Michal Bittner is a BJJ black belt under Robin Gracie that runs Prague’s Gracie Academy. He is also frequent competitor. In this interview with BJJ Eastern Europe Michal talks about the BJJ scene in the Czech Republic, His Master Robin Gracie, his training regimen and more:
1. Hi Michal, can you please introduce yourself to the BJJ Community of Eastern Europe?
Hello, I am Michat Bittner, I am 35 and I am BJJ black belt. I am from Czech republic, I live near to Prague, my profesion is a security specialist in one private company, I Train in Prague. I don’t really feel like I have some main titles, because each one means a lot to me and show me how I grow in BJJ and what I need to work on etc. Each title move me forward in my BJJ career. My best results so far are Hungarian BJJ Open first place, Brown belt open 2011 ,third place European Open No-GI London 2012 black belt, First place International open Roma first in weight,third in open,European Open Roma NO-GI first place in weight,third in open 2013 black belt.
2. Please guide us through your Jiu-Jitsu journey.
I found out about BJJ through my friend who went to Holland for some work and there was already BJJ good known. I was faighting Vale tudo style in these times back in Czech republic. I was watching in TV UFC 1 and I saw a triumph of Gracie family, My friend in Holland found there a trainer, Herold Harded, student of Rickson Gracie. This was thirteen years ago. These times in Czech republic, there was not so many people knowing about BJJ, so even just a few techniques made them enthusiastic with BJJ.
3. What does your master Robin Gracie represent to you. (tell us more about him and his personality.)
Robin Gracie means a lot to me, he is my sensei, my mentor and friend all in one. I like the way how he passes family legacy, how he could connect people on tatami and also outside of it.
4. Please tell us about your academy and your team in the Czech Republic.
BJJ is pretty popular now in Czech republic, because of MMA, but still not that popular how I would like to see. Gracie Academy Prague has three more subdivisions, Gracie Jiu-jitsu Kladno, Gracie jiu-jitsu Chomutov and Gracie Jiu-jitsu Trebovice. Competition team has 14 people now, who participate in national and international competitions. We also have BJJ for kids, which I think is the main for the future of BJJ in Czech republic.
5. You are a very frequent competitor in Europe. What goes through your head when you are about to step on the mat when you compete? (How do you motivate yourself)
When I go to competition, I usually have also some of my students with, who go compete as well. I don’t feel nervous and if so a little, I loose is when I watch fights. I am nervous only when I let some of my student go fight. Main moment how to motivate myself for good fight is breakfast, if I have good breakfast I mostly have a great and successful fight.
6. You have been competing at some major IBJJF competitions as a black belt where you have medalled. Please tell us about your training regimen before competitions. (How often do you train, drill, do strength and conditioning)
Training for BJJ tournament for black belts is a big problem in my country, because we are only two in Czech republic, me and Fernando Araujo. I usually go to Barcelona before my tournament, because there is a lot of black and brown belts in Robin’s dojo so there I have sparing partners for my training. I train six days a week, five trainings are twice a day.On the morning I have circuit trainings for power and persistence and evening trainings are sparrings. Circuit trainings could also alternate with natural gymnastic….each BJJ fight starts in stand si I train once a week with Judo fighters and I think it is very smart to add this to BJJ training.
7. How do you view the BJJ scene in Czech Republic, and how do you see it developing?
I think BJJ in Czech republic needs time to interest more people, Czech people are not really open to trying new things, most people are focused on football or ice hockey what has a big tradition in this country. We try to catch attention of kids and young people in our academy, because children and young people are in my opinion big chance for BJJ in Czech republic in the future. But there is a progress in BJJ in Europe already visible, we have Jungle bjj, also subdivision of Gracie Barra Austria, Gracie Barra Draculino team so there is a progress in Europeand also we have more IBJJF tournamenst, this year there was Rome and also Munchen new tournaments, which showing positive interest about BJJ in Europe and also in Czech republic.
8. What is next for you and your team in 2013?
Of course our plans are dependent on financial possibilities, right now we are getting ready for London International Open in October. In November we will go to Munich International Open and of course also Hungarian Open organized by my friend Max Carvalho, Max’s tournament is not IBJJF but it is very well organized and also well engaged, there are always a number of fighters from all over the Europe and I always see many friends there.
9. If you want to thank somebody or sponsors, feel free
My biggest thanks belong to Robin Gracie, because without him I could never be where I am now, also the other people deserve thanks, like my girlfriend Barbara, Zbynek Goralczyk, Dan Machacek, Ladislav Rybnicek, Jarda Moltas, Lukas Janda and all my students and people who are working very hard for BJJ in Czech republic and do the best to make it grow.
Thanks Michal and all the best!