After a long career of competing in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Bernardo Faria wants to give back to the sport that has given him so much. A five-time gold medalist in the Pan-American Games, Faria was one of the most well-known practitioners of the sport before retiring last year.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a combat sport that is a combination of traditional judo and ground-fighting. The sport does not involve striking, instead relying on submission holds and joint locks. Last month, Faria opened his own academy in Bedford, located at 131A Great Road. Faria has said that his main goals are to grow jiu-jitsu and to teach the fundamentals of the sport to anyone that is interested, from children to retirees. The Minuteman caught up with Faria to talk about his experience so far running the school in Bedford.
Why led you to come to the United States to open the school?
I grew up in Brazil and I trained there, but I moved to the United States in 2013 to train and teach at Marcelo Rodriguez’s school in Manhattan, which is one of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools in the world. I moved to the United States because Jiu-Jitsu is growing a lot here, especially on the west coast. Nowadays most of the major tournaments are actually in the US. I always had in mind that someday I was going to have to move here. I have a few websites were I sell instructional videos online, and my business partner lives in Milton, so I thought it was time to get closer to the business.
Why did you chose Bedford?
I was talking to my business partner and he said that this area, around Burlington, Woburn, Bedford, was a great location because it was near two major highways; it was a good income area and it was accessible from the highways. So I started looking around and I found this location, which is an old dance studio and it seemed like a perfect fit.
What has your experience been like since moving to Bedford?
I love it here; it is a very cool town, nice and calm. I love the fact that where I am located is right by Whole Foods, and in the center of town.
What has the reception been like since you opened?
In the first months we have around 60 students. That is a very good number for the first month; for a very successful martial arts school it has been said that it takes one year for you to get 100 students, so if the first month I have 60, that is very good.
You are a very accomplished athlete, what is it like getting to teach people who are getting into the sport for the first time?
I have competed for such a long time that now I am very focused on people who like to do Jiu-Jitsu for a hobby. A majority of my students are people over 35 years old. One thing that is awesome about Jiu-Jitsu is that it is the only combative sport that you can do as you get older. For example, Muay Thai you are going to get hurt, boxing you are going to get hurt, wrestling is too aggressive. Judo is a lot of throws; if you are 40 years old it is hard to do the throws. Jiu-Jitsu is a soft martial art; you can do it when you are old. I have a student that is a 53 year old lawyer; it’s healthy and you learn to defend yourself.
Why would you recommend Jiu-Jitsu over other forms of martial arts?
Jiu-Jitsu is a combative sport that you don’t get hurt. Many martial arts you don’t do the sparring; you learn the techniques but you never know how good you are because it is dangers. In Jiu-Jitsu you are going to learn how to grapple, and test yourself every day. It’s competitive, but you don’t get hurt because there are no punches or kicks. In my opinion it is the most efficient martial art in the world, and that has been proven in MMA. The way UFC started was one martial art against another to prove which one was the most efficient, and Jiu-Jitsu was the best. Over time; everyone started to learn Jiu-Jitsu because that is the one that was proven to be the most efficient. The most amazing thing about Jiu-Jitsu is that it proved to be the most efficient without even getting hurt. When (Jiu-Jitsu legend) Royce Gracie first started in UFC, he won fights without any bruises or marks on his face. He used only leverage and technique.
What would you tell someone who is considering trying Jiu-Jitsu for the first time?
If you are an older adult and you don’t have a ton of energy, you come in here and you’re in a room with 20 people and you learn a new thing every day, it’s great. We have a fundamentals course that for the first four months we don’t even do sparring, you just learn Jiu-Jitsu and the techniques. After four or five months you start doing a little bit of sparring.
Now that you are done competing, what are your goals for the sport?
My goal is to spread Jiu-Jitsu; that is why I have the school and the websites. I want to be able to share my experience training and competing. Since I have opened last month, I have already had visitors from Australia, Canada, all over the world. I want to keep the school going, start hosting some camps, and continue to share everything I have learned in my career, and Bedford is going to be a huge part of it.
To learn more about the Bernardo Faria Academy; visit his website www.bernardofariaacademy.com or check out his training videos at www.bjjfanatics.com.