Asian champion, silver medalist at Brasileiro, Worlds & Europeans, the Philippine’s Ralph Go: “I want to win the Worlds in 2012!”

Ralph spends a lot of this training in Brazil and the US with the Mendes bros.

1. Ralph, can you please introduce yourself to the Eastern European BJJ community?

 Hi guys, my name is Ralph Go. I am from the Philippines, a country located in Southeast Asia. I represent Atos jiu jitsu, I am currently a brown belt. My main titles as a brown belt are Asian Open champion, Vice champion Mundials, Vice champion Brasiliero and Vice Champion European Open.

2. Please guide us through your journey in BJJ. 

At Europeans 2012

I started my BJJ training with Ali Sulit in the Philippines in late 2003, at that time it was a judo grappling school where ground techniques were taught. We were all white belts at that time. Ali was training BJJ at a local school here called Newbreed Academy and once he got his blue belt the academy we were training at was affiliated under Newbreed Academy as well.
o I enjoyed BJJ the first day I started and I would not stop thinking about BJJ until today. I started to compete when I was a white belt and I never stopped competing anymore, I’ve competed many times in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, US, Brazil, Japan and most recently Portugal.
o Unfortunately after some time, we had to seperate from Newbreed academy because of internal problems in the team. After that, I decided to finally take a trip to Brazil to experience the culture and to train BJJ there. It is every BJJ practitioners dream to train in Brazil and I was happy I was able to make it come true. I contacted Andre Galvao since I met him in a seminar before and asked if he could recommend any place to train at in Brazil. He recommended I train at Atos JJ under Ramon Lemos in the town of Rio Claro. I established a good relationship w/ the Atos JJ guys there during my stay so when it was time to go back home I asked the Mendes Bros and Ramon Lemos if it was possible for me to join Atos. They welcomed me with open arms and I have been training and competing for Atos ever since.

3. You go very often to train in Brazil and the US for long periods of time with the Mendes brothers. Please tell us about your stays there and about the tough trainings and life in Rio Claro.

Training in Brazil with Atos

The training in Rio Claro is very hard! Basically, there is nothing to do but train! I have been to Brazil 3 times and I usually go during the time when the training is the hardest. The training is very structured where we have 3-4 sessions a day with scheduled rests to prevent overtraining. Despite the training being very hard, I really enjoy training with the best guys. Coming from a place where BJJ training is very limited, I really appreciate the opportunity to improve everyday and to learn from the best.
A long time ago, I used to watch many videos and collect many tapes to try to learn BJJ because the tools we have in the Philippines were very limited. I remember I used to watch the fights of the Mendes Bros when they were purple belts and other Atos Black belts like Andre Galvao and repeat them over and over. So to be training with them every day at first was a very surreal feeling! Now, I still study video but now I can say some of the best guys in the worlds are my close friends.

4. Please tell us about your fabulous run in the big competitions taking silvers in Brasileiro, Worlds, European, and winning the Asian Open (Corect me if I’m wrong)

Silver at Worlds 2011

Yes, I’ve placed silver and won gold in some of biggest IBJJF competitions. My goal when I started was just to make it to black belt. When we started we were all white belts, someone told me that some will make it to blue belt, maybe few to purple, even less to brown and maybe only just a rare person will make it to black belt. I set a goal to myself that I wanted to make it to black belt.
When I first started competing in IBJJF competitions as a purple belt, I could not believe the level of competition and how I could perform so badly against someone who has been training equal amount as me. It sparked my motivation to try and search out the best forms of training possible. I began to take frequent trips outside the Philippines to try and learn and improve.
At first, I would lose all the time during my first match for almost a year. I think sometimes its a big mental barrier for people coming from a place where there are limited options for BJJ to step on the mats against some of the best. I had to work very hard to try to overcome that both technically and mentally, perhaps some people from Eastern Europe can relate to that as well.
Sometimes, most people say it is an achievement already to reach the podium coming from were we come from. At first I would try to win just a few matches, then I would aim just to get to the podium, however now I’m not content anymore with finishing 2nd. I want to win Gold and push myself to be the best I can be.

5. How is the BJJ scene in the Philippines, and in South East Asia? Do you see any competitors that will make waves in the international circuit?

Taking silver at Europeans 2012

The BJJ scene here in the Philippines and is growing but in terms of competing in the international level we are still very far. Very few people have the goal of being a world champion and making a mark. There are definitely a few people here who are very talented and capable of achieving that but success all depends on the desires and sacrifices one is willing to make.
On another note, our group has been committed to bringing high level instruction here. The Philippines is a country where its citizens don’t have very high purchasing power. However only in the past few years, we have worked hard to bring over BJJ stars such as Gilbert Durinho, Bruno Frazatto, Ramons Lemos 2x and Rodrigo Caporal. We plan to bring over more of our Atos teammates to help raise the level of BJJ here and expose others who wouldn’t have the opportunity or capability to encounter world class level BJJ.

6. From your experience training in Brazil, what would you like to bring back to the Philippines in terms of training/mindset/technique?

Atos Philippines

When I started BJJ, I didn’t even think that people train more than once a day. When I went to Brazil, I saw first hand how much dedication is required to be successful. Success is a choice and requires responsibility not just in BJJ but in all things. More than this, I saw how the people I look up to in the team such as the Mendes Bros have an amazing attitude that people should emulate. They are very God-fearing, driven, responsible and humble people who chase after their dreams. I hope to mirror this attitude and mindset.

7. You’ve recently changed your diet and gone Vegan. Please tell us about the benefits that this type of diet has brought to you and you BJJ.

Yes, I’ve been vegetarian for about a year now and I switched to vegan recently. It started when I saw Jon Fitch fight BJ Penn and he started talking about this diet he read about how he felt so much better. I started reading the books he recommended such as the China Study and Skinny Bastard. I learned how eating animal protein is detrimental in the long term for our health. It is heart breaking to see other people suffer or lose loved ones from cancer, diabetes, alzheimers and all these other diseases when it can be easily reversed and prevented. My main motivation for switching was to be an example for others and if I could help someone else’s health through this then it would have been worth it. Recently, I’ve read how to use this diet to boost athletic performance. I recommend reading Brendan Brazier’s Thrive, it really sparked my interest when I saw he trained 3x a day 7x a week everyday no rest days since he recovers so fast from training by eating a raw vegan diet. Basically you are removing the stress brought to you by nutrition such as dairy, meat, chicken, fish etc by eating high net gain foods thus allowing your body to recover faster in between trainings. Nutrition plays a big part of stress in our body, eating acidic foods causes our muscles to be inflamed thus our body needs to work harder to alkalize our body thus effecting our optimal recovery. For me, I sleep better, recover faster, and I haven’t been sick ever despite a heavy training schedule, however I think what’s more important to note is the importance of eating consciously and how our food choices can effect others and the environment around us.

8. How often do you train per week, and how are you able to balance work, social life and BJJ?

Silver at Brasileiros 2011

When I am in the Philippines, I have to balance work and training so I train a minimum of 2x a day 6x a week. Its hard sometimes because I don’t have any days off to relax usually where I just lie around. If I’m not training i’m usually working. I actually train Sundays 3x a day to squeeze my training. It’s also hard to find motivated people who have the same goals as you.
However, before big competitions such as Mundials, I will fly to join the Atos team in Brazil or US to train since a lot of us have the same goals. There all I focus is BJJ and I train 3-4x a day just like every professional on the team.

9. What are your BJJ Goals for 2012?

I want to win the world championships this year at 2012 and achieve my long term goal of reaching the Black belt level. I am looking to compete in the Mundials again this year and I will be flying out to train with the Atos team minimum 8 weeks before to prepare. It’s been an amazing journey so far where I’ve travelled to places I’ve never dreamed of and met so many wonderful people. Every man needs an adventure and a battle to fight and BJJ happens to be mine.

10. Ralph thanks for taking the time to let us know you better and I’m looking forward to getting berimbolod by you on my next trip home to the Philippines. All the best!

Thanks for the interview! I hope to visit Eastern Europe one day. If I can help anybody with anything related to BJJ please feel free to send me a msg on facebook. I’d like to thank my sponsors Bull-Terrier, my training partners, physical coach Gib Ang and all those who has been with me in this journey.