Interview with Shaolin

His attitude about BJJ is truly genuine. As I got to know him as a person, I realized how real humble and gracious he is!In the winter of 2000 I traveled out to watch and compete in theInternational Pro Ams of Grappling! I think i was the only Canadian to compete that day, but anyways. The event featured a Pro Division featuring some of grappling elite fighters! Some of the most memorable matches in grappling history went on! Among some of the most entertaining featured Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro! The Nova Uniao fighter traveled alone to the event and faced off against (at the time) Alliance powerhouses Terere and Leo Viera! Shaolin beat Terere but than placed 2nd in the division after fighting a very tight and close war with Leo Viera! At the time he spoke very few words of English, and my Portuguese was worse, so it was difficult to understand him at all. Conversing with him was out of the question for me! Especially because he was Nova Uniao! Just Kidding! But after the event he had breakfast with all of the Alliance fighters and seemed like it was just another day amongst friends. This was strange as I have witnessed many people detest there opponents after loosing a controversial decision, but Shaolin acted like it was no big deal! Even chasing Terere around jokingly in the hotel’s hallways!

“Wait a minute” I thought! “This guy must be nuts”, and “I would be pissed right now”, were the first things to come in my mind! But obviously he wasn’t.

Since then he has won the World Championships every year, the Arnold Classic Pro Division every year he enters and is the new Shooto lightweight champion! I jumped at the opportunity (thanks again to Rodrigo) to get him down to my academy for a seminar and to train with him finally!

His attitude about BJJ is truly genuine. As I got to know him as a person, I realized how real humble and gracious he is! It was my pleasure to take care of him while he was in town and I encourage anyone to attend one of his classes or seminars! It was cool, because he showed techniques I’ve seen him use countless times on guys like Feitosa, Guilobel and Leo Viera! From his awesome half guard sweeps, to his lightning fast takedowns, Shaolin’s technique is for real and I can’t wait to watch him fight again as a fan and as a friend!

BALEIA-First off, how does it fell to be the new Shooto Lightweight Champion?

SHAOLIN-I liked alot because it was something I worked hard for and I wanted to earn this title very much!

BALEIA-How did you prepare for your fight with Joachim?

SHAOLIN-I knew that Joachim hit very hard from his guard. So I worked very much on jiu-jitsu so I would be able to pass his guard and avoid getting hit!

BALEIA-Are you disappointed at all that you havent had the chance to face Gomi?

SHAOLIN-Not disappointed, because I was expecting to fight with the champion of the division, and I did!

BALEIA-Is there anyone in particular that you would like to fight?

SHAOLIN-No one really, I just want to try to fight with the best fighters I can`t has never been my style to call people out to fight me!

BALEIA-What is your daily training regiment like?

SHAOLIN-I like to do 3 days jiu-jitsu a week, 3 days of boxing a week, 3 days of conditioning, and 3 days a week wrestling!

BALEIA-What are your future plans?

SHAOLIN-Defend my title and I would like very much to fight for the U.F.C.!

BALEIA-In Jiu-jitsu, you and Leozinho Viera always had exciting matches, would you consider him your best rival in jiu-jitsu?

SHAOLIN-Leo is my friend; I don’t consider him a rival! We had a lot of good matches! I would more consider Marcio Feitosa a rival, as we are not so close!

BALEIA-What are the plans of Nova Uniao in Vale Tudo?

SHAOLIN-Robinho and Louro are going to try to go for the belt in their division! Hopefully, Joao Roque may have a fight with Pequeno in the future, of the championship as well.

BALEIA-In your opinion, who is the current #1 in BJJ/Vale Tudo?

SHAOLIN-For Vale Tudo, Minotauro for Heavyweight, Vanderlei as a Light Heavyweight, BJ for MiddleWeight, as well as Matt Hughes! As well Pedro Rizzo and Murillo Bustamante are very good! In jiu-jitsu, Leozinho, myself, and Robson Moura.

BALEIA-Saulo Ribeiro once said that to train for Vale-Tudo, you have to break some rivalries and maybe train with people that you were against in BJJ in order to improve or evolve? Do you agree or do you think that your team is strong enough and you wouldn`t benefit training with others for Vale-Tudo?

SHAOLIN-I agree, for Vale-Tudo, I have trained with guys from Brazilian Top Team, Barra Gracie and other schools! I don’t see a problem with this at all. You can only benefit.

BALEIA-Who gave you your hardest fights in BJJ/Submission/Vale Tudo?

SHAOLIN-For Jiu-jitsu, “Paulao” Paulo Filho in 94, Pablo Poblovitch in Abu Dhabi 2003,and for Vale Tudo with Ivan Menjivar.

BALEIA-How beneficial do you think it is for no rules fighter to have a solid jiu-jitsu game?

SHAOLIN-Its important because a no rules fighter has to be used to fighting from the bottom as a fight may end up there.

BALEIA-Would you ever return to fight with the kimono in the Mundials or anything like that?

SHAOLIN-Right now, I just want to focus on Vale-Tudo and after I have conquered my goals in Vale Tudo I will return with to fight with the gi.

BALEIA-Has there ever been someone who you would have like to train or learned from?

SHAOLIN-Dan Gable. Because I would have loved to have learned wrestling from him as he is recognized as one of the best coaches for wrestling!

BALEIA-Do you think if Pequeno gained weight or you went down, could you defeat the 10 finger Guilotine choke?

SHAOLIN-Pequeno wouldn`t want to gain any weight to fight! First off, I would never go under Pequenos legs, always an upper body lock.

BALEIA-What did you think of UFC? BJ Penn? Charuto? Vitor Belfort?

SHAOLIN-I thought for Vitor, it wasn`t his fault what happened. But, I think God helped him with this fight, so he could come back to Brazil as the champion and focus on finding his lost sister. And after she is found, that he could do a big fight, one that that would be worth a victory. Because if he lost to Coture, he wouldn`t have been able to get another chance!

I knew that Charuto was training very hard in Hawaii and I wasn’t very surprised and it was my pleasure to be there for him as this was an important victory for Charuto.

BJ has always been talented, and it was about time that he won the belt.

BALEIA-Now that BJ Penn has stepped up a division in the UFC are you going to try to fight in the UFC lightweight division?

SHAOLIN-I hope to negotiate with ZUFFA, so I can fight for the UFC.

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Riccardo Ammendolia