“The secret of success is to be ready when your opportunity comes.”
The choice to retire from competitive sport is always a delicate and often reluctant moment in an athlete’s life (as it is in other professional fields), but in sport, even more so because there is that ghost of indecision that hovers around for a few years before it actually happens. Without planning for this it can be a complicated transition, just look at Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson, Lawrence Taylor or OJ Simpson.
In my particular case, I made the decision to retire for two reasons. The first was because my performance was no longer satisfying me, my body couldn’t keep up with the demands I made on it. But the second and main reason was that I was beginning to enjoy watching my students win more than my own personal victories. The teacher’s road was something I was starting to enjoy, and it was something that I wanted to do well and be recognized for. Jiu Jitsu was what I had chosen to live for. You may be wondering, why this talk now after so many years?
I stopped competing professionally in 2001 which is a while ago now, but the point is not that, the point is making the decision to stop must be preceded by something else. In my case, it was teaching – a new purpose filled challenge.
And so, I began to understand that there is not really a farewell, but a change of direction. I began to dedicate myself to my new mission of training students in the best way and with the same dedication that I had always done. When I was building my school, along came the challenge to build the best Jiu Jitsu team in the world, all my energy went into assembling, teaching, caring, managing, encouraging and training my team, which has now become an army of champions. Over a period of 12 years, we won all the possible titles per team and we became the team that had won most throughout the history of the sport. At that time, I gave more than 10 lessons per day between private and group classes, and this lasted at least 15 years. My focus was shifting though, and I was beginning to look at the role of academy administrator as a big challenge because although I had always had that desire, I had not done it with the energy and the necessary knowledge.
So, I dedicated myself and started to do it; I had to reduce my classes and pass all my private students to other teachers, so I could dedicate myself to the administration of all aspects of it equally. After some time, I got another victory – my academy reached maximum capacity exceeding 500 students. I was able to define a successful model for a Jiu Jitsu academy and felt it was time to share it with the Jiu Jitsu community. I set up an academy management course to show teachers how to live off Jiu Jitsu. I expanded this and took the content to an online platform that I call “Live off Jiu Jitsu” which has been a success serving hundreds of professionals.
I am always working on many fronts, but it is impossible to do many things well, so my energy is always on one particular thing while the other things follow, and wait for their time. As I step away from leading one project, I make sure I find someone who can continue that mission with the quality and the same principles I have, because without a team nobody goes very far. Since 1993 when we founded Alliance I have been working on it as a competition team, developing our teaching methodology, taking care of the brand, expanding the association and helping as I can, so after 25 years we have reached nearly 300 schools worldwide with more than 30,000 students. This in turn becomes another huge challenge, I feel the time has come to put my energy into making our school not only the best but the largest Jiu Jitsu school in the world, doing things that have never been done, and raising Jiu Jitsu to its greatest potential. I want to see how high we can go.
See you soon!