Worlds Masters Champion, Turkey’s Ibrahim “The Hulk” Inal on BJJ in Turkey, Fake Belts & Managing Family, Career & Jiu-Jitsu


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

Hello my name is İbrahim İnal. BJJ Brown belt, born in 1977 and I am from İstanbul, Turkey. I train out of the V3 gym which is a part of the Checkmat family. I am the head instructor at this academy. In fact I set up this academy myself to help grow BJJ sport here in Turkey. Leonardo Viera has been a big supporter of our academy we are proud to be a part of the Checkmat family. He is a great person.He add so many things to my jiu jitsu and he is a perfect brother to have in life. And the other part is Neves team ofcourse . Leonardo Neves has also worked very hard to help set up our academy.And he was the reason how i met Leonardo Vieira and checkmat family…
My first real tournament was the 2010 European Jujitsu championship. I entered in Blue belt heavy weight division and won the tournament.Other tournaments I competed in are:

Scandinavion open heavy weight purple belt first place
Scandinavion open open weight 3 rd place
Grappling quest heavy weight purple belt first place
World master heavy weight purple first place
Worlds master open weight purple second place

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2012 Master Worlds

2.What’s your Jiu-Jitsu story?

I discovered Jujitsu at a gym where I went for Boxing training. It was 2003 and I met Ersin Alpaslan and he had just returned from Miami where he trained at the Gracie academy (Valente brothers). He taught me the philosophy and fundamentals of jujitsu through rigorous training.And he is perfect instructor and person !!!
Until I got my blue belt I trained only the basics and the self defence part of BJJ. However, the competitor in me was always pressing to go further. I entered the European championship as a blue belt and won my division. I did 4 matches and submitted my opponents. I then met Leonardo Neves and started training with him. Leo moved to Turkey for a period of one year and that is how I met the checkmat team. I competed in the Scandinavian open and won the tournament but right afterwards had an unfortunate injury. I tore the ACL on my right knee. Next I met the founder of Checkmat: Leonardo Viera. He has been a big influence in my life. He changed the way I look at BJJ and the way my game is on the mat. I can sum this new view in these words….’knowledge will give you power but character will earn you respect’… He is a real fighter and a excellent sensei !!! I just got my Brown belt last week. There is a long road ahead and I have made BJJ my life style. I love this sport.

3. Please tell us about the History of BJJ in Turkey. How is the current BJJ scene and how do you see it developing in the next few years?

BJJ is growing in Turkey. People are slowly turning towards it and enjoying BJJ. As far as the belt system is concerned, I am a bit frustrated at the way belts are handed out here in Turkey. Our professor and our team apply the real rules on belts. In BJJ getting a belt requires a lot of hard work and is a very special event. The rule on belts is that only a black belt with 3 stripes is allowed to sign a belt or a stripe. This is the rule.The federation clearly states this rule in it’s rule book. Unfortunately in Turkey purple belts are giving out belts just to keep students in their academies.I find this wrong.One day a read this facebook and i love it!!! I have even seen people receive their belt after a one day seminar. I have seen instructors put on belts they did not deserve in turkey . In time the mat will push these people out of the sport. You can only get your IBJJF license if your instructor signs for you. This new procedure is applied to black and Brown belts this year but will be extended down to blue belt next year. Being a BJJ student is hard work but being a BJJ instructor is even harder.
As an instructor you are responsible for everyone in the academy. They believe in you, they give you their most precious posession… their time. This is why I respect and care for them and do the best that I can to develop them. We are like a family here, with the good and the bad we share our lives, we try to develop ourselves and expand our family.

5. Please tell us about your experience training in USA and other countries (who did you train with, what did you learn etc….)?
İn the USA before the Worlds tournament.. İ was with my bjj family again,Conde Coma, Checkmat in LA.  A big family full of great people.They help me so much , trained me well and taught me new techniques as well. Whenever I travel the first thing I pack in my suitcase is my gi.I enjoy going to other gyms and spending my time with people that share a similar passion for BJJ. However, for the past three years I have only been training at different Checkmat academies. We are part of a big family and wherever I go I find a piece of the family. Although there is a very special gym for me and that is in Toronto, Canada. There I totally feel at home, Sensei Jorge Britto has built an incredible academy!!İ have also great friends over there..

Vedran Ikic, Ibrahim Inal & Leonardo Neves

Vedran Ikic, Ibrahim Inal & Leonardo Neves

6. Please tell us about your academy Check Mat Turkey and V3 fitness?

Opening a successful dojo requires the blending of centuries-old martial arts traditions with modern business survival techniques. Much of the appeal of martial arts is its mystical qualities. You must convince your business partners and students that learning these qualities and ancients secrets is worth paying for. Our game is different ,the way we look at bjj is different.

7. What are BJJ players that you admire, and why?

The biggest one is Leonardo Vieira !!! He is a strong and amazing figther , but not only that also respectful master,and a perfect familyman !!!! In addition we have amazing blackbelts and competitors in checkmat !!! Like all Vieira brothers ,Lucas Leite , Marcus Almeida , all the Other great figthers in our team , my friend and our coach Leonardo Neves , Vedran Ikic and Damir in Zadar etc..They are all examples!!!

8. You are a frequent competitor that travels a lot to compete. Why do you like to compete so much?

Training in California

Training in California

Firstly , the friendship you gain in bjj is priceless , it reminds me of my past when I was in the Turkish national track and field team.There is no vested interest in the relationships you develop in BJJ. You meet people that are focused on the same goal , and thank god there is no business involved. Secondly , Competition is Adrenalin, so it fills my life with energy. I like winning off course, but if I lose it’s OK. I just try to figure out what I did wrong ? Thirdly, when you are focused on the competition you live a disciplined life. You eat well , sleep well and train well.. İ don’t like to do things for no reason. All my life I set out to achieve goals. To become successful in BJJ you need to learn and fight to better yourself. If you don’t set goals and work to achieve them you will always stay at the same level. You won’t get ahead, you will be afraid to compete and will probably talk too much to cover your weaknesses.. and your EGO will eventually kill you.

9. How are you able to manage your family life , your job as a stock broker, running a BJJ school, and competing at a high level? What advice would you give to someone in their 30’s who has a hard time to balance all these things?

Ibrahim's beautiful family

Ibrahim’s beautiful family

I always keep this phrase in mind. “The key to happiness is having dreams. The key to success is making your dreams’ come true.”  People dream but are afraid to make them reality, I am only afraid of losing the people I love. Other then that in business, in tournament or in any fight I am not afraid of anything. My family is my biggest support, as far as my bjj school , I am lucky, because I have a great team ranging from white to color belts.İ am proud of every boy in my team!!! And my advice to people “Being busy does not always mean real work. You have to focus .The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as hard work. But your heart must be clear and you must love the people around you . Seeming to do is not doing. Do it if you really want to !!

10. How would you describe your style of Jiu-Jitsu? How about your teaching style?

I like to fight for submission ,without too much thought on points. I am not happy if I win on points. I had 26 official fights, I lost one in Scandinavian open and one open weight in worlds masters with points and won a fight again in Scandinavian open against a real champion on points. I had another win with points in the European championship and that’s it… All the other fights I won by submission.

11. What is next for you and your team in 2012/2013?

Next for my team and myself is the Europeans. And for the future I want to be a good Black belt that can represent my team Checkmat in competitions and that can hold my own team with update skills!

12. Thanks Ibrahim and all the best!

Thank you!