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
Interview with Ohana Academy owner Jason Yerrington about his philosophy on running a gym, Cronh's disease and their up coming Ohana Award Ceremony.
“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think”-Socrates
BJJ is not always about being number one or how many titles you obtain. For some, the lives of the people positively affected while on the journey truly is THE POINT. United States Martial Arts Inductee Professor Jason Yerrington talks to us about his special journey. A journey that he needed a helping hand with and those that love him rallied. Tamo Junto (TMJ) means you can count on me and when he needed it the most, Team Ohana was there to be counted on. The Ohana Academy Owner discusses training with Crohn’s Disease, the changes that led to the Ohana expansion, new black belts, and how he still has a fighting spirit whether or not the odds are in his favor. He has had the overwhelming love and support of friends, family, and his students during the most difficult time of his life. Professor Yerrington is living proof that it really isn’t about how you start the race but how you choose to see it through to the end.
BJJL:Why BJJ, not baseball or basketball, what drew you to this particular martial art?
JY: BJJ was something that I decided to start doing after I had finished playing basketball. I played two years at Angelina College in Lufkin, Texas and then transferred to the University of Incarnate Word where I red shirted my first year and finished out my eligibility the next two with them. When basketball was done there was a competitive void in my life. I saw the fight between Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin. I was captivated watching those two guys put it all on the line. I knew right then and there I have to do that. Three months, I was the main event at a show in Waco, Texas. Needless to say, I got knocked out. I went back to the gym and started to really throw myself into Jiu Jitsu. Prior to that fight I had never trained in the Gi but as soon as I put it on and had my first roll, I was hooked for life!
BJJL:You are the owner of Ohana out of San Antonio TX. Ohana, what does it stand for/represent…why that particular moniker?
JY: Ohana is a Hawaiian term referring to family. The concept emphasizes that families are bound together and members must cooperate and remember one another! As I began to progress in my Jiu Jitsu journey I started to feel a sense of community and bonding with every one of my training partners. I chose to name our school Ohana because of this and the Hawaiian culture seemed to embody a lot of the concepts that I was becoming accustomed to from my experiences in Jiu Jitsu.
BJJL:How long have you been training, what’s your lineage?
JY: I started training in February 2006. I received my blue belt from a man named Jaime Miller. Shortly thereafter I left and enrolled at Marra Senki Jiu Jitsu Academy where Professor Sergio “Marra” Correra took me in. Once he awarded me my purple belt he helped me open my first Ohana Academy and he has been my professor ever since.
BJJL:How involved is your family?
JY: In the beginning my family (mainly my wife) was just a supportive and fan. Once my daughter Arianna turned three yrs old we started her in our Jitz for Totz program and since then my family has been very involved in everything we do at Ohana. Well that’s not totally true. My wife just recently started her journey on the mats a couple of weeks ago. My second daughter is two now but will also start training when she turns three. It makes my heart so happy seeing them on the mat. I know that I can feel comfortable as my girls grow up because they will be prepared in ways that the majority of people will not be. They may never ever want to compete and that’s fine. I know that the experiences they gain through Jiu Jitsu will prepare them in ways I never can as just their dad.
BJJL:A guy your size must have a difficult time finding the optimal training partner. You are in great shape, but you are what I call, a size extra. How do you compensate when training so that you don’t get hurt or so that you don’t hurt anyone?
JY: Being a big guy comes with its challenges and its pros for sure. It has always been my approach to training to try and move like a little guy. I never wanted to have a static strength type of game. I have always strived to have a flow more in tune with someone that is 150lbs or lighter as opposed to the kind of games that you see from guys 220lbs and above. Injuries will happen in training but I have found that there are three main philosophies when training jitz. Win/lose… lose/lose… and win/win… I strive to keep a 40% win/lose to 60% win/win ratio. A win/lose roll is a competitive roll. A win/win roll is more along the lines of catch and release or flow rolls. This way it allows me to explore and expand my game because of the investment that my partner and I put into our training rolls. You cannot however ever remove competitive rolls. If you do then what good would it be if you had to defend yourself on the street or in a competition.
BJJL:What aspect of your game do you think has improved the most since you began training?
JY: The aspect of my game that has improved the most would have to be my inversions and also my escapes. Movement with a purpose but never straying from the movement. As soon as you stop moving you start dying
BJJL:What do you try to instill in your students the moment the set foot on the mat?
JY: I try to instill in the students to invest in losing or as we call it learning. I try to let people know that the wall of China wasn’t built in a day. There are so many ways to answer this question but the truth is that it is different for each student. Everyone has an individual journey!!
BJJL: I don’t know how many people are aware of this but in 2012 you were inducted into the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame as Instructor of the Year. That is an AMAZING accomplishment. Talk about what that meant to you, to your family.
JY: That was a VERY unexpected honor! I do this because I love Jiu Jitsu and I love helping people. In a way I see Ohana Academy as a church, a church of Jiu Jitsu! Lol but that is the truth. Being inducted was a major validation and one in which I am EXTREMELY proud of!
BJJL:What are the various programs that Ohana has to offer?
JY: My first academy (the Central San Antonio location) offers it all and we still pretty much do. We have BJJ, Boxing, Wrestling, Muay Thai, No Gi, and of course MMA. My second location in Stone Oak we wanted to create a grappling only school where our focus was Jiu Jitsu!
BJJL:Ohana had a transition with its black belts. Gustavo Carpio moved to California and you were able to partner with Bruno Alves (GFT). How did that transpire?
JY: Gustavo had a great opportunity to partner up with some business men in California and open his own school, Connect Jiu Jitsu. I was sad to see him go but so happy for him and his family! We still text and talk all the time. That’s one of things that I love about jitz, every class is the opportunity to meet your next lifelong friend. Basketball never did that for me. The opportunity to work with Bruno Alves was like a golden egg falling into my lap. He is a great guy with great Jiu Jitsu and an awesome addition to our family. It has been a pleasure to get to know him and his wife Alessandra.
BJJL:What are your long-term plans for Ohana?
JY: My long term plans for Ohana are to always be a family environment that uses Jiu Jitsu as a vehicle for accomplishing whatever your goals are. Whether that is to be a world champion, lose weight, stress relief, self-defense, or open up your own school.
BJJL:You have had a rough year due to illness, will you talk a bit about that?
JY: This year has been one of the most trying years of my life. I was diagnosed in 2009 with Crohn’s disease/ ulcerative colitis. In Nov 2014 I went into the ER for lower abdominal pain. At the ER they diagnosed me as having diverticulitis. I then had another colonoscopy in Dec 2014 and it was there that the doctor said I was misdiagnosed and it was not diverticulitis but instead a ball of cancerous cells in my colon. This is the average for people with active ulcerative colitis.
The risk for cancer increases dramatically after 6 years of an active disease. Since being diagnosed with that I have undergone chemo infusions, steroidal treatment, tons of drugs. I literally can’t even list them all. I have had countless accidents. At times it feels like I’m trapped in my own home due to the fact that I can’t leave without the risk of an accident. Then the doctors ordered me on total bowel rest which means they inserted a PICC line and every night for 14hrs I was given medicine and food. When I say food I mean this nasty white substance that had carbs and fats and proteins. I did this for just over three months before the PICC line became infected and the organism tunneled through my heart and made its way into my lungs and then was filtered into my blood.
I then had heart failure, kidney failure, and liver failure with a bad case of pneumonia in my lungs. In other words my body was septic. The doctors said that if I had waited one more hour I would have been dead. I then spent six days in the ICU. After getting out I refused to have the PICC line put back in and instead went on a juice fast after watching the documentary fat, sick, and nearly dying (I also competed in the Austin open five days after getting out of the ICU…DUMB). Since then I have begun a drastic recovery. I am still receiving infusions and am still on numerous medications including the steroids.
The good news is that after all this the ball of cells has decreased dramatically. I am still waiting to do another colonoscopy to biopsy the mass and go from there. Throughout these things I would never be able to have made it to where I am now without the constant help and support of my wife Megan. She has been there for me through everything and her undying love even in the worst situations has been such a blessing, but that’s what family is! That’s OHANA.
BJJL:Biggest setback since you began training?
JY: The biggest setback in my training has been these last 9 months.
JY: My proudest moment was winning the No Gi worlds as a brown belt. I have not yet been able to compete in the worlds as a black belt due to my health but I promise you I will make it back
JY: I think we all have regrets or things we would have liked to have done better. I wish I had started juicing earlier, paying closer attention to my health, and trying to do everything in my power to not let this sort of happen. I know that some things are out of my control but if I had known the type of affect that juicing has had on my disease I would have started years ago.
BJJL:Do you have anything coming up in the next few months at Ohana that you would like to announce?
JY: Coming up at the end of the year we have our rank day on Dec 3rd and I’m excited to announce the 1st annual OAC (Ohana Award Ceremony)happening on Dec 4th. This is going to be an awesome event where it will not be as strict as a black tie affair but more like a black tie affair OHANA style!
BJJL:Would you like to thank anyone for helping you along the way?
JY: First and foremost I want to thank the lord Jesus Christ, then my wife, and my two beautiful princesses. My father and mother for their support. My professor Sergio Correra, Gustavo Carpio, Randy for all of his awesome insights, and all my students that have believed in us and the concept that is Ohana Jiu Jitsu.
A journey begins and ends wherever we want it to. The path is ours to choose. When the time comes will you fight? Will you fight for your hopes, your dreams, and the very air that you breathe? When the time comes will the fight be in you? Will you push the limits and go above and beyond what is humanly possible? Professor Yerrington chose to fight. He has fought every step of the way of his journey in BJJ and in life. Professor Yerrington’s Journey is unique and inspirational. On that day when you know you have absolutely nothing left and you think you have gone as far as you can go. Just get up, think outside of yourself for a moment, and just like Professor Yerrington, FIGHT!
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”-Confucius
Follow Professor Jason Yerrington and Ohana Academy at:
Active duty Army, father and huband David juggles multiple moves and family obligations and wins at Masters Pans.
Sidney Howard said, “One-half of knowing what you want is knowing what you must give up before you get it.” To be the best at what you do takes an overwhelming amount of sacrifice. In the case of the 2014 IBJJF Blue Belt Masters 1 Middle Weight Pans Champion David Johnson, he has done his fair share of sacrifice and this year’s Pans win solidified how much hard work does pay off. You know you are in the presence of an indomitable spirit when asking what feeling did he have going into Pans and his response is, “Pans was my toughest and largest competition to date, with that being said, I knew I was going to win. I worked really hard and I went in with the mindset that no one is going to beat me, I want this too bad and someone is going to have to kill me to take it away from me.” These words made me smile.
David Johnson is no Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu prototype; this 14 year active duty army member is so much more. His win at Pans came as no surprise to those who train with him on a regular basis. Training full time in order to compete is unrealistic for majority of the BJJ competitors. Only a select few reach that top tier and they typically do not get there without putting in work. The average BJJ competitor has a family, a job (not always 9 to 5), and a list of responsibilities that barely allows them to make it in to train 2 to 3 times a week. Johnson, a provider, a husband and a father is proving that it is not an impossible task. BJJ is for all ages, all stages, and for those who want to feel that amazing transformation that ultimately happens as long as you stay the course.
Juggling his military obligations, family life, and his passion can be tricky. Having a support system that pushes and anchors you is a must. Johnson said, “I'm very fortunate that my wife supports me. After Pans I think my wife understood the amount of training it takes to compete and win against the best in the world.” Preparation for a tournament has to be done with absolute precision. Moving from place to place comes with the territory of military members therefore choosing the right place to train is as essential as consistently passing any guard. Johnson currently trains under 3rd Degree Black Belt Bruno Alves at Pinnacle/GFT in San Antonio, Texas. “I firmly believe if you want to be the best you need to train with the best.” states Johnson.
David Johnson has become a part of an elite squad of champions, he did not walk the exact same path yet he has achieved on the same level. What more can a competitor ask for? The life he leads is not for the undisciplined. This new breed of competitor must possess the same tenacity and desire to achieve at the top tier and heaven help the man that gets in his way. I had many questions for David about his training and his Pans win. I finally asked what we can look forward to from him in the future and I already knew the answer…PLENTY.