“The medals don’t mean anything and the glory doesn’t last. It’s all about your happiness.”
Jackie Joyner Kersee, 2-time Olympic Gold medalist in track & field
Carlos Gracie Jr famously said that it was more important to open your own BJJ academy than to want to be a champion at all costs.
What Gracie said can make sense.
When you are no longer the champion everyone forgets you very quickly: fans, sponsors, media…Take the example of 4x world champion Guilherme Mendes, who retired from Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 26 after having won many big titles but not won everything. Guilherme was amazing the crowds with his dominating performances but as time goes by, less and less people would have remembered him. He could have continued but he realized that the glory and fame that are associated with champions is short lived if you don’t have something more meaningful to build your legacy.
Guilherme Mendes explained his reasons:
“Last year I won my 4th World title in the black belt division, the number that the IBJJF requires to make you eligible to enter the Jiu Jitsu Hall of Fame. My life has changed a lot and I feel very blessed to have the option to redirect my goals, dedicating myself to do something bigger than just competing.
It’s a new chapter in my life and to achieve my goals I’ll put the same effort that I’ve put to become the athlete that I am today. I want to lead my team, become the best I can be as a leader and professor, work to create the best athletes in the sport, keep innovating the art and build a team of champions that people have never seen before. Today, this is what drives me forward. I know that winning another gold medal would feel good for the moment, would make me proud of myself one more time, but I’m ready to do something bigger now and I know that I can do it.”
When we first start the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, most if not all of our goals revolve around our own self development. I want to learn this technique, I want to win this tournament, I want to be a world champion. But one day down the road, once most or all of your goals have been reached, things shift. Your purpose expands beyond yourself and your desire becomes about helping others reach their goals. This is a good thing.
When you open your own BJJ academy, you have the chance to help people grow with the values that BJJ or convey. The practitioner will remember for ever remember how much the academy, the instructor, the team, the discipline has helped them to grow.
When you teach others, not only do you pass your knowledge on, but your understanding of the material deepens. Adapting a technique to certain body styles, simplifying complex theories and tactics so that inexperienced students can comprehend and apply those lessons learned and even problem solving through the students sticking points all help your knowledge develop and mature.
The latest BJJ champion who has left BJJ competition is Paulo Miyao. The multiple times world champion in this video, discusses moving from being a full-time competitor to an instructor.
Paulo and his brother Joao have recently moved on from Unity BJJ and opened their own academy. They have been known for being extreme competitors ever since their lower belt days, having even been living, eating and sleeping on the mat in the past…
Learn more about what led Paulo to make the switch, why he enjoys being a coach and what challenges he faces.