Photo: Jits Art
Daniel Riou Mendoca is one of the top black bels in Europe. He’s an active competitor under Marcelo Bernardo and Arnaldo Alves, and is an from Team BPT – PORTUGAL.
BJJEE sat down with Daniel to find out more about his BJJ story and the state of BJJ in Portugal.
Daniel, can you please introduce yourself to the BJJ community?
My name is Daniel Riou Mendonça I am from Lisbon Portugal. I am a BJJ Black Belt under Marcelo “Reforçado” Bernardo and Arnaldo “Pitbull” Alves from team BPT (Brazilian Power Team) founded in Portugal-Lisbon in 2004. I am 32 years old and an active competitor and proud father of 1 Girl and 1 Boy.
How did you start training?
I started training back in 2005 when I was 18 years old with my Professors Marcelo Bernardo and Arnaldo Alves. I have a small JUDO background because my father also him was a JUDO competitor. At the time I was looking for another challenge, so when I found BJJ in a small Gym near my hometown and related it to the Sherdog videos where Royce Gracie smashed all those guys in UFC plus the fact of training with a GI, something that I had some knowledge, was a big motivation and challenge. 1 month later I was winning my first competition, and after that I never stopped training and competing.
Please tell us more about BJJ in Portugal. How did it start and how do you see the current BJJ scene in Portugal?
BJJ in Portugal started in the late 90’s with Professor Lauro Figeiroa from GB (I think there was a few before him but not with big expression), and I think in Europe we are one of the Pioneer contries of this sport. The fact that the European Open from IBJJF are held here in Lisbon and that Portuguese and Brazilians speak portuguese, was a big influence for the development of the sport. At the beggining BJJ was an underground sport, very related to the “Bad Boys” and MMA, however, with the growth of the sport due to a very professional approach of the main players ( Federation, Professors, Athletes, Media), it as become a mainstream sport with a huge growth. Everyone as heard about BJJ and everyone can practice it in almost every gym. In my town there is at least 3 BJJ clubs. In Portugal we have top athletes with World titles from IBJJF and UAEJJF, we have top competitors in COPA PODIO events, so, I think that says much about the BJJ scene around here for such a small country.
Please tell us about your academy, and your team.
My Team is BRAZILIAN POWER TEAM founded in 2004 by Marcelo Bernardo, Arnaldo Alves and Marcello Rosa, we are one of the top teams in Portugal, highly focused on competition and the only team from Portugal to ever win and International Championship by IBJJF (Madrid Open 2017). This is a big achievement for a team that as its own identity, without any affiliation to major international teams. Of course we have things to work on regarding Organization, structure, comunication,but all together we will get to our goals. I am the Black Belt responsible for the ESTORIL Affiliate, and I have my own students and training partners, all them with great results in National and International Events. Recently I have integrated a Social Project of name YOUNG ZILIONS that supports young kids with social and financial needs to train BJJ, this project is a union of BJJ black belts and instructors from BPT that got together to help these Kids providing them useful tools for the Future.
What is your mindset when competing?
My mindset today is very different from when I started BJJ. Today because I am more experienced and well rounded I try to have a complete control of my mind, I know when I need to motivate myself and I know when I need to be calm. I believe that our mindset is a consequence of our training and our experience. So I try to train as hard as I can for a competition with all types of training partners, and I try to be comfortable in all types of situations. Of course I have my own Playlist and some things I like to think that help me to get “beast mode”. My family supports me a lot and that still is a big motivation. To win for my kids and for my students is the biggest motivation.
How would you describe your style of Jiu-Jitsu?
My syle of BJJ is simple but effective. I like to fight forward and agressive, always trying to take my opponent down, pressure passing and always try to submit. When I pull guard, I like half and deep half guard. I have a lot of solutions from here. My favorite submission is Kimura, and even when I don’t submit it opens the game for sweeps or passing possibilities.
You recently competed in Moscow, Russia. What were your impressions?
It was a great feeling to compete in Moscow, I really felt it was a great experience. It was great to see my Professor Marcelo Bernardo who is teaching at LUDUS ACADEMY in Moscow. I think there is a huge potential for BJJ in this Country and I believe in 4 or 5 years they will have Top athletes in the major events. They put a lot of “Heart” in their fights and are very dangerous with leglocks. I really loved to fight there I am sure I will return.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
I have many plans for the future, I hope I still have energy to keep on training, competing and teaching, however, I plan to dedicate more time only on teaching. I also have my own business and family who desserve more of my dedication, but for sure , BJJ will alway be part of my life.
What is next for you in 2017?
I will try to fight the NO GI Europeans in Rome this year. Then I will take some time of, because the last 6 month as been quite intense in terms of competitions.
Feel free to thank your friends and sponsors.
I just want to thank my family, friends and students for the support. My Sponsors 3T and BANA, and all those that somehow show their support when I am on the road. Thanks also to BJJEE for this opportunity.