Rio Grappling Club Poland’s Mariusz Koziej talks about the BJJ scene in Poland, running his academies and the growth of the RGC network

Mariusz (left) with Nenad Latincic (blue gi) and Robeto Atalla

1. Mariusz, can you tell the Eastern European BJJ community about yourself and your journey in bjj?

Hi My name is Mariusz Koziej I’m 30 year old I live in Poland, I’m a head coach of Rio Grappling Club Poland and I’m responsible for 10 clubs in Poland. I’m south american champion, European medallist, and Polish national champion. I started to train BJJ when I was 19. I got my black belt 4 years ago from master Roberto Atalla. To reach that level I travelled to UK and that’s where I met Roberto. I spend almost 4 years in London training in different clubs like Carlson Gracie, London Fight Factory and of course Rio Grappling Club. That was a time when  it was very difficult to find in Poland good sparing partners not to mention BB and London was full of Brazilian fighters. The best way to improve your BJJ level no mater what level you are is to have better guys then you in your Gym and tap as much as possible (laughs).

2.How do you explain that BJJ has grown so much in Poland? (with 40 bjj black belts, over a 100 brown belts, making it by far the leader in Easter Europe and among the top bjj nations in Europe)

Rio Grappling Club

Well Poland was always strong in martial arts but I believe it all started with UFC and Royce Gracie in early 90’s . After watching it a group of guys from Poznan (city in Poland) started to train BJJ. It was getting more and more popular and after few years we had a BJJ school in all big cities and competitions every few months.
The second reason is even more simple . Like Roberto Atalla used to say:
“ – What is the difference between White and Black belt?
– A Black belt is a White belt that started to train and never stopped” .

3. How do you see bjj developing in other Eastern European countries?

I don’t know much about BJJ in other countries in Eastern Europe.
I know only about BJJ in Czech , Hungary, Serbia and Croatia.

4. Do you believe that we will one day see a Polish world Adult Black belt champion? 

Polish competitors at a BJJ competition in London

It may happen. But to reach that level we need to have a Black Belt division in Polish Nationals.
Now Brown and Black belts fight together. I believe it will take few more years to build a strong BB division in Poland an then we can talk about world BJJ champions from Poland

5. Who are in your opinion the most promising bjj competitors in Poland, who might reach that goal?

There are many promising guys but like I said at the moment without strong national Black Belt division, you can’t think about wining WORLDS.

6. Can you tell us about Rio Grappling Club and the large network of academies that you have built up in the world?

RGC Poland

The Rio Grappling Club is a martial arts team with clubs in Europe, North America, South Africa and Brazil. Our club started in 2003 inside SOAS University of London, founded by the BJJ black belt Roberto Atalla. Soon BJJ black belt Mauro Chueng, living in Portugal, joined the team and the RGC started to develop as a network. 8 years later, our group has expanded and improved, with schools in 3 continents.
Our mission is to provide friendly places where one can train and learn Grappling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo, and help our students improve beyond the scope of martial arts, developing skills that can be used on their lives.
Our goals are to focus on the technical and competitive aspects of the sports we teach, grow our network without compromising our pursuit for excellence, and become one of the best teams in the world of grappling arts.

7. You’ve spent some time in Serbia last year. Can you tell us about Rio Grappling Serbia?

Mariusz visiting RGC Serbia

Yes. I spent one week in Belgrade teaching and training with Nenad Latincic and his students at the end of last year. We’ve been working together since 2009. I meet very nice people with good BJJ skills. Lata is doing a very nice job not only by teaching BJJ but also by supporting members of his team with all his heart. I was really surprised how beautiful the country it is and how nice people I met were.

8. What are your goals in bjj for 2012?

My main goal is to build a stronger team and support all my fighters on main events in Poland.

9.Thank you Mariusz for taking time to answer our questions. All the best in 2012!

Thanks, All the best to all RGC and all “BJJ Eastern Europe” fans.