Bernardo Faria talks Worlds and his blue belt half guard against Rodolfo Vieira

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In his best moment in the final, Bernardo threatened Rodolfo's back. Photo: Ivan Trindade

In his best moment in the final, Bernardo threatened Rodolfo’s back. Photo: Ivan Trindade

A lot of times we remember Jiu-Jitsu athletes in terms of their accomplishments or better yet, their signature moves. For the Mendes brothers it’s the berimbolo. For Romulo Barral it’s the spider guard. For Marcelo Garcia it’s the x-guard and his ADCC fame. In the case of Bernardo Faria, he is the king of deep half guard. We may not remember their names at first but most definitely, Bernardo has been referred to as “that deep half guard guy” more than a few times.

The move will always and forever be a part of this Alliance super-heavyweight’s strategy no matter what others have told him regarding its efficiency. As it turns out, his blue belt days served him well as his blue belt half guard move has survived to this day– after three black belt world titles.

While he just missed the gold at the 2014 World Championship, he gave everything he had and earned some proud moments along the way. Check out how Bernardo Faria describes his journey at worlds, some history in his half guard and some other moments he’s proud of:

GRACIEMAG: What was your  journey like at Worlds?

BERNARDO FARIA: In general it was a very good tournament for me. I had a total of eight matches– four in the open class and four in my weight division. It is the fifth year straight that I got to the finals. I won against many tough guys like Abraham Marte, Yuri Simoes, Igor Silva, Braulio Estima, and two others.

Most of my matches I won by submission or by a large score of points, and I did EVERYTHING I could against Rodolfo Vieira [in the super-heavy final]. In the finals I got a little bit frustrated because I saw the opportunity to beat him, I almost got the sweep, almost got his back, and I felt him getting very tired, but once again he did very well and I was able to defend everything I tried even while tired. He is for sure the toughest opponent I had in all my career.

Unfortunately I didn’t win the Worlds this year but I’m happy about my performance and about the way I fought. I received a bunch of messages from people saying that I inspired them, so this is what really matters for me, to be an example for other people winning or losing.

Besides Rodolfo, who was your toughest match?

He went half way into the sweep. Photo: Ivan Trindade

He went half way into the sweep. Photo: Ivan Trindade

I think probably against Yuri Simoes. He scored three points from passing the guard. But I was with my chest on the mat and the referee gave him the points. I thought the referee was wrong but later someone told me that currently to be considered passed the guard you just need to get to the guy’s side and hold for three seconds. It doesn’t matter if he has your back or your chest on the mat, it will be three points, so the referee was right and it was my mistake. And at this level to start losing by three points to a guy as tough as Yuri, it is hard to revert, but thank God I kept calm, adjusted my favorite positions and I got two sweeps and one back take. And I won the match by 8 – 5 points.

You mainly play deep half but have incorporated some new moves since training with Marcelo Garcia. What do you think of his game and what type of moves have been effective for you?

Since I was blue belt I have done half guard. I have two types of half guard: the deep half guard, and the one I call “blue belt half guard”. This is the one I started doing when I was a blue belt thats why I call “blue belt half guard” and it is the one I always try to do against Rodolfo–the one where I end up in the single leg.

Since I moved to NY (Marcelo’s school), my half guard hasn’t changed so much. I probably just adjusted it even more, because Marcelo’s way to pass the guard is very good against half guard, so training with him and all his students definitely helps to improve my half guard. But one thing that I improved a lot since I moved to NY, was my back attack. Marcelo taught me how to submit from the back, and I’ve already seen big results in tournaments.

During just the Worlds alone I got four submissions and two were from the back. This is just one example showing what I’ve improved since starting to train with Marcelo, but there are many others. His game is the most effective game I have ever seen and I always try to pick up everything I can that combines with my game. I’m very happy to be around him, training, learning and teaching at his school.

Buchecha said that it is useless to try to play half guard with Rodolfo, for not only you, but anyone because that’s his strongest position to pass from. What do you think of this statement?

I think if he said this he probably means against Rodolfo this year, as a super-heavyweight, because if not then it doesn’t make sense considering most of the times that Buchecha swept Rodolfo in the other matches it was from half guard. So I think he probably means now that Rodolfo went up to super-heavyweight he gave Buchecha a hard time in the half guard at the [Abu Dhabi] World Pro.

But in my case, 90% of my sweeps are from half guard; I’m not a wrestler nor judo player. Rodolfo will never pull guard against me, so I have to do half guard, and one thing that I learned in BJJ that I even use in my general life, is that we have to trust in ourselves It doesn’t matter who we are, what we do, if you have something that you do well, you have to believe and trust that it is going to work against everyone.

Before my first World title as a black belt I heard many people telling me that for me to win the Worlds as a black belt I would need to change my game because having only half guard would not be enough. And I was able to prove to myself that it is possible winning [the Worlds] in 2010, 2012 and 2013. So Im going to keep believing in what I do, and of course always trying to find ways to improve it. For example now I started doing wrestling to see if I can finish my single leg from half guard better.

Do you ever change your strategy based on who your opponent is or do you believe that playing your “A” game is always most effective?

Bernardo pressures his opponent into turtle. Photo: Ivan Trindade

Bernardo pressures his opponent into turtle. Photo: Ivan Trindade

I used to change my game using my game. I have a game plan with different positions. For example, closed guard, or deep half guard, or blue belt half guard, or wait for the opponent to pull guard and play on top– things like that. So depending on my opponent, I try to make the right strategy according to my game. Against some guys I play the deep half guard, against others the blue belt half guard, against others the closed guard, or maybe for wait them to pull guard, so thats how I think. I never change to something that I’m not used to doing, like spider guard for example.

What is your most proud moment so far in 2014?

I think it was probably my fight against Braulio [Estima] at the Worlds, when I scored 26 points. I think in BJJ one way to be unforgettable in the sport is by doing things that no one ever did. Whenever I see someone winning against him it is by a very tight score, so I was very happy to get to fight so well against him. I have a lot of respect for him and he has, in my opinion, one of the best resumes in all of BJJ history: five-time world champion, ADCC division champion, and ADCC open class champion. So earning this win against him like this is a moment I’m sure I will never forget for the rest of my life.

I would like to thank everyone who supported me after the Worlds on my fan page, sending me messages; I really appreciate it. I’m going to keep training and competing hard because you guys are my motivation. Thanks a lot.


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