Rafael “Gordinho” Correa Interview

Gordinho embarked on his first ever European seminar tour in November 2003; starting in Darlington and ending in Copenhagen, Denmark, Gordinho showcased the half guard techniques made famous by his older brother Gordo back at the Barra HQ in Rio.Gordinho embarked on his first ever European seminar tour in November 2003; starting in Darlington and ending in Copenhagen, Denmark, Gordinho showcased the half guard techniques made famous by his older brother Gordo back at the Barra HQ in Rio. Such was the success of the seminars, Gordinho plans to come back to the UK, at the request of purple belt Ben Poppleton, to oversee the development of BJJ in the North of England and whip the Gracie Barra Northern UK team into tip top condition.

You’re at the end of the seminars here in the UK and ready for your trip to Denmark. Have you enjoyed the time here?

Yes, I’ve really enjoyed it, I like the people here they are very friendly; the thing I saw here and really like, is the fact the people here like to fight. They don’t come to me because I’m a black belt; they come here because they want to learn to fight like warriors.

What have you been showing this week in the seminars?

I like to show the half guard techniques, which my brother developed back in Brazil; some of the guys here were beginners, so I started off with simple moves and showed how jiu jitsu works before moving on to the half guard stuff.

How have the students taken to the half guard game?

I believe they have enjoyed it and have had very good feedback from the students; after I have taught the techniques on the seminars, I’ve put the guys together on the mats and made them spar, to see if they remember what I’ve shown them and if it works and I’ve sparred with everyone on the mats to show them it works as well.

Where are you off to next?

I am going to Denmark tomorrow and give a seminar at Casper’s academy and then head back to Brazil, where it’s nice and warm (laughs).

Is this your first time in the UK?

My first time yes.

Who brought you over?

Ben invited me over to his academy, and it looks like I will probably be in charge in looking after the Gracie Barra in the North of England.

How did you meet Ben?

It was at the Gracie Camp and I was one of the teachers there and we made friends and now he lives with me in Brazil when he comes over.

What’s your view on the level of BJJ in the UK, from the clubs you have been to?

It’s the first time over here for me and I’m very surprised at the high level; Mauricao Gomes has worked very hard, as it’s not easy to show BJJ all over the UK, when no one else has been here before and then having to go back to Brazil and leave the guys to teach themselves until the next arrival of good guys from Brazil. He’s done a great job.

Any plans to come back again?

Yes, I plan to come back again in the New Year with my brother, once every two months at least and be here for ten days and hold seminars in the North, always in the North.

When did you start in BJJ?

I was thirteen when I started in Barra de Tijuca and I used to be great friends with Ryan Gracie and Ralph was friends with Gordo and we started out then. My brother is four years older than myself and we first trained with Jose ‘Belezea’ Henrique and he used to be in charge of the kids at Barra; when I was a little older Jean Jacques Machado was my teacher as he was in charge of Barra Gracie at the time and I got my blue from JJ. Jean Jacques moved to LA and I received the rest of my belts from Carlos himself.

When did you first compete?

When I was thirteen in the yellow belt events and have been fighting ever since.

What has been your best event?

The ’98 Worlds for sure, I had five fights, submitted four; I fought Fernando Gurgel in the finals, Fabio’s brother and I submitted him with a triangle choke which was nice. I had a lot of injuries last year and didn’t compete as much as I would like but I have been competing this year and won the Brazil v USA challenge at the Pan Ams and I got second in the Pan Ams, losing to Cassio Werneck, who won at the Worlds this year. I also fought the State championships and won that as well. Next year I’m going to compete in everything and I will be travelling a lot more, so will want to compete everywhere, gi and no gi.

Do you still train in Rio?

Yes I still train there, I don’t teach there any more; at Barra Gracie there’s always at least ten black belts to train with, so there’s always good training and I always ask my brother questions when he’s there.

Do you see Carlos?

Yes he’s there every day at the academy, teaching and sparring with the students. Many people thinks he’s just the coach and manager, you know, but he’s there on the mats setting a good example for the others to follow.

What was it like growing up under the shadow of your famous brother? Did he beat you up, or was it the other way around?

(Laughs) Oh yes, it’s always hard to train with him, as he knows my game so well, which is really similar to his game. It’s mostly Gordo that wins on the mats (laughs).

How is Gordo?

He’s OK, but has had a lot of injuries; he fought at the Pan Ams this year and beat Rener Gracie but after that he had a bad knee.

Gordo has a three video set of half guard techniques with Gerson Sanginitto; are there plans to make any more?

Yes we’re thinking about making some more but this time with the two of us together.

Why is the half guard so important to you?

The most important thing is jiu jitsu is the guard and when you’re playing the half guard, you’re playing guard it’s the same thing. If you have your arms in the right position, your body in the right position you can be really safe and that’s why I like the half guard.

The first CBJJ approved event is going ahead in Portugal next year; will you be there?

Oh yes, I’ll be coming back to the UK to help the guys prepare for the event and I hope to get there myself and compete.

You’ve brought a friend along today?

Pablo Silva’s a black belt under my brother and he’s been doing jiu jitsu since he was fourteen and he grew up with me and he’s been involved in jiu jitsu ever since. He was the second guy to receive a black belt from my brother; the first one was Sandro Batatal, who now teaches with Ralph Gracie in San Francisco.

Any last words?

I really like the English people, they’re like warriors you know and you guys have a great future and I look forward to coming back in the New Year and seeing you guys again.

Thanks for the interview Gordinho and a great bunch of seminars

My pleasure

TechGasp Comments Master

About the author

Carl Fisher