It’s not every day that you will get some awesome and useful direct training advice from a Black Belt World Champion. But today is that day.
We’ve been able to secure an interview from Felipe Costa who is a renown Black Belt World Champion and a top level competitor when it comes to tournaments around the world. It wasn’t always this way though. In fact, he lost every single match he had in competition during his first three years of competing. But, he is now well known for being the first to medal at the worlds at Black Belt without having previously medalling ever before. So how did he turn it all around? You find out how in the interview below.
You will also get s bundle of tips from Felipe based on a series of questions we’ve asked him to help out with which is directly related to improving your training and BJJ game. There are some real nuggets of wisdom in this interview so enjoy and pick up a tip or two.
BJJ Today: Felipe, you have one of the most inspirational success stories in the world of BJJ, if not in the world of sports in general, would you tell us about your journey?
Felipe Costa: What is surprising for most people who see the results I have achieved as a black belt is the fact that I’m the only Black Belt World Champion that never won an IBJJF tournament before reaching my black belt. I also lost ALL my fights for several years before ever wining a match. No one at the time could believe that someone with this record could end up conquering gold medals in the most important IBJJF tournaments. This is why I made this documentary about my path in BJJ. I hope a lot of people get the chance to see and share with friends…
BJJ Today: What are the most important factors that are involved in becoming a champion and why?
Felipe Costa: I don’t think I have any secret to reveal here, it’s discipline, commitment, passion and never giving up. Making smaller goals toward your main dream is also important and help you keep motivated as you strive towards your main goal. I see a lot of people who say they want to become champion, but they don’t want to make the effort to get there. It is like if they wanted to wake up one day and be the best without going through all the hard work, pain and dedication to get there. Those will never be the best.
BJJ Today: What advice would you give to those who are on the threshold of giving up?
Felipe Costa: Answer this question: Is that what you want the most for you? If so, and you give up, you will never know how far you could go or what you might be able to achieve.
In my opinion, you don’t have to be the best in the world; you have to be the best you can be. If that is enough to reach the top, awesome! If not, at least go as far as you can!
BJJ Today: You have spoken in the past about the ‘going-into-battle’ mindset for competition as being far removed from your own mindset as you prepare for and enter into competitions. Would you tell us a bit about your mindset? What difference does it make?
Felipe Costa: I understand each person is different and what works for me, doesn’t mean that will work for you. Some people need to be aggressive before a fight, others need to be relaxed or even the fear of losing my help someone with big ego to win.
For me, what I have noticed that works is simulating my training environment because there is no other place that I enjoy more in BJJ than training with friends and team mates. That is why I say I try to have fun. You will see me many times with a smile on my face right before shaking hands to start a fight…I mean no disrespect to my opponent, its just how I feel most of the times.
Of course it took me years to figure out that was the ideal mindset for me, and I wouldn’t even be surprised if my own mindset changes over time. What is important is that each person try and decide what works for them.
BJJ Today: What are some of the pitfalls that we need to avoid when training?
Felipe Costa: Believing that you are getting worse or not progressing. I find that hard to believe in BJJ. In my understanding we are always making progress, sometimes more, others less. People have a tendency to judge their progress based on the rolling experience they have with teammates or even in competitions, but it may be true that your teammates are learning faster than you for whatever reason, not that you are getting worse or stopping your progress.
That are moments when you feel that you are not progressing or that you are getting worse, just as there are moments where you think you are getting better than everyone. Do yourself a favor and ignore those two moments of you BJJ career, they are both pitfalls and paying too much attention to them will truly damage your path of progress in the sport.
BJJ Today: As a successful teacher of BJJ as well, what is your philosophy or approach when it comes to training others?
Felipe Costa: I try not to force the ones I teach to have same BJJ style as myself. I look for the technique that best fits the student body type, and I try my best to teach or adapt the techniques I use for them. A solid understanding of the concepts will allow them to think and decide for themselves, and this is what I try to give them.
BJJ Today: What should students of BJJ expect of/from their instructors?
Felipe Costa: They should expect the instructor to ensure a safe and fun environment where they train, a class where you can trust your training partners, and instructor(s) who are themselves willing to learn and willing to teach students according to their individual needs.
Your instructor should pay attention to your needs and be open to your approach when you request attention to any problem you have been having.
I believe a combination of that will give anyone an opportunity to grow and progress in their games.
BJJ Today: Shifting gears now a bit, it seems that while champions are always well-rounded in their game, they also have more or less signature styles or approaches given their own body types and personalities. How would you describe your game?
Felipe Costa: I agree. I see my self as a person with a game that requires the least waste of energy possible and I look for techniques where I can balance, base, timing and leverage in a way that I can save my strength and cardio for crucial moments of my fight or training session.
BJJ Today: As a smaller, lighter practitioner, what advice would you give our smaller, lighter readers?
Felipe Costa: As I said before, hang in there and you will become one of the most technical guy in your academy. Some times it will not be easy, but what is? Just make sure to have as much fun as possible in that process. In the end, that is all that matters.
BJJ Today: As one who has this down pretty darn well, what specific detail advice could you give us about taking the back and controlling and submitting from there?
Felipe Costa: I believe the key is on the control of the opponent’s hip, just like in many other situations. I have put up a course on my site where I explain many details about it. Please feel free to take a look:http://brazilianblackbelt.com/taking-the-back-course.
Registration is free and you can have access to that information using this CODE: BBBFREETRIAL. Please give me a feedback after you see it so I can know your opinion.
BJJ Today: Any other tidbits of technical BJJ wisdom you might be willing to impart?
Felipe Costa: I really have a lot of pleasure talking about BJJ techniques and would love to have some of the readers contacting me so we can exchange information. My site is BrazilianBlackBelt.com.
BJJ Today: What is your vision for Brasa team in the future?
Felipe Costa: Brasa team’s goal is to keep growing, but not at any cost. We want to have growth with quality, where everyone who is part of it is happy and improving.
BJJ Today: Tell us a bit about the BJJ CAMP you, Comprido and Caio Terra are hosting this year in Cancun, Mexico.
Felipe Costa: Yes, this will be a very exciting CAMP, perfect for BJJ practitioners and their families who are serious about Jiu-Jitsu but also want to have fun and experience the lifestyle of this sport. It starts AUGUST 31st and we are already taking reservations. The black belts teaching will be Comprido, Caio Terra and myself. I’m very much looking forward to this opportunity to be there again in Cancun. You can learn more about it and register at http://brazilianblackbelt.com/bjj-camp.
BJJ Today: Thanks so much Felipe!
Felipe Costa: My pleasure.
And we have some great news for everyone as well. As you may already be aware from our Facebook page (here), BJJ Today is in the process of developing a number of eBooks that will feature information and advice from various World Champions on topics and techniques that will help improve your game. The eBooks are being developed at present and it’s quite a mammoth task but we’ve been able to secure Felipe Costa as one of the contributors to one of the eBooks.
So just giving everyone a heads up on the eBooks and once they are complete, we’ll be giving quite a few away so stay tuned for that.
In the mean time, if this training advice from a world champion has been useful, please help us share this knowledge with other practitioners by clicking SHARE above left.