Some Gracie Barra competitors are really gearing up for the No-Gi Worlds, which take place this weekend at the pyramid at CSU Long Beach. Besides stars like Flavio Cachorrinho Almeida and Roberto Tussa, black belts Mikey Gomez, Fabiana Borges, Bruno Antunes, Rodrigo Simoes, Gustavo Pires, and Bruno Rocha, along with brown belts Ronis Gracie and Fabricio Pitanguy, purple belt Jeff Schulz, and blue belt Steven Berry have all been training for two months, three times a week with Chad Smith, co-owner and operator of Juggernaut Training Systems in Laguna Hills, California, in hopes that their additional training will increase their chances for gold.
Juggernaut is a strength and conditioning facility that Smith says, helps Jiu-Jitsu athletes increase their power, strength, coordination, and speed. “It’s great for their cardio,” he says, “They will have the ‘explosion’ they need, when they need it.”
Smith and his business partner, Nate Winkler, opened Juggernaut in September 2009. Smith is a two-time National Shot Put champion and is currently ranked 3rd in the world in his weight class as a power lifter. “My weight class is the 308’s,” he says, “I’m a very physically dense person.” Smith isn’t kidding. With his 6 feet tall, 300-pound frame, he’s a very solid and imposing individual.
Smith says, he had a tough start in the business. “I got laughed out of one guy’s office,” he says, “It couldn’t have been a worse experience, but then I connected with the Jiu-Jitsu community through Fabio “Gigante” Vellela. He was totally into strength and conditioning for his athletes.” After that, Smith met Mikey Gomez who took him to meet and train with Renato “Babalu” Sobral, Alexandre “Dande” Santos, Philipe Della Monica, and Ulpiano Malachias, to name a few.
“I’ve been working with the Gracie Barra athletes to increase their speed and power, so they feel confident going into their fights. They’ll know that even at the last minute of their matches, they’ll still be feeling ‘fresh-ish’ while the guys they’re fighting are gassing out.”
Smith says strength is the basis of everything. “When Jiu-Jitsu technique is the same, strength will win out,” he says, “Like Jiu-Jitsu itself, I’m helping these guys become more effective with less effort. They are doing more with less effort. They aren’t going to gas out when they need to explode.”
Fabiana Borges is excited about the No-Gi Worlds and feels her extra training is going to help her in her matches. “For the first time, I’m going to fight at the light weight division,” she says, “I’m trying to gain a lot of muscle. Since I’ve been doing more strength and conditioning, my cardio is better. I don’t get tired training anymore.”
Bruno Antunes, who’s consistently been medaling on the tournament circuit lately, hopes his additional training will push him into the gold medal bracket. “I’m very excited to fight at the No-Gi Worlds because I think I’m prepared to fight now,” he says, “I started this physical conditioning and I really feel like it’s helped me become stronger and faster. I feel ready to fight and I hope to have good results.”
Rodrigo Simoes agrees. “I feel really good because of all my extra training,” Rodrigo says, “I’m also ready to fight.” Mikey Gomez, who’s been fighting MMA for the last four years, has been training really hard for the No Gi Worlds. “I’m excited to compete in the toughest division there is – the black belt division – after four years of just fighting MMA.”
Fabricio Pitanguy, who recently came out from Renzo Gracie’s school, says, “I feel great. My training’s been awesome. The conditioning has helped me a lot and my Jiu-Jitsu training is really good too, so I just really just want to play my game and see what happens.”
Jeff Schulz says since training at Juggernaut, “I’m not afraid to get tired when I’m fighting anymore because I know I can recover fast. Going out and fighting at the Worlds will be a lot easier than coming here for the training!”
Smith is pleased with all of their results so far. “I see them improving weekly,” he says, “There’s a marketable difference in their work outs today compared to five weeks ago. It’s not even comparable.”
With the Worlds coming up quickly this weekend, it remains to be seen how Gracie Barra will do, but one thing is certain: they are primed and ready to go.