Read more about the old Gracie Barra term "Faixa Azul-Preta" used to describe blue belts who are invited to train up. Blue belts who are invited to train with the black belts.
Every mid to large size Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym has at least one of these martial art outliers. He or she is typically a young blue belt who has virtually made your academy mats living space. No matter which gray morning or rainy night session takes place, this individual holds ubiquitous presence. Every training session, this young jiu-jitsutero is equally feared by all belt ranks as he dominates the mat with cardiovascular supremacy. As older hobbyists pack their bags and return home to be scolded by wives and girlfriends, the blossoming phenom continues to drill with an unearthly amount of stamina. You have stumbled upon the “blue-black.”
What is a “blue-black” anyway? Isn’t the term just synonymous with ‘mat rat?’ Not exactly. “Blue-black,” or “azul-preta,” is a term that originates from the Gracie Barra competition community. According to Orlando Sanchez black belt Ben Zhuang, the term started getting coined in a Gracie Barra Worlds tournament training camp.
“The term I first heard from Gracie Barra black belts at the Worlds camp. They usually only allow black belts in their comp training afternoon sessions, but they wanted the blue belts at my school to join because of their level. Hence they were called blue-blacks,” claims Ben.
In a nutshell, blue-backs are young grapplers who may lack the technical refinement crafted through many years of mat time but compensate in their immediate mat prowess through a combination of volume training, natural talent, and athletic ability to the extent they can competitively spar with elite BJJ practitioners.
“At my school, they were basically blue belts that trained twice a day as much as 5-6 times a week. They all had natural talent or a special trait that made them untouchable to basically any non-black belts or other non-competitors. It all comes down to mat time and drilling,” Ben tells me.
As Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu pays little, how can blue-blacks afford such an intensive training schedule?
An answer to the the recent rise in number of dangerous blue belts may lie in the polarization of Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a tournament sport. This allows a great number of young athletes to develop a type of skater and surfer approach to the art, in which they are encouraged to pursue jiu-jitsu holistically at all times of the day on a daily basis. Ben explains that blue blacks at his gym would compete as “much as 2-3 times a month” and because they were all young, did not not have “many responsibilities other than training.”
To offer a more accurate idea of mat ability amongst blue-blacks, Ben estimates a “ blue belt that can get onto the podium at the worlds at the adult level probably rolls evenly with most hobbyist black belts and even taps them. A blue belt world champion certainly can tap casual black belts.”
So if these blue-blacks can spar with and tap black belts, why aren’t they immediately promoted to purple or brown belt level? Unlike upper level belts, these practitioners may not have intricate, strategic jiu jitsu that can be used to contend with great black belts. They often rely on sheer physicality which makes them dangerous offensively to everyone, but this quality also places large holes in their defensive games.
The term “blue-black,” of course applies to exceptional blue belts, but the overall concept extends to all elite intermediate level practitioners. Ben adds, “At purple, people on the podium likely dominate hobbyist black belts.”
Are you a young whippersnapper dominating the sparring as a lower belt at your academy? If so, you may be a blue-black yourself!
Read the interview on Fabiana Borges, born in a favela in Rio, moved to San Antonio Texas and is cleaning up in the women's division. She has just opened her own school. If she wasn't doing BJJ she says she might have been a veterinarian.
The place where you continually return for love and acceptance—that's home.” - Richelle E. Goodrich
Fabiana Borges began training BJJ not knowing that she would be one of the best in the world throughout a very prestigious career. After 20 years in many careers people look forward to retirement but Fabiana is one of a long list of BJJ practitioners that seem to be just getting warmed up.
Professor Fabiana Borges is one of Gracie Barra's top female athletes. She started her career in BJJ at 11, earning six Brazilian National Titles, simultaneously receiving her blackbelt on the day she earned her sixth title. Professor Borges is a standout competitor and highly regarded in San Antonio, Texas her home away from her native of Brazil. Professor Borges talks to BJJLegends about her journey in BJJ, her return to San Antonio, and what plans she still has for the future.
BJJL:How did you get your start in BJJ?
FB: I was looking for a sport to do by my house. I tried soccer, basketball, and many others but I didn’t like any of them. Then, one day I went to try BJJ by my house. It was a social project offered by a politician and free. I loved it after my first class. My instructor at the time Fabiano Gaudio said I was really good and those words made me feel good. I was 11 years at the time.
BJJL: Describe your first competition.
FB: I was 11 years old and a white belt. My uncle took my cousin and me to the tournament. I did very good. I won first place by an armbar.
BJJL:Why did you decide to make the U.S.A your home?
FB: My original plan was to come to stay six months, train, and learning English. Everything started to go well, I started to teach, train at Gracie Barra, and I decided to stay. I didn’t feel confident going back to Brazil to live off of BJJ. At the time I was going to school to be a Veterinarian, I was 20 years old and made a decision to come and see what the USA would bring to me.
BJJL: What is your favorite part of instructing?
FB: I love teaching. I like when I see someone learning and changing through BJJ. I love to see people getting confident and falling in love with Jiu-Jitsu. I feel very blessed to be able to help people through Jiu-Jitsu.
BJJL: What is your day-to-day training regimen like?
FB: I am always training with my students and working out. I train BJJ at least one time a day. When I get closer to competition I train BJJ 2 times a day and do conditioning training 2-3 times a week. I try to eat very clean on a daily basis, so I don’t have to suffer cutting weight.
BJJL:Talk to me about your charity work.
FB: I came from a really poor neighborhood from Rio de Janeiro and my family is still living in the favelas. So, whenever I go back I try to help as much as I can. I try to take used clothes and give back to the community or even some BJJ social projects that I have friends teaching. It’s hard, I travel by myself with 3-4 bags or boxes, I have to go through customs and sometimes they can tax me for bringing so many clothes to Brazil. But it’s worth it and whenever I go back home I try to do that. It’s working very well.
BJJL: Who or what is your inspiration or driving force for achieving your goals?
FB: My family. When I was younger and brought home medals or magazines, my dad used to show everyone in the favelas, he still does. My goal is always to make them proud.
BJJL: When is your grand re-opening, where is your new location?
FB: My grand opening was on August 15th, I had friends coming from all over, Mexico, Houston, Austin, Brazil, to train. I was really happy to see how I could make so many friends through BJJ. Gracie Barra San Antonio is located at 20711 Wilderness Oak suite 109, San Antonio, Texas 78258. You can find more information at www.gbsanantonio.com
BJJL: What will your school be offering in terms of training, classes, and hours of operations?
BJJL: How do you determine what tournaments you will compete in?
FB: I usually compete in Pan Ams, Worlds, and some IBJJF tournaments in Texas. It all depends if I will have the time to dedicate myself for the tournament.
BJJL: So many young woman look up to you, do you see yourself as a role model?
FB: It’s weird to see myself as a role model. I don’t feel like I do anything special to be a role model, but I know a lot of people look up to me. Sometimes I get messages/email from people saying thank you and it makes me really happy.
BJJL: Where do you see women’s BJJ headed in the next 5 years?
FB: I think women’s BJJ has grown a lot. I believe we will see more ladies owning their own schools and it will help to have more girls training, more girls competing, and getting more space in the BJJ scenario.
BJJL: Do you see yourself venturing into the MMA world or starting a career as an MMA fighter at some point?
FB: Nope. I never dreamed of it. This isn’t one of my goals.
BJJL: What has been the biggest obstacle in your career?
FB: I don’t know! Maybe when I had knee surgery in 2009. I was away from my family and luckily had my friend Mirian Cardoso to help me. I didn’t speak English very well, I was only 21 years old. It made me grow.
BJJL: How has your game grown in the last year?
FB: My game has changed a lot since I come to the Gracie Barra Team. I used to play a lot of closed guard and fast submission. At Gracie Barra being around Kayron Gracie, Otavio de Sousa, Marcio Feitosa, and Ana Laura Cordeiro I started to have a better open guard game and my top game definitely changed a lot. I am much more confident passing guard now a days. I believe I am more technical too. Our fundamentals curriculum helps you a lot to understand the basics of Jiu-Jistu.
BJJL: Would you like to see BJJ return to submission only?
FB: That would be fun. A lot of tournaments are doing it now.
BJJL: You competed at the Five Super League this summer, how were you selected as a competitor? How was the competition?
FB: Mike Calimbas was the first one to mention this tournament then I spoke to Ricardo. The competition was phenomenal. They treated us very well, very organized and a big structure. I loved to be part of it.
BJJL: Will you be competing at No Gi Worlds?
FB: I don’t have plans to compete this year. I did all the tournaments and traveling that I wanted in the first semester. I knew I was going to be very busy with my school. I want to focus at Gracie Barra San Antonio in this second semester. I want to build a very solid team and then we can get ready for tournaments, travel, and compete together. Gracie Barra San Antonio is my priority now.
BJJL: How does your tournament prep differ from your normal training?
FB: I believe my mindset changes. I always joke with my students that I am in competition mode and they know that the training will be very intense. So, they don’t ask me questions in the middle of the training and I am always focusing on points and submissions.
BJJL: What has been your proudest moment since you started BJJ?
FB: When I went back to Brazil in 2013, after 5 years without seeing my family. It made me realize how much I achieved in my life. Also, on my Grand Opening on August 15th. I was very happy to see all the important people supporting me on that day. You could see happiness glowing from my eyes. I wish my family was here to see it.
BJJL: What are your plans for the future? What goals do you have left?
FB: Well, now I am 100% focused on my school. It is growing very fast and I want to make sure I take good care of it. I want to help my students achieve their goals and help the community however I can. I am still planning on competing in 2016 and getting gold medals. I have a lot of personal goals and goals towards my family. I am looking to take some college classes to help me with my business and I am always looking forward to improving.
BJJL: Are there any matchups that you haven't had that you want or would like to redo?
BJJL: If you couldn’t do BJJ what would you be doing?
FB: I would probably be a veterinarian. That is what I was studying before my move to the USA. I am sure I wasn't going to be as happy as I am now.
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?
FB: There are many people/angels that helped me to be where I am right now. My family, my first professor Fabiana Gaudio, my good friend Miriam Cardoso that encouraged me come to USA, Professor Marcio Feitosa, and Master Carlos Gracie that had helped me to grow as an athlete and women, giving me the opportunity to have my own school and live for Jiu-Jitsu and all the Gracie Barra family for being the greatest BJJ Team/Family in the World.
Professor Fabiana Borges has had a career spanning 15+ years. The only competing female black belt in San Antonio, her deparature a year ago left a bit of a void in the female BJJ scene. Professor Borges is a role model, a formidable opponent, and a beloved professor to faithful students. Her infectious personality is one that permeates a room and makes each encounter with her all the more enjoyable. The return of Profesossor Borges to San Antonio is just what female practioners are in need of. The San Antonio Open is on the horizon (first time ever) in December and she came back just in the nick of time to prep a brand new team of worthy opponents. Professor Borges has achieved goal after goal. She has had a career in which many would aspire to. Her work in the BJJ world is far from over.
“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”-Pascal Mercier
In San Bernardino CA, the Kids Worlds International Championships for kids and teens just wrapped up their 6th year. This year’s gi team trophies winners were: First place ATOS Jiu-Jitsu, second place United BJJ, third place Gracie Barra. In the no-gi category first place again went to ATOS Jiu-Jitsu, second place to United BJJ and third place to Ferny Jiu-Jitsu. Congratulations to these teams and all the competitors who made it onto the podium.
Kids Worlds is the work of a team led by Rommel Dunbar. Rommel is a four stripe black belt under Pedro Carvalho and a seven time world champion. He runs United Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with two locations in Moreno Valley and Riverside California.
At this year’s Kids Worlds there were over 1000 competitors with 239 gi divisions and 150 no-gi divisions. The youngest division was 2009 or kids that are 4-5 years old. The lightest weight class was 39.5 pounds. The array of weight classes / age groups was dizzying.
On Saturday, 9th degree coral belt, Francisco Mansor was at the Kids Worlds. He met and talked with kids and parents. Lucky kids got to take their picture on the podium with the famous coral belt.
All told there were 250 academies at the tournament and some six countries including Australia New Zealand, Dubai , Canada, Mexico, Brazil. The Kids Worlds tournaments follow IBJJF rules and regulations.
In March 2011, Roger Gracie and Kev Capel promoted me to purple belt. Two months later, I moved to Bristol, where conveniently there was a BJJ academy around the corner. Due to the colour of our belts, in May 2011 the head instructor in Bristol asked the other purple belt and I if we wanted to help out with classes. I jumped at the chance, as instructing jiu jitsu has been a long-term goal of mine for some time. I had some experience leading undergraduate seminars on literature, but discussing poetry is quite different to teaching a physical skill set like jiu jitsu.
Gracie Barra has updated their Fundamentals Curriculum to the new version 2.0. If you missed it please check our breakdown of weeks 1 thru 4. This program is intended to provide a solid foundation for the beginner as he moves towards obtaining his blue belt. Their release video can be found here for those interested.
In this articles we’ll be breaking down the second App in the series, which covers week 5 thru 8. The content is available from iTunes and on-demand for all mobile devices, tablets and PCs. The Fundamentals set consists of 4 apps, each covering 4 weeks of their fundamentals curriculum for a total of 16 weeks of lessons. The apps range in price from $9.99 to $14.99. If you’re using the on-demand feature the instruction is broken down by the week and is available for $2.99 each with unlimited viewing for the year. Don't forget to download the maps in PDFs for reference, link is at the bottom of the review.
Gracie Barra has updated their Fundamentals Curriculum to the new version 2.0. This 16 week program was designed by GB black belts, Ricardo Almeida and Marcio Feitosa and the philosophy of Master Carlos Gracie Jr. The lessons are broken down into 16 weeks of training that is repeated through out the year. The techniques are a combination of self defense, sport jiu-jitsu and MMA. This program is intended to provide a solid foundation for the beginner as he moves towards obtaining his blue belt. Their release video can be found here for those interested.
In this series of articles we’ll be breaking down the full curriculum of Gracie Barra Fundamentals 2.0. The content is available from iTunes and on-demand for all mobile devices, tablets and PCs. The Fundamentals set consists of 4 apps, each covering 4 weeks of their fundamentals curriculum for a total of 16 weeks of lessons. The apps range in price from $9.99 to $14.99. If you’re using the on-demand feature the instruction is broken down by the week and is available for $2.99 each with unlimited viewing for the year. Don't forget to download the maps in PDFs for reference, link is at the bottom of the review.
Gracie Barra has updated their Fundamentals Curriculum to the new version 2.0. This 16 week program was designed by GB black belts, Ricardo Almeida and Marcio Feitosa. The lessons are broken down into 16 weeks of training that is repeated through out the year. The techniques are a combination of self defense, sport jiu-jitsu and MMA. This program is intended to provide a solid foundation for the beginner as he moves towards obtaining his blue belt.
In this series of articles we’ll be breaking down the full curriculum of Gracie Barra Fundamentals 2.0. The content is available from iTunes and on-demand for all mobile devices, tablets and PCs. The Fundamentals set consists of 4 apps, each covering 4 weeks of their fundamentals curriculum for a total of 16 weeks of lessons. The apps range in price from $9.99 to $14.99 and are available from iTunes. If you’re using the on-demand feature the instruction is broken down by week and is available for $2.99 each with unlimited viewing for the year. Each article will cover 2 weeks of the curriculum. The mindmap is available to download as a PDF just below the tags section of the post.
2012 Pan No-Gi Grappling Championships (New York) results are in Alliance wins Adult, Women, Master and Senior. Almost a clean sweep at New York's IBJJF premiere no-gi event in the fall of 2012. Gracie Barra scatters amonsts the placing teams with Renato Tevares' Juvi's coming out on top breaking the Alliance sweep.
2012 Gracie Barra Team Preview at Bloody Elbow, going into the detaileded history of GB Jiu-Jitsu and their team for the 2012 World Jiu-Jitsu Championships. Roger Gracie & Braulio Estima stand up the mundials for MMA and Romolo Barral's injury for the Pan Ams has gotten better for him to compete in June.
Not to be outdone, Bloody Elbow provides a 2012 ATOS Team Preview for the 2012 Jiu-Jitsu World Championships. Where Gracie Barra has the numbers, ATOS may have the higher talent per pound ratio with Andre Galvao and the new kid, Kyra Gracie who left Gracie Barra recently to join ATOS.
Save Jiu-Jitsu for the Tournamanents... says UFC Fighter
In an article on MMAJunkie.com, UFC fighter Lavar Johnson (fighting in UF 146) quoted as saying "We're here to put on a show," he said. "Let's save the jiu-jitsu for the jiu-jitsu tournaments, I say. The UFC is for fights. So let's fight." The article is indicative of his fighting style... Read the article Lavar Johnson vs Stefan Struve here.