Photo: Personal archiveGabriel Oliveira, known by his friends as “Blade,” is an example of persistence. Currently one of the stars of team Alliance, this black-belt started seeing BJJ as a professional sport when he was still a brown-belt. Blade only got around to competing in his first IBJJF World Championship in 2018, winning silver. He was 26.
His competitive career began when he was already an adult, and, in practice, he proves that that makes no difference. Three years after that silver medal, this Mario Reis pupil has won the titles of world and Pan champion in the brown belt, and is now the black-belt heavyweight Brazilian champion.
Up until 2016, Gabriel considered himself an amateur athlete; he trained without dreaming of winning tournaments, until everything quickly changed. In 2018, in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, he joined Mario Reis’s competition team. Gabriel began living and sleeping on the gym mat.
“When I competed in my first International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation World Championship, I was already dedicating myself like a professional athlete,” he said in a recent interview. “But it was in 2019 that I had my big victories, already as a brown-belt. I won the Pan and the Worlds consecutively.”
“To speak a bit about 2019, an important year for me, my biggest memory is that it was a very difficult year in my personal life,” he continued, recalling that he had his U.S. visa denied twice before finally getting accepted. “There were many difficult events parallel to the training and preparation. Becoming world champion was a title that brought me lots of confidence and assurance that I’m on the right path, especially because I had so little experience as a professional athlete. It was a title that brought me strength to keep working hard on my following goals.”
A black-belt for two years, after winning the most important brown-belt titles in 2019, Gabriel began his journey amongst the elite with a gold medal in the CBJJ’s Brazilian Nationals, which took place two months ago in Rio de Janeiro.
“This title has a special significance to me, and I hope to win the Brazilian title more times as a black-belt,” he said. “Winning in the elite is a special feeling; it’s where you have the most visibility and face the best in the sport. Winning is very gratifying.”
Blade will be fighting again this weekend at the IBJJF Worlds in Anaheim, California. He’s enrolled in the heavy division.
“I managed to compete a lot prior to the Worlds, and was able to see how my jiu-jitsu is going. I’m very excited to fight; I won the gold medal in my last worlds, which was in 2019. I’ll leave the best of me on the mat! You can expect good matches, with no stalling!”