The day a young Rômulo Barral pulled a “Karate Kid”

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Romulo Barral during his taekwondo days / Personal archive photo

The current medium heavyweight champion of the world, Rômulo Barral has won pretty much all there is to win in the gi.

However, before all the rolling, leverage and submissions, the Gracie Barra BH black belt was proficient in another style, taekwondo. A dusty old photo recently posted on Facebook brought up memories of Barral’s beginnings.

“I started out in taekwondo really young. I don’t even remember how old I was. But that just proves that I always liked martial arts. I trained in my city of birth, Diamantina, until I was 15 years old. I’ve had great masters, like Professor Ulisses and Master João Andrade Batista, who’s also a master of Jiu-Jitsu. I was in some competitions and even won some (laughs),” Barral told

“So I totally stopped taekwondo when I was 17, when I started taking Jiu-Jitsu more seriously and was having trouble practicing both. The standup fighting gave me good base for Jiu-Jitsu. Now, of course, when I do MMA I’ll be sure to throw some high kicks like I used to,” he quipped.

After holding a series of seminars in Brazil, Mexico and the USA, Rômulo will carry on teaching in Europe.

“I’m doing a seminar tour here. I’m going to Poland, Greece, Spain, Ireland and England. I’m happy that my work is being recognized. In Brazil I was even awarded Comenda JK, a medal given by the town of Diamantina to natives of Minas Gerais State who stand out,” said the fighter, who confirmed that he’ll be competing at the IBJJ Pro League, a new event paying out cash prizes in California next December.

“I’ll be there for sure, fighting the tough gang there. First, if I get to train, I’ll also do the No-Gi Worlds,” he said in finishing.

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