7 questions for 2012 absolute champ of Brazil Nivaldo Oliveira

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Nivaldo Oliveira against William Martins at Brazilian Nationals / Photo:Carlos Ozório/GRACIEMAG.com

There’s a curious hex that looms over the absolute division of the Brazilian National Jiu-Jitsu Championship. Held annually since 1994, only a single black belt has ever won the open weight division on more than one occasion. That man was Fernando Tererê, the winner in 2001 and 2003. The traditional round-robin was upheld in 2012, and the new open-class king, Nivaldo Oliveira Lima, harks from CheckMat academy in São Paulo.

The medium heavyweight captured gold in his weight division as well, and he commented to GRACIEMAG.com about his achievements. “Having taken on the best, this win was a strong sign that my Jiu-Jitsu is evolving,” he said.

1. WHERE DOES NIVALDO OLIVEIRA COME FROM?

I started practicing where I was born and raised, Guarujá, São Paulo State. These days I live in Vicente de Carvalho, a neighborhood better known by its old name, Itapema. When I started out in Jiu-Jitsu I was 16 years old, in 1999. I started training because of my elder brother at about the time Royce Gracie was fighting in the UFC. The first team I was on was Integração Jiu-Jitsu, led by Master Elcio Figueredo. Nowadays I train with Rodrigo Cavaca, and we’ve got a good group there, really high-quality training. I train with Bochecha, Palito, Baiano, Thiago Magrinho, Ingmar, Renato Cardoso and others.

2. WHEN DID YOU START TO SEE YOUR JIU-JITSU PAY DIVIDENDS?

I think last year, when I won the tryouts for the Abu Dhabis in Gramado. Ever since, I’ve been feeling good in competition. I’d made it to the finals at the Brazilian Nationals before, but I came up short by a hair twice. These days I feel a lot more experienced and sure of myself.

3. WHAT WAS THE WATERSHED IN YOUR CAREER?

The watershed was listening to the more experienced guys at the academy. I saw that if I put in a lot of hard work I could make it to the top. When you see someone who trains with you become world champion, you feel you’re in the right place to become a champion yourself. And it all depends solely on you, if you’re happy with what you’re doing. If you do something for the love of it, there’s no sacrifice at all. The lesson is to strive to do things right and shorten the path to victory.

4. HOW MANY BRAZILIAN NATIONAL MEDALS DO YOU NOW HAVE?

I won gold as a purple belt, now I have two titles at black. I took runner-up at brown and twice at black, not to mention taking third place in the absolute in 2011.

5. WHAT’S THE MAIN LESSON YOU DERIVED FROM THIS BRAZILIAN NATIONALS?

I learned that I have to compete without demanding too much of myself, just compete because I like it. With the desire to compete the results come naturally.

6. WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TECHNIQUE? WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOU DO DIFFERENTLY, SO YOUR OPPONENT WON’T BE ABLE TO DEFEND?

I really like playing from the bottom in half-guard; it’s a really efficient position. I learned a lot about the technique from Lucas Leite. It’s not a position you see so often in championships; not too many people use it, in my opinion. What makes the difference in the position is some details and especially its variations, which render the opponent defenseless.

7. WHAT NOW, WHAT ARE YOUR NEXT GOALS?

The Worlds, the main focus of the year, is coming up in Long Beach at the end of this May. After the Worlds there’s Copa Pódio, to which I was invited to take part in the Middleweight GP. The focus now is in California, now the Brazilian Nationals are out of the way.

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