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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

16 September 2010

Interview - Romulo Barral on Instructionals & UK BJJ

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Last week, Romulo discussed spider guard and injuries. This week, he considers UK BJJ, online training and his favourite instructional DVDs You’ve been to the UK a few times now, training with Braulio at his academy in Birmingham. What do you think of the jiu jitsu in this country?

Romulo Barral: Braulio, he’s doing a good job, I think, of spreading jiu jitsu in the UK. I was with Braulio for three or four months, I’m not sure, and Braulio was travelling, like almost all the weekends, to spread jiu jitsu, to teach at different places in the UK. He had a lot of people come from all over the UK to his academy.

I think the UK is going to be the next United States. You remember when jiu jitsu came to the United States, a long time ago? It was small, but look how big it is now. I think the next country is going to be the UK. I think it will grow and grow, and then in like five more years, it must be the same as the United States. Are you planning to hold any future seminars here in the UK?

Romulo Barral: Oh definitely. I’m probably going to have a trip to Europe in January, and I’ll try to go to as many places as I can, and also compete at the European Championship. For sure, if I go to Europe, I will be stopping by the UK. I teach a few times in the UK, so I have a couple of students, I want to see them, how they’re doing, I want to stop by Braulio’s academy. For sure, I’ll be stopping in the UK, it’s going to be like my main place to stop by for my seminars in Europe. What do you think of online training, like Gracie University, or the website your own instructor, Draculino, has set up?

Romulo Barral: I think the online training, it can help you get close to very good people, like Draculino. I’m too far from him: I watch Draculino’s class – I have an account there – I watch, because you can see different ways to teach, a couple of different details. I think they can help a lot. Of course, you need somebody good to teach you.

I think it’s really good for you to learn things, you can learn how to teach, and then I think it can be good for everybody, as long as you go to the mat and then you try to apply, it can be great. You cannot be a black belt from online training, you know, but it can help you a lot to develop your game.

You cannot go there and train with Draculino, but you can go online and train with him on his website. I think that’s awesome. You just need to do same thing as if you go train, you learn the position, and then you go and try to apply it, but I think it’s awesome, a good idea. I’m happy I can see Draculino teach a different position every day. Have you ever used DVDs and books to help your own training?

Romulo Barral: Yes, I have watched a couple of DVDs – I think it is a little bit hard to learn from DVDs, but anyways, I try. [laughs] I have a lot of DVDs, you know, like fighter’s DVDs, like my favourite fighters. So I have of course Draculino, it’s my favourite one. I really like Braulio, the way he teaches, he’s a very good teacher.

Then I have a couple of guys, I like to watch their fights, I like to know what kind of positions they do. Great fighters, good guys, like Cobrinha - he has a pretty good DVD. Andre Galvao, I like his DVD too. My favourite DVD is Draculino, and Braulio, I like a lot the way he teaches closed guard, I like Cobrinha and yeah, I like Galvao. I think in my mind now, as I remember, those are my favourite DVDs.

But, the DVDs I really learn, is like when I watch a World Championship, Pan-Ams, learn the position in real-time, you know? So I can figure out when is the best time to apply the position. On a DVD, you can learn the position, but it is a little bit hard to understand out how to apply, it takes a while. When I watch a DVD of fights, I learn faster. I’ve heard a few people say that. So do you think that’s something you need quite a lot of experience, to learn from watching competition, or can it help at any level?

Romulo Barral: Yes man, I think you need a little bit of experience, it cannot be like “ok, let me just watch this and then I’m gonna see.” It takes a little bit of experience, like...I cannot tell how much experience, but you need a little bit, you cannot just go there and see all the details. You’ve gotta have good experience to learn this way. Yeah, I guess a beginner would miss details, they wouldn’t understand the position, it would go too fast, that kind of thing.

Romulo Barral: Exactly.

In the final instalment next week, Romulo has some comments on BJJ in the Olympics, then we wrap things up. To read more about Romulo, check out, and you can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter

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