Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Interview With Head Coach and Founder of GFTEAM Julio Cesar

picture courtesy of BJJPIX


- Julio, you’ve spent one month teaching BJJ in Europe last year. How do you feel when you see how the sports you’ve loved and practiced for over 30years has become so popular in Europe?

JC: When holding BJJ seminars, rather than seeing myself as a teacher, I believe that I share information and knowledge with the students. I never would have imagined that one day, BJJ would be so widespread in many places all over Europe, all over the world in fact. Until a few years ago, me and my students only ever travelled within the state of Rio to join competitions or hold seminars. Now, I have this to get to know many countries, developing my passion and meeting many interesting people. It’s a great feeling.

- GF Team has been growing in Europe over the past year, with new affiliates in England, in Germany and the most recently one in France. How does it feel to see the team you’ve founded growing so successfully, and how do you see GF Team developing in the next few years?

JC: I certainly have to thank all the professors, who have believed in our project and are doing an incredibly successful job. Our brand Team has been growing because everybody has the same vision, and because the professors put a lot of work and dedication into developing BJJ and the GF Team brand. As such, I believe our team is going to become stronger and stronger.

- 25 GF Team students from various countries competed at last year’s IBJJF London Open; it’s the first time GF Team has seen this many team members compete in Europe. How does this make you feel?

JC: It was fantastic to see so many GF Team members competing! I was very pleased to see that not only the athletes gave everything in the competition, but also to see the support from the team mates who came to Crystal Palace to watch and cheer. It’s this support that makes for a great team! Despite BJJ being an individual sport, I believe that not only the athletes play an important role in the competition, but everyone involved, be it the referee or the audience cheering for their team mates.

- Thinking back to when you first founded GF Team, had you ever imagined that one day, some of the biggest BJJ icons and world champions would evolve from this team?

JC: Absolutely not. And sometimes I still cannot believe it! We started very small and the main goal in our work has always been to provide education. The development of a champion is a consequence of this work, and I am very proud.

- A range of GF Team black belts have been holding the titles as champions in various competitions and championships worldwide. Moreover, there’s a new generation of young GFathletes who are ready and able to keep this legacy. What’s the secret to GF Team’s success, what makes these young athletes so strong and successful?

JC: Well mainly, I’d say that the professors, athletes, and everyone in the team are keeping a strong focus on the same vision, the same goal. There’s a very strong group dynamic; the achievement of each individual is regarded as an achievement for the team. I think this is a very important factor, the sense of togetherness and support makes us strong.
And then, of course, we have many athletes in the team who dedicate their life to this sort, like Rodolfo Vieira. He is the first to be on the mat, and the last to leave. I am sure we will see more Rodolfos at GF Team in the future!

- At the Copacabana, the most famous beach in the world, a big sand statue of Rodolfo Vieira has recently been built. You and all GF Team members must be very proud; what effect do you think this could have for GF Team?

JC: Of course we are all very proud to see Rodolfo, and as such GF Team, represented on Copacabana beach. In my opinion, amongst the range of GF Team blackbelts who have all had incredible achievements and successes, Rodolfo managed to make a difference, in that GF Team is now very well known internationally. The respect GF Team has gained is giving a variety of other athletes the opportunity to shine and grow in BJJ now.
The new generation of GF Team athletes mirror themselves in Rodolfo, and he’s an idol and inspiration to young children and teenagers.

- You’ve been training BJJ over 30years and have seen many great successes, but surely also some losses along the way. What’s your biggest advice for those who wish to be successful as BJJ athletes?

JC: Most importantly, you should believe in yourself and always stay determined. There will be times in any athlete’s life when they’re tired and worn out, or when they face losses. Taking any sports seriously, there are many sacrifices one needs to take; you cannot always go out with your friends, go to the beach when everyone else does, or spend as much time with your family as you’d love to.
But as long as you have a strong passion for BJJ, stay determined, focussed and train hard with your team mates, the achievements and successes will be incredibly gratifying.

- Thank you very much for your time and the great chat, Julio!

JC: Thank you very much, and a big Thank You to everyone who helped organise our GF Team European Tour! Hope to see you all soon again!