Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is the ultimate grappler with world class ground game and fantastic stand up takedown game. He is a BJJ and Judo black belt formed at ASLE academy with his first instructor Henrique Machado. Contrary to popular belief, Jacare did not have a classical Judo background where one would start training Judo and then transition to BJJ (Saulo Ribeiro for example). He was always training BJJ and Judo at the same time at ASLE academy with Machado who believed in his students having a complete game. His priority was always BJJ.
Souza was born in Vila Velha, Brazil, was raised in Cariacica, Brazil until the age of 15, and competed in football as a goalkeeper. Souza had a rough upbringing, and on the day he turned 15, he saw one of his good friends get shot to death. After this event, Souza’s mother moved him to Manaus to go live with his brother and started training Judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu when he was 17. He is a five-time World Jiu-Jitsu Champion, including gold medals in the Openweight class in 2003, 2004 and 2005. His other credentials include the 2005 77–87 kg ADCC Champion and the 2005 ADCC Absolute Division runner-up, only losing to Roger Gracie who outweighed him by approximately 25 lbs. Along with Roger Gracie and Marcelo Garcia, Souza is widely considered to be among the greatest BJJ practitioners of his time.
Jacare’s takedown game was so dominant in high level BJJ competitions that many wondered if he could have the same success if he transitioned to high level Judo. In 2004’s there was talk of organising a grappling superfight between Brazil’s Olympic bronze medalist Flavio Canto and Jacare, who was then the world bjj champion. The project never came to life.
Jacare’s background and success is a good indicator that having an academy with a good all around game and teaching modified Judo throws and takedowns for BJJ on a regular basis is the way to go.
Judo Olympian Matt D’Aquino shares his thoughts on the subject:
To improve their stand up it would be awesome if BJJ guys could attend a Judo class a few days a week but unfortunately most of us are time poor and can only commit to one sport at a time. If this is the case then I think BJJ practitioners should learn a modified version of stand up tailored for specifically for the BJJ posture, movement, rules etc. So should bjj guys learn traditional Judo for BJJ, the answer is no. They should learn modified techniques that allow them to flourish in their art. Many Judo techniques finish you off in a great position in Judo and a bad position in BJJ, so it is important to choose Jiujitsu specific throwing techniques and drill them. Rodolfo Viera’s stand up game is a perfect example of modified Judo techniques for BJJ.
Check out these videos of Jacare doing Judo Randori at Edson Carvalho’s BJJ/Judo academy in New Jersey (students train in both sports), and of Jacare’s best takedowns in BJJ competition:
You can see Jacare’s specialities of uchi mata, harai goshi, o soto gari, ko soto gari, o uchi gari, de ashi barai, yoko tomoe nage, some seoi nage attempts.
The best of Jacare’s takedowns: