Pass guard like the NY Open absolute Jiu-Jitsu champion

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Otavio Sousa against Clark Gracie (green-and-yellow marker belt) in the middleweight final / Photo: Cristian Buitron

Otávio Sousa was the big name at the New York Open Jiu-Jitsu Championship last Saturday. The relentless teacher at team Gracie Barra put in a splendid performance at City College’s Nat Holman Gymnasium, winning both the middleweight and absolute divisions.

“At this championship I managed to let my game flow a lot more than last championship, where I didn’t do so well. This time my performance was excellent. I was more aggressive, without holding back on attacking. I’m really pleased to have been able to let my game flow,” Otávio told “The event in New York couldn’t have been better. I got to face really tough opponents in my division and the absolute, and I managed to get the finish in three of my four matches. To boot, I got revenge on Clark Gracie, who I lost to at the Pan. This time I got back on track.”


There was also a lot that the Zé Radiola student learned at the IBJJF tournament. “I got at least one good lesson: when I manage to let my game flow, without putting so much pressure on myself to get results, my chances of doing well go up considerably. I feel that when the time comes it’s all in your head. You have to be focused, of course, but you have to go out there calm, without demanding so much of yourself. That’s the big difference between a great champion and a fighter who doesn’t take any risks,” said the fighter, who offered a pointer on how you can up your game.

“I always seek to understand Jiu-Jitsu and try my all to perfect my game as a whole, not just get good at one specific aspect. One of the things I like best in Jiu-Jitsu is that we’re learning every day, even at black belt. Every day there’s a position to adjust, a different grip, a way of positioning yourself and making things harder on your opponent,” said Otávio, who teaches the guard pass in the following video.

“The pointer I have to offer is this: be persistent, never give up on your objectives, and believe in yourself; that way you’ll go far. Through Jiu-Jitsu I learned that this applies to real life, not just training,” he said, the Worlds in California already in his sights.

“I want to do one more championship before the Worlds in late May. I’ll be at Long Beach for sure. Winning the Worlds as a black belt is one of my dreams. I’ve won it at all the other belts, but this title is the only one missing. That’s why I won’t let up until I get it.”

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