Flávio Almeida, otherwise known as Cachorrinho, these days is a fundamental part of the implementation of the new teaching methodology that will soon be standardized throughout the academies in the Gracie Barra network across the planet. Some time back, the fighter set his gi aside and donned a suit and tie, after having graduated from one of Brazil’s most traditional universities as an economist. But Jiu-Jitsu was his greater calling. The black belt spoke to GRACIEMAG.com of this story and much more in the following interview.
You have a degree in economics. How did you come to the decision you would work in the field of Jiu-Jitsu? Was it a dilemma for you?
I graduated from UFRJ in 2003 and specialized in Environmental Economics. I loved what I was doing, but the business world has its dark side and the lifestyle had nothing to do with what I learned from Master Carlinhos (Carlos Gracie Jr.). I always dreamed of making a living through Jiu-Jitsu, but I wasn’t sure if it was the best route for me. I had to experience the life of an executive to be sure I really want to make a life of Jiu-Jitsu. When I got sick of the suit, I returned to the gi and, with the support of my brother (Ricardo Cachorrão), Professor Márcio Feitosa and Master Carlinhos, I managed to establish myself. The funny part is that I ended up becoming an executive at Gracie Barra, but, at least, my suit remains the gi!
These days you live in the United States. How do you see the evolution of Jiu-Jitsu there?
What is going on here is impressive. The excellent job thousands of teachers are doing in all the countries of the world is having an incredible effect. In a few years Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will be the most practiced martial art in the United States, a country where there’s a martial arts school on every corner. I’m proud to see a product so unique to Brazilian culture is so accepted by Americans. They love Jiu-Jitsu!
Gracie Barra, especially, has taken a different approach, with the Premium Schools System.
How will you go about introducing this new methodology in Brazil?
I’m going back to Brazil to replenish my energy. I love life in the United States, but I miss Brazil. With the birth of my daughter, I started to miss my family and want to spend some time with them. But I want to combine the useful with the pleasurable and, besides training at Gracie Barra headquarters in Rio, taking part in the daily goings-on there like in the old days, I intend to spend a lot of time with Professors Jefferson Moura (GB Rio) and Carlos Liberi (GB Campinas) implementing our teaching and management system at their academies. Our strategy in Brazil is to create some model schools. For now they will be in Rio and in Campinas. That way we can learn what adaptations are necessary to introduce the methodology in Brazil. As soon as everything is running smoothly and fits the mold of the US project, the future will be about getting the other academies on board, pursuing consistency, uniformity, growth and quality in teaching.
What is it that should interest teachers around Brazil in getting to know the Premium System, while you are around here?
The Gracie Barra crowd interested in understanding Master Carlinhos’s vision, the methodology he created and the paths he took are welcome at the instructors meeting to be held May 27 at 10 am, at Gracie Barra Campinas. The idea is to hold a presentation for the gang and address any questions that may arise. Afterwards will a seminar and an evening training session will be held for all participants. It will be great. Master Carlinhos and Professors Marcio Feitosa and Marco Joca will participate as well, via internet.
What is your view of the evolution of the students and the academy ever since implementation of the Premium System?
The methodology implies using management and teaching methods that aim towards excellence in the practice of Jiu-Jitsu. There’s the financial aspect and it is fundamental that instructors be paid in a fair and competitive manner, if just so students can benefit from good service. The Jiu-Jitsu of the students who train in this environment is of an exceptional level and those who dedicate themselves proportionally always stand out in competition.
Will we see you in action on the mats this year?
I don’t think so. Between my family, my academies and Gracie Barra, it’s hard to find the focus and drive to compete. But I’m still training as always. I have the privilege of always training with Gracie Barra’s top fighters, for living so close to the headquarters in California. I roll with Romulo (Barral), Otavio Sousa and Kayron (Gracie) every day!