Keys to Success – American BJJ World Champion – Rafael Lovato Jr.

 Dan Faggella is a Pan American BJJ Champion, UPENN Master’s degree holder in the field of Skill Development, and writer for a Jiu JItsu Magazine and other publications. To learn more about his interview and insights from Rafael Lovato Jr, visit:


Pumped! I had the opportunity last week to speak with American BJJ World Champion Rafael Lovato Jr (thank goodness for Skype) and was able to ask a whole list of questions – including some of those from my readers and followers who wanted to get Rafael’s opinion. Rafael is a gentlemen, professional, and true martial artist. He answered all of Dan’s questions to the best of his ability and gave great answers! A must see for all Ju-Jitsu AND martial art fans!

Coach Dan asks Rafael what he feels (besides dedication and training) played a big role in his “success” as a martial artist and BJJ practcionar? 

How it All Came Together for Rafael

In the beginning it was difficult for Rafael and his father (and their academy) for their Ju-Jitsu training because they never had a black belt in brazilin Ju-jitsu to learn from and teach them IN THEIR STATE! You are probably wondering how did they learn BJJ then? Rafael and his father would travel weekly across the United states to learn Ju-jitsu from its earliest pioneers. The Gracies and the Machados were their early teachers (back when Carlos Machado moved to Texas to train Chuck Norris). Everything they did , “they did it the hardest way possible” says Rafael. From traveling, to learing from tapes, etc. At that time, there were very very few black belts in BJJ living in America at ALL.

Rafael says: “Now there are American black belts who have never been to Brazil once”. Back in the day you had to travel to Brazil to train with the best.

Learning from the Best, Finding an Expert to Anchor To

Rafael Lovato humbly admits to having a lot of ups and downs in his training career. A lot of people don’t know that the only world medal he has won first place in is as a black belt. He never won it at a lower rank. He feels the main ingredients for his success is pure determination and passion for being the best martial artist he could be.  He used all his failures as lessons to learn from.

He never quit and kept moving forward throughout all the platues and dips he hit while training and competing over the years. At some tournaments he never had a coach by his side. He would show up and have to compete all by himself. It very hard to not have a local “mentor” or instructor, but his passion pushed him through these obstacles.

One example Rafael uses is when he became a brown belt he struggled because he did not have higher-level belts to train with and push him. As a blue and purple belt, he got better, but as a brown belt, he had difficulty. It wasn’t until he was invited to Brazil to train that he got better. Of course he had that passion to travel to Brazil, make that sacrifice, make the commitment, and to always follow his PASSION – but ultimately it was training under the Ribeiro brothers that was his biggest stepping stone to becoming a Black Belt World Champion.

A Challenge to You – and Learning from Lovato Himself!

The question to ask yourself is – who is the expert you’re anchored to? It’s important – in Rafael’s eyes – not just to find someone who’s a skilled competitor, but also a skilled teacher. If you’d like to learn guard passing from Rafael himself – he has a free pressure passing video series online now


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