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How to Train Forever with Fabio Gurgel

How to Train Forever with Fabio Gurgel


I don’t know about you but I want to train jiu-jitsu forever. A lofty goal? Maybe. I find as we age in our sport, it’s important to adapt as well. As our strength and athleticism begins to decline its imperative that our technical abilities and survival skills begin to improve and evolve. There’s a quote from Oscar Wilde that reads, “With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone”. This perfectly describes the unfortunate inability to adapt to your changing conditions and learn from your ever-evolving environment and circumstances. The fact is, we don’t keep our place on the mats because of our ability to beat everyone. It is not our wins that keep us relevant. It’s our presence. 

So, if you hope to be a fixture at your academy for many years to come, you must learn to modify your game so that you can avoid injury and still give the young guns plenty of trouble. Survival is key. It’s a paradox of sorts. When we first arrive tot eh BJJ mat, survival is our number one priority. We learn to defend and work to prevent the same mistakes over and over again. Once we feel better about our ability to survive, we begin to open up. As we age, this survival theme comes back around and becomes more central to our training than ever. 

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Fabio Gurgel is one the most decorated and celebrated figures in BJJ history. His personal list of accomplishments is incredibly impressive and his contributions to the sport are unrivaled. Under his leadership, one of the most successful teams in the annals sport has emerged, including a multitude of BJJ’s most accomplished icons.

Gurgel has been a beast on the mat for years and according to Bernardo Faria’s account of events in this next video, Gurgel was right there in the lion’s den with these youngsters at 39 years old, holding his own. In this next video Gurgel has some concepts that he’d like us to consider. This idea of working smarter and not harder is very prevalent here in Gurgel’s instruction. Drawing from his vast experience, we get a glimpse here of how Gurgel has adapted his game and some ideas that we can put to work right way in our own grappling endeavors. Check this out!


I love listening to these legends speak. I hang on every word like its gospel. You can’t deny the wealth of knowledge and experience that’s been amassed here. A great respect has to be given to these pioneers as they have dedicated their lives to our art, and when they speak, its important that we listen. 

Gurgel’s demonstration of technique comes to us from side control. When a guard pass is imminent, we often times begin fighting when tis too late or our focus is on the wrong aspect of the situation. Getting to your side is helpful. It squares us up, and allows us to frame and defend. But with heavy pressure coming your way, its not that difficult for any top player to flatten you back out during the struggle and then settle in. 

Instead fighting the inevitable here, Gurgel offers sage advice on the situation. He actually turns his body in to his partner and buries his shoulder under his partner’s chest, keeping his elbows tucked tight. This allows Gurgel to carry his partners weight with more efficiency and it also provides an angle that makes it much more difficult for him to be flattened back out. AS his partner begins attempting to close the gap between the two of them, Gurgel simply hip escapes and replaces his guard. 

Carrying his partners weight in this manner affords Gurgel the ability to perform multiple methods of escape. It is the positioning here that is key. Notice that when his partner is very committed to pressuring him, as he moves back in the other direction, he carries his partner to an unfavorable position. This kind of idea will not always produce a reversal necessarily, but it will cause the top player to back pedal and backpedaling means more space and room to escape. 

Increased perception and understanding of defense will not only keep you safe, but also improves your ability to attack. As Gurgel explains, if you do not understand the concepts of defense, your attacking endeavors will suffer as well. Keep these themes in the forefront as you progress in age and experience. It will add increased value to your toolbox and to the others that share the mat with you as well. 

With some closing thoughts on maintaining the right culture and environment in your academy, Gurgel imparts some more wisdom on creating champions and focusing on everyone in the school. When you foster a great environment, anyone, from the hobbyist to the champion can thrive. 

Gurgel’s new instructional with BJJ Fanatics will be all about escapes, but I have a feeling we’re going to get much more that we bargained for. There is deep sense of wisdom ingrained in technique that’s been tested by so many years of experience and that seasoned insight seems to emerge in the words of great teachers. Great leaders like Gurgel have much to offer and we are wise to subscribe to their teachings. I’m looking forward to this one! 

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