Interview w/ Norbert Novak, Braulio Estima’s Right Hand Man: From Cleaning The Mats To Head Instructor @Gracie Barra Birmingham

Interview w/ Norbert Novak, Braulio Estima’s Right Hand Man: From Cleaning The Mats To Head Instructor @Gracie Barra Birmingham



Poland’s Norbert Novak is an example of humility and hard work. Black belt under Braulio Estima, head instructor at Gracie Barra Birmingham, Norbert talked to BJJ Eastern Europe about his bumpy road to success in BJJ: “This is my story from Cleaning the mats to teaching the most successful gym in UK. I wouldn’t done this with out Braulio’s help;)”

1. Hi Norbert, can you please introduce yourself to the BJJ Community of Eastern Europe? 

My name in Norbert Nowak I’m 29 years old I’m Black Belt under Braulio Estima since 2011. I’m from a small city in Poland and have been in the UK since 2005. I train and Teach at Gracie Barra Birmingham head quarters. Most of my victories was when I was purple and brown belt, but my biggest victory is holding the title of head instructor at gracie Barra Birmingham .

2. Please tell us about your Jiu-Jitsu story and how did you end up living and training in the UK

Before I began Bjj I did wrestling for over 10 years. l believe that l would’ve continued doing wrestling had l not twisted my knee on one of the sparring session. After surgery my knee injury was that bad that I was unable to wrestle anymore. That devastated me as l couldn’t believe that my wrestling career was suddenly over. A few months later when my knee had improved l was able to do normal things again. A good friend of mine introduced me to Bjj and MMA at a small club in Dabrowa Gornicza. At that time l was training under Roman Rudkowski who taught me the basics of brazilian jiu jitsu. I trained under him for a couple months and thought I was pretty good at it. Until i visited gracie barra Birmingham. I was invited to the Uk to visit my family as I was there I went to meet Braulio Estima and train with him. The very first time l attended l thought i was invincible but the guys whooped my ass…. In less then 30 min I almost cried on my way home, from what I learnt l couldn’t believe how much technique they had over me. From that moment on I promised myself that I would always train hard and be a better fighter. I wanted to show everyone that I can be a champion. After 3 years of working in a factory and training at gracie barra Birmingham I was given the opportunity to work for Braulio and train for free, which couldn’t have come at a better time as I thought I had to quit training because of my job at the factory. He didn’t want me to give up so he gave me jobs to do around the gym like cleaning the mats looking after customers and teaching once a week. I went from teaching 1 class a week to twice a week then became the head instructor at Gracie Barra Birmingham. Now I am teaching in one of the successful gyms in the country and training and teaching across Europe. I would not be able to do this without Braulio’s help.

3. Please tell us about the advantages of having someone like Braulio Estima as your instructor (in comparison to having just a regular BJJ instructor)

The advantages to have Braulio Estima as your Instructor are huge. Everything that I know is from Braulio and Victor Estima, both thought me everything I know. Its bit like dealing with a little baby. They taught me how to crawl, then walk and then when I was good enough, sprint. Its because of how much effort they put in to me now Im teaching at Gracie Barra Birmingham also because of that and what i know, Im able to do seminars around the Europe, in the past two years I been giving regular seminars in Ireland, Poland, holland, Spain, France and UK. Braulio Estima is a great instructor in fact he’s the best and I love when he teaches the classes because he always makes the technique look awesome. Another advantage is he brings great athletes into the gym like Otavio Souza, Romulo Barrel, Max Carvalho, Roger Gracie, Lucio Lagarto Rodrigez but also many guys from different gyms like cyborg, popovich, mendes brothers and I get the opportunity to roll with some of the greatest’s.


Braulio and Norbert

4. Please tell us about your academy in Birmingham and the growth of the network of academies.

Gracie Barra Birmingham is one of the successful Bjj gym in the country, we have over 250 students all from different ages and backgrounds. We train like one big family. Also our gym has some amazing fighters like Luke Costello, Chris Bowie, Nathan Roberts, Paddy Carmody, Bradley Hill, David Iverson, Steve Martin and many up and coming new talent. We have a great network of gym affiliations across the world, it’s like a home away from home.

5. How involved are you with the Polish BJJ scene? 

Everything started a couple years back when Piotr Kapral trained and taught at gracie Barra Birmingham. Over the last couple years our friendship grew more and more. He decided to go back to Poland and open his school affiliated to braulio estima. After a couple months Piotr invited me to do a seminar. After that I started visiting copacabana 2/3 times a year also i have pleasure to visit more affiliated gyms like copacabana Warsaw and kielce. The level in copacabana team is very high and they have strong female and male fighters. Every year around end of July we organise a Bjj summer camp in small town in north of the country. This gives us the opportunity to train 3 times a day, group activities and of course enjoy the seaside with all the new friends that you make. This year we have students from Ireland, holland and Belgium coming to join our summer camp and we are very thankful that it has grows to more numbers every year.

6. How would you describe your BJJ style and what are your strong points?

Because everything that I know is from Braulio I would call myself mini Braulio LoL. My favourite guard is Spider, anaconda, 50/50 and de la riva guard. but I love Passing guard to my Bjj style is a bit of Braulio and victor with a mix of my wrestling background.

7. What is next for you and your team in 2013? 

My goals for 2013 is to get really good at teaching, and pass everything that i know to my students to help them to get good at bjj and build their own style of fighting, and build up their confidence because not everyone wants to be a Bjj world champion. I would like to build with Braulio a stronger team to compete in major competitions also I would like to compete again this year hopefully at worlds no Gi

GB Birmingham

GB Birmingham

8. If you want to thank somebody or sponsors, feel free

Huge Thanks to my sponsors Stormkimonos.com to Violetta and Dean for supporting me all this years. Also I would like to thank Braulio, Victor, Piotrek kuba, Liam, Fergal and Jordy to all the students for all the support and faith;)