Getting to know the 2011 World Champ Rodolfo VieiraApr 4th, 2012 by Erin Herle
What is your training regimen like?
I train three times a day. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I train jiu jitsu and [physical] preparation with more intensity. In the mornings, physical training, afternoons, a lot of jiu jitsu, and at night, judo. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, strength training in the mornings, technical training in the afternoon, and light training at night.
How do you divide your training time?
So, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we focus on agility and explosion training, plenty of exercising without too much weight, working on the cardio a lot. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, [I focus on] strength and power, all of that during the morning.
What is your usual game plan when you fight each opponent?
I always fight to submit. I score always thinking to submit. If you watch my matches, you’ll see I’m always going head-on. If I fight with too much of a strategy, I get a bit lost… When you’re always attacking, the opponent gets lost. You can’t give any room for him to think about attacking you, you have to always be ahead of him, but always with plenty of care not to expose yourself too much.
You won both your division and the absolute at the 2011 Abu Dhabi World Pro Cup which provided a generous reward. How well was this reward received?
The 50 thousand dollars were very well invested … (laughs)
Jiu Jitsu was originally a weight loss program for you but turned into something more. Is your weight still an issue?
When I started, I was a bit heavy… I weighed like 87 kg at 13 years old. I have a lot of trouble with my weight nowadays, since I was already heavy when I started training, so I’ve been struggling with my weight for a long time. I’m always dieting, I can only eat junk in the weekends and when no competitions are around.
It’s been made clear that your professor, Julio Cesar, has made a large impact on your jiu jitsu. What other roles does he fill for you?
Julio is very important, not only to my life, but to all of his students’ lives. He’s one big father, he trusts me a lot, so having
him in my corner is very important. He gives me a lot of trust, he knows everything I do, sometimes he’ll tell me something that I don’t know, then I do it and it works. I don’t know how to fight without him… but with him, it gets a little harder for me to lose (laughs).
You have fought and defeated some of the biggest names in jiu jitsu. Does this affect your strategies or mindset when competing?
I fought against most of the great players, and sometimes, I can’t believe I’ve beat them. I think all of them can be dangerous to me, each one in their own way. There are many great guys around, so I have to keep myself well-trained to fight well against them, and if possible, to keep winning… (laughs)
How has becoming a black belt changed your view on competing?
The responsibility got even bigger. When you reach the black belt, everything changes, right? It’s a lot different from the other belts. You have to try to be as professional as you can be, and take things like they’re your job.
Is being undefeated a disadvantage to your learning? Is it harder to know what to work on when you never lose?
It is true, I haven’t lost a gi match in over a year, almost two years… I think we should always work on our shortcomings, and improve our strong spots. We can never get comfortable with ourselves. After all, if you think you’re already good enough, you can quit BJJ. Why keep on training if you know everything already? So I’m always looking for new things, always learning something new. I have a very open mind, and this is helping me a lot. My game has been improving. I want to reach perfection. I know it’s hard, but I’ll die trying.
What has been your favorite match so far?
I’ve had many wonderful victories in my career, but I’ll have to single out my absolute final against Bernardo Faria. Without a doubt, that was the best [match] in my life… I beat him 9 – 0. It was fantastic and unexplainable.
What advice can you give to those looking to follow your path?
The advice I give is that we must always search for our dreams, as difficult as they might be, especially because nothing comes easy in this life… It wasn’t any different for me. I struggled a lot, trained a lot, abandoned many things that a boy my age likes to do… I still haven’t accomplished half of the things I want. But you have to take risks. I know how hard it is, it’s always frightening to think: “what if I don’t succeed”? That’s very true for our sport.
Since I’ve started, I saw many guys being successful through BJJ, so I thought, “I want this for me too”. I kept going and going, but I have to tell the truth: a while ago, I thought about stopping due to the lack of support… The hardest thing is to depend on a tournament win to have some money. Doing what you love and being champion of everything just doesn’t matter if you’re broke. It’s sad, but true… I think all of the greats went through that. Thanks to the support from my family and friends, my life has changed. I always heard that, if you did what you love, you would be a successful person, in one way or the other. Do things well, with passion and love, so you can be the best in the world. The best thing in life is to be around the people you love. To me, this is the most important thing.