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Half Guard Wizard Lucas Leite: “If you’ve never lost, you don’t know what it is to win.”

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Multiple time World Champion Lucas Leite is famous for his half guard skills, and fights for the Checkmat BJJ Academy.  In 2007 Lucas Leite moved from his native Brazil to the United States where he formed one of the strongest Checkmat BJJ camps in the USA.

Source: BJJ Pix

Where can you train better? In the US or in Brazil?

In Brasil, we still have a lot of guys, especially in the lower belts but now here in Los Angeles we have the best black belts on the planet. And here we train more no gi, too, so I think for me right now it is better here.

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You are a full-time jiu jitsu professor in Upland, CA. What other places do you teach and do you find it difficult to manage your time between teaching and training to win your next world title?

I teach in 2 different schools in Upland and La Habra and for me, teaching helps a lot with my game because I need to repeat and repeat positions all day long.

Who do you train with when you are getting ready for big competitions?

I train with Joao Assis, Buchecha, Lapela, Sharpei, Chaves and all my students. Also, two or three weeks before the championships a lot of guys from Brasil come to train.

When did you start to train full time? What was the exact event or moment that you decided jiu jitsu would be your life?

I decided in 2003 after I took 2nd place at the World Championships as a purple belt. After that I decided to live for jiu jitsu.

How do you deal with defeat?

No one likes to lose but it’s part of our life. Winning and losing come together because if you’ve never lost, you don’t know what it is to win.

How and when did you develop your half guard game? Why did you choose half guard as your “go-to” game?

It was natural. When I first started jiujitsu I was doing it like I would for a fight. I never liked using spider guard because, in my mind back in the day, that doesn’t work in a real fight. How am I going to hold the gi in a fight? So I always loved doing no gi and half guard is a good with gi and no gi. In my game, gi or no gi, it doesn’t make a difference–I use the same game for both.

Do you believe flexibility is important in jiu jitsu?

Yes, I believe it’s very important but some guys have more than others so it can be hard. We can work on that but some guys are never going to be super flexible.

What type of game do you hope to use in the year of 2013?

I try to develop a different game, especially because all my opponents know my game. I hope I can have a good year and I can have good results.

What are your goals as a teacher? And as an athlete?

My goal as a teacher is to make my team stronger and stronger, gi and no gi. And my goal as a fighter is to try and win the ADCC!!

Read the full interview here