A teacher and high-level competitor, Bruno Bastos now splits his time further with one more obligation. The Lead BJJ black belt is the manager of his own academy in Midland, Texas. Bruno is now in charge of the finances, managing the bureaucratic parts, all while still running the classes, along with his wife Petya. The goal is to open the academy at the end of October.
It is wrong to think his success came quickly. Before stepping on American soil for the first time, Bruno was three times denied visas by the US consulate. The process was painful, but he has always faced adversity very naturally, as Jiu-Jitsu was always his only way out for a better future. Bruno was born and raised in Vila Valqueire, Rio de Janeiro and at the beginning had no clear opportunities; the sport was his best friend.
“I created my opportunities with hard work and dedication. Even when I was denied my American visa three times, I knew my time would come and I kept working. Until my chance came. In a World Championship, where I had one of my best showings, I got a proposition to stay and from that moment I made my story change. Today I am here, with my family, my gym and my story is still being written. No one remembers the guy who gave up; everyone remembers those who overcame adversity,” says Bruno.
Of medals and personal success, Bruno repeats the same feat with his students and, in his view, he runs the best Jiu-Jitsu school in Texas. With the academy nearly in the top 10 of the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF), Bruno reveals the secret to producing so many good Jiu-Jitsu students.
“I believe the secret is first to love Jiu-Jitsu in every way. I am a teacher, mentor, competitor and entrepreneur. You have to know how to delegate functions, because there is no way to do everything alone, and know how to listen too, because you will not always be right; you have to be prepared to be helped. Leading does not mean commanding, but managing people and egos. I read books from other sports coaches because I want to know how they deal with their athletes and how they run their teams. I pay attention to Jiu-Jitsu coaches in championships. I always bring a lot of people to seminars at my academy, which is beneficial for my students, this exposure in different systems. In business, I’m learning a lot from Lloyd Irving and Fabio Gurgel,” says Bruno.
Recently, a month ago to be exact, Bruno had perhaps his best personal experience within Jiu-Jitsu. He saw his son, John, compete and have his first experiences as an athlete of the sport.
“He asks to compete because he wants to win medals. I tell him that he has to earn the medals and nothing will be given to him. During class I treat him like the other students, but obviously the feeling is different. In competitions it has been going smoothly. I get nervous, because as a father, I’m afraid he’ll get hurt. He is a super smart boy and mature for his age; he listens to me very well. I’m very proud of him and in the end, being his father is much more important than being his coach,” he says.