Romulo Barral is one of those guys you can’t help but root for. Humble, nice and dedicated to the sport. This recipe made the Gracie Barra black-belt into one of the greatest names is the history of the gentle art. He’s had a successful career, with four world titles, one ADCC and several other triumphs. In the middle of it all, he faced injuries and almost gave up on everything. But his heart spoke louder, and he came back on top. His last adult championship was last June’s Worlds.
But competition is in his blood, so he signed up to make his debut at world master championships, set to take place Aug. 25 through 27 at the Las Vegas Convention Center Halls, in Nevada. Barral is enrolled to fight as a heavyweight in the master-1 age group. Motivated and feeling no pressure to collect titles, the Vinícius Draculino pupil wants to see old friends and have a good time. In an interview with Graciemag, Barral talked about this new stage of his career, broke down the main steps to becoming a good teacher, and revealed the secret to his success: focus and training. Check it out below.
You recently announced your retirement. What motivated you to compete at the World Master?
I’ve retired from adult competition — that’s set in stone. I even intended to go a while without competing, but competition is in my blood. It’s very hard to stand still. I really enjoy training. I train every day, and the guys from Gracie Barra BH — Cristiano Titi, Marcelo Uirapuru and others — decided to compete in this event, and that motivated me to sign up too. It’s going to be my masters debut. I was bound to do it one day, but I decided to debut now. I’m very motivated.
What’s the expectation for the tournament? What is the focus for a tournament like this?
I’m excited, but the focus at the World Master is a little different. Of course we want to win, but I’m going there to see friends again. There isn’t that pressure to be a champion. I’m going to fight with a lot of love, and I want to have loads of fun. Regardless of the result, this championship will be very important to me. I’m starting a new phase in my life, without that world championship pressure, of having to train to kick everybody’s ass [laughs]. I’m sure it will be a lot of fun.
You’ve had a long, victorious career. What advice do you offer to those starting out who wish to achieve similar things?
Everyone has their method of success. Mine was very simple: a lot of focus and training. I’ve always dedicated myself a lot, trained a lot and sacrificed a lot of things in my life. That made me reach places I never thought possible. It was all a result of a lot of work and no regrets. If you work hard and believe, one day you will achieve your goals. I always tell my students that. It may be today, tomorrow or in ten years, but, if you are dedicating yourself and loving that which you’re doing, your time will come, and you will reach success.
You’ve also been having great success with your students. What’s the secret? What are the three most important steps for a teacher to follow in order to rear good students?
Thank God I have an already pretty tough group, from white to black belt. The first thing I imparted to my students was showing them the way by training. I dedicate myself every day, being a mirror to them. Then, I always strive to motivate my students. I make them believe they are prepared and can beat anyone. And, third, maybe most important, is helping your neighbor. You cannot win anything by yourself. I’m always thinking of them, wanting them to have more success than I. When you want to see the growth of the person next to you, everything has a greater chance of working out.