Galvão talks suspension, urges three refs: “It’s a lot for just one to deal with”

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Always seen as a great example by Jiu-Jitsu fans, medium heavyweight André Galvão of team Atos Jiu-Jitsu was the most dramatic absence at the 2012 Jiu-Jitsu World Championship, due to an unfortunate stance he took.

The black belt failed to restrain his opposition to a penalty incurred by his student Denilson in the purple belt featherweight contest at the Worlds, and in an act of thoughtlessness jumped the divider to express his grievances directly to the referee in the match area. His actions earned him automatic penalization from the IBJJF, preventing Galvão from competing at the most important Jiu-Jitsu championship of the year, which ended last Sunday. Still regretting it, and after a couple of sleepless nights and even shed tears, André spoke with GRACIEMAG.com.

André Galvão assiste ao Mundial de Jiu-Jitsu 2012, no sábado. Foto: GRACIEMAG

André Galvão watches the 2012 Jiu-Jitsu Worlds on Saturday. Photo: GRACIEMAG.

WHAT HAPPENED ON FRIDAY, AND WHAT LESSONS DID YOU DERIVE FROM IT?

Man, I got punished. Everyone knows that. I couldn’t control my emotions when I saw a student of mine treated unfairly during a purple belt final at the Worlds. I know a lot of folks are criticizing me for it, for sure. I’m aware of having made a mistake. I shouldn’t have gone past the security barricade to argue with the ref. And in the end, I paid a high price for it.

I was in perfect condition to take top spot on the podium this year. Not to discredit the winners at weight and absolute, but I was training with a “capital T.” Everyone who saw the work I put in knows full well what I’m talking about. But unfortunately it wouldn’t be this time around. It hurt a lot to be left out.

WHAT WAS IT LIKE WATCHING EVERYTHING THAT WENT ON AT THE 2012 WORLDS FROM THE STANDS?

I even cried about it, if you want to know. It was worse than defeat. Human beings sometimes learn from their mistakes. And that’s how I’m learning. I haven’t slept right since. May it serve as a lesson not just to me, but to everyone.

I’ve received a lot of messages from fans and people who like me. That’s been helping me a lot at this time. I’d like to thank everyone: Thank you for the messages, guys. I don’t want to come off badly, but from the outside I felt my division [medium heavyweight] didn’t have that special shine the other divisions did. Between us, it was extremely boring. But I’d like to extend my congratulations to all the champions. Especially to Bochecha, who did awesome!

ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT COMING BACK STRONGER IN 2013 THEN?

Yes, for sure. I already apologized to the IBJJF more than five times, and I’m asking forgiveness again here. I know I made a mistake, and that’s what I regret. When you know you did something wrong you don’t, by any means, want to do it again. I’ve grown as an athlete with what happened, but much more as a teacher.

I’m more than regretful, to tell you the truth, since I fight for a living—that says it all. I’d like to also say sorry to my sponsors, Storm Kimonos, Twinlab Fuel and Zebra Mats, for what happened. Now of course it’s over, but I think the only way to really get over it is by winning the 2013 Worlds, at weight and open weight.

FROM THE SIDELINES, DID YOU NOTICE ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR?

I feel that in terms of the rules everything is fine. It’s clear how much our art is growing with every year. The Worlds is really well run, but there’s just one thing missing, in my opinion: If the IBJJF can pull it off next year, there should always be three referees for each match area. The thing is that Jiu-Jitsu is really complex. There are lots of positions, lots of tangling up, grips here and there. It’s a lot for one referee to oversee alone, especially with the Jiu-Jitsu of today. A lot of refs can’t always accompany the pace of the matches, and they get lost with this tangle game.

I also feel there should be a refereeing school, and the referees should earn a wage for the work they do. A preparatory course for them, having a trade school, would be interesting and a good thing. I feel that would make a big difference, help them make decisions when they need to.

DID YOU OR DIDN’T YOU LIKE WHAT YOU SAW AT THE LONG BEACH PYRAMID?

Look, like I said, I feel the rules are almost perfect. But some changes could be made when the athletes land in 50/50 guard. There, the athletes should have 30 seconds with which to work. If they can’t do anything, get anything to develop out of it, the refs should stop the match and stand them up. If you look closely, almost every black belt final ended up in this situation. It’s horrible to watch, to corner or even to referee matches like that. The 50/50 guard should only be allowed for 30 seconds, going back to the feet when nothing happens. If folks agree with that, the rule could be extended even further, awarding penalties and even disqualification to the fighter who persists with the position, who resorts to it without developing anything. The same as they do for stalling.

It’s that there’s no point to it, the 50/50 most of the time is used to defend and to stall, not to attack. Watching matches like that is ridiculous. Why would a TV station want to broadcast two guys locked up like dogs for ten minutes? It doesn’t go over well.

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