Under the GBSG Scope #1: Alisson “Marmota” Braga

Under the Gracie Barra SG Scope is a series of interviews with Gracie Barra Black Belts around the world. Over the coming months (or years, since we probably won’t run out of awesome GB black belts to have a chat with any time soon), we’ll be sharing interviews and tidbits about our instructors. Our first interview starts right here in Singapore!

Gracie Barra Singapore’s Professor Alisson “Marmota” Braga

Gracie Barra Singapore has been open for just over a month, but so much has already gone down, with the team making a splash at the IBJJF Manila Open 2018, and with plans to compete across the globe throughout the months to come. We talk to GBSG’s Head Instructor, Alisson “Marmota” Braga to find out more about his feelings towards the last tournament in The Philippines, his move to the other side of the world, and a little bit about his Jiu-Jitsu journey thus far.

  1. How do you find Singapore? Was it a difficult decision to make the move from Brazil?I had already heard a lot of good things about the country prior to coming as I had a friend who was teaching BJJ here. Before my professor invited me over to visit the first time, I had no idea what the BJJ scene was going to be like here.But after having already been to Singapore, it was not a difficult decision to make the permanent move as I felt that I could contribute by improving an already growing BJJ scene in the country, have my work appreciated and, ultimately, I’d be able to offer a much better quality of life to my family.
  2. How do you find the level of training here? How do you see yourself improving the level of BJJ here?What impressed me the most during the classes was how focused and attentive the students are over here. That really elevated the training level and makes my job as a teacher much easier as well.The more interested the students are to learn the more we teachers get motivated to improve and to always be seeking new things and new ways to teach as the BJJ journey is never ending and therefore one should never get accommodated and stop learning. So yes, I believe I will be able to contribute to the community since I love to teach and the students here at GBSG are always eager to learn.
  3. How old were you when you first started training BJJ? Where did you first start, and who was your first teacher?I started training when I was about 23 years old at a small local team called Força Livre (Free strength) which was located near my house. The team was led by a black belt named Claudio Roberto who would delegate the classes to his instructors to teach. One of those instructors was Professor Bruno Amorim, who is now a Black Belt under Vinicius “Draculino” Magalhaes. That’s why I have been a student of Professor Professor Bruno since the beginning of my journey till now.
  4. You started BJJ as an adult – do you think this is something of an advantage or disadvantage? What advice would you give to people who start training later on in life?Yes, I had a late start in BJJ which I believe it was a disadvantage for me in the sport as I always had to keep up with the stamina and speed of the youngsters. However, in life that was actually a big help as it showed me that I can never get complacent and that I must to find a way to keep moving forward no matter what life throws at me. That really helped me to improve both my physical and mental health.The advice I always give to those who had a late start on BJJ is to never think it’s too late to do what you want as the more you wait and debate on it the later it’ll get. Don’t measure yourself and your accomplishments against others, focus on being better today than you were yesterday and I guarantee that the more you practice it the younger you’ll feel.
  5. What was the first tournament you participated in? What belt were you and how did you do?My first competition was a nightmare but also a defining moment for me. I was a yellow belt (back then in my state we used to award yellow belts in between white and blue for adults) and at training people keep praising how good I was doing and how easy the competition would be and, unfortunately, I let that go to my head.The complacency led to me losing the very first fight in that competition which devastated me but also served as an excellent experience as I learned that in BJJ, as in life, one should not let his ego get on the way and that you must use every occurrence in your life, good or bad, as a learning experience.
  6. Which is the tournament you are most proud of participating in, and why?Actually, my last competition (IBJJF Manila international open 2018) has been to this moment my proudest accomplishment. I’ve been taking part in many competitions that are bigger than this last one but to be able to climb to the top of that podium closing out two weight classes and an open class with Professor Bruno was priceless as it shows the good results of our hard work.
  7. Who’s a GB person that inspires you?I have several people that serve as examples for me in BJJ but for me it’s not just about time on the mats but also about life. Therefore, I don’t seek inspiration based only on what one might have accomplished in the gym or in competitions. I understand that everyone is fighting their own personal battles and I prefer to inspire myself with people I know personally and that are part of my life as it can be very easy to inspire yourself based on whoever is on the higher place of the podium. But if you don’t know the sacrifices and the price paid in order to achieve that, what’s the point?That’s why I have as inspiration my seniors Bruno Amorim and Claudio Mattos (Caloquinha) because besides being great competitors and friends, I’ve witnessed firsthand the high price paid by them in order to be where they are, and that is incredibly motivating for me. And, of course, our master Draculino whom without none of us would be where we are right now.
  8. Besides BJJ, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

    I’m not at all a party person so my free time I like to spend with my family and closest friends, preferably in a tranquil place and appreciate some good food which is not a hard task in Singapore.


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