's not always about when you start or how often you win in BJJ it seems to be ALL about the journey, each one unique, no two will ever be alike. Some say you get what you give but if that were true then practitioners like Buchacha would be the rule instead of the exception. Sometimes what you give won't be enough. Not everyone can be exceptional in spite of their efforts because the odds are against this however, the day that Marcus Almeida set out to be GREAT, EXCEPTIONAL, A REALITER MAGNUS PACISCOR (a really big deal) the odds were in his favor. Marcus Almeida was lured into a gym with the promise of some edible delicatables at the end of the session. The cake may have gotten him in the door but the Art of Jiu-Jitsu kept him there. 12 years later his journey has truly been a realiter magnus pacisor.
“It is not we who seek the Way, but the Way which seeks us. That is why you are faithful to it, even while you stand waiting, so long as you are prepared, and act the moment you are confronted by its demands.”-Dag Hammarksjold
Snappy interview with Patches O’Toole owner Aengus Ryan, we have a chat about the brand, what the thinking was behind it and what are the plans for the future.
Those of you with an ear to the ground for the latest BJJ gear offerings may have heard of a new name popping up lately, that of Patches O’Toole. Patches O’Toole dropped onto the BJJ gear scene at the start of 2014 with a range of gi patches, quite unlike anything on the market. Some were reminiscent of old style tattoos, some focused on hand drawn lettering, whatever the style, they were pretty awesome.
Other than the cool designs, the one thing that stands out with these patches is the quality. All of the patches are embroidered, to the highest standard. The great thing about this is that they will last for years. Many of the printed patches I’ve had during my time doing Jiu-Jitsu have worn with the constant friction from the mats. This should not be a factor with these one’s as there is no print to rub off. Patches O’Toole are so confident with the quality that they have a 3 year warranty on all of their patches, which is saying something. The shipping is also free on all patches which is cool, as no one enjoys getting hit with shipping costs as they reach checkout.
Hey Aengus, so can you tell us a bit about where Patches O’Toole came from and what’s with the weird name?
Lol, sure. I’ve been playing BJJ for a good few years now and like most of your readers, would consider it my passion. I’ve always wanted to help to promote the sport somehow but was never quite sure how I could contribute. I’m a graphic designer by trade, so one day I thought of the notion of combining the two things I spend most of my time doing. It was a kind of marriage made in heaven type affair, getting to produce things that people enjoy while doing what I love, so I’m pretty pleased with how things are going.
The name is an odd one, I agree. Bit of a mixed story as to where it came from. Myself and my wife used to have a goldfish called Patches O’Toole that had a few white patches on him. Why we added the O’Toole bit – who knows, I think it was just to add an Irish twist to it. Some people think it’s from the dodgeball character, but that dude was Patches O'Houlihan, lol.
In terms of BJJ players out there, who would be some of your favorites?
I’m not really a fan of a lot of the more recent BJJ styles, the 50/50 or the sitting on your butt double guard pulling shenanigans. It’s not exciting and while it’s clearly very technical, it’s boring to watch. Guys like Galvao and Braulio Estima are cool, really exciting Jiu-Jitsu, which is great from a spectator point of view. I used to love Roger Gracie’s total top domination and how Jacare would incorporate Judo. An epic throw is infinitely more exciting to watch than two dudes scissor banging each other.
Would you like to end up sponsoring any of those guys?
For sure, that would be awesome. We only got going in January so I think that’s a way off, but certainly something to work towards. I’m a big believer in building from grass roots, so looking after local tournaments is something I will be looking to in the future, build things up slowly and help contribute to the local scene. We can’t all go all in straight to the top, there are valuable lessons to be learned by building a business up one step at a time.
So have you found the BJJ community responsive to the Patches O’Toole designs?
Yes indeed, those who like what we do have been great and I’m extremely grateful to them. Ours is a very niche sport in the grand scheme of things and the BJJ community is always great at getting behind our own and helping out. Of course the designs aren’t to everyone’s liking, but hey, they are artistic and styles of art please one person more than the other, it’s would be boring if everyone liked just one brand or listened to one type of music. Our personal tastes and individuality are great.
So what can we look forward to from you guys in the future?
I have a few ideas for some patches I would like to bring out, along with one for kids which quite a few people have been requesting. Some stuff for the ladies only would be good and I have also started kicking around some ideas for a rash guard. The rashie would need to be pretty epic, so that’s something I want to sit on for a while to make sure it’s just right before I release it.
Is there anyone in particular you would love to train with?
I’ve always wanted to go train with Saulo Ribeiro, I think his Jiu-Jitsu is so solid and his teaching style so easy to learn that I couldn’t help but pick up lots. Fabio Gurgel and Caio Terra are others that stand out too. Any of Caio’s instructionals I’ve watched have been very easy to learn from and I’ve always thought being excellent at conveying how to do things displays a deep understanding of the art.
Thanks for the chat Aengus & we’re looking forward to seeing what’s next from Patches O’Toole.
February 2010: The air is biting cold as we walk up the icy path to Lyceum “Nicholae Iorga”. My old friend Sandu, now 19, is sitting with a handful of teenage boys who are making jokes and hitting each other in the back of the head, Three Stooges style. They are all wearing bomber jackets and skull caps. This is Moldova’s uniform. Some have bags and some have athletic pants on and I comment on how much each of them has grown in the past two years. We call the 24-hour security guy (I use this term loosely) who sends his 5-year old down to the school to give Sandu the key so that we can get into the school.
There are no lights on in the school. Nor is there heat. It might actually be warmer outside but the walls of the school protect us from the wind although I can’t say the same for the windows which were supposed to have been replaced sometime 3 years ago. We walk down the dark hallway which has gone unchanged in my two-year absence. It is brutally cold in the hallway full of drafty windows and I’m glad that we’re moving because otherwise my hands and toes would be as numb as my face. And that’s obnoxious.
My “office” where I stored the gis looks virtually untouched with the exception of some new windows that were donated by some Baptists from England. These windows were sitting collecting dust and will probably continue to do so for the duration. An attendance list with my handwriting is in the same place by the window where I left it, and all of the donated gis appear to still be there. Sandu makes one of the bigger kids let me use his gi since I didn’t bring mine.
We go into the gym which has some new paint on the floors but otherwise looks just the same. The gym is lit by one jury-rigged street light and the walls sparkle with condensation. It’s like a giant refrigerator in there. We get the mats out and they look like they’re still in great shape. No new rips and with the exception of some extra dirt and a piece of gum on one of them, they look like I just left them yesterday. I can still see my breath as I get out of my nice warm clothes and I shiver as I put on the cold gi over my long underwear.
It reminds me of when I first introduced the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program 4 winters ago although then it was a bit warmer. Only by a bit though.
Early last month we reviewed the Hyperfly gi by DOorDie. Since that review was posted Xande Ribeiro, one of the faces of DOorDie, has been terrorizing competitors in competition winning gold at weight and absolute at the No-Gi Worlds last month. While slicing thru his competition Xande was sporting DOorDIE’s new fightshorts. The fightshorts are intended for stand-up and ground work. For the last two months I’ve been using and abusing them during training.
Per Do Or Die: Your battle will be here before you know it. It’s time to get yourself ready for combat and show the world you know what DO OR DIE is all about….YOU CAN’T TEACH HEART