A physical conditioning coach well known in Brazil, Rafael Alejarra is facing a new challenge. At his new gym in California, for the first time in his career he is coaching an athlete specifically for Jiu-Jitsu. The athlete in question is Alexandre Ribeiro, who will try for an unprecedented third world absolute title at the coming Jiu-Jitsu World Championship. Check out some of the photos taken during a session and the an interview with the coach of some of the fight world’s biggest stars.
Is this the first time you prepare someone for Jiu-Jitsu?
I’d never prepared anyone just for Jiu-Jitsu before. My whole life I worked with MMA. But that’s fine. Xande is someone easy to work with, an athlete who offers to do the work. He doesn’t complain and I enjoy working with him. It’s my first time preparing someone for the Jiu-Jitsu Worlds and I was lucky because it’s easy dealing with Xande. I’m really happy about it and I’ll be with him and Saulo at the Worlds. I’ll be really happy to see him win this third absolute title.
So you feel he’ll be running on all cylinders for this competition?
He already is!
How is preparing someone for Jiu-Jitsu different from preparing them for MMA?
One thing I do with the Jiu-Jitsu guys that is different from MMA is isometrics. We don’t use it much in MMA, but in Jiu-Jitsu it’s almost all isometrics. It’s one of the style’s main characteristics. We also work a lot on grip strength.
And what are these preparations like?
We also do a lot of agility work with balls and cones. I tend to address Xande’s own characteristics in training so he can develop his skills better on the mat.
Besides Xande, who else are you working with?
I’ve been heading the physical conditioning work of Junior Cigano, Rogério Minotouro, Demian Maia, Cris Cyborg, KJ Noons and some others here at my gym in San Diego, MMA Conditioning High Performance Training.