This month The Tinguinha BJJ Academy's Website is bringing to our interviews link an interview with Professor "Tinguinha" in a rarely seen side going over his upbringing in Brazil, his beginning in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and his beliefs among other subjects. Learn more about the life and history of Tinguinha Brazilian Jiu Jitsu's head instructor.
Photo By Kris Shaw
1) YOU COME FROM BRAZIL, WHICH WE HEAR QUITE OFTEN ABOUT IN THE BRAZILIAN JIUJITSU WORLD. HOW WAS GROWING UP THERE? AND HOW WAS YOUR UPBRINGING?
A: I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro city, in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood, which is a nice place in Rio. Is right at the beach, is safe and definitely a good place to grow up. I have just good memories from childhood. I come from a middle class family and I am the youngest of 3 sons. My father was a man of action, besides having 3 university degrees in business, law and physical education, he was chief of police in Rio de Janeiro. He came from a big but simple family in the city of Sao Paulo, he moved to Rio de Janeiro when he was a teenager with some of his brothers to try for a better life. He served in the army and after he was relieved from the army he went to be a professional soccer coach in some of the biggest teams in Rio de Janeiro, he later opted for a more secure job when he went to be in law enforcement where he had a career of more than 30 years, starting from detective to police chief. He had a very successful career, today in Rio there is a street named after him and his name is mentioned in books, among other honors. All of this permitted me to live a comfortable and balanced young life. My mother is a strong woman, a dedicated homemaker who raised her 3 sons. I have 2 brothers; the eldest lives in Rio de Janeiro and my other brother lives in Vitoria, a different city in Brazil. So I was raised in a small and strong family who gave me good stability in my life.
Tinguinha's Father- Luis Mariano- Brazil, 1975
Tinguinha's family from left to right his older brother,
Tinguinha, his mom and his midle brother- Brazil, 1990
2) SINCE YOU FIRST CAME TO THE US YOU STARTED YOUR OWN FAMILY. HOW DID IT CHANGE YOU?
A: My family is everything to me. It is my motivation to keep going, is my drive in life. My wife and me are together for a long time, we got married here in the US but we have been together for almost 13 years. She is very special to me, everything I accomplished in my life she is the reason I succeed, and she always supports me. I feel lucky to have an extraordinary woman like her by my side. We have a daughter named Brisa and she was born 4 years ago and there are no words to describe the love we have for Brisa, she is very special to us. She is a miracle in our life, she was born very premature weighing 2 pounds and now she is a strong and beautiful 4 year old girl and I would say life is easier after she was born, a simple look at her smile and I am happy. I am proud and I am glad. I could talk all day about what she brings to our life.
Tinguinha's wife with him - Tinguinha's daughter, Brisa, pictured with her friend Sienna
3)TELL US ABOUT YOUR PATH IN BJJ. HOW WAS WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED TRAINING?
A: I started training BJJ young. I always did sports. My father was always encouraging us to practice sports. I surfed, did Judo and played soccer before BJJ. My beginning in BJJ really started through my brother, we lived in Barra da Tijuca and the Gracie family had a school about 5 minutes from my house, at that time I was training Judo, my brother started talking about Gracie JiujItsu, back at that time all the Gracies used to train together. I started getting interested but the only friends I had that trained at the Gracie Academy were Rafael “Gordinho” Correia and Ryan Gracie, and all my other friends including, Vinicius”Draculino”,”Jamelao” and other were training in a school called Pitoco JiuJitsu so I went over there and started training at the age the of 11. I went from the white to the orange belt and by then I started getting more serious about BJJ and moved to the Gracie school, back then Carlos Gracie Jr. and Jean Jaques Machado taught together, after some time Jean Jaques moved to the US and then I started training full time with Carlos Gracie Jr., at the age of 15 I got my blue belt, I was 17 when I got my purple belt and at 21 I graduated to the Black Belt. It was a very special day for me, it was years of dedication and training and a life of discipline. After I was promoted to the black belt, I was teaching BJJ part time I interrupted law school and started teaching full time. I am proud to say I never used drugs in my life or went out partying out of control or getting myself into trouble, I focused on getting to my goals and competing, I competed in all belts in BJJ and in all major tournaments and I am happy to look back and see everything I accomplished. I was lucky and blessed to grow up and and have training partners as Renzo Gracie, Ralph Gracie, Ryan Gracie, Roberto “Gordo”, Nino Schembri, Helio “Soneca”, Alexandre “Soca”, Roberto “Roleta”, Gustavo Machado and many others… Today I can say I had 20 years of real time spent on the mat and about 12 years of experience teaching, JiuJitsu today is not only a part of my life but it is my life and I am really thankful for all this martial art gave me and made of me. Now I dedicate myself 100% to the growth of my school and to pass all I learned to my students.
Tinguinha at age 16 winning
a tournament as a Blue belt
Carlos Gracie Jr. School- Brazil
World Championship medalists
Tinguinha pictured second on the left side
Tinguinha getting promoted to the purple belt
at age 17 at the Carlos
Gracie Jr. School in Brazil
the same day as "Draculino", "Soca","Joao Paulo",
"Gordo", "Sonequinha" and many others
were being promoted.
4)YOU CAME TO THE US IN 2000. HOW DID THE MOVING COME ABOUT?
A: A lot of people are not sure what they want to do in life I am glad I never had that problem, I remember when I was young talking with Roberto “Gordo” (BJJ black belt) about how was his life as a BJJ instructor I knew I wanted to be a black belt and I knew I loved BJJ, the only question was about being an instructor because I didn’t know since I hadn’t teach yet.
What I knew is that my life would go either one of 2 ways teach BJJ or be in law enforcement that was what my heart was telling me. With time I decided to go with BJJ and since I was younger I had in my mind to teach outside of Brazil. It was like a challenge for me, going out of my country to teach and spread the martial art I dedicated myself to. I was planning to try in 2001 but I had a proposal from a friend of mine in the beginning of 2000, he had a school in Los Angeles, California. Since my wife was coming to do a post graduation course here in Los Angeles as well, everything just fell into place so I accepted and came to the US.
Tinguinha as a Brown Belt with his first students at
The Joao Paulo" Big Head" BJJ Academy in Brazil
Guilherme "Patusco", a TBJJ Academy Brown Belt pictured
as a white belt,
on the bottom row, first on the left .1995
Tinguinha's school as a black belt in Rio de Janeiro Brazil 1998
5) WE GATHER IT MUST BE VERY DIFFERENT MOVING TO ANOTHER COUNTRY. HOW HARD WAS THE BEGINNING IN THE US? WHAT KIND OF OBSTACLES DID YOU ENCOUNTER?
A: I think deep inside I knew one day I would live outside of Brazil so my head was ready for those changes.
Because of the BJJ tournaments I had the opportunity to compete outside of Brazil and I had the experience of living outside of Brazil before moving here, I lived in Japan for 2 months and I had been in the US 3 times before. So I had an idea of how the life was here. The hardest thing for me was the language when I got here my English was zero, no exaggerations it was really non-existent. The other really hard thing was being far away from my family and friends. Today, me and my wife love to live here, this is our home now.
Tinguinha teaching in Japan, 1998
Tinguinha in the US, 2003- condition training
World Championship 2007
6) YOUR SCHOOL IS LOCATED IN ORANGE COUNTY. HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THE AREA TO SET UP YOUR SCHOOL?
A: The reason I moved to Orange County was my friend Mike Brown. I met Mike at a BJJ tournament and started teaching him privates. That was the start of a strong friendship. I was teaching with my friend for a year in LA and the school was going in a different direction of my way of thinking so we got in an agreement and I decided to move. Mike is from Orange County and he told me about Orange County and the potential of the place and I started to teach in a BJJ school in Placentia. Mike today is like a brother to me. He is always there for me. Our families are really close and I am very glad to have my school in Orange County.
Tinguinha's first students in Orange County- 2003
Tinguinha doing a BJJ demonstrationwith Marcelo Cavalcanti
at The Tinguinha BJJ Academy- 2006
7)COULD YOU TALK ABOUT THE TINGUINHA BJJ ACADEMY AND WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU?
A: The Tinguinha BJJ Academy is a dream that became true for me. The TBJJ Academy is everything I imagined when I was that young purple belt and had a dream about having a solid and strong school. Our school today is doing really well and the reason behind that is our students. The students make the academy, we have a very nice group of people that respect each other with the concept of family and team. The work we put into the school starts to show through the students and now also extend beyond through promoted students and the schools we have associated with us following our teaching system and our philosophies. We have a lot of students, who are here for different reasons, but everybody has the same mentality, to help each other and no egos, that is what make this place successful, our student’s attitude. You don’t need to be a bad boy to learn this martial art. Here is the proof of it and I am proud and glad to see the growth of the students in our academy. The goal of our school is to promote brotherhood and camaraderie and offer a place where people can learn something new, a lifestyle change workout, and a gift that will last a lifetime.
The Tinguinha BJJ Academy students - 2007
Receiving a plaque from the Anaheim Police- 2007
8) DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS FOR THE FUTURE OF TINGUINHA BJJ ACADEMY?
A: In 2008 we are trying to get more organized to maintain the school’s quality with it’s growth, we always want to offer our students the best of the Brazilian JiuJitsu martial art. We are adding new classes and programs to our schedule. We will havethe Mixed Martial Arts- BJJ program, which will allow the students to to approach MMA through the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu perspective in a safe way, The BJJ Competition Team Class for students interested in giving more attention to the competition area of BJJ, we also will have The visitors program, created based on the quantity of last year’s visitors from around the world coming to train with us and The Instructors program which is designed to help us maintain the instruction’s quality of our school by training interested students on how to teach BJJ the proper and safest way. Besides all the new classes and programs I also plan to try to organize a trip/tour with students to Brazil this year. We have a lot of new changes stored for the New Year and we hope to keep the growth and maintain the training quality of our school throughout the year.
Tinguinha teaching a workshop to the Anaheim Swat team
at the Anaheim PD
training center- 2007
9) MMA IS VERY POPULAR NOW. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT? AND HOW DO YOU THINK IT RELATES TO BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU?
A: With the boom of MMA all over America and having people talk about BJJ often when they talk about MMA is good, it brings more exposure to our art but it also brought some people with the wrong mentality about this martial art, people who comes to learn to fight and not to defend themselves and also people not qualified to teach but who wants to open a school only to make money because BJJ became a more popular martial art. My only concern with this is the fact that non-qualified instructors are teaching. I am not here to judge anybody but I have been on this martial art for a long time and I understand that to be a real instructor takes some time, you not only need to know what you teach but you need to understand the science of the techniques, what techniques will be taught in which phase of your students. I took it really seriously when I decide to teach, I was an assistant instructor and prepared myself to be an instructor. My advise for those who are thinking about starting training is don’t just go for the name of a school, a lot of people are getting associated with “big names” to get the validation but never trained or even step foot in the school they claim to be from, so check who is going to be your instructor, research online by the name of the instructor and check his history in this martial art. Unfortunately a lot of schools are opening the space for this kind of mistake to take place. I could be selfish and want to have more non- qualified people teaching because the more of non- qualified instructors teaching the more people who do have a qualified work will be recognized but in the long run is going to hurt the BJJ art as a whole. I want to see the growth of Brazilian JiuJitsu but with quality and that is not the way I think is going. That is just my opinion.
10) ANY FUTURES PLANS FOR 2008?
Yes, I plan to release some more dvds. try to do a seminars tour outside of the US and I have a project with Gustavo Machado whom I have been friends since we were very young and who I share with the same beliefs and mentality. Ffinally we have the chance to combine all we have been doing separately in a really nice project we are putting together for this year which I believe is going to be something really constructive and positive for the Brazilian JiuJitsu art. Besides other plans that hopefully will be happening this year and you will be hearing more along the year…
Tinguinha with Gustavo Machado at the
Gustavo Machado BJJ School in Virginia Beach- 2007
11) WHAT ARE THE BEST MEMORIES YOU HAVE FROM YOUR PATH THROUGH BJJ?
A: BJJ gladly brought me many good memories throughout the years I have been involved with it but some marked a little bit more…
The very first one was the day I got my black belt; it was a magical day for me. Another good memory was when exactly 10 years after I got my black belt I promoted 2 of my students to the black belt, it was very special for me. Another memorable moment was a tournament I fought as a Brown Belt, The Brazilian Championship which really marked me, because my division was one of the most talked about of the tournament because besides having a lot of people in my category there were about 6 or 7 good ones so there were a lot of speculation about who would win it since there were so many good fighters gladly I was the winner in the end of the day in the category going through all my opponents and it was a very nice feeling of mission accomplished. Another very nice moment was a challenge of jiujitsu X luta livre I was able to witness, the challenge was a vale tudo (MMA) show, it was a special show because it was created to decide which one was the best martial art, jiu jitsu or luta livre and it was the first time that all the brazilian jiujitsu schools got together to support the art and each other. That was a very special night and fortunately jiu jitsu won all the challenges (fights) of the night.
Tinguinha promoting his student Mike Brown to the Black Belt- 2006
Tinguinha fighting at a tournament in the Purple belt-Brazil, 1993
One on One
SPORT- I love sports but in my number 3 list will be surf, soccer and MMA
MARTIAL ART- Brazilian jiu jitsu
MUSIC- I am really eclectic, it’s easier to say what I don’t like, which is heavy metal and techno music
PASSION- My wife and my daughter
FAMILY- It is everything to me
BJJ- Way of life
COMPETING- Very good to make you move to the next level
HOBBIES- Surf, Riding Bike, paintball, play video games
BOOK- The book I am reading at the moment "the principle of success"
HEROES- My father
TV – I like to watch the history and discovery channel
MOVIES-I love to watch movies but one of my favorites is "the last samurai"
DREAM- I have a lot of dreams but one of my biggest dreams is to one day have a community bjj club to help poor kids and teens succeed in their lives through the brazilian jiu jitsu martial art by giving free access to it.
GI OR NOGI- Both but if I had to choose I would pick gi
TINGUINHA BRAZILIAN JIU-JITSU SCHOOL
2970 E. La Palma Ave. Ste B