Gracie Barra Paris head instructor Julien Cazier is a 2nd degree black belt who balances a demanding job, family life, running an academy and being an active competitor on the worldwide IBJJF circuit. How does he do it?? In this interview with BJJ Eastern Europe, Julien tells more about his interesting story. Check it out:
Check out BJJ Eastern Europe’s training report of Gracie Barra Paris
1. Hi Julien, can you please introduce yourself to the BJJ Community of Eastern Europe?
Hello to all BJJEE readers (that I am part of anyway)
My name is Julien Cazier – “Cafetao”, I am 33 (age of Christ..), Black Belt 2nd degree under Carlos Gracie Jr.
I live in Paris I’ve been managing the GB Paris Academy for several years now. Initially with my professor and friend Jonatas Rattinho Eliaquim, and alone since 2 years.
But actually I’m never alone: I have a team of black and brown belts, strong, capable, and above all the support of Gracie Barra who help us hugely everyday.
It is true I often say “we” and I like the idea that Gracie Barra is a team, a family.
That is certainly why i have such trouble saying “I”. Everything I have done, earned or accomplished, I also owe it to the people around me.
I’ve been fighting for more than 10 years mainly with IBJJF. I then ranked 3rd at the World´s championship as blue and brown belt, 2nd at the European as purple, 2nd and 3rd at the Asian as brown and black belt… I’ve also earned many podiums in London, Zurich, Munich, Copenhagen, Paris…
I ranked 12th at the IBJJF ranking in 2014 as Meio Pesado Black Belt Adult.
I have always fought in Adult, and I’m not psychologically ready to register in Master aaahahah.
2. How did you discover BJJ and how did you start training? Tell us about your BJJ journey
It’s a pretty funny yet standard history.
Unlike many I had never watched a UFC or Pride before discovering BJJ 15 years ago in Paris.
I was studying Architecture and I was looking for a physical activity besides my courses.
So I contacted the Judo and Jiu Jitsu clubs near my house but I felt unwelcomed and looked down upon.
One day wandering in Choisy le Roi I saw a classroom and a poster: Jiu Jitsu. I did not know what to expect, I got in and tried.
There was no real professor no real course… I almost gave up then I rolled in a few clubs in Paris, still not really finding my place.
Then one day I heard about a seminar with Jerry Oliveira, Gracie Barra black belt, I thought “why not”. This is where I met the man who would become my professor and friend Rattinho.
And that´s when the adventure started for me. 4 months later I was in Lisbon for my first European Championship and then in Rio for the World Championship. After almost two months in Brazil at Gracie Barra, I fought at the World Championship and took the 3rd place as blue belt, winning five fights and losing the semi-final on an advantage …
10 years later, I’m as enthusiastic as I was then and still love the adrenaline that comes from competition …
I’ve traveled so much in 10 years, met so many different people, cultures, heard so many stories and been through so much… a few lines can not summarize.
And beyond being a competitor, I’ve learned to be a professor, listen, share and to not only do Jiu Jitsu, but I make sure Jiu Jistu is really part of me and my lifestyle.
3. The academy where you teach, Gracie Barra Paris, has grown into one of the most successful academies in France. I was impressed during my visit there in 2012, by the discipline of the training. Please tell us more about the growth of Gracie Barra France and reasons for its success.
Thank you I am very happy and proud that you say that because for me, much more than my track record and my results, the most important is the work we do every day at Gracie Barra Paris.
Not everything has always been easy and of course we had to go through difficult times. But today we are very proud of what we have accomplished knowing that we must not rest on our laurels.
Our objective is that everyone can do BJJ in good conditions, regardless of age, sex, religion, social or ethnic origin … And in order for everyone to feel good we must set up a framework that allows it.
Our luck is that we are supported 100% by Gracie Barra and its network of academies in the world: communication, organization, preparation for competitions, kimonos, e-learning, course management and management related to the academy.
This is a big help for us.
Today we have 180 students: Adults and Children, Men and Women of all ages … who appreciate the family and studious atmosphere, yet fun and friendly.
About the growth of Gracie Barra in France, I would say that on this basis, the academies are developing well and the teachers are trying to do the best they can. I’m sure they do a very good job, like Douglas Barcelos at Gracie Barra Lyon for example.
4. What do you think about the growth of BJJ in France? What are threats and opportunities for BJJ there?
As I was saying we are very lucky to have the Gracie Barra extensive and close network, allowing us to share a lot and work together.
On the other side I’m a little less aware of what is happening in France in other academies.
Moreover I meet rather few French fighters on the IBJJF circuit outside my friend Samuel Monin, the Olivier brothers, or Laurence Cousin. It is therefore difficult for me to give an opinion.
I know that BJJ is very popular here in France and we have good fighters, devotees who all also have a family and work life. They invest much of their time in BJJ. I also know that France has a huge potential, because of its sporting culture and infrastructure.
But France has its shortcomings: the non profit system makes the development very complicated due to its weak financial capacity and the fact that professors can not live only on BJJ here. It is therefore difficult for a professor to be 100% focused on BJJ as a career, and to develop an academy.
5. You have competed a lot at all belts and especially at black belt. How big is difference between competition at black belt adult level and at lower belts?
Yes it’s true. I can’t imagine my personal practice of BJJ without competition.
Let’s be clear, I think that BJJ should not exclusively be oriented towards competition, and that above all an academy is a place where all practices must be found. A lawyer or a physician wants to have fun, not to return home or go back to work with a black eye.
But for me, I need to fight in order to remain enthusiastic and feel the adrenaline associated to competition.
I started to feel a difference when I began fighting in brown belt, because of the IBJJF rules.
But as an adult black belt, especially in my category, I still sometimes feel like a kid, so aware of being lucky and blessed to be able to be there and fight with the top worldwide.
Every fight is a real battle, there is never an easy battle, lost or won in advance. You have to be physically, technically and psychologically prepared. Competing in black belt is very demanding and every detail counts. That’s why I also train in Judo, and do physical preparation … in addition to BJJ …
6. Best advice to give to new instructor who want to inspire their students?
You have to know how to listen, understand, respect and support your students. Always value them and stay positive.
They sometimes need to be encouraged, reassured, or boosted at times. Each student is different and each one requires attention, from the youngest to the more mature, from white belt to black belt.
A good instructor must know how to listen, analyze and help find the right solutions.
7. Old school basics or modern BJJ?
It depends what you mean by old school or basics.
I grew up in BJJ watching Roletta, Nino Schembri and Marcio Feitosa and then Lagarto, Braulio, Romulo …
I think there is good in both. BJJ Old school may be perceived as less technical but this is not true: some of them like Roletta were 15 years ahead of their time …
I must admit that 50/50 fights do not fascinate me …
8. How are you able to combine a demanding job, a family, bjj training and travelling for bjj competitions?
Ah, that’s a very good question. I have a very demanding job that requires a lot of time, but also allows flexibility and autonomy.
You have to understand that the work of an instructor in the academy is not just on the mat, but includes the class preparation, administrative and financial management, … it’s like a second full time job!
So I manage my personal training and those of the academy before and after going to work, and during the weekend… meaning waking up very early (6:30 in general) and going to bed very late. I don’t sleep much…
Not much holidays either as most of my days off work I travel the world for competitions…
Also I’ve always had to manage several activities at the same time: work and study, several jobs, BJJ while studying and working… and especially my job now for several years that requires a lot of multitasking!
My wife always tell me that if I can manage to do all that it´s thanks to my ability to easily multitask and work fast…
But I think above all, I have a great family that supports me in everything I do and that´s make it all possible. So we organize our lives around it and have to compromise a lot.
I must admit it’s difficult, tiring at times… But as long as there is motivation and passion … everything is ok. I love what I do, I love teaching, I love fighting!
As Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will not have to work a day in your life” …
9. What is next for you and your team in 2014-15?
This year we have a lot of objectives and have been working upstream to achieve them. We definitely want to further develop classes for women, future champs, set up a Parents / Children class …
We don’t forget competitors to whom we’ll propose a specific program with both specific coaching and training.
We want to make ours the Gracie Barra Motto “Jiu Jitsu for Everyone” by offering an academy where it’s good to live, train and grow together.
This year is also a special year for me. In 2015, it will be the 1st time 50 pts at the IBJJF ranking will be needed to fight at the World Championship, and this is my #1 objective. So I’m planning to fight in many IBJJF tournaments in Europe, Asia and the US, to prepare, move forward in the ranking and be there in June in L.A.
Also, I often wonder if I will still fight in adults in 2016 … I don’t know. I’ll see what my body will tell me.
10. If you want to thank somebody or sponsors, feel free
First I want to thank God.
Then I want to thank my wonderful wife and kids to be by my side every day, in good times and bad times. Without them nothing would be possible.
I often say it, at each competition I know that whatever I do, whether I win or lose, I’ll be my children’s hero. And that’s worth all the medals!
I also wish to thank Gracie Barra for everything they did for me. It is a huge help and incredible support.
I want to thank my professor and friend Jonatas Rattinho, who believed in me when I had nothing special for anyone. I still said it a few months ago when I received my 2nd Dan: this encounter changed my life.
A special thanks to my good friend Max Carvalho and his wife Teresa, with whom I share all these moments in competition.
Many thanks also to my academy, Gracie Barra Paris who helps get prepared, get better every day and encourages me every day! Thank you truly from the bottom of my heart.
Finally I think it is important to thank the Academy partners who believe in us: Seibuten, All Sports Labs, .. thank you for your help.
11. Thanks Julien and all the best
Thank YOU, I wish long life to BJJEE and above all I wish you the best for the future 🙂