20 Questions for Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti

He has coached many of today’s top Black belt competitors as well as black belt coaches. He was the first person to sort of do his own thing after parting ways with the Gracie Family and be successfull. With champions such as Fabio Gurgel, Alexandre Paiva, Rodrigo Comprido, Ricardo and Leonardo Vieira, as well as other top brasilians, the writing is on the walls, and nobody can dispute that fact!In training in Brazillian Jiu-jitsu for almost 7 years now, I have had the pleasure to train under many different champion competitors and coaches. In 1999, my instructor in Canada heard about Jacares academy in Atlanta Georgia. At that time I was a gung-ho Carlson Gracie Team fan but reviewed what little BJJ competitions were avaiable at the time. I watched Mundial 97 and remember seeing Leo Vieiras acrobatic guard passing, Fabio Gurgel’s precision technique as well as more. As some time went on I started to learn more and more about this Jacare character and his Alliance Team. So, we decided to make the trip to Atlanta and I havent stop visiting him since. Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti is a coach like no other. He has coached many of today’s top Black belt competitors as well as black belt coaches. He was the first person to sort of do his own thing after parting ways with the Gracie Family and be successfull. With champions such as Fabio Gurgel, Alexandre Paiva, Rodrigo Comprido, Ricardo and Leonardo Vieira, as well as other top brasilians, the writing is on the walls, and nobody can dispute that fact!

After moving to the U.S. almost 10 years ago, Jacare has now created a new breed of North American competitors who carry the flag as those before them. From Chris Moriarty to Paul Creighton to Jeff Joslin to Bull Shaw, Jacares legacy is once again growing and is sucessful. It’s always a pleasure to hear from a patriarch of jiu-jitsu and even better someone who has been through the changes (good or bad) involved with the sport yet has still come out on top.

BALEIA-First off, what were your thoughts on this years Mundials?

JACARE-This years Mundials was very nice, I saw lots of good matches good competitors and a lot of talent, rules improve a lot and the no stalling rule something that I have had battled for all my life was added and made the matches much more interesting to watch, organization was fantastic too.

BALEIA-Which fighter did you feel shined the most?

JACARE- Roger was killing everybody but made a mistake and lost the final, Xande like always a machine very precise and tactical, Marcelinho was good to watch, Cobrinha taught now is Alliance is a monster in his division against Feitosa in the final he showed an incredible game made and made it look so easy, Tarsis made his debut in the black belt and did really good, Celsinho in the light division just killed everybody.

BALEIA-Did you happen to catch the Daniel Moraes/Mike Fowler incident?If so, do you care to comment on that?

JACARE- I did not see the incident, but for what people said it was a bad call, he should got dq’ed.

BALEIA–How happy are you about the reuniting of Terere’s team with Alliance and can you further explain the merge?

JACARE-Very happy because we gonna get many good fighters back in our team and I think in a little while we will be very strong again, the merge is a very natural thing since Terere was Alliance all his life learning everything he knows with Gigi and Fabio.

BALEIA-Recently Terere competed in Natal under a new team name Natal Combat Team. Will Terere be living in Natal from now on or will he eventually return to Alliance as well?

JACARE- I hope he comes back home too, time will tell if he will be back to compete and eventually join the team.

BALEIA–How did your team do recently at the Suwanee tournament in Georgia?

JACARE- As usual we kicked ass wining almost all the divisions gi and no gi and Pro with Moriarty beating a very game black belt from Gracie Barra in the final.

BALEIA-Some have said that jiu-jitsu is starting to get watered down and too many people are straying from the true jiu-jitsu (such what is taught by the Gracie Academy in Torrance). Do you agree or do you think that the sportive aspect and techniques are just important to the evolution of jiu-jitsu as the fighting aspects?

JACARE- I think jiu-jitsu is right now as strong as ever and the sport is part of this evolution.

BALEIA-With Marcelo Garcias move to NYC and last year Travens move to Gerogia, does the Alliance Team plan on further expanding in the U.S.?

JACARE-Yes the plan is to reorganize the Alliance all over the world, in Brazil right now Fabio is ahead of a big project to count all the Alliance schools and make them official, paying a fee a year, participating in the tournaments, having meetings in a regular basis, etc..In the USA and Canada I am responsible for aggregating all the Alliance schools in my association, giving seminars, making tournaments, etc..

BALEIA-Rickson Gracie always seems to be in the press from time to time. With his apparent comeback fight with Sakuraba to his training with Paulo FIlho to the challenges made by Marco Ruas and Wanderlei last year. Do you feel that if Rickson were to compete in either MMA, jiu-jitsu or submission wrestling he would still excell or do you feel he is just as human as everyone else in the world and father time may have taken his tole on him?

JACARE- First of all I grew up with Rickson in Rio, we shared many good moments together, he is a monster, very very talented, I don’t care what people say, I saw with my own eyes and can say that him and Rolls were the best jiu jitsu fighters of their time.

Age of course can be a factor he is human but keep himself in pretty good shape and I am sure he can still do a lot damage, I think he has nothing to prove but maybe for a good proposal he will do one or two fights to end his career, this way he can park the horse in the shade, why not? he deserves for everything he represents to jiu jitsu and many of these critics that feed their asses with jiu jitsu one way or the other should be grate full for what he did and respect him not be talking trash, but well we say in Brazil ” the dogs bark and the caravan pass”

BALEIA-Who are your top up and coming fighters at this time from your gym?

JACARE- Well we have many young guys that if they keep training will shy in a little while, Chris, Ryan and others already proved they are top but we have more to come for sure when time comes you will hear about them.

BALEIA-What is the key for someone to become a successfull jiu-jitsu teacher/coach?

JACARE-Have passion, dedication, leadership, patience, character and persistence.

BALEIA-What is the key for someone to succeed and excell in grappling competitions?

JACARE-Train a lot with a good coach and partners, compete all the time, learn quickly from his mistakes and have heart, always eager to learn and try to incorporate new things to his game, work on his weakness to improve and polish his strong sides all the time.

BALEIA-Many of your students have either become world champions themselves or the trainer of world champions. When one looks at your list of black belts, it seems every name is very recognizeable either because they are currently or at one time dominating the scene or responsible for coaching those who do? Is this a coincidence, or thru your teachings did you also teach others how to teach properly as well? (for example, Fabio Gurgel-Marcelo Garcia, Leo Vieira-Robert Drysdale, Franjinha-Jeff Glover and Bill Cooper, etc.. ..)

JACARE-Thanks God that I have been very lucky tru my teaching to be able to have such a great group of fighters/coaches the best thing in life is to see that your work is being recognized.

BALEIA-When are you gonna make a comeback and do the international masters and seniors mundials???

JACARE-Man I am so busy all the time that I don’t think will be a come back I retired at 35 and now I just train for fun and to be in shape, that’s so.

BALEIA-Out of all of the black belts you have given in your time, if you could choose one to take your place to teach for you at your academy and retire, who would it be and why?

JACARE- Rick you always with these difficult questions I have so many good instructors in my team that is very hard to choose one, I like Fabio for his experience and dedication Fernando his brother too, Ricardo and Leo Vieira, Ratinho, Gigi, Zicro,Franjinha, Traven and a few others too, man I don’t want to be unfair because I have so many options.

BALEIA-What are your thoughts on the Royce Gracie X Matt Hughes fight? Do you think the same result would happen again or did Royce just not implement the proper game plan?

JACARE- Matt Hughes is on top of his game now and Royce not, he had his time, MMA now is totally different from before you have to evolve otherwise forget about.

BALEIA-BJ Penn or Matt Hughes? Whats your pick?

JACARE- Matt is the favorite but BJ is very talented, Matt is fighting all the time, BJ took some time off and took the match on a short notice, let’s see, I am a big fan of BJ I hope he wins but it is going to be tough.

BALEIA-For the next ADCC superfight it is supposed to be a match with Dean Lister against Roger Gracie. Who do you feel will win and why?

JACARE- If Roger keep in the same shape like when he competed in the last ADCC I think he will win, Roger is the best right now in my humble opinion, gi nogi no one can touch him, loosing the final to Xande in the Mundial don’t change my opinion.

BALEIA-How was the recent camp at Buzios this past summer? (I know I had a good time!)

JACARE- Every year the Camp gets better I had a great time this year and think everybody that went there too, good training, good atmosphere lot’s of fun can’t wait until next year I think it will be even better.

BALEIA-Any last words you would like to say take this time and say here

JACARE- Just to finish I want to invite everyone around to come and visit us in Atlanta, we have a fantastic school with lots of good guys to train with.

I also want to thank my instructor Rolls for what he teached me and all my students for their support and to my family, my wife Elaine and daughter Ursula and my parents for what they taught me to be a man with word and honor.

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Riccardo Ammendolia