Lucas Rocha finds his focus at Samurai Pro

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After going one whole year without a win in his pocket, Lucas Rocha finally pulled out all the stops at the Samurai Pro Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament and took gold in both the brown belt open class and his middle heavy division. Gracie Barra won the tournament in the team standings and Rocha was instrumental in helping pull in that big win for the GB team.

Lucas jubilant following win / Photo: Deb Blyth

The last time the Gracie Barra brown belt won gold was in the middleweight division as a brown belt at the 2010 Pan. “That was the last tournament I won,” he says, “I went one year without winning.” Rocha said it has been hard on him. He was used to winning regularly as a purple belt.

The Samurai Pro was a good tournament for him. “I remembered how to win again,” he says, “Now, I am back. I lost my focus, but I have found it again.” In his middle heavy division Rocha had two matches. He won the first with a flying armbar and the second he submitted his opponent with a wrist lock. “Both were two-minute fights,” he says.

Normally, it takes Rocha awhile to find his stride at tournaments. He starts out slow and then gradually gains momentum until he is unstoppable. “This tournament was different,” he says, “It was all the way forward from the beginning. I had no slow starts.”

Lucas celebrating / Photo: personal archive

In the absolute Rocha had four matches. He won the first and second by points. In his third match, he swept his opponent and then landed in full mount, from where he finished with a choke. In his fourth and final match, against Beniel Dariush of Ralph Gracie, Rocha swept Dariush and got mount. He scored six points. Dariush recovered guard. “I tried to apply a foot lock, but he defended,” Rocha says, “After that, I just waited to finish the fight.”

Rocha says it was a perfect day. “I could feel the guys as I was fighting,” he says, “I was able to change my game for each one. My posture, my vision… I did very well and played different games.” Rocha says he felt more comfortable at this tournament than at any other he’s ever fought in before. “This was the first tournament in my life where I felt so confident about winning from the beginning,” he says, “I don’t know exactly how or why, but that’s how I felt. My mind felt strong.”

Rocha says he hopes this positive mental state stays with him for the Worlds. “I said before the tournament, ‘I don’t know about next week or next month, but today I can’t lose.’ My focus was there.”

Rocha left California in August 2010 to go back to Brazil and returned in March 2011. He trained regularly in Brazil with his GB team under his uncle Professor Ze Radiola. “I trained with some of the guys like Bruno Almeida Alves, Otavio Sousa, and William Marcin,” he says, “I also trained with strong purple and blue belts over there. They look like black belts. They all really helped me in my training.”

Teammates Lucas Rocha and Otavio Sousa with their medals and the GB Cup / Photo: personal archive

Now he’s back training at the GB Headquarters in Irvine, CA. “I got my visa and I’m training hard and competing as much as I can,” he says, “I’m back training with all the GB greats: Otavio Sousa, Romulo Barral, Kayron Gracie, Philipe Della Monica, Rodrigo Simoes, Rodrigo Augusto, Bruno Antunes, Bruno Rocha, and Fabiana Borges.”

Rocha says he’s ready for the Worlds. “Now that I’ve done this tournament, I’m confident to take on the Worlds,” he says, “I’m looking forward to facing all my competitors.”

As for his goals for 2011, Rocha says, “To be honest, I’m working on getting my black belt in 2011. I want to throw myself into the tournaments as a black belt to test myself and see who I am.”

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