The 6th American Cup is scheduled next April 20-21, in San Jose, California. Black belt world champion (No-Gi) Augusto Mendes, aka Tanquinho, will be one of the most well known names to compete. GracieMag got in touch with the Brazilian for an exclusive interview. Read what Tanquinho had to say about Claudio França’s event, his preparation and the importance of attending rules seminar like the one Alvaro Mansor will teach on April 19.
The registration for the 6th American Cup is still open. The costs until April 12 are $70 for kids and $90 for juveniles, adults and master & senior. Enrollment for the Rules Seminar is also open. Go to americancupbjj.com and register now.
How’s Jiu-Jitsu in Phoenix, Arizona?
Jiu-Jitsu here in Arizona is very strong. The regional championship here has something between 600 and 800 athletes registered and there are great teams here contributing to the growth of Jiu-Jitsu, like Megaton (which has been here for more than 20 years), Gustavo Dantas from Nova União, John Crouch from The Lab and Ryan Beauregard from BJJ Revolution. Jiu-Jitsu here is at a great level, like many U.S. cities and other cities in the world!
What do you think about events like the American Cup?
I am biased to talk about Cláudio Franca because he is my friend, but you just need to see his work ahead of previous events like the U.S. Open and American Cup for you to understand how Cláudio is super organized, methodical and competent. His events are impeccable, with the structure and schedule respecting athletes and with high-level fights. Cláudio’s events are only behind the Worlds and Pan here in the U.S.
Did you ever get bullied at school or in any situation that you had to use BJJ to defend yourself?
No, I never had to use my Jiu-Jitsu that way. There were normal jokes and it didn’t affect me. If I laughed at someone I knew they would laugh at me, and, after all, these things are about having limits; I always respected others and was respected when it was needed!
What’s the importance of BJJ in your life, in and outside of the mats?
Jiu-Jitsu is everything in my life. With Jiu-Jitsu I learned a profession, social and moral values that life often doesn’t teach you. With Jiu-Jitsu I met my girlfriend and I was able to travel to over 20 countries, and with that I was able to make new friends and learn different cultures and I am very happy to be well received at any Jiu-Jitsu gym in the world! Anyway, Jiu-Jitsu is a tool that can change people’s lives and make them better! I can only thank God for putting Jiu-Jitsu in my life!
What do you expect of the 6th American Cup?
I believe it will be an excellent event, with a great organization and great combats in all the belts! I hope to make great fights for the public and get one more gold medal!
Please talk a little bit about your diet and preparation, training partners…
I need about 3 to 4 weeks of diet to get on the weight I need, and it takes a lot of willpower and dedication! My diet is to avoid junk like soda, sweets and fried food. I basically eat more fruit, salad, fish and chicken and lots of water! I’m working out with Jerret Aki from The MMA Lab, the guy who is responsible for the physical preparation of MMA guys like Ben Henderson, Efrain Escudero, John Moraga, among others. Anyway, every day I feel I am improving physically! I’m training Jiu-Jitsu with Megaton at his gym and I’m also starting to train MMA at The MMA Lab, under the supervision of John Crouch.
Do you think that there’s a strong new generation of American black belts rising?
Surely! Jiu-Jitsu never stops evolving and some of the best BJJ coaches are living in the USA and they are raising the level of the Jiu-Jitsu of Americans. It’s only a matter of time for new generations of black belts to come!
Are you going to participate at the IBJJF rules seminar with Alvaro Mansur, one day before the American Cup? In your opinion, what’s the importance of this seminar?
I’ll probably do it, but it depends on what day I will arrive in San Jose. I believe every athlete should know the rules of their sport very well. Jiu-Jitsu is very complex and requires us to know all aspects of the rule! Those who want to take advantage and stay a step ahead of the opponent definitely should go! I did the first course of IBJJF rules in 2003 and since then, I join an average of three to five courses per year. This year I’ve been to one in Arizona and I’ll probably do another one in San Jose. I believe much of my success in competitions is due to my knowledge of the rules!
What can you say to the folks that will compete in the American Cup in San Jose, CA?
Guys, have fun at the event, give your best in the combats, always respecting the opponents, the public, family and friends! When you participate in an event like the American Cup and U.S. Open, you will want to return every year. This is exactly what happened to me (laughs).