Jorge Santos joins Open Guard to have a chat about Life, Travels and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Hi Jorge thanks for joining us here at Open Guard. We appreciate you taking the time out of your day to have a chat with us and to share you Jiu Jitsu journey with our readers. There is so much I could say about this guy, but I doubt I could truly do you justice. Jorge could you please let the readers know a little about yourself and your journey so far?
My name is Jorge Santos 35 years old first degree black belt. I have been training BJJ for 15 years in total. I received my black belt in 2010 after 10 years training. I am originally from Porto Alegre in Brazil but moved to Ireland in 2011 and set up my own academy Jorge Santos BJJ.
In 2011 you found yourself making the move from Porto Alegre to Dublin, how long did it take you to settle in and get used to the weather, or are you still trying?
Yes honestly I have still not got used to the weather here haha. The hardest thing apart from the weather was learning a new language especially all the technical terms of Jiu JItsu. After 5 years here it feels like home and my team continues to grow so I still have great ambitions for the future.
Anyone who has spent a little time on the mats would know ATOS being one of the largest named academy’s how did it feel to be running your own school under the ATOS banner and what was behind the decision to begin your own path?
I am currently not an Atos member but the experience was a very positive one for me. I am very thankful to Professor Galvao and all of Atos for their help over the years but I learned along the way that I wanted to be in control of the direction of my own academy. I still have a great relationship with a lot of the Atos guys and regularly welcome them here to my academy for seminars and training.
You have been involved with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over 15 years now and would of seen some really significant changes, in what ways both good and bad have you seen the sport change the most?
There has been a lot of changes over the years but for me they are all positive changes. BJJ is constantly evolving and I am very happy to be a part of this evolution. The Jiu Jitsu scene in Ireland has exploded recently with the great success of Conor Mcgregor. Now there are many different ways to learn and so many different academies teaching the gentle art in their own unique way. When I first started training there was just one way to learn and nobody questioned the master. Now there is online learning, open mats at different clubs and many different nationalities teaching the art so I am really happy about the future prospects of BJJ.
We all talk about the language of BJJ being universal, however being someone who has travelled trained, competed and held seminars in nearly every corner of the globe, how do you find the culture from country to country?
Most definitely it varies from place to place but I always find that if the love of Jiu Jitsu is there, there is a mutual understanding and respect between Jiu Jitsu players from all over the world. There are some clichés that still ring true at the core like Eastern European players being very physical, Brazilian players being very smooth/flowy whilst American competitors are attempting to fuse the best parts of each nation’s qualities into one dominant and very professional force. I am happy to report that in Ireland we are trying to also take the best of all parts of Jiu Jitsu and forge them into our constantly evolving game.
With the use of the internet and what not we are seeing guys at earlier levels doing things sometimes with success that has, over the years been restricted to higher belts. The competition is simply getting more competitive and more exciting at lower levels, how do you see Jiu Jitsu evolving from here, and if you could get the crystal ball out where do you see the sport in 5 years’ time?
I would like to see Jiu Jitsu continuing on the path it is currently on. I would like to see it at the Olympic Games which is probably the single greatest recognition of competition that could be honoured upon the sport. New positions along with counters and reversals are being developed all over the world and this is making the sport so much more exciting to both watch and compete in. In 5 years if we can continue to produce the level of competitors globally that we are currently are I will be very happy. Personally in 5 years time I hope to produce an Irish world champion which is the goal I am currently working on. I have 2 current European gold medallists and hope to increase that tally.
A man who has accomplished so much in the sport from receiving you Black Belt under Luis Antonio Guedes, to opening your own academy, winning multiple IBJJF medals and competing at several of the biggest tournaments in the world, what would you say your biggest accomplishment is within the sport?
I received my black belt under Luis Antonio Guedes in Porto Alegre in 2010 which was a great personal achievement but I would say that my biggest accomplishment and proudest achievement is actually that I have been able to spread this wonderful art from one side of the world to the other. I originally wanted to train Jiu Jitsu when I was a teenager in Brazil but there were so few gyms and the cost made it exclusively for the rich. I take great pride that I have been able to introduce it after all my struggles to every day people and people of all different backgrounds. The greatest pleasure I receive is in watching my students develop both on and off the mat. It is my greatest accomplishment.
With all the above achievements and so many more, it would go without saying that you are a role model to many. Do you have any role models be it on or off the mats?
My personal Jiu Jitsu role model is Marcelo Garcia. I tried to shape my game around his when I was starting off. He brings dynamic athleticism with an iron clad knowledge of the basic positions. He was the first real dominant competitive BJJ player and I learned so much from watching him.
As an instructor there would be so much joy in teaching and sharing your knowledge with your students and watching them grow, what makes this part of your journey the most rewarding?
I really enjoy all of the different elements of teaching but watching students develop is so rewarding. Taking someone who is low on confidence or out of shape and turn them into a competent BJJ player is not an easy thing to do but it really is worth all of the time it takes to do it. I have personally seen BJJ change people’s lives, it has changed mine for sure and the self empowerment that it gives to people really cannot be underestimated. I am currently training my son Alexandre who has moved from Brazil to be with me here and it is another Journey I am looking forward to going on.
BJJ is, as we know a super tough sport which can take its toll on the body. Do you do any training of the mat to assist with your Jiu Jitsu game or otherwise, and if so what does your training regime look like?
Off the mat I try to do some strength and conditioning maybe one hour per day. I mainly do this as it helps to prevent injury during competition. It will involve a series of Olympic lifts mixed in with plyometric drills. I like to get most of my cardio for Jiu Jitsu from Jiu Jitsu. I still believe the best way to improve your game is simply to roll more but I am open minded to try new things as I get more experienced.
Is there any piece of advice that was given to you in the early days that you still live by? If you could give the new guy 1 piece of advice only what would it be?
The best advice I could give to someone starting off in Jiu Jitsu is to embrace it fully as a lifestyle. I know that this is difficult at the start but I found that students at the beginning are so focused on belts and promotion. Before they understand some basic positions they are thinking about the next belt or stripe. My advice is to trust your professor and just take it one class at a time. He will know when you are ready and you will receive it when you need it.
Jorge, thank you so much for your time mate it has been an absolute pleasure to have you here with us, is there anything else you would like to add, or anyone you would like to thank.
Thank you very much for the interview and I would be happy to receive you here at my academy anytime. OSS !!
Thanks again mate, next time we are in the UK we will be sure to make the trip to Ireland and pay you visit.