I have been impressed with the technical quality of his jiu jitsu – from flawless basics to crazy, flashy, do-or-die submissions.Joao Filipe “Jerry” Oliveira is a long time Gracie Barra standout who has been among the top Brazilian competitors at just about every level of competition winning the Brazilian Nationals at multiple belts and medaling at the Mundials many times. From the first time I met him five years ago at Gracie Barra, I have been impressed with the technical quality of his jiu jitsu – from flawless basics to crazy, flashy, do-or-die submissions. If you ever find yourself on the mat with Jerry, be on the lookout for his signature lapel techniques. Additionally, Jerry is currently a fighter in residence at Ralph Gracie’s San Francisco Academy where he is looking to take his success on the mat into the cage.
OTM: So how did you get your nickname?
Jerry: When I first started training I was really little and everyone I trained with was bigger than me – and my ears stuck out so people at the academy started calling me Jerry; as in Tom and Jerry. There’s another story too…
OTM: Where does your jiu jitsu come from – who have you been influenced by?
Jerry: The short answer is Gracie Barra. The base of my jiu jitsu – the most important part comes from Eduardo de Lima who used to teach at Gracie Barra.. I started at 14 years old so went straight into the adult class. After that I began to be taught by Carlinhos and Feitosa but was strongly influenced by Gordo, Renzo, Ralph, and my training buddies: Roger, Sal, Largarto and Escorrega.
OTM: From watching your fights and training with you it seems that you’re really tricky in the gi – have you competed without the gi?
Jerry: I’ve competed and won in major submission grappling tournaments in both Europe and Brasil. Events like B.I.G. in Belgium and the Jiu Jitsu X Luta Livre challenge in Brasil. Actually one of no-gi matches is on an older OTM video.
OTM: What about mma – any thoughts of going down that track?
Jerry: I’ve been getting some offers and I’m just waiting for the right opportunity. I’ve been training all aspects of mixed martial arts here with Ralph and I feel ready.
OTM: What do you do when you’re not doing jiu jitsu?
Jerry: I’m a married guy now and not only that but I am a professional athlete so I lead a very healthy lifestyle. That means I don’t go out much at night – I prefer to do stuff during the day – go to the beach, be with friends and family, hiking, yoga,, and of course playing video games and paintball with Ralph (the only thing I don’t beat him at is fighting).
OTM: What did you think about Roger’s debut in mma – do you think he will beat Fedor and Cro Cop one day?
Jerry: Of course he is going to beat Fedor and Cro Cop one day. His debut was easy and smooth just like in all his matches. He showcased perfect jiu jitsu, and demonstrated (albeit against Waterman) that jiu jitsu is the most efficient martial art in the world.
OTM: Why did you decide to come train in San Francisco?
Jerry: I just wanted to dedicate my life more to jiu jitsu and training. I am hoping to rise in MMA and have always admired Ralph’s jiu jitsu and his fighting style. Although for some reason his ability on the mat and in the ring never really translated to video games or paintballing – kind of funny when you think about it. Seriously though, Ralph has incredible jiu jitsu and I am learning every day from him – not just his techniques but his attitude towards fighting – that to fight jiu jitsu means to finish your opponent!
OTM: How is the training there with Ralph Gracie?
Jerry: The training is great – it’s hard to find that much talent in the same place at the same time on Thursday I trained with Ralph, (Alexander) Crispim, Sapao, Kurt (Osiander), Luke (Stewart) and White Mamba (Jason Collard). Ralph is a great and passionate teacher.
OTM: What about your stand up fighting and wrestling what are you doing to become a “complete” fighter?
Jerry: I’m training standup with Kru San at Team USA in San Francisco and learning a lot. As for wrestling – I work all my clinch and takedown stuff at Ralph’s. Porrada!