Inside Brazilian Top Team

When you go to visit an academy such as BTT is, your first wish is to look for MMA stars like Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira, Ricardo Arona, Rogerio “Minotoro” Nogueira, Paulo Filho, Murilo Bustamante and many others. Rio de Janeiro, BRAZIL-

When you go to visit an academy such as BTT is, your first wish is to look for MMA stars like Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira, Ricardo Arona, Rogerio “Minotoro” Nogueira, Paulo Filho, Murilo Bustamante and many others. However, the academy is more than that and with a very well shared way of conducting all kinds of training, the good people behind the scenes and coaches don’t appear much like the fighters do. So how to show this, if you are used to visit the academy often (like I do), and have deep access to the structure of the BTT’s academy?

Well, I used my own strategy of visiting BTT during their last training session for the Pride Bushido Welterweight GP and didn’t notice any of the people that I was going. In my opinion it worked well and not so well at the same time. First because I got to discover (naturally) points to report here, and second and not good at all, because not all of the top names were training on that morning. When I arrived early at their headquarters, I already noticed how tough these guys are, by seeing William Parrudinho and Eraldo Paes, two of the new BTT fighters, sleeping at the gym. By what they told me, this was the best way of arriving in the time to training, since they live so far from Lagoa, the district where BTT’s academy is located. The fighters were arriving one by one, and I was anxious to see Paulo Filho and Murilo Bustamante – they were going to fight at Bushido June 4th, but unfortunately while Filho didn’t show up (due to a minor flu), Bustamante was in the academy just to relax and not train. Jose Mario Sperry joined the group of fighters and started a stand-up training with boxing gloves where the people had to trade on the feet and then take the opponent down. This was the pace of the training and I asked Bustamante about his prior trainings after the fights: “Here at BTT I work hard in all weeks before the fights, in the next-to-the last week before the fight we have the hardest trainings possible. Then in last week before the fight we put the pace a little low to avoid injuries” said Bustamante. Due to a normal MMA training pace on that Friday, I took some pictures of Rogerio “Minotouro” Nogueira squaring-off Fabiano Capoani. When I turned my attention outside the gym, I had lucky of meeting a special person who arrived just to watch the trainings. Today wasn’t the day of the Wrestling- but the phenomenal Darrel Gholar (BTT’s wrestling coach) was there and I had to collect his words. Ghollar has a superb way of conducting his trainings at BTT and I got motivated on training (even if I didn’t) each time I watched it. “I coached in several schools before I joined BTT, and I never saw as many natural talents to Wrestling like I did here. The ability of the BTTers are incredible- we have here Jose Mario Sperry, Paulo Filho, Ricardo Arona, Alexandre “Cacareco” Ferreira and many others who are really excellent fighters, and their tools to learn and work over wrestling are high” I still didn’t have many chances of watching the trainings conducted by the muay thai coach of BTT, Paulo Nikolai, (and I’ll go through of it in the lines below) – Nikolai wasn’t in the gym that day. However when I compare the trainings I had opportunity of watching here in BTT since it was created in 2000- I can’t forget to mention, the Wrestling sessions of Gholar. It is something brilliant. Not only by the professional he is, but by the enthusiasm he gives and takes to the fighters: “This is an important point of my sessions here. If your coach has a lot of energy to unload into the trainings, you will follow. Look, if I talk to them ‘do it’, ‘throw him’ – I’d take from them 80% of their will. But if I talk to them ‘do it for money, do it for your country, do it for your family’. So my words extra-motivate them and they give their best (100%, 110% [if it’s possible]). The guy comes to train and you need to push him: ‘why are you here?’ He can be here by these reasons I told before, but he can be here only to not lose anymore, he needs extra motivation all the time, and I do it here. We see (and you know) people get tired with tough trainings, so they can talk: ‘I’m not going to train today, I’m maimed of last training and bla, bla, bla’ So you come to show him what his extra-effort can provide him, he absorb it and follow my words even he’s extremely tired’ explained Gholar So I believe you understood what I meant about Gholar’s training sessions, and to cause a polemic, I asked him, who’s the best ‘wrestler’ of BTT? “Paulo Filho is very strong, and I wish that with his talent he can compete at a Greco-Roman tournament. He has an amazing base and his throws are perfect to compete in a tournament of Wrestling” finished Ghollar Bebeo Duarte, Murilo Bustamante and Jose Mario Sperry are the creators of BTT, Ricardo Liborio is too, but now he’s the creator of ATT in America and he left BTT. So if you know the history of these guys, the little thing you certainly know about is that they are formed BJJ black belts under Carlson Gracie Sr (RIP). BTT is recognized as a MMA team that bases BJJ as their main weapon. So fans would like to know how they are training at the on the feet aspect. Since they’re in the mixed martial arts competitions, they couldn’t keep themselves 100% confident in ground-game. To start this explanation, I’ll talk about Paulo Nikolai, one of the best muay thai coaches in Brazil and the responsible about the training on this aspect at BTT’s gym. However Nikolai doesn’t train all the guys at BTT, who have a singular way when the stuff is trade bombs on the feet.

For example- Sperry trains Muay Thai with Luiz Alves (Boxe Thai team), Minotoro and Minotauro do the same plus Boxing training with Luis Doria. Filho trains boxing with Joel Distack, Bustamante trains Boxing with Claudio Coelho and Arona trains sporadically in Muay Thai with Toniko Jr. at WFC academy.

So, analyzing it, how can the team elaborate a standard if not all of them train together? It could harm the team’s deal, but when we see the BTTers in action, their performance on the feet aren’t a disaster. Sure they aren’t training to be the striker in a fight, but the elements that they acquired by these trainings don’t leave them blind when the fight is standing. But why don’t they have the same coach inside BTT? “Maybe it’s not the correct formula to be used, but in the beginning of our team we didn’t restrict it and to change now would be hard. People already know that a lot of our fighters don’t train with Nikolai, and probably other coaches can appear and attract more BTTers to train the stand-up outside our gym. Of course I’d like all of them trained here, but for the while it’s working and we try to manage this situation by better way possible.” said Bebeo Duarte Theoretically people who are not close to the team think this system of BTTers training the stand-up game in different places sounds like a mess. But just imagine that they follow this system in the same way fighters have their own physical conditioner, so it’s working without the problems of lack of communication between the professionals involved. Another interesting point here at BTT’s academy is the presence of fighters who in the past were considered number the #1 enemies of Jiu Jitsu, the Luta-Livre fighters. In decade of ’80 and until the middle of decade of ’90 the rivalry between Jiu Jitsu and Luta-Livre was something near to brawls involving soccer rival teams. The street-fights were constant and nobody imagined that one day they would train together. So, when the first Luta-Livre guys started joining BTT, we from Brazil realized the sport had became professional. Actually, BTT has 6 former top Luta-Livre fighters on its squad, they’re: Milton Vieira, Eraldo Paes, Carlos Clayton, William Parrudinho, Alexandre “Cacareco” Ferreira and Maicon Alarcao. “We needed that rivalry on the past, of course I didn’t agree with the brawls on the street, but the rivalry on the ring was good to the development of the fight events. Nowadays we’ve good relationship with Luta-Livre academies and we don’t have a rivalry, we have competitions” stated Bebeo For those who didn’t live throught the atmosphere of Luta-Livre and Jiu Jitsu rivalry, to understand what I mean can be a little tough. But to explain a bit better, there were not submission tournaments in that period and for sure if it existed the representatives of both martial arts would not like to compete under those rules. Luta-Livre and Jiu Jitsu could not fight each other without punches and kicks to hurt, allowed in the Vale Tudo competitions of that period.

Two of these top Luta-Livre and now BTT representatives, Maicon Alarcao and Eraldo Paes, talked about their own experience in BTT: Maicon told us “I was very-well received here in BTT, and the people here have an open mind, and for me it’s wonderful. I was without motivation before joining BTT, and now I have improved my game in all aspects. I’m happy because I’m part of the best MMA team of the World” Eraldo said “The rivalry is part of the past and the professional way of seeing and taking the fight stuff is here. I developed myself like a fighter and instructor and I conquered my place here. Nowadays I’m the submission coach of the fighters who are starting in BTT and it’s a great responsibility. This was a honor for me to take this responsibility, because the masters of BTT trusted in my technique to teach the new fighters” Well, we talked about everything MMA, striking, wrestling and former rivalries at BTT’s academy, however what about the pure BJJ training sessions? Does it exist at BTT? Of course, this would be a ‘blasphemy’ if they didn’t have training in the Martial Art they represent. We took the main BJJ coach for a chat, because if the MMA representatives are famous- the BJJ coach has not been: Alvaro Oliveira, the BJJ coach of Brazilian Top Team: Denis- How did you start to be the BJJ instructor? Alvaro- I was a Bustamante’s student, and he had problems of free time to teach BJJ in his own academy, so every Friday, I taught BJJ. Bustamante started training much more MMA than BJJ and his free time became worst. So I took all BJJ trainings sessions in his academy. When Bustamante moved his all work to BTT’s academy, they had three instructors, but they left to other projects. Since then myself and Eduardo Rios assumed the sessions here in BTT. Denis- Have you a responsibility of developing a high level in BJJ to stay in position that MMA is here in BTT? Alvaro- No doubt, we need to keep the high level- and the victories we had in the tournaments are the proofs of it. But there are MMA fighters from BTT training with gi, so you can imagine Darrel Ghollar and Cacareco training (laughs). Plus the stars train when they have free-time, this also develops their MMA game and develop our BJJ technique as well. And of course, having Bustamente, Minotauro, Minotouro, Sperry, Bebeo and other training with gi attracts more new students to the BTT’s classes. Denis- Are your students looking to be competitors or they train for fun too? Alvaro- We have all kind of students. There are students who come here just to keep the shape. They don’t have any intention of becoming fighters. Denis- And you? Do you train MMA? Alvaro- My deal here is more focused in BJJ, but I have intention of training MMA soon. I’m 2x Brazilian BJJ champion and I’m head-coach of the BJJ sessions here, so this is a good credential to become a MMA fighter. I’m waiting for a good proposal so I’ll debut at MMA. Later I tried to join all BTT guys to take a picture, Alvaro Oliveira disappeared and nobody knew where he was. So we didn’t take a picture of him- and to represent the BJJ sessions by a picture, we took one of the coordinator Eduardo Rios. Rios laughed a lot and told us, he was happy that Oliveira went out in that moment of BTT academy, so he could appear on the article. So, this was my visit at the Brazilian Top Team – AABB – Avenida Borges de Medeiros, 829 – Lagoa – Rio de Janeiro. I hope to have elucidated a few questions of the fans over this academy and lets move to another camp and explore the way and the programs system to the fans.

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Denis Martins