Special Thanks to Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida for the terrific seminar and agreeing to let me interview him! Also to Lance Emery and Joey Fink for getting some great shots of the action. It was an awesome experience.
Holding double-gold world-championships for 2012, 2013 and 2014, along with a number of other Jiu-Jitsu honors and titles, Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida is on every BJJ Girl’s watch-list during a competition. As I stepped onto the mat on Saturday, March 21 in Temecula California, I couldn’t help but feel anxious and excited to take his seminar at Dan Henderson’s Athletic Fitness Center.
I love to see new faces and meet new people, but it was nice to see a familiar one, and I was happy to take the seminar alongside my instructor and friend, Tom. The seminar started off with a great warm up that included front rolls, and yes even the monkey walks. Marcus “Buchecha” led us into drills to break grips and pass the spider guard. These were followed up by some great transitions and it ended with a slick back take to triangle choke and a number of other submissions. Needless to say I have some shiny new moves to work on in the upcoming days and weeks!
After we all got our fill of drills, Marcus opened up the seminar to questions and let all of us curious minds ask him anything we wanted to. The questions were all specific and focused on important aspects to different levels of the game, but when an attendee asked if Buchecha had any weaknesses when it comes to the ladies, Marcus laughed and joked back, “Never with the ladies” . Winky face ;).
The group was then invited to open-mat style rolling for four rounds and four lucky people actually got to roll with Buchecha himself: two adults and two little warriors. Once that last bell rang we lined up , took our group photo and then there I was, very excited about my chance to get to interview Buchecha himself. “Are you ready, BJJ Girl?” was going through my head…
Nervously hanging out and waiting for the opportunity, it was nice to have a friend to joke with me to try and take the edge off. Finally as he stepped out of the locker room I knew it was game time. He waited patiently as I fumbled to get ready, I took a deep breath and we got to talking!
Interview with Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida
What’s your take on the debate between Sports Jiu-Jitsu and training strictly for Self-Defense.
Buchecha: I think that Jiu-Jitsu is the same concept overall. It’s really hard to just go to an academy and say you only want to learn self-defense. The point is to make your opponent tap when you get into a fight, so of course, self-defense is part of Jiu-Jitsu, but it’s not all of Jiu-Jitsu. You have to learn defense, it’s part of the fight. You have to learn control and get the bigger guy to tap, it’s the same Jiu-Jitsu. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the one that doesn’t matter about self-defense or sport.
You train wrestling as well, with Jacob Harman, is that right?
Buchecha: Yes, that’s right.
How often do you cross-train with wrestling?
Buchecha: When I’m competing for Nogi, I train wrestling two times a week. Right now though, since most Nogi tournaments are a long time away, I’m focused on training in the gi, so for now, I just train once a week.
What do you think about Black Belts in MMA, that haven’t trained in the Gi. Should they really have a Black Belt?
Buchecha: No, not really. I think that to get a black belt, you have to train with the Gi. I’m not saying that those guys aren’t good, but in order to get a Black Belt, they need to train with the Gi.
What do you think about some people saying that training in the gi doesn’t benefit them training MMA?
Buchecha: That makes no sense, because to understand the art, you have to understand that it’s not just about Nogi. It’s a whole world of Gi and Nogi, and there are important differences. They are really like two sports, but everything is a complement. It’s not that you are learning to use grips you’ll never use, it’s that you are learning to see different things. Gi benefits Nogi, and Nogi benefits Gi.
How long have you been training?
Buchecha: I was 12 years old when I started training, and now I’m 25, so 13 years.
Have you ever hit a spot where you lost your motivation, and if so, what do you do to try and get back into the right mindset?
Buchecha: There was a time when I was a blue belt when I was losing a lot. I hadn’t won any matches, and, I think I had gone to about six tournaments, and I lost each one in the first round. I was tired of losing, and I was thinking about giving up. I remember my instructor said to me after a loss, ‘Okay, you can be the WEAK one if you want to give up, or you can just show up Monday and train’. That really made me think, so I showed up Monday again and trained, and continued to train hard. The next tournament after that, I won, and then I continued to win a lot more, and train a lot harder until, here I am today.
There was a second-time though, when I lost at my first Worlds as a black belt. I was really sad about it, and after that it affected me so that I started losing a lot, and it became a really bad part of my career. I almost gave up to go to college in Brazil, since I just wasn’t happy. But I had to focus just on one thing, and one specific tournament. There was just one goal in my life at the time, and I kept training and training, and I fought and won in the World Nogi tournament in 2011. So that brought me all the motivation that I needed, and the following year, I won the Worlds in the Gi. It was a really important year in my life, 2011.
So would say that losing was a good thing for you?
Buchecha: Not really, but maybe because I was doing really good in my career, and then losing so many fights back to back, it made me think that this was not for me. And then I had to stop training for two months, but I motivated myself when I kept thinking about the tournament. I’m not saying that losing is a good thing, but sometimes it helps. You have to take the good side of it.
Would you ever want to fight Josh Barnett at Metamoris, or in any other NoGi super-fight?
Buchecha: Hmm, not really. I don’t really think about the opponent. They invited me to a fight like that, but I was really focused with the gi. It made no sense for me to take the gi off and train Nogi for one fight, and I would rather focus on the Worlds and the [IBJJF Pro], which are in the gi, than just one super-fight. Of course, he would be a great opponent and he’s a great guy, but the gi is more my focus.
IBJJF Worlds is coming up. What is your training schedule like to get ready?
Buchecha: I’m training really hard twice a day with other black belts. In the morning and at night I do training with my conditioning coach.”
So is that your schedule everyday, training and conditioning?
Buchecha: I mix it. So Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I will train twice a day – in the morning with black belts, and in the evening with students, which is a different kind of training, not going so hard. And then on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I train Jiu-Jitsu in the morning, and conditioning at night.”
Are you teaching regularly right now?
Buchecha: Yes, I’m teaching at Lucas Leite BJJ in La Habra
Have you thought about making an MMA debut and start fighting?
Buchecha: Yeah, I’m thinking about that, but not this year. It’s in my future plans…. I’m just totally focused on Jiu-Jitsu in the gi right now.
You were in the spotlight for the Jiu-Jitsu World League, but I didn’t see you compete at their last tournament. Will you be fighting at any of their upcoming tournaments?
Buchecha: I was injured for the last one, but I will probably be competing at the one in Vegas.
Who do you look up to that motivates you? Do you have any heroes?
Buchecha: There are some guys, like Leo Viera. He has done a lot of good things for this sport, and the person that he is is a good example for all of us. He’s won so many world titles, and I know how hard that is. He’s done it 11 times, and that’s something really impressive. And my father, because of him, I am what I am today.
Do you visit home in Brazil often? Do you miss it?
Buchecha: I go visit once or twice a year, but I’m not really homesick. It feels like home here now.
Would you say that your family was a big influence in your life to train Jiu-Jitsu?
Buchecha: My father was the one that always pushed me to train. I started training because of him and my sister. He’s a black belt too, we got our black belts the same day actually. A lot of the times when I wanted to give up and stop training, like when I was a white and yellow belt, he was the one that pushed me to come back.
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom to someone that has just started Jiu-Jitsu, or someone like me that has recently gotten their Blue Belt?
Buchecha: One thing I can say, is that every black belt out there is a white belt that never quit. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, you shouldn’t worry about the color of your belt because it’s going to bring a lot of good things to your life. If you are stressed, and you go to train, you are going to feel good after. If you have problems, once you step on the mat, you forget about them. Jiu-Jitsu is always going to be a plus in your life. For me nowadays, if I don’t train Jiu-Jitsu, I feel like something is missing, like I’m incomplete. Once you really get into it, you can’t leave it behind, it will be with you for the rest of your life. The sport, the lifestyle, the friends that you’ve made on the mat, those will always be with you for the rest of your life.
I’ve heard that you love to surf… What are your favorite activities outside of BJJ that keep you occupied?
Buchecha: I like to spend time with my friends and family. I like to hangout and go to the beach, and I’m a big fan of going to the movies. Surfing is always something I like to do to clear my mind. If I’m really stressed about training, and I go surfing on the weekends, it helps me to come back refreshed.
Overall, it was an amazing experience and Marcus was such a nice guy. The training was great, and I can’t wait to get another opportunity to train with the Champion!
Let me know what you think about some of the things Buchecha said about getting motivated to train after tough times in competition.
(I also got the chance to have a similar chat with Clark Gracie for my first ever post to BJJ Girl, so be sure to take a look there as well!)
Is there anything else you would like to know about Jiu-Jitsu stars if I ever get the chance to talk with other top-level competitors? Write me a comment below! 🙂