Pedro Sauer started bjj career as a small lanky teen Rickson Gracie brought to class one day when he was about 15 years old. Sauer described that experience as deeply humbling as he was unable to stand up for himself even against Royer Gracie who was only 9 at the time.
Having such small stature made his bjj very good in time, so good Sauer was even voted online in 2005 as the “Best BJJ Instructor” in the world.
His latest guest spot on the BJJ Brick podcast revealed quite a few interesting tidbits from his bjj journey. He talked learning bjj as a small guy, how long it took him to really know something as well as being frequently challenged when he moved to the US in the 1990s!
On his first ever bjj class :
I got murdered! I got raped. I got completely demoralized by everybody in the school including grandmaster Helio Gracie youngest son Royler who just walked through me like nothing. Today I go back and think my gosh I could’ve stopped jiu-jitsu at the time… I can’t imagine how many people in the world goes around and visits a bjj academy and just say no way am I gonna come back for this. No way I’m gonna pay for that. I just got demoralized, I got my arm popped, thumb popped, knee popped and I still have to pay for that to see this guy demoralize me. So we lose a lot of practitioners who approach just that way.
Sauer is also quite frank – bjj didn’t come quickly or easy to him:
It’s not easy for you to walk into a school and have Rickson Gracie in front of you every night ready to roll over you and make sure you don’t know nothing. It was very uncomfortable but I survived those years and today I can say without a doubt that if you do want to share jiu-jitsu with your community if you want to have 200,300, 400 students you have to have a curriculum set.
When asked about what his blue belt experience was like Sauer responded:
As a blue belt I believe I spent 2.5 to 3 years. That was a time when I started to discover and I thought that I kinda started to understand a little bit about jiu-jitsu but again nothing was working – I was blue belt efficient and effective against somebody who didn’t know nothing about jiu-jitsu but at the school everybody there was an expert and it was not easy to be around grand master Helio Gracie and sons. Can you imagine walking into a school and you see Rickson, Relson, Rorion, Royler, Royce. Those were the normal partners that you had at the school. So as a blue belt I was suffering a lot. I suffered a lot until I was close to black to be honest. As a brown belt, that’s when I was more aware of things and started putting things more together. I was a 125lbs guy, I was very skinny. I was small. I used to train 6 hours a day and it was 6 hard hours – my body was just skin, bone and a little muscle.
One other interesting point of discussion was the time Pedro Sauer was challenged by a bodybuilder Mr Utah who he’d never seen before.
That’s the first time that I saw him… I had no idea whatsoever. I got a phonecall on a Tuesday and I fought on a Friday morning. That’s how it happened. No preparation. Nothing. No mouthpiece, groin protection, gloves – nothing. It was a bareknuckle brawl. The guy was training martial arts .. he had some wrestling experience like every American does. And he was a huge guy. There was some vaseline going on so it was basically like trying to hold a wet fish. The gi helped me out tremendously to keep his hands busy, tht’s number 1. And to dry out a bit of the vaseline that’s a number 2. Because I knew self defense – If you watch the fight the whole entire fight I never got hit one time. I kinda knew. if I’m giving up 100lbs to this guy I just can’t afford to get hit. One blow can knock me out.
You can listen to the entire Pedro Sauer interview with the BJJ Brick podcast by pressing play below.