BJJ is growing very fast in Russia. Last year, Moscow hosted a kids tournament on 5th of December with 480 participants 4-17 years old.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu formally arrived relatively late in Russia in comparisson to other Eastern European countries such as Serbia and Poland (2000). Leonid Gatovskiy, Russia’s first BJJ black belt started training from 2004.
In 2014, the first IBJJF events ever were held in Moscow: The IBJJF Moscow International Open and the No Gi Open. They were a smashing success.
2015 and 2016 had massive BJJ invitationals in Grozny and Moscow which hosted stars such as Andre Galvao, Romulo Barral, Rafael Mendes etc…
There are many new BJJ academies spreading around Russia and the overal level is growing fast.
The real success can be seen in the number of children training BJJ. This kids competition s a good indicator that BJJ in Russia is headed in the right direction.
One of the main people responsible for this success is the leader of Ludus Team Russia, Brazilian BJJ black belt Alexander ‘Deda’ Faria, a very important person in the Russian BJJ scene. He was the man responsible for the IBJJF Moscow International Open in 2914 and now the upcoming UAEJJF Russia National Pro which will be held on November 5-6 in Moscow.
“My name is Alexander Faria, also known as Deda Faria. I’m Brazilian, and came to live in Russia four years ago. I started practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Aracaju,Brazil, almost 24 years ago. My master, Eduardo Hernandes was from a team called Strauch, Rio de Janeiro, but in 2001 we moved to Alliance team under Alexandre (Gigi) Paiva. ”
How he ended up teaching BJJ in Russia:
“In february 2012, Alexandre Paiva called me and asked me if i wanted to come to Moscow,Russia to coach in Alliance here for a 3 month period. At first, I thought it wouldn’t be possible because of my work. Too much time to be absent. But talking to my family I decided to give it a try and check it out. It would be something like a paid vacation.
It was a great experience. I had a great support from the team, the training was awesome, and it was nice to see BJJ in a different way, because here almost everybody has some background, coming from Sambo, Judo or wrestling. I learned how committed the Russian athletes are and I learned to respect them even more. I knew little about Sambo for instance, but even coaching BJJ my respect for these others modalities increased. I stayed in Russia and the rest is history.”
The last time we spoke you had just arrived im Russia. What has been new with you in regards to BJJ in Russia?
It’s nice to talk to BJJEE again.
Yes, it’s been a while since our last talk, about four years. At that time I had only plans and recently started projects. Some went on, others did not and some other things just showed up as great surprises. I may say things are pretty different now. Today I have my own gym in Moscow, Ludus Baza, that is the head quarter of my team; Ludus team. I also have other nice bjj gym in Limassol, Cyprus, and 24 other affiliated gyms (clubs that do not belong or are run by me, but by one of my affiliated students/coaches) in Moscow and other cities in Russia. By last counting we have close to 1700 people practicing BJJ under Ludus flag.
Besides coaching in my gym and managing business and team I also have a few private students. So, I can say Bjj has kept me really busy. Working from Sunday to Sunday most of the time.
During these 4 years, I tried to bring as many black belts as possible to help with classes, seminars and workshops. 36 so far. Some of international level like Tererê, Gigi Paiva, Estima brothers, Roger Gracie, Cyborg, among many others with and without international reputation or tittles. All this made more common for guys from my team not only the experience of exchanging information and techniques, but it also made a fact that Russia can be a place for bjj to develop.
In 2014 I managed to bring IBJJF Moscow open, this summer I brought UFC producers to record a documentary about Sambo for UFC with Minotauro as a presenter and next November I am bringing UAEJJF Pro championship, so, two of the main championship organizers of our sport. Lots of work., lots of plantation area to seed and I keep planting…
How do you view the current Russian Bjj scene? What are threats and opportunities?
When I arrived, in 2012, there were two or three main teams, but actually it was almost a monopoly. It was hard to develop at the beginning because some people seemed not to understand that BJJ doesn’t belong to anyone. It is an art open to changes, to new ideas of techniques or coaching, that admits different business formation what basically is in the essence of Brazilian people; to blend in.This Itself is so attractive to us and it wouldn’t be different with Russian people.That’s why it grows so fast. it’s unstoppable!
The more teams, coaches and schools we had working, harder and better each one would have to work, consequently sport would grow and some teams, coaches, projects would disappear, other would remain and develop because of good work. The sport and it’s practitioners only win with that.
Today we have many bjj gyms and teams operating in Moscow and throughout Russia, and even with only a few Brazilian Black belts living in the country (three with me working in Ludus Baza and 4 more in Moscow or other cities) we already can see results. We have the first Russian black belts who are coaching or have their own gyms, some brown belts also working and living of Bjj and many, many champions in international competitions in different belt ranks, what shows a good job has been made by all this guys. We have in Russians, in general, a natural fighting spirit, and this can make a difference when creating an athlete, specially with the great number of people who come to train with some background in Judo, Sambo or free style wrestling.
Anyway, We just need to avoid what happened in Brazil in the beginning of the 90s, when rivalry was in and out of tatami and away from been considered healthy. stereotyping BJJ as marginal sport. Saying you practiced bjj was the same of saying you were a pitboy or trouble maker. But with teams, organized championships, business focused clubs came along some professionalism to the sport and it started becoming what it is today. All know that we all win if the sport grows. everywhere. Here the problems are not related much about inter-teams or athletes relations because most of the coaches already saw how lack of unit brings no good, but the problem in Russia still is institutional. There are those who still see bjj and its growth as a threat ( for different reasons that go from politics and sports scenary control to ego) and don’t understand that in despite of carrying the name of the country (Brazil in this case) in the sport, It brings as harm to a nation or sports already stablished in a country as Sambo would bring to brazilians or Muay thai to chinese people, for example. It’s non sense, but this kind of thing is part of the process, I think.
How do you see bjj developing here in the next 5 to 10 years?
I am sure within a few years, more and more clubs will be evolved in Bjj throught Russia, more brazilians will come and live here but not that many as in the US or some countries in Europe due to the cultural and weather hard adaptation. You must be extremely focused to live in Russia if you come from Brazil. And let’s be honest, it’s not among our (I mean brazilians) qualities to be focused and disciplined, some have or develop that, but most don’t. But with Russian black belts coming up in bigger number, they will carry the legacy, and in some way characterize Russian BJJ as a strong one and with some peculiarities, heritage of the characteristics I mentioned before, with good take downs, cardio and explosion, for example. And again, thinking that way, it will make other bjj fighters from other parts of the world improve their standing game to catch up with Russians, proving the point that the more options and variety with have everybody wins, the sport wins. You will still see many Russians from different teams at higher places in podiums worldwide in BJJ championships.
Please tell is about the Russia National Pro that you are organising.
I had the chance to do it before, but with the opening of Ludus Baza this year I had to give more attention to the managing process of my gym. Organizing competitions from International federations demand huge effort and attention from local organizers. Of Course Federations help a lot, but local organizers do much of the work. Tons of e-mails and dealing with budget, suppliers, deadlines, sponsors etc is not easy. Also because the work is basically a volunteer one, for the good of the sport, there is no financial counterpart in the end. On the contrary, I must give less private classes, and make less money myself then I would, specially the month before the competition, what indirectly means you are paying to make it happen.
The funny thing is that good part of the bjj community doesn’t see like that. They have no idea that when you put together costs like Venue, tatami, Refereeing, tickets, staff, logistics among many others, you can easily cross the line of many thousands of dollars. It’s impossible to do it if you can’t find sponsors, and you still hear or read things that paint you like a greedy figure who explores BJJ innocent athletes… Non sense! But, It’s the price you pay when you decide to work for your sport. The real benefit I have with BJJ growing is when more people who wants to train start looking for Bjj clubs in Moscow, mine among them and there where the real payback is.
Anyway, all is being set, we plan to have 4 to 6 areas, depending on the number of registrations and a BJJ lounge, where people can eat something or simply buy a kimono. Many athletes are registering from other countries and we expect first edition to be a great one. If all goes right we are supposed to have a second edition soon, in Moscow or maybe Saint Petersburg. It is Kids, juvenile, adults and master’s edition, and in two days of competition. Schedule is not set because it will be ready after registrations end.
We hope to see you guys from BJJEE in the Event and have some fun with our beloved Jiu Jitsu. OSS!!!!!
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