Amidst pandemic, Diego Almeida details changes to teaching method, sees better days for BJJ

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Diego is a black belt from Double Five. Photo: Personal archives

The world is going through drastic changes in all sectors. And the BJJ community is among those heavily affected by the covid-19 pandemic, which has caused a halt to the IBJJF’s main competitions and mass closure of gyms across the U.S., Brazil and Europe.

With the suspension of the Pan and Worlds, which were scheduled to run in March and May, respectively, many BJJ professionals felt the hit, given that they were making the final adjustments to compete.

Diego Almeida, 25, is one example. Qualified for the 2020 Pan in his first year as a black-belt, the Brasília native told how he received the news that threw a wrench in his training — and, worse, caused activities to cease at his gym, Seeds 13 in San Angelo, Texas.

“The IBJJF’s decision is correct and follows the United States’ entire safety protocol, to avoid large gatherings and the spread of the virus,” said Diego. “Our community received the rules well, and everybody is adapting because of this. It’s sad to go without fighting, yes… But the best thing, for now, is to stay focused and have faith that this will all pass.”

About what he’s been doing for his students in these challenging times, Diego said: “I love the digital world, and this has been easier for me. We are sharing online access on our platform and are in direct contact via email, messaging and video calls. No member of my team will feel alone in this period. It’s my duty to provide instruction, even though we’re far. We talk so much about feeling comfortable in uncomfortable situations, that now we’re proving it in practice!”

Diego, who is used to an intense training routine, also shared some details about his life under quarantine. “I continue to train however I can and I never put my healthy eating aside — an important part in this process we’re experiencing,” he said. “I take advantage of this time to study and make my businesses grow. I only leave my house to buy food or check on my gym. I believe in better days and I can hardly wait to see my students, especially my children. I love teaching.”

In just two months since his promotion to black-belt, Diego has won one gold and two silvers in IBJJF competitions.

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