By Vitor Freitas
GRACIEMAG: André Galvão is a great friend to you and all, but what’s your breakdown of the 20-minute, no-points match he’s going to do with Ryron?
RAFA & GUI MENDES: André’s been coming up to our academy in Costa Mesa, California, every day. We’re positive he’ll be in his best physical and technical shape. And he’s got plenty of heart, the only factor that you can’t train to have. He doesn’t back down or give up, even when he’s tired. We respect his opponent but bet the house on André.
Who takes the main event, Roger Gracie or Marcus Bochecha?
That’s an interesting matchup. Bochecha’s really explosive and talented. He just made it to the top in Jiu-Jitsu and is totally motivated. Roger’s got a tight game, doesn’t let positions slip away. We feel the rules are really propitious to Roger’s style but Bochecha will surely have been training a lot. It’ll be a great show. We’re dying to watch this fight too!
Why aren’t you guys participating at Metamoris Pro?
We were invited but the offer wasn’t enticing enough to get us to cancel our seminars. We’d have to turn our focus to competition, and everything we’ve ever done in our careers we’ve planned. After the Worlds we decided we weren’t going to compete in the latter part of the year, since our focus wasn’t on that. As trained as we may be, our focus right now isn’t on competition, so we opted to sit this one out. When we enter a competition it’s to win, and we gear our minds and bodies towards that. We don’t want to mix things. If you want too much, you don’t achieve anything. It’s all about taking one step at a time, but each step has to be taken with maximum precision.
What’s it like managing your first academy?
It’s awesome. It’s an incredible experience that teaches us something with every day. It’s the academy of our dreams. It’s beautiful and we’re putting our all into doing the best work we can, like we’ve always done. It’s incredible to see the students evolving and fighting using the same posture and techniques we do. We love our work, and when you love what you do like this, everything happens smoothly and as best it can.
After opening your academy, what changed in your routine?
We were used to teaching and training. We’ve been doing that since we were purple belts, always helping our teacher [Ramon Lemos] in the academy and training for championships at the same time… What changed now is that we have our own students, so we have to work on getting them to evolve too. It’s excellent for them and great for us too, since we gain training partners that just keep getting tougher every day. We’ve always spent the whole day on the mat training and teaching Jiu-Jitsu, ever since we were little. This is our life and what we love doing, so our routine didn’t change all that much.
After both of you won at the Worlds, what changed in your lives?
We take turns teaching class, since we have several groups each day – while one is teaching, the other is always working on the teaching method we’re creating for our academy. On the weekends, we travel to teach seminars or just enjoy California with the family. We’re hosting athletes from all over the world who come to train with us, and soon we’ll have a really strong competition team. Our white belt class is growing with every day, and that makes us happy, since it’s really cool to get to teach a student ever since their first Jiu-Jitsu class and see them evolve. Some want to learn self-defense. Others want to lose weight. But all of them end up loving the sport and improving their quality of life. Teaching kids has made our days more fulfilling, since we too started at 11 and 12 years of age, and Jiu-Jitsu changed our lives. We’re dedicating ourselves to making our school the biggest Jiu-Jitsu school for kids in the USA. That’s our goal.
Are you guys thinking of doing MMA anytime soon?
MMA isn’t in our plans at the moment. We want to continue our work in our academy, with our students. We take this opportunity to invite everyone to come learn from us. Even if you’re far from Costa Mesa, you can still learn from the Mendes bros by visiting our web page.