Romulo Mendes De Araujo

Name: Romulo Mendes de Araujo
Age: 40
When you started: Sometime in 2009

How did you first get interested in BJJ, and what led you to start training at GSW?

It's hard not to be exposed to Jiu Jitsu being from Brazil. However, BJJ had a bad reputation back then, so I wasn't interested in taking it up.

I had a friend who was really into Jiu-Jitsu, his name was Edd, and he was a blue belt. While at Uni around 2001, I shared a flat with Edd's brother Creve. Edd used to teach us a few moves now and then, which we would practice in fearless battles in our flat living room. Edd always encouraged us to give BJJ a serious go. We never did. Instead, I took on boxing!

Fast forward a few years. I'm now in New Zealand circa 2008-09. I met this guy at work called Gareth Lewis. Soon after the first introductions, he said I should be embarrassed for not knowing any Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and he was determined to change that. Mr Gareth Lewis, a Purple belt back then, took me to my first BJJ class EVER at GSW at Hania Street. Thank you, Gareth!

However, I decided to do Capoeira instead. (Actually, Capoeira is pretty fun; no regrets!) Soon after that, my capoeira dreams were put on hold because I started to practice BJJ more and more. As it turns out, Capoeira and BJJ are very much intertwined, and anyone who does one does the other. I know, right? Go figure! And my old Capoeira Master (Master Bira) was also a BJJ professor. Boom done, my ginga days were over, and in comes BJJ full-time. Finally.

After getting my blue belt, I was eager for some real competition and started to train more seriously, thus decided to train a little Judo and started my Gracie Diet. But if I wanted to compete, I would need some serious training partners. I needed to get my ass whooped every day! So, after some soul-searching, I started at GSW.

Can you share a memorable experience or achievement from your time training at the school?

Being promoted to a brown belt was a truly unforgettable experience for me. I had always believed that attaining the rank of a black belt was too challenging and unattainable. However, when I achieved the brown belt, it suddenly dawned on me that the possibility of becoming a black belt was within reach, and I was overwhelmed with excitement.

How has BJJ impacted your life outside of the gym?

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has had a profound impact on my life. As I'm thinking about this question, finding an area of my life that hasn't been impacted by it is difficult. For instance, my professional life benefited deeply from BJJ.

I recommend Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to anyone with a stressful job. I would go as far as to say BJJ is a highly effective treatment for depression and stress or stress-related issues. I can name several different reasons.

An obvious one is that exercise, in general, has been shown to impact mental health positively, and BJJ is a physically demanding martial art that can provide an intense workout. Exercise releases endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce stress levels.

Another one for me is that rolling feels like a form of meditation. BJJ has a way of connecting you with the present in a powerful way. It clears your mind from whatever happened during the day and will give you a fresh start. This is extremely relaxing.

What advice would you give to someone new to BJJ or to our school?

If you're new to BJJ, take it easy and focus on learning the basics first. It's recommended that you wait about three months before you start rolling.

If you've been training consistently for six months, you can roll as much as you want. However, it's important to understand the nature of the battles you'll face in BJJ. When rolling with someone better than you, focus on honing your defensive skills and surviving. When rolling with someone with less experience, concentrate on sharpening your offensive or defensive skills, depending on whether you're on top or bottom. It's crucial to keep this in mind to avoid frustration.

If you fall outside this range, befriend a Black Belt for extra tips.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to improve their BJJ?

If you want to improve your BJJ, here are some tips that can help you:

1. Focus on the basics: the basics are the foundation of everything you will learn. So ensure you have a solid understanding of the fundamental techniques and positions.
2. Drill, drill, drill: Repetition is the key to mastering techniques. The best people I know drill every single day...
3. Consistency is key: To improve at BJJ, you must train consistently. Try to train at least three times a week, and prioritise it in your schedule.
4. Roll with different people: Rolling with a variety of training partners will expose you to different skill levels, styles and techniques. (remember: understand the battle you are fighting)
5. Be patient: BJJ is a long journey, and progress can sometimes be slow. Don't get discouraged if you feel like you're not improving as quickly as you'd like. Keep training, and the progress will come.
6. Watch and study BJJ matches: Watching high-level BJJ matches can be a great way to learn new techniques and improve your understanding of the game.
7. Take care of your body: BJJ is physically demanding, so make sure you take care of your body by eating well, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and stretching before and after training.

Remember, improving at BJJ is a gradual process that requires dedication, hard work, and patience. But with consistent training and a willingness to learn, you can progress and achieve your goals.

How do you balance your training and your daily life?

Balancing BJJ training with your daily life can be challenging. However, this proved to be a highly effective framework for me:

* Plan: Look at your schedule for the week and plan your BJJ training around your other commitments. I particularly have a routine that I follow every week.
* Prioritise: Decide what's most important to you and prioritise your time accordingly. If BJJ is your high priority, you may need to make sacrifices in other areas of your life to fit it in.
* Be efficient: Make the most of your time on the mat by staying focused and minimising distractions. This will help you get the most out of each training session and progress more quickly.
* Take care of yourself: BJJ training can be demanding, so taking care of yourself outside of the gym is important. Ensure you're eating well, getting enough sleep, and taking time to rest and recover.

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