French Black Belt Samir ‘The Sandman’ Bensaid On His Choke Specialties & The French BJJ Scene

French Black Belt Samir ‘The Sandman’ Bensaid On His Choke Specialties & The French BJJ Scene


BJJ Eastern Europe caught up with French black belt and choke specialist Samir Bensaid. He is the inventor of the famous ‘Muay Thai choke‘ or the ‘Zidane guard pass‘. He also talked about the growth of the French BJJ scene:

Hi Samir, can you please introduce yourself to the BJJ Community of Eastern Europe?

My name is Samir Bensaid, I am a Gracie Barra Black belt under Gael Coadic and Mauricio Robbe de Almeida 8th degre .
Iam 4 time French National Champion (CFJJB and FILA)
And 3 time European Vice champion in color belt (IBJJF)
I took the 3rd place as brown belt at the European 2013
I also won 2 time the spirit French open as purple belt wich is the biggest tournament in France.

Please tell us about your Jiu- Jitsu story .

Oh my friend i can really say about Jiu-Jitsu that changed my life , it’s not just an expression, it is a fact .
I was a very shy , introvert kid, and I lacked confidence in myself , I doubted everything but paradoxically I felt I had a strength in me that was waiting to be exploited. I could not find my way with some martial that I tested like Judo, Yoseikan budo , Boxing disciplines …
So at 20 years old, I thought that sport was not be for me , I stopped for 3 years and devoted myself to my professional activity parallel to that as a husband and I had my first child. I put on extra 10kg in 2002 …
At 23, I decided to change. I tried traditional jujitsu for 2 years and I liked it more than judo and found it more complete. One day I came across a DVD of Pride Dynamite and saw Bob Sapp fight against Nogueira. I went crazy, I had the proof and decided I want to Brazilian jiujitsu and nothing else.

Do you remember your first class ?

Yes, in September 2004 I arrived at the academy of AbdelAziz Cherigui a French BJJ pioneer who participated in the world championship in 1996, I went there thinking that my judo would help me … you can imagine what happened eventually…I suffered like never and at the end of the training I was demoralized but hopeful , I thought that with hard work I could learn this.

Samir and his team

Samir and his team

Your first submission in training ?

An armbar on a judo black belt , it gave me so much confidence.

What did  jiujitsu do for you ?

So many things … It gave me confidence in myself , little by little I saw that people looked at me differently. It brought me serenity , taught me modesty and humility but also the taste of the effort, it taught me to push my limits , I did things I did not think capable of.
All these values ​​that jiujitsu brings me makes me stronger in my daily life and also helps me become a better man.

What can you tell us about the BJJ ​​scene in France ? How do you see it developing in the future ?

The level increases, the number of practitioners too. Our federation ( CFJJB ) works closely with the IBJJF . We have a championship France every year for the past 4 years.
We had a referee course in November and IBJJF wil come in June for the first time for the Paris PARIS , I can tell you one thing, it’s gonna be awesome! BJJ is hot here!

Samir with his instructor French BJJ pioneer Gael Coadic

Samir with his instructor French BJJ pioneer Gael Coadic

You’re known in France for your chokes which catch your opponents … Can you tell us where it comes from ?

Hahaha , that started at white belt at the time I tried many armbars , but often the guys did not want to not give up and I have always been afraid to force too much and hurt a partner.
So I stopped the arm locks for a while to try chokes, and there I began to have some success in my academy at least I could go for it and they would not get hurt … those who do not want to tap began to fall asleep …
It’s been 10 years that I perfected my chokes , I try to strangle from all positions above , below because the purpose in jiujitsu is still submitting .

What’s your speciality?

The X Choke from the open guard

Please tell us about your team and your kids successful program .

After our Coach AbdelAziz Cherigui left France for Dubai, we found ourselves alone, so we decided to build our own team in 2012 with Cabakulu brothers ( Koffy and Ishak ) , the team is called ” Imana JJB Unicite” and we are also affiliated with the Gracie Barra , because GB is the team with which we started and we wanted to stay loyal.
We have 35 adults and 45 children around, it works rather well.
I want the children to play and enjoy themselves in class. I want them to go home smiling and await the next training with impatience!

How would you describe your bjj game ?

I have a very simple jiujitsu , I am inspired by Saulo Ribeiro, Roger Gracie and Romulo Barral to build my base game. I like to think that I have a game that looks like them.
Now I develop my game with Gui Mendes and Marcelo … and everything else that is compatible lol.

How about your teaching style?

I like to start with a quick warm up (about 10mn) and after that 20mn of drilling .
I love drilling technique so I try to do it as much as i can.
After we do the technique or the sequence of the day and after that i try to let between 30 and 40 for the roll.

What is next for you and your team in 2014?

I will compete in 3 competitions this year, the IBJJF Munich Open, the French National (wich in 4 year I never lost a fight) and the IBJJF Paris Open in June 2014.
Also i started in January 2014 a “Tour de France” of seminar wich i called the “Choke tour”
Because I have a lot of people who ask me “hey tell me how you do those choke when you choked the people out?” and it cannot be explained in 5 mn it takes time, it’s a lot of detail, position, timing, sneaky thing…
So I start to think about to do a “Choke tour” in all the France, iam very happy because I have a lot of success with it, the people really like those seminar, until now I have only goods feedback I hope it will continue that way. And now iam thinking about to do an “European Choke Tour”.

If you want to thank somebody or sponsors, feel free

Oh I don’t have any sponsor my friend, I would like to but like most of the people I don’t have.
I pay for all my BJJ travels like most of us. I’d like to mention jiujikidz.com which is a company I work with for BJJ equipment for kids and it’s the first in Europe and they are used by my kids. I really wanna thank bjj Eastern Europe for the amazing job that you do on the bjj scene and also thank you for giving me the opportunity to share with the bjj eastern community my bjj lifestyle.

Thanks Samir and all the best!

Thank you very much, wish you all the best!

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