UFC 2 Vet Remco Pardoel On Pioneering BJJ In Europe, Fighting In The First Mundials In The Black Belt Division & His Flourishing DJ Career


Remco at UFC 2 before facing Royce Gracie.

In this exclusive interview with BJJ Eastern Europe, UFC 2 vet Remco Pardoel talks about how he discovered BJJ in 1993, fighting at the first mundials in 1996 as black belt (although he was a bjj blue belt), his academy in Holland, and his flourishing DJing career:

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

Hi, I’m Remco Pardoel, Born in 1969 on may 23th, that makes me 43 years at this moment. I was born and raised in Oss, that is a small town in the south of the Netherlands. I own black belts in Judo, Taekwon-do, Jiu Jitsu (in all of them i’m also a certified teacher) and with BJJ I have the 2nd degree. I’m part of the Gracie Barra network. Vinicius ‘Draculino’ Magalhaes is my mentor.

Some of my main titles:
I competed with Judo on a reasonable level.
Jiu Jitsu: several European titles, three times 3rd and once world Champion.
Grappling: several titles (european champion) and competed in ADCC as the first European
MMA: 19-6 record
BJJ: I Won a few European championships and competed in 1996 with best 8 black belts at the first worlds.


Remco nowadays

What’s your Jiu-Jitsu story? 

I started with Judo when I was 4, than Taekwon-do at the age of 7. When I reached 11 years I also started with (tradional) Jiu Jitsu. After that I also did some (Thai) Boxing as training.
Because I love competition I got in contact with Jiu Jitsu as a sport (fighting system). For me it was like a natural move from Judo and Taekwon-do, it was an all in one concept. I won some tournaments from the day i started competing in this style, and in 1993 there was the first World Championships in Denmark.
Here I met some people of the Brazilian Team. In this team there where some aces like Fabio Gurgel, Fernando Yamasaki, Sylvio Behring and one of the coaches where Romero ‘Jacare’ Cavalcanti.
I heard about BJJ and read some articles in different magazines, You need to consider that there was in that period of time no google or youtube like these days , so getting information or techniques was not that easy hahahha
To get back on the Brazilian team, I asked if they where interested of visiting my hometown and do some classes / seminars. They said yes and almost the complete team came over to our home and we had a crazy and great week. At that moment the seed of BJJ was planted in Europe.

Please tell us about how you were the first European to train BJJ. Who were you getting your BJJ instruction from at the time?

When the Brazilians visited the Netherlands, Fernando (Yamasaki) and I had the best connection. He assisted me with the basics of BJJ and welcomed me at his home and academy in Sao Paulo.
This was the era when there where no instructionals and there was not much to find except some minor competition footage. So everything had to be very clear and understandable.
Fernando was a very patient teacher and knew what we needed overhere.
Fernando assisted me for the first mundials where i was on invitation of Carlos Gracie jr. I had in that week also the privilege to train with some of the finest atheletes from GracieBarra competition team. What i remember that it was so HOT overthere and Carlos and the people of GB where most friendly and warm. It where great times. Renzo was the one which brought me back to the hotel where i stayed. It was better to walk back afterwarts, that was a faster way to reach my destination. Renzo is one of the most friendly and open people i ever met in the BJJ community and he is was stopping by every few 100 meters to talk to people which sayed hi to him on the side of the road
After Fernando, Ze Marcello visited on regular occassion, we split because he wanted to do some business with some old students of mine.
This was a no go for me. Ze learned his lesson with them, but our business was over. We still are ok as friends and when he needs help I will help him ofcourse.
Around that time Kazeka Muniz introduced Vinicius ‘Draculino’ Magalhaes to my gym and my people. I think it was 2004 if i can remember it well. He stayed and does visit Europe almost every year. He also opened the door for some students of mine which visited him in Brazil on a few occassions without expecting or asking anything back. That shows how great he is as a person next to being on of the finest mentors (i think teacher is not covering the right word for Draculino)

Remco with Vinicius Draculino (white gi)

Remco with Vinicius Draculino (white gi)

Please tell us about how you fought in the Mundials at black belt, and how did that experience go.

Mundials was a crazy story on itself.
I trained hard and tried to develop BJJ overhere in Europe. We had some people coming over from Scandinavia which introduced BJJ overthere and we had a reasonable base.
Then there was a call from Carlinhos.. If I was interested in competing at the mundials.
I needed to pay for my own ticket, but I was free to train at the GB academy and the tournament was paid for me.
That would be a big oppertunity! and ofcourse i agreed.
When the tournament came i looked at the blue belt brackets and my name was not on it? so i came back next day for the pruple and brown, my name was not either on that too. I was a bit worried.
Carlinhos said no worries, come back tomorrow and everthing will be fine..
When I was there it was the day of the black belts!!
I was not the regular bracket but got a spot in the (chosen) best 8.
My first round was against master Liborio, which champion in his own weight division and took silver in the open class in that tournament, I did not that bad. in the end of the fight I wanted to get some points and attacked where he got my arm and tried to take it home
It was an awesome experience and it’s the best way to learn the principles of BJJ.
BJJ is next to the part of self defence, what no one does any more, one of the friendliest competition forms, if you have the money to compete, go compete is my advice.

Please tell us about your academy and your team.

Where do I start? I had the blessing to have people around me in the past with different intentions. This thing set, unfortunatly, the development of our sport a few years backwards in time. . Don’t forget that i also brought Shooto to Europe at that time…. They all started in my academy in between 1993 and 1995. Harold Harder, Mathieu Peters, Max Leijdekker, Martijn de Jong.

In october 1996 I broke my leg on six places and in the period of recovery (which took me two years) they made some moves that weren’t that great for the development for BJJ / MMA. It was their choice and i only have a bad feeling that they didn’t do their effort for the development of our sport.
So i needed to start over again with a new team. I made the desicion for Gracie Barra in 2004, and in 2007 we offered classes in different locations. Now we have a network on a lot of locations and we have the goal to open two new ones every year.
In 2009 i stepped back for a short break due to personal reasons. In the last years i have learned who my true friends and loyal students are. They visit me every few weeks / months in Amsterdam.
The good thing is that all the students I have had did get a great knowledge base and I have given them enough technical bagage that they create the new champions. So the GB team is one of the strongest teams around.
Our goal is for the next year that we take the same amount and quality of medals like in 2007 / 2008. And try to get every season 10% better

Please tell us about your DJ career?

Music was always my passion ex eqo with sports. I love all kinds of music. I love Hardcore like Madball, Biohazard and Sick of it all, next to that is Depeche Mode and Jamiroquai always on my library. When I’m in the relax modus it is chill music (Supperclub, 4hero, Kings of covinience, Zero7, Hotel Costes and so on). But House music was always in my life.
I fell in love with when I served in the airforce in Germany in 1987. They played House Nation from the Houze Master Boys at a club where a US DJ was playing it.
In 2005 someone adviced me to start trying be a DJ. For some time i was a bedroom DJ till in april 2011 i was offered a gig. from there it went hard! Now i play sort of every two weeks. At this moment there are possible options for some counries outside of the Netherlands.
My style is Deep House or Tech House / Techno.
Here are some dj sets
Playing for an audience and see people moving and getting connected to the sound I play is the same as winning a European or Mundial final. It gives so much positive energy!!

Remco DJing

Remco DJing

How do you see BJJ growing in Holland? Could it ever overtake Muay Thai or maybe Judo?

If you consider that BJJ has landed in Europe in 1993, we had a set back in 1996 / 1997. And we see now that there are more competitors on a local tournament than on a National Championship in Sports (Traditional Jiu Jitsu). We know we have made great steps forward!
Overhere (the Benelux) we have 240.000 people practising Judo, Thai & Kick boxing should be sort of 80.000. So we have a long way to go.
But f you see that in the USA that the people who practise BJJ (gi and no-gi) are almost the same like wrestling, which is a part of the American sports culture. We can see the potential of our sport!!
We see now that a lot of tradional clubs are giving classes of BJJ or willing to. I’m busy with some people within the federation and when that happens BJJ will be mainstream within 5 years from now.
It’s up to them to make a choice for integrity and growth.

What is next for you and your team in 2013?

I hope we can get everybody in line and make one front as a team and family again. If there is a collective thought and feeling we can be the best team possible! But people need to realize where they came from and that they are still a student every day. like i am a student also..
I’ve learned a wise lesson from Luciën Carbin, which is one of the greatest teacher in sports and was a true champion in the ring.
“Somedays you are behind the desk and some days you are in front.”

If you want to thank somebody or sponsors, feel free

In the past I had some sponsors like No Fear, Mizuno, Nikko Sports (Onno r.i.p.), Hartjes Cars. They helped me a lot. And of course both of my parents which where always there.
I need to thank the people which stabbed me in the back and heart for the wise lessons they gave me and i want to thank even much more my friends for being a part of my life and keep supporting by just being there and show up private and in a class so we can roll.
I really like to share some words from my mentor Draculino. He shared this one on facebook…
(The funny thing is some people which are addressed ‘liked’ this message. How stupid can you be :))
In times when you see “Fighters” only caring, looking at their own selves and blaming others when things don’t go their way. In times when this “fighters” only represent their selves and want to be surrounded only by “yes, man” people. In times when this “fighters” think they are experts and train the way they want, saying that the coaches are not on their level….Well, I can consider my self lucky because I still have REAL MEN and MARTIAL ARTISTS on my life.
Like many, I had my share of shallow, fake, backstabber, dishonored and coward people around me but it is all good…..At the end, some Fighters, REAL ONES, will leave a Legacy and will always be respected no matter what. Others, will be forgotten and will never be able to demand RESPECT and LOYALTY ( you know who you are…)
Thanks for the REAL FIGTHERS that crossed my path ( you are too many to mention here). Some as Masters, some as Students, some as Training partners and some as Honorable Opponents. To all of you, Thanks from the bottom of my heart.
To the others….well, Thank you to, because I am proud to say: I AIN’T LIKE YOU! OSS!