Romero Jacare: ‘It was the hardest year of my life’

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Romero pb

“When I got a call from Luca Atalla wishing me a happy 57th birthday, I had a flashback to these 30-or-so years – ever since I started in the ‘70s at the famous Carlson Gracie academy, over Casa Gebara, in Copacabana, with professor Tuninho, an instructor to this day.

“That was where I really started to fall in love with Jiu-Jitsu, and became sure it was I wanted to do the rest of my life. Jiu-Jitsu wasn’t as popular as it is today; there was no Brazilian National Championship, no Pan or Worlds. Jiu-Jitsu in Rio was divided into south and north zones.

“On our side of the city, the best by far were the Gracie academies, Joao Alberto and Alvaro Barreto, and Osvaldo Alves, while at the other end Mansor’s Kioto stood out, as did Monir, and in the east of Niteroi there was Amelio Arruda, a kindly and educated fellow who always brought ferocious opponents to competitions.

“Heel-hooks and slams were allowed; it was rough, a mistake in defense would cost you the match. You would only get a rematch the following year, since it wasn’t like now with competitions all the time.

“I once took a slam at the Rio Championship and spent a few months unable to train. I got greedy about the arm from the guard and only woke up a while later.

I always converse with my late master Rolls Gracie. I ask him: ‘Now are you satisfied? You left the party early, but we’re here till now to make you happy.’” Romero Jacaré

“Over these 30 years I witnessed the development of our art, perhaps the fighting style growing most in the world. Today it has  reached worldwide epidemic proportions. Wherever you go, at all four corners of the globe, there is Jiu-Jitsu

“I produced good teachers and students, participated in all the competitions since the ‘70s, and I’m proud to be part of this history, first with Jacaré, then Master and now Alliance.

“I know  mission is being accomplished, I always converse with my late master Rolls Gracie. I ask him: ‘Now are you satisfied? You left the party early, but we’re here till now to make you happy.’

“He answers: ‘Dear Jacaré, this isn’t even the beginning. We still have a long way to go.’ And I sleep content, knowing we are doing a good job and carrying on with what he started.

“It was in 1989 that I promoted my first black belt, Fabio Gurgel, in Ipanema, where I had my first academy.

“He is without a doubt doing an extraordinary job and if today we have branches in South and North America, Europe and Asia and still remain united, I owe a lot of it to him, who always believed we could stand tall again after all we went through.

“These days we are grateful to him, to Gigi Paiva and others who make Alliance a force in Jiu-Jitsu worldwide.

“This year of 2009 has been the most difficult of m life, as I went through moments I thought I wouldn’t make it through. After training at the gym I felt this horrible pain in my chest. I went to the hospital and woke up with a quadruple bypass. The whole time at the hospital I was thinking it wasn’t time to go, that I still have much to do.

“When Renzo called me one day and I was too weak even to speak. He told me from the other end of the line, in his characteristic cheerful and positive way: ‘Champ, be strong because you’ll get past this, we’ve been through rougher patches before, this is nothing.’ And I imagined him standing before me, with that winning smile that shrugs off hard times, and thought to myself: ‘Of course I’ll make it past this.’

“I did, and I could bear witness to a great 2009 for the team, which after a few years of modest results returned to the top, conquering the main Jiu-Jitsu Grand Slam tournaments – again proving that without hierarchy, union and command you will never get anywhere.

“My expectations for 2010 are the best possible, we’ll try and win all the main tournaments: the European, Pan, Worlds and Brazilian Nationals. Whether we will or not, I don’t know, but we will be the main protagonists, always respecting the other teams.

“In 2009, at the tournaments we had great joy and some sadness, with our mains stars shining bright: Cobrinha won his fourth Worlds and third Pan, Marcelo returning in grand style to win his third Worlds, Langhi breaking through, our girls Luanna and Gabi collecting medals and so many others, at all belts, who there is no room to list here.

“And we hope to win more, like the Abu Dabi, but patience: there are great athletes at the other end to. Cobrinha and Marcelo lost twice but there’s nothing to get beat up about. We are proud of them and are sure that like all great warriors, they know how to pick themselves up. Winning and losing are part of an athlete’s ilfe – and they are working with that in their minds.

“To close, I wish the entire Jiu-Jitsu community a 2010 loaded with success and everyone doing their part for this marvelous sport to become even greater, so when the day comes that we meet our eternal masters, Carlos, Helio, Rolls and Carlson, once again we may ask them: “Where do we go to train?”

Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti

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