Gustavo Dantas and Nova União USA gearing up for Oct 7 Master Worlds

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Nova União USA team leader Gustavo Dantas and his gold medal from the American Nationals 2012 senior 1 featherweight division / Publicity photo

One of our most active GMAs when it comes to promoting tournaments and heading competition teams, Nova União USA’s Gustavo Dantas is gearing up to participate in the inaugural World Master and Senior Jiu-Jitsu Championship this October 7 in Long Beach, California. Excited about getting back into the mix as a competitor since his gold-medal winning return at the US Nationals last weekend, his exhuberantly equipped new school, as well as the upward trend in his Nova União competition team’s results, the Senior 1 featherweight spoke to GRACIEMAG about what he has up his sleeve for the near future. Here’s what he had to say:

GRACIEMAG – How did Nova Uniao do at the Nationals?

I’m very happy with the results, 17 medals from 23 competitors. We were only a few points behind the third place. We took almost fifty people from Arizona to compete at the Vegas Open, so our team ended up being smaller for the Nationals.

You are one of our busiest GMA members. How did your preparation for this tournament go, with so much on your plate?

In between Nova União USA, seminars, GD Jiu-Jitsu Events, my NPO Live Jiu-Jitsu ( and running my school, when I prepare myself for a tournament, I try to train twice a day five days a week, including strength and conditioning and swimming. I don’t care if I am competing for one single match at senior 1 or a tournament at adult division; I am going to train as hard for both. I believe confidence comes from hard work. When I am not able to prepare myself the way I need to due to my other duties or to injuries, I just choose not to compete. I am dealing with some injuries right now, but I will push one month more until the Worlds, and then I will take a break.

You opened your new Jiu-Jitsu Academy six months ago. How is the school doing?

Doing great! I was happy to compete at the Nationals, I was like: “Man, I’m living my teenage dream of having my own 100% Jiu-Jitsu academy, teaching, and competing at almost 38 years old. I am happy to be here competing and coaching”.

We have just hit 200 students, with a little over 40 kids. I put everything that I had in my life into my academy, and it’s paying off. We have a lot of good competitors, but we do have a lot of families who train together. The kids’ program is taught by my black belt Steve Rosenberg, and the women’s program is with my fiancée Kristina Barlaan.

Check out Gustavo’s signature overhead sweep, again used to good effect at the American Nationals:

What is your teaching philosophy?

When I was a younger, I always wanted to have my own team, train my students for competitions, and build champions. As I got older, I started to realize that Jiu-Jitsu goes way beyond that. Jiu-Jitsu taught me how to challenge myself, face my fears and anxieties through competitions, and helped me in the process to become a champion in life. My passion for training competitors is still intact, but with a new version: build champions on the mat and in life. That is what I want my legacy to be. An ordinary person who believed in his dreams, overcame a lot adversity, achieved his goal, and helped people to achieve theirs, which led me to start to discover another passion: studying about self-improvement, sports psychology and getting certified in mental coaching.

I want to make my family and friends proud that they knew me, that when I die, I will be remembered for my passion for Jiu-Jitsu, what I did for the Arizona Jiu-Jitsu community, and my interest in helping people to achieve their goals. Since I was a kid, I always craved for achieving things and me being able to help someone to achieve something meaningful for them makes me happy, and hopefully they can carry on, and help other people to go after their dreams. There is a reason why my students get good results: I give all my heart into coaching.

Any special thanks?

For sure to my sponsors AGGRO Brand; Living Canvas Tattoo in Tempe, Arizona; Origin Gi; FightertTech; Preferred Rehab; and of course all my training partners.

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