Maycon Carvalho is a Gracie Barra black belt who found his way to GB Fullerton by taking the long and winding road to get there. He moved from city to city, pursuing his dream of teaching BJJ and rolling with his students until he ended up exactly where he wanted to be – in beautiful, sunny, Southern California.
Carvalho grew up in Teofilo Otoni, in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. It was a small town that had no Jiu-Jitsu. One day, a friend who was a purple belt, came to visit from Rio and stayed with him for 6 months. They trained together in Carvalho’s home, and that was all it took for Jiu-Jitsu to enter his blood stream, “I knew then that Jiu-Jitsu was my life,” says Carvalho. “From the first time I rolled in my living room with my friend, after that moment, it was always a part of my life plan.”
Carvalho’s friend went back to Rio, and Carvalho was left in his town without Jiu-Jitsu. Two years later, when Carvalho was 18 years old, he went on vacation to the city of Maceio. He was at the beach and went looking for some Acai because he knew he’d meet some Jiu-Jitsu guys there, “I wanted to train so badly,” Carvalho says, “As luck would have it, I ended up meeting a GB guy and went to train with him. I was hooked for life… again.”
Carvalho ended up staying in Maceio, “My mom called me to come home because I was supposed to be starting university. Once I’d found GB Jiu-Jitsu, though, I knew I was never going back. My parents knew how much I wanted to pursue it, so they backed my decision to stay.”
Two years later, Carvalho moved to Belo Horizonte, in his home state, and joined Professor Aldo Caveirinha’s team as a blue belt, “I owe Professor Aldo a lot,” says Carvalho, “He let me stay with him so I could train. All he asked was that I teach at his school once I became a purple belt, which I did.” In fact, Carvalho stayed with Caveirinha for about nine years. They became very close over the years, “He’s still my best friend today,” Carvalho says.
When Carvalho became a brown belt, he left Belo Horizonte for Rio to train with Carlos Gracie Jr. He remained there for two years, “The first time I went to train with Master Carlos, he was so nice to me. He helped me out, and let me stay and train there. He welcomed me with open arms.”
While in Rio, Carvalho talked to Caveirinha every week. Carveirinha told Carvalho that he had to go to Europe for three months and asked Carvalho to return to Belo Horizonte, “He asked me to be head instructor of his school while he was away. I couldn’t believe he trusted me with the job, even though there were other black belts there.”
Carvalho says the experience changed his life, “The opportunity he gave me inspired me to teach for life. It showed me, more than anything else I’d ever done, that this was my life path.” When Caveirinha returned to his well-managed school, he gave Carvalho his black belt. Carvalho says it was the greatest moment of his life.
In 2007, Carvalho went to Long Beach, California, for the Worlds with Philipe Della Monica and Marcus Neuenschwander, “We decided to stay and teach here,” Carvalho says, “We wanted to represent GB.” The three black belts were training at the GB Lake Forest school to prepare for the Worlds. That was the only GB school in Southern California at that time, so there were no teaching jobs, “Professor Flavio (Almeida) told me about a new school in Danbury, Connecticut,” Carvalho says, “So, I moved to help with the school there. I stayed for 6 months.”
Then, in 2008, Carvalho returned to Southern California for the Pan. Professor Flavio asked him whether he wanted to help open a school in Arkansas, “I said I would do it. I stayed in Jacksonville for five months.”
At the end of his tenure in Jacksonville, he received a call saying that Paul Barbosa was opening a school in Fullerton, California, in January 2009. Carvalho was invited to move to Southern California to be the head instructor at GB Fullerton, “Life is really good,” Carvalho says, “I love California. The people are nice and my best friends live here. Training at GB America in Irvine is amazing. Master Carlos Gracie is here. If you love Jiu-Jitsu, you want to be in Irvine.”
Ever since settling down in the state he so loves, Carvalho has seen some great events come to pass. Last November, he won gold at the No-Gi Worlds, “I trained a lot for that. It was very exciting!”
But Carvalho’s passion remains teaching, “I’m changing lives,” he says, “I love seeing a student progress. I feel like I’m working with a rough stone and making it smooth and perfect. Watching a student perform a good technique that he learned from me, then seeing him perfect it in class, and then watching him take it to competition and use it there makes me feel really good.”
Carvalho says his goal is to fill GB Fullerton with students. He really enjoys working there, “Paul (Barbosa) is the best partner. We have a great friendship. I want to teach for life and be a professor forever. I want to breathe BJJ every day.”