Cara de Sapato and Alexander Trans: pre-BJJ Nationals lessons

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Cara de Sapato celebrates beating Bernardo Faria. Photo: Ivan Trindade.

This Saturday the black belts took to combat in the absolute division of the Brazilian Nationals unfolding at the Grajaú Country Club in Rio de Janeiro. Among the favorites to win are the duo from CheckMat Antonio Carlos “Cara de Sapato” and Denmark’s Alexander trans. The two trained together under the guidance of Professor Helder “Bob Esponja” in the city of João Pessoa, in the Brazilian state of Paraiba, and they’re making some serious noise. Check out the conversation GRACIEMAG.com had with the two beasts:

1—How was training?

SAPATO: It was awesome; I’ve been getting put through the wringer by the guys here. It was great to meet up with old training partners after spending a season abroad. Training here is great, and there are great black belts. Bob is an excellent teacher. I love all this here; now I’m half gringo [foreigner], half from Paraiba.

2—What was this training of yours like?

SAPATO: We worked a lot on the specific positions we’re going to use in competition and had a lot of discussion about the ins and outs of each of them!

TRANS: I worked on getting more comfortable in open guard, trying to get my hip more mobile. All the guys here have really quick, free-flowing games, even the big guys. Bob is putting in a lot of time fixing the flaws in the positions I like doing, because the big competitions are approaching.

Trans winning the Europeans / Photo: Ivan Trindade

3—What pointers can you offer our readers regarding these positions?

SAPATO: Always work on adjusting the positions properly and doing lots of repetitions of each of them to get the timing down and feel comfortable.

TRANS: Always practice the basics. If you look at all the different situations in Jiu-Jitsu, modern or not, you’ll see the underlying concepts. Keep tight, try to stay comfortable, use the proper leverage and try to get a better grasp of balance. One important piece of advice is to know what to do against a black belt, when any misstep could spell defeat.

4—What are your targets now?

SAPATO: We’re going after the Brazilian National and World black belt titles at weight and open weight.

TRANS: Now I’m going to compete at the Brazilian Nationals and the Worlds. I had a bad start as a black belt. I’m not that talented a guy; I have to work really hard to improve, and I feel that that’s why the results will be a bit slow in coming. It can be hard competing along, without anyone to let you know how much time’s left on the clock… This time I’ll have friends with me and won’t let anyone throw off my focus again.

5—Cara de Sapato, tell us about your campaign in Abu Dhabi…

I took third over in Abu Dhabi, lost to Xande at weight, drew with Galvão in the absolute and they gave him the win. But despite it all, I was pleased to have gotten to fight them; after all, they’ve been my idols in the sport ever since I started training Jiu-Jitsu. But I feel I didn’t fight that well, perhaps because it was really close to the Pan and the travel wore me out a lot. I was more tired than when I’d fight ten-minute matches! I feel the organization also slipped up a lot, which ended up hindering the athletes.

6—What is it you’ve worked on in training the most? Can you give our readers some tips regarding these positions?

SAPATO: I always varied game up a lot withing the guard, and these days I’ve been working on the berimbolo a lot. But what I feel is most important is working on proper positional adjustment to feel comfortable and confident in each position.

TRANS: I like playing half-guard. I feel what’s important is to get your head near the hips. When my head is near the opponent’s hips in half-guard, I feel more comfortable, it’s harder for them to apply pressure. Never let them get a hold of your head.


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