I had a pleasure to sit down with two time world champion Felipe Costa during his seminar tour in Finland. We met at Mikkeli witch was his last stop after three week tour in the cold northern country.
JM- Hi Felipe. Thanks or having this interview with us.
FC- It's my pleasure. Thank you.
JM- It's your second time in Finland now if I'm correct?
FC- Exactly. I came in and of 2009 the first time. I stayed for two weeks last time. One week in Oulu and one week in here, Mikkeli. This time I had same two weeks and also one week in Helsinki.
JM- You came straight from the European championships that you competed in.
FC- Yes. I competed in the master division. Even I'm still competing as an adult. I'm starting to make this transition. Some competitions I'm gonna go as an adult like the Pan Ams and the Worlds and also the Brazilian nationals. But some I'm gonna go to masters to test myself because when I change completely for the master division I'm going to go one weight class higher than mine so I don't have to suffer as much as I do to drop to my weight.
JM- How was the Europeans? It's getting bigger and bigger every year.
FC- It's getting bigger. There was some weight class that people are saying was as difficult as the Worlds. So the level was excellent. It was excellent in all belts what I could see.
JM- There where many good international fighter from Brazil and US and all over.
FC- Yeah. I was surprised how many people there where. And I only fought before in 2008, I won in adult division, and now I fought again in the masters 2011 and it is very nice to see how much it has grown.
JM- You have also been doing lots and lots of seminar. Of course now in Europe but also in America as well.
FC- Yes. I don't have my own academy in Brazil so when I'm in Rio I'm just training and visiting all the Brasa academies in there but some years I spend 5 to 6 months away just traveling. You know. I have affiliated schools all over and for example here in Finland its Brasa affiliated under Demian Maia but they know me and Demian gave me the green light to come here. And I get along with everybody so it gives me the opportunity to travel a lot. Which is very nice.
JM- Last time we met was in 2009 during the ADCC South American trials in Rio. Do you still teach at the school for blind kids?
FC- Yeas. We still have that going on. They train all year long but only bad thing is that they train only twice a week and when they have the summer vocation or any vocation they stop because the train during the school semesters. Even they are very good and they learn fast it is hard to get some of them to keep going, to keep training. Intention is not to make them professionals but to give them something to have fun and something to have as a hobby for the rest of their life’s. Unfortunately some guys are getting to other sports. Some of the best guys because now that Olympic games are going to be in Rio they are getting some help from the government if they are for example good swimmers or good in track and field. So we are losing our best guys to those sports.
JM- What about judo, wrestling? They have those too at the special Olympics too.
FC- Yes they have. And there is a guy at the school now who is teaching judo for them. Which is helping Jiu-Jitsu and of course Jiu-Jitsu is helping them in judo too. So it's a good mix.
JM- So maybe you'll have Olympic champions as a student in future.
FC- Well. It could be possible but I don't see them training so professionally yet. But for sure they are opening doors for other students in a future.
JM- You said that when you are in Rio you just train. Where do you train?
FC- I'm training all the Brasa affiliated schools. For example Igor Silva has an academy in Rio, Muzio De Angelis who is well known referee for the confederation, he has an academy there. Itallo Vilardo the guy who is my physical trainer has also an academy in neighborhood called Laranjeiras in Rio. And besides the Brasa academies I visit some friends. For example De La Riva academy is very close to my house so I have been going there very often and they are super friendly and super technical so it's good training. There is another team that is growing a lot in Rio called Soul Fighters Team with some excellent training partners as well. I get along with everybody so every time I get a chance I try to visit different academies because for me it is very difficult to find good training with guys my size. Every time I hear that someone has for example a purple belt light guy, I'm going there to train with the guy. I try to get good training whenever I can.
JM- Something you fellow Urcan Gabriel Willcox told me before is that he is bit sad that there is no big competition teams in Rio anymore. Do you think it would be better to organize bigger group of fighters to train with who are training for the big tournaments?
FC- Brasa is still pretty big but of course now a days people are seeing the teams that are getting top three at the tournaments they have become huge because people from smaller teams have migrated into them because they have a lot of training opportunities and bunch of things like this. But Brasa is still pretty big in Rio and there is some other teams as well. And just because we don't hear that they are getting top three and all that does not mean that they don't have high quality fighters. But what I see is that right now in Rio there is so many academies and people teaching that for example I don't see myself opening an academy and teaching in Rio because there is not a lot space in there and there is a lot of competition. So it makes it very hard for you to concentrate everybody in one place so I think that might be one of the reasons (for the lack of big competition teams)
JM- Talking about Brasa. You said that Brasa is still pretty big in Rio De Janerio but it seems that Brasa is even bigger out of Brazil. There is lots of fighters in America and in Europeans Brasa placed as well.
FC- At Europeans on total Brasa did not place top three but we placed at the female and we placed at the juvenile and got some good results like this. And we had only like 60 fighters. I mean it is a lot but all the biggest teams, they had more than hundred fighters. So it was pretty good. And one of the reasons Brasa has grown outside Brazil is because lot of our guys have immigrated to foreign countries. For example Comprido is in US and he is doing good job in there. I have five academies in Mexico and the fact that I spend six months traveling that end up leaving lot of places and lot of academies. Here in Europe we have Greece, Poland, Portugal, Turkey, Spain, Belgium and here in Finland, and also New Zealand so we are getting all over. And our intention right now is not to make the strongest team to compete and get to the top three, maybe in the future, but the intention is to make top quality. It's like we're making friend for life. For example at Europeans we had guys from Greece and guys from Turkey who are culturally in conflict but they were getting along just fine. Why? Because we all have something in common. We have the same way of working and they identify to each other right away and soon they are all friends. You know and that’s the whole idea.
JM- Yeah. Making friend trough Jiu-Jitsu.
FC- Exactly. And in the end what is most important it's that.
JM- Last time we met in Rio we talked about you competing in ADCC and you said that even on the smallest category is too big for you because the guys are fifteen kilos heavier than you. What about now when ADCC has changed the rules for the weight ins so everybody has to weight in just before the first fight. You think you could consider fighting in ADCC now because the fighters are not that much bigger than you are?
FC- You know I could. I definitely could but being completely honest I don't think I have the level of the guys I'm seeing winning. I consider myself a technical guy, a guy that puts a lot of effort in my training. All this. But I hate to say this but partially because no testing for PED's I see some guys so much stronger and on that level the strength makes a difference. If you get a guy who weighs 65 or 66 kilos and is a super strong but is a white belt or blue belt of course I can go against this guy. But a black belt, super strong with vitamins against me who just try to eat healthy and having hard time to do so because I like sweets, you know I don't have a chance or at least it's hard. But in the other hand I think it's great that it's getting more professional. And I believe the future either they are gonna start testing or it's going to go to a way that is not good for the sport. I'm kinda raising this flag and talking about this a lot every time I have a chance but at the same time I don't wanna be the guy that's sounding almost like I'm giving excuses. It's not that. I believe I have a good technique but maybe not up to that level if I go with guys that taking advantage of things that goes against my way of thinking...it’s hard enough to fight those guys on my weight class, imagine if they are also heavier. I don't think so.
JM- Do you think that it is also a factor that almost all of your career you have been fighting with kimono and haven't been fighting without kimono that much? Do you think it makes big difference going against guys that has been training more without Gi and targeting their training to No Gi.
FC- Of course. Most of the Jiu-Jitsu guys that mainly train with the Gi and they are the ones winning they have been taking the Gi of very often. I hardly ever train no Gi. I enjoy training no Gi but I never focused on no Gi tournaments. Just now Brazil is starting to get more tournaments without kimono and it's getting more popular but I really enjoy the Gi. I think there is so much tools so much more techniques to think about. I like to joke that Jiu-Jitsu with the Gi is like chess and without Gi it's checkers. More straight forward. I'm not trying to put it down, it's awesome but there is lot more to think when there is the Gi. Lot more options.
JM- You told me that you have camp in Europe coming in September. Where it's going to be?
FC- Well traditionally we make that camp in Rio. Every year we have the Brazilian black belt camp. And we have had over ten editions. It is always lot of fun but we decided that it is time to do something different. Both Comprido and I visited a resort in Greece, 30 min from Athens. And we found a place right next to the beach. Very similar to the atmosphere that we have back at Rio. We decided to do ten days camp so it's going to be Sept 10th to Sept 20th. It's gonna happen just like in Rio. Two trainings a day, we have time to visit all the sightseeing’s in Athens and it's gonna be very good. There is already a lot of people who are looking for information about the camp and I think it is going to be very successful.
JM- You have been having the Brazilian black belt camp for how many years now?
FC- Since 2003. Some of the years we had two camps and some just one. We also had something we call a private camp. When a school had a group of ten guys who want to come we did the camp the date they wanted. And now that we are not doing this camp in Rio but in Europe, in Greece I also have this program called the Black Belt experience Witch is basically this. If you want to come to Rio you send me an e-mail. I set up everything for you. An apartment, I take you around to all the sightseeing’s, I'll give you some classes, I take you to the Brasa academies, to visit others like De La Riva as well. Basically I'm gonna be your babysitter. It has been very successful because for people who has never been to Rio they have bad impression, they think that it is dangerous and they can't go all the places. And you know. Rio can be very safe. And it has become more and more safe specially because it is getting close to the (soccer) world cup and the Olympics. So authorities are very considered about this. And person who dies Jiu-Jitsu needs to get to know Rio. It's very special.
JM- Now that you are having this Brazilian Black Belt Camp in Europe you think of putting it on tour? Maybe next time it's going to be somewhere else or do you wanna target Europe for a while?
FC- That's going to open a lot of possibilities and we have tried to do it in Mexico before but we couldn't find a perfect place to do it. And of course Mexico would be good location for people in US because travel costs are much cheaper to go to Mexico than to Brazil. And now in Greece it is going to be very cheap for people in Europe. We are getting even more e-mails than we expected and we are filling those spots faster than we expected. For sure we plan something for the next year as well. Maybe we try different location or if this one works well we might have it there again. We'll see.
JM- Who's going to teach there? You and Comprido?
FC- It's gonna be Comprido and I for sure and depending how many students we get, we are going to bring more people. Even Demian was interested to participate but right now it is so hard for him to schedule something because it's hard for him to know one year in advance what's his schedule is going to be. So I don’t think it is fare for us to advertise Demian if we cannot be sure if he's coming. But for this camp it is going to be Comprido and I and if we have a lot students we bring Igor Silva or some other black belt. We have a lot of possibilities.
JM- Also in September we have ADCC world championships in Nottingham England so if someone wants to tone up their Jiu-Jitsu before the world championships that might be good place to do so.
FC- For sure. We are going to train a lot. But it is mixed with tourism and vacation. It's not like you are going there just to train Jiu-Jitsu and then go to your room and rest. We are going to train Jiu-Jitsu and then we go to the beach, we gonna hang out together. And there is lots of people coming with their families even the wife and kids might not train Jiu-Jitsu.
JM- Do you think that Jiu-Jitsu could be more professional in the future so fighters could get a living just by fighting?
FC- It is very hard to just train. I don't know who does it, I'm sure that somebody but as far as I know even the world champions do seminars. And getting sponsors is hard too. I have only Kauai kimonos sponsoring me right now. There is already more tournaments that gives price money for the winners but you have to be the top guy to get to that money. It's not like in tennis where guys who get like fifth on a tournament get still paid. Of course that is a dream. I don't think it is going to be during my generation but it would be awesome if it reach that level.
JM- Ok Felipe. We just ended the trainings here in Mikkeli. And you still have four days in here. Now that you have seen quite many fighters train in Finland and you have good experience in teaching in Europe. How would you see the European level compares to international level at the moment?
FC- I think Finland has some of the best guys. Even they have the endurance, the strength but their game is not only based on this. It is also pretty technical so I would say it is one of the top games in Europe.
JM- So do you think there is going to some more notable fighter coming from Europe in near future?
FC- I already think that there is some very good guys it is just going to take some time for those guys to appear because Brazilians have been doing this for so many years and it is a fever in all over the world so in Us there is already some guys that are showing their talent. I think it just matter of time for everywhere to come up with some talent.
JM- That was about it for the interview. Do you have anything else you want to say to adcombat.com readers?
FC- I want to thank this opportunity. This is a website I have been following for a long time so it's a pleasure to give interview to you. Thanks a lot And if someone wants to follow me i have a Twitter @felipecostabjj and my facebookpage is facebook.com/felipecostabjj as well. You can also visit my web page felipecosta.com or brasateam.com.
JM- Thank you. Osssssss
FC- Thanks a lot.