Remember Bruno Fernandes? The last time we checked in with him, he was “over-achieving” by opening a new GB school in Montreal, coaching GSP, and being his doctor/professor self at McGill University. Well, as we all know, the past dictates the future, so when I caught up with Fernandes again, I was not surprised to find out that he’s still going above and beyond the norm in his daily life.
“I have no more free time,” Fernandes starts out by saying, “I’m really busy. I start teaching classes at GB Montreal in the morning. Then I take a shower (at the school) and walk five minutes to work. I’m there all day, then I walk back to the school and finish my day by teaching BJJ classes at night.”
Fernandes says he’s up early to teach the 7:00 a.m. Advanced classes and doesn’t get home until about 10:00 p.m. each night, but he’s not complaining. On the contrary, he loves every minute of his life, “It’s very rewarding,” Fernandes says.
Celebrating GB Montreal’s Grand Opening in March was even more satisfying. Growing up with many of the renowned Gracies, he called some of them in to help him commemorate the big day. Igor and Rolles Gracie flew in for the event, along with George St. Pierre, all of them causing quite a stir at the gym.
Fernandes threw a three-hour Gi seminar and the two Gracies and GSP showed the students some techniques. Fernandes says his students were mesmerized by the presence of Igor and Rolles, “They kept looking up at the picture of Master Carlos Gracie, Sr.,” Fernandes says, “And then looking back down at his grandchildren on the mats in front of them.”
Fernandes says it’s not everyday a Gracie comes to Montreal, “When they first walked in to the gym, there was a big silence,” Fernandes says, “It was like a couple of superstars had entered the building – everyone stopped talking. At first I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I’ve known them since I was 12 years old when we used to train together, so I’m not used to that. They’re like brothers to me. Then GSP walks in and is kind enough to show up and demonstrate a couple of moves. Everyone went crazy trying to take pictures with him.”
GSP has caused more of a commotion at GB Montreal lately, than just dropping by for Fernandes’ Grand Opening. One of Montreal’s local TV news channels decided to cover a story on how he’s been so successful in the UFC through his BJJ background, “A reporter came to GB Montreal to find out more about BJJ,” Fernandes says, “She said she expected people to be going crazy, fighting on the mats. What she saw was a normal BJJ Fundamentals class.” Fernandes laughs, “She thought it was interesting, but then asked where the ‘real fighting’ was.”
Fernandes says it was really good publicity for the school to get on the local news. He said most people don’t know what BJJ is, so it was a good endorsement, “People think BJJ is UFC,” Fernandes says, “The reporter changed her story along the way. She saw something different than what she expected, so she just told the story about BJJ as a gentle art and how it’s helped GSP and his ground game.”
Fernandes says he was happy he had some female students on the mats at the time the reporter was at the school, “I was telling her that BJJ is like a chess match and that there was a lot of intelligence going on,” Fernandes says, “She was impressed. Then she saw one of my female students dominating a guy in side control during specific training. The guy couldn’t escape and she said, ‘Hey! What’s going on there? I think I like that!’”
Something that Fernandes really liked was going to New York to watch GSP’s last UFC fight. Over 30 friends from Montreal flew to New York to attend the event. Fernandes says he talked to GSP about fighting Hardy beforehand, “We knew he’d be on top most of the time, so we worked on specific training. We worked from the guard, maintaining balance, and looking for submission. As always, George stuck to the game plan.”
Fernandes says he’s never seen anyone so dedicated and focused in every aspect of his life and that he puts 100% into everything he does. Fernandes says that GSP was disappointed he didn’t get the submission, “He was hard on himself,” Fernandes says, “But I was ecstatic with his show of BJJ. He had so much control over Hardy on the ground.”
Now Fernandes is looking forward to enjoying more BJJ at the New York Open in May. GB Montreal is sending 2 purple belts and a blue belt to fight. He says it’s not as big as the Worlds or the Pan Ams, “But on the East Coast, it’s one of the biggest Gi tournaments,” Fernandes says, “I think they’ll do really well. They’re some of my best students.”
Fernandes says he’s happy with how things are turning out in his life these days, “If GB Montreal keeps growing, I’ll be even happier. I want to finish the year with a big, strong team for the school. Then I’ll start expanding and adding more schools. I want to make BJJ bigger and more well known around here.” Knowing Fernandes and his over-achieving ways, I don’t doubt for a minute that he will accomplish all his goals and then some!