Gracie Barra army ready for 2012 Worlds

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The GB platoon sparring and training / Photos: Deb Blyth

Gracie Barra recently started their 2012 Worlds training camp, and they brought famed Jiu-Jitsu professor Ze Radiola up from Brazil to lead it. Ze’s always been a part of GB’s Worlds training camps in the past, but this is the first time he’s been asked to lead the charge into the biggest tournament of the year. Ze is happy with the progress he’s seen in his students. He brought quite a few athletes with him from Brazil to join the team in Irvine, and he’s excited to get everyone trained and ready to go. “The camp is running how we expected,” he says. “It’s been really great. Everyone’s been working really hard since the Europeans and our results have been better and better with each tournament. We hope for the best results at the Worlds.”

Renowned professor Ze Radiola takes charge

Roberto "Tussa" Alencar, Otavio Sousa, and Lucas Rocha

Ze has been traveling back and forth from Brazil to the US, coaching GB teams in both areas. He’s had so much experience building students from kids to world champions, like Braulio and Victor Estima, Otavio Sousa, and Lucas Rocha to name a few. He is very passionate about the art and the building of the GB team overall. “We have been collecting the seeds we planted in the past. Now we have all of the GB athletes from all over the world together to train super hard. I’m trying to get everyone here to believe in themselves to reach their greatest heights. Everyone together makes us all stronger. Everyone here is already at a very high level of techniques. So, getting them to believe in themselves is key.”

Black belt Kayron Gracie weighs in on the camp

Kayron Gracie and Ze Radiola

Black belt Kayron Gracie, who may or may not compete at this year’s Worlds because of an injury he’s nursing, says Ze’s skills and knowledge make him the obvious choice to take the GB team to the next level this year. “This is going to be a better year than ever before,” Master Carlos Jr.’s son says, “You’re going to have to wait for the Worlds to see the differences he’s made and everything that we’ve learned, but he’s brought a lot of really good techniques with him. We’re learning new skills and improving the details of our games. He keeps our team together.” GB America in Irvine is holding the main Worlds training camp every day, but the GB team has so many students and their talent runs so deep, Romulo Barral is holding a second camp up in the Los Angeles area to train and condition those students who can’t necessarily make the trek down to Orange County. “We have two camps training,” Kayron says. “We have a lot of good belts competing up to black belt. The GB team is really strong. We are in full force and ready to go. There are so many top players. This team has so many good guys right now. The army’s ready. We are all ready to go.”

Orlando Sanchez

The GB team has too many great competitors to list, but one recent standout and current member of the GB Worlds training camp team is brown belt Orlando Sanchez. He recently went to Brazil for the first time to train with professor Ze Radiola one week before the Brazilian Nationals. Romulo Barral made the trip out with him and coached him at the tournament as well, which thrilled Orlando immensely. Orlando stayed at Ze’s house and trained at his GB Pernembuco academy. “Professor Ze is an amazing man and professor,” Orlando says; “He helped me so much with the details of my game and my overall game plan at the competition. He mentally motivated me like no one ever has before. After he took care of me and mentored me for a week, he sent me to Rio to the tournament. It was just like all the videos of all the tournaments in Brazil I’ve seen. It was loud, people were yelling and singing, they had yellow and green puzzle mats… it was awesome!” Orlando had four fights in his ultra heavyweight division and he won them all, taking gold. He came back the next day to compete in the absolute. He faced Worlds champions and Pan champions in every match and won. In the finals he took on João Gabriel. “I beat Joao in the finals and was proud, not for me, but for my GB Pasadena students,” Orlando says. “I don’t compete for me anymore. I do it to be an example to the little champs and all my students at my school. I do it so I can be not just a champion in Jiu-Jitsu, but also a champion in life. We can be champions in life no matter where we come from! And now I’m training full-time at Ze’s Worlds training camp at the Gracie Barra Headquarters, six days a week leading up to the Worlds, where I hope to win again.”

Check out the following video of the troops training:

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