EDITORS NOTE: I just re-read this interview and I may have talked a little too much shit. BJ is great, don’t get me wrong. But I left out how cool and humble he is. If you get the chance hang out with him you’ll see real quick how nice and relaxed he is. Must be all the yoga.BJ Penn has never fought in a tournament in his own weight class. He fights one; two weight classes up and in the absolute quite a bit. Last year he fought blue belt in the Mundial losing an incredible fight on points in the final. This year he fought brown belt. Blue to brown in one year guys and he is still winning! He fought up two weight classes at Joe Moreira’s US Nationals and demolished his opponent. When we were in Brazil guys were calling him ‘the prodigy’. Some said he was the next Nino. Here is the hottest up coming fighter in 2000. Just watch.
OTM: What do you think your biggest accomplishment in Jiu-Jitsu is?BJP: Getting third place at the brown belt world championships fighting one weight class up.
OTM: Tell us a little about your fights last year at the Mundial.BJP: It was hard fights and I didn’t expect them to be so strong, I wasn’t in my greatest shape. But I lost to advantage in the end to the guy who won the Mundial.
OTM: Who did you lose to?BJP: Tetere
OTM: There was quite a bit of controversy about that fight. Tell us about the fight.BJP: Both guys wanted to be in the guard. They stood us up he went back to the guard. I was stuck in his _ guard the whole time. I got a few advantages he got a few advantages. It ended up me with two advantages and him with three advantages. That’s what it was.
OTM: We here you’ve been doing a lot of wrestling. Has the wrestling changed your Jiu-Jitsu game?BJP: Ya, it made me more aggressive. I like it a lot better for no gi. Ya it’s made my Jiu-Jitsu fighting a lot better. I like the small cradle and stuff like that.
OTM: What’s your style of Jiu-Jitsu? How would you describe your game?BJP: I like to be on top passing putting a lot of pressure on the guy. I like putting pressure and making the guys tap is fun too!
OTM: What are your goals for 2000?BJP: In Jiu-Jitsu I want to win the World Championship and get my black belt. I just want to win a lot of fights. Personally I want to get good at wrestling and compete in that too.
OTM: We here you might be fighting Matt Serra, a Renzo Gracie brown belt, at Grapplers Quest, true?BJP: You have to fight to be the best.
OTM: Best part of being in Brazil? and the worst?BJP: The best was training in Botofogo with Andre Pedaneris, good training a lot of good guys there. The worst was maybe that they don’t eat breakfast that muc.
OTM: You’ve been to Brazil a lot, any suggestions for guy who want to go training Brazil?BJP: Just bring an open mind and you’ll have fun.
OTM: You got two brothers who are also champions what’s it like training with them, it must really help your game?BJP: We get to train with each a lot, but we all know each other’s game so much it boring after a while. So we really look to train with other people.
OTM: How long did it take for you to get your brown belt?BJP: It took about three, three and a haft years.
OTM: Who gave you your brown belt? When did ya get it?BJP: Adrea Pedanerias, Six months ago. I got it two weeks before the Mudial.
OTM: Got your purple from Ralph Gracie didn’t you?BJP: Ya I got my purple from Ralph.
OTM: Did you want to fight Brown Belt or would you have rather fought purple?BJP: I didn’t mind. I fought blue belt last year the fist year I went. I didn’t mind fighting brown belt this year.
OTM: Why did you have to fight up a weight class?BJP: There were too many people because Nova Union is a really big school. So I fought up a weight at Leve usually I fight Penta. Now I’m around Leve weight though.
OTM: Exactly how flexible are you?BJP: More flexible that you can imagine! LOL!
OTM: Are there any hard feelings between you and Ralph?BJP: No, I have no hard feelings. I learned a lot of really good stuff training with Ralph. I stared there. I really liked training with Dave Camarillo he’s awesome. There are a lot of tuff guys there, they’re good.
OTM: What is the difference between both schools do you learn different stuff?BJP: It’s hard to really say what I’ve learned from each. But the styles are very different. Different schools different moves, a lot of different positions. One school does more position drills and one more training drills.
OTM: Do you think it is hard for an American to get a fair fight in Brazil?BJP: It depends more on what school you fight for. If your school is putting on the tournament of course the guys will back you up.
OTM: Now that you’re a brown belt are the chicks lining up to test your techniques?BJP: I wish!
OTM: Do you think politics has affected your success in Jiu-Jitsu.BJP: In some points for the worst. If everybody crossed trained with each other everybody would be much better. Jiu-Jitsu would grow much more. But it might mess up all the tournaments, so I guess it just has to be that way.
OTM: Who has been the biggest contributor to your success in Jiu-Jitsu?BJP: My parents.
OTM: Any tips for haole boys to pick Hawaiian girls?BJP: No.
Even after training with the best in Brazil, I can still say BJ is the heaviest 150 lb I’ve ever felt. He has ridicules pressure. BJ will always help you with your game and he is a very modest guy. As old friends we laughed all the way through this interview, so laugh with us. BJ is very excited to fight anytime he is looking for opportunities.