Gurgel comments on sixth world title and “grand slam”

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Photo: Ivan Trindade

A sixth world title win was great, but Fabio Gurgel, on of the leaders at team Alliance, has much more to celebrate. This season the “Eagle” won the adult division at four major tournaments. Besides the Worlds, they took home trophies at the Pan, European Open, and Brazilian Nationals too. So overjoyed he was that Gurgel took the team’s call even while caught in São Paulo’s nerve-wracking traffic.

Check out the conversation we had with him:

What do these four conquests mean to the team?

We achieved an objective. Besides the sixth world title, we conquered the second one for the female team and managed the grand slam that eluded us last year. We won the four big championships of the year. It motivates us to keep it up; getting results is always motivating.

Of the six world titles, was any one in particular the most special?

The one from 2008, when we recaptured the title after a long dry spell. That was really special. This time was a continuation, but all the titles are really important. This time, for example, we also won the female contest. You can’t say one is more important that any other.

How important was your move to São Paulo and Jiu-Jitsu’s spread around the globe to Alliance’s process of winning?

My move to São Paulo was indeed meant to expand our efforts, but the Worlds didn’t even exist yet, so we didn’t have that in mind. I think that the same way I helped Jiu-Jitsu in São Paulo, this city helped me a lot in terms of organization and human resources. Today, São Paulo is Brazil’s Jiu-Jitsu capital. But Jacaré’s move to the United States was also of great importance. Now we have manpower there, in Europe and a number of other places. We won medals at the Worlds with students from Bahrain, Finland, the USA… Brazil is still the biggest scorer, but if the United States surpasses Brazil in Jiu-Jitsu – which I don’t see as being impossible –, we’ll still be strong.

During this process of growth there were also ruptures in the team…

Hindsight is 20/20. The position where we are today is something everyone who took part of in it is really proud of. We had the wherewithal to rebuild the team and not make the same mistakes we made in the past. Now we’re managing the team more carefully and professionally. In the end it was all a positive experience in our learning process. Perhaps, if it hadn’t been for all of that, we wouldn’t value it as much. Now we are only concerned with results, although we’re not sitting on our heels one bit. Jiu-Jitsu is taking off as a business and, along with the IBJJF and media outlets, we’re working for the good of the sport.

Having so many years of Jiu-Jitsu under your belt, what’s your breakdown of the sport’s evolution?

The technical evolution is constant, and that’s a wonderful thing. Someone who took two years off today sees a completely different sport. We have to keep up to date, spend our day-to-day lives on the mat, and that keeps us young because we’re always learning. To me the refereeing is the only weak point. We have to reformulate the rules now; we’ll see… I just feel the IBJJF has advanced as an organization and the fighters in technique much more than the referee’s have. But I’m certain we’ll get there!

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