World Class BJJ Brown Belt/ Div 1 Wrestler, Bret Perchaluk on Wrestling for BJJ, Roberto Traven & His Ukrainian Roots


1. Hi Bret, can you please introduce yourself to the BJJ Community of Eastern Europe?

My name is Bret Perchaluk, I’m 28 years old, I’m a Brown Belt in BJJ/ Black Belt in judo, I’m originally from Brooklyn, NY, I train under Roberto Traven and David Oliviera, and some of my main titles are IBJJF NoGi Pans Bronze Medalist, Crowned rankings #1 Adult Brown Belt Male 2012, Amateur grappling league champion, multiple time NAGA medalist, Multiple time Grapplers Quest Medalist, Judo State Championship, former Division 1 wrestler.

2.What’s your Martial arts and Jiu-Jitsu story?

I started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu around the end of HS. I had been doing martial arts such as kung fu and jeet kune do throughout my adolescence. My jeet kune do academy taught grappling because they were a Machado affiliate and I was exposed to BJJ there. I had watched all of the early UFC events and knew of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, I just never had a chance to train. So when the opportunity to do it arose I took to it right away, especially since I had already been wrestling and figured it would only help make me better at that. Shortly after that school closed down and I needed to find a new place to train, it became an obsession to keep doing jits. I started looking up schools and calling all over trying to find a new place to train. I found a gym run by Paul Myatovich, who was a Matt Thornton affiliate (also Machado guy). I started training with Paul and stayed in the gym at least 5 hours a day if not more. I used to skip work or arrange my schedule just so I could be in the gym all the time. I would do all the classes, BJJ, Judo, MMA, even the fitness classes and yoga. I just never wanted to leave the gym. I started competing in BJJ and took 2 in my first tournament at the NAGA North American Championships, and after that I knew I wanted to do every tournament I could. That’s when life got complicated. I got my Blue Belt while training with Paul but also started dabbling in MMA competition and leaving to wrestle in college. So it became hectic trying to balance it all. After wrestling Division 1 in college I decided to move down to Athens, GA to train with good friends of mine at the Hardcore Gym. Adam and Rory Singer run the gym and had a ton of world class MMA guys down there. So I moved there to focus on MMA and BJJ. I was training non-stop and teaching some wrestling too. It was great, and still is one of the best martial arts experiences of my life, as well as one of the best things I have ever done for myself in regards to my own development. While at Hardcore I was training multiple times a week under Roberto Traven who was our jits coach. His gym, Unit 2, in Atlanta is top notch. All the best guys from all over GA would come and train there on the days we were there. It was like the Brazilian All-Star team showed up. I had guys like Raphael, Junior, and Freddy Assuncao, Jucao Carniero, Douglas Lima, Diego Seravia, Milton Viera, Luis Buscape dropping by and beating up on me. Not to mention all my training partners like Rory Singer, Brian Bowles, Cale Yarbrough, Dave Mewborn, Byron Bloodworth, Jeff Bedard, John Cofer, Brian Stann, Todd Duffee and of course Traven, and even my current coach David (I met him at Traven’s). So needless to say my jits game skyrocketed by training with these guys regularly. My game developed from getting smashed by these guys to being able to hang. It was an amazing transformation. And it eventually led to Traven giving me my purple belt. I left there in 2009 because of my job moving me around. I was sent to Las Vegas for work which ended up being great for training. I was able to go with friends and train all over at places like Drysdale’s with guys like Sonny Nohara, and Throwdown Training Center where I was able to do BJJ with Gabriel Kitober and MMA/Judo with Rodrigo Artilheiro (I became is very first black belt in judo). I got to bounce around to other cool places like Wandy’s school too. It was a great experience. I then moved again to the Washington, D.C. area where I started training under David Oliviera (a 3 stripe black belt under Traven and multiple time Brazilian champion). Being in the D.C. area was great for my BJJ and career. I competed in worlds as a purple belt and when I came back from California I was given my Brown Belt by Traven and David. I also get to train a ton with my buddy Ryan Hall (and by train I mean he beats me up and I try to survive). I have also been able to train a lot of special operations personnel while in the D.C. area. This is sort of related to the field I deal with in my career and I am able to impart my knowledge of martial arts and BJJ specifically to different special tactics units and train them to use our art to survive in real world situations where ground defense can be the difference between coming home and not. So that brings me great pride and satisfaction that Jits and MMA are not just a selfish activity of mine anymore, it’s a lifesaving tool that I am a subject matter expert of and can help people that will truly use the knowledge. Outside of that I am training to compete again this year at brown belt and hopefully build off of the success I had last year and place at tons of tournaments and maybe get my Black Belt by the end of the year if I’m lucky!


3. How much does your wrestling background influence your Jiu-Jitsu style? Do you think wresling with the hard drilling and full on sparrings, can be a sport that , like BJJ, people can train their whole lives?

My wrestling background influences my BJJ in a way that most wouldn’t think. It has actually made me a bottom game guard puller. I can take most people down, and most people can’t take me down. So I always know my wrestling will be there when I need it. Knowing that I can be on top when I have to and hold people down is comforting, but when I started BJJ I was one of the smallest guys in the gym and people knew my wrestling was good, so they would use their strength to negate most of my wrestling since they would have 50 plus pounds on me. So I started pulling guard and half guard a lot. I would use the techniques off my back to combat their strength and it really helped me to start submitting bigger more advanced guys. Now my game is very much a guard and half guard style. When I feel really threatened or need the win I will use my top game and out play people. But being good at wrestling actually increased my love for true jits which is playing off your back…or at least that’s the way I viewed it when I was younger.

4. Please tell us about your diet and how much weight do you usually cut before competitions?

My diet is really clean. I try and eat mostly organic and natural foods (although I’m from NY and can’t give up pizza, but I try to eat organic pizza if I can). My girlfriend is great, she’s extremely healthy too and cooks my meals for me so that I can train and eat healthy and worry about one less thing. Growing up my mom would only let us eat healthy stuff and always made me play sports so it has been ingrained in me since I can remember. As for cutting weight, when it comes to IBJJF tournaments it’s almost impossible. I feel like walking around hydrated and fed makes me compete better even if it ends up being against bigger guys. I do try to cut my portions a couple months out and limit calories so that I can get my natural walk around weight lower, but in terms of the massive wrestling style cuts, I don’t do them for IBJJF. As for tournaments that have a 24 hour weigh-in, then yea I’ll cut 20 pounds and then go rehydrate for the next day and compete, and that’s more of a mental thing for me than anything. It more for me to just test myself and still know I can cut weight, rather than actually compete at a lower weight. Many people have this misconception that cutting weight is the be all end all to win, but in reality there are good guys at all the brackets so there’s no ducking good competition regardless of being the heaviest in the bracket.

5. Please tell about your professor Roberto Traven.

Professor Traven is awesome. He’s a UFC veteran, world champ, and abu dhabi champ. He’s a great instructor with a ton of knowledge and a way of teaching so that everyone understands. He has been in the game for so long and seen it all at every level and that makes him an awesome coach both in terms of BJJ and the game plan behind competing, but also as a mentor and someone to look up to.

6. Please tell us about your academy.

Right now my academy is a Traven affiliate called Combat Sports Center, outside of Washington, D.C. David is our coach and really makes it as close to training at Headquarters down in Atlanta as possible. And he makes sure to always organize visits from Traven when he can.

Bret Taking bronze at the Pan 2012 at brown belt adult

Bret Taking bronze at the Pan 2012 at brown belt adult

7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

In 5 years I see myself married, with at least one kid, hopefully with a gym of my own, and with a Black Belt in BJJ, and maybe even a world title.

8. Please tell us about the Jiu-Jitsu secne in New York 

The BJJ scene in NY is awesome! You have Marcelo there, and Alliance, there are Gracie schools and Machado schools. Many people consider California the Mecca of BJJ in the U.S. but NYC can definitely give them a run for their money or at the very least take a close second. I love going to NY and visiting my friends at Marcelo’s. He’s always so welcoming and you will never have a shortage of training partners. Philadelphia is also a great spot to train and I frequently visit Balance Jiu Jitsu when I can and train with Ricardo and Phil Migliarese, and do some MMA training at MPR MMA.

9. What is next for you and your team in 2013?

What’s next for me in 2013? Well competing a lot and trying to get my Black Belt are two goals that I’m working very closely with Ryan Hall to accomplish. He’s been a huge asset for me and his guidance is priceless. We’re talking about putting out an instructional DVD that would be more relative to Special Operations guys but would still be good for anyone’s collection of videos. I’ll also be looking to expand my role in training tactical guys. And in non-BJJ stuff in 2013 I’ll be looking to buy our first house with my girlfriend and keep moving forward towards our life goals.

10. If you want to thank somebody or sponsors, feel free

I’d love to thank my sponsor Tatami Fightwear for always backing me and signing me to an endorsement deal before my first worlds run! I’d like to thank jits friends that have helped me out in many ways; Ryan Hall, Braulio Estima, Dustin Denes, Ric and Phil Migliarese, Rory and Adam Singer, Paul Myatovich. My coaches Traven and David, and Kru Brian Crenshaw, Rodrigo Artilheiro. Friends that have and still support me and my martial arts journey. Companies that have been good to me and help me out like, Datsusara MMA, On the Mat, Budovideos, Casca Grossa, Versa Climber to name a few. I’d like to thank my mom for putting me in martial arts at such a young age, and to always help me remain in martial arts. I’d like to thank my amazing girlfriend Jessica who is so supportive and makes my life a lot happier and easier, which in turn makes my jits career much better (she loves jits! How cool is that?!). and I thank god for giving me good genetics, athleticism, health, and everything else I have in life!

11. Thanks Bret and all the best!

Thanks so much guys for wanting to interview me! And as an American with family who came over from Ukraine I think its super cool that I’m getting exposure over there! Thanks!!