Renato Tavares is one of the most well-known Jiu-Jitsu instructors and competitors in Florida. Having been around Jiu-Jitsu for more than 30 years we caught up with Renato to talk all things Jiu-Jitsu.
Thank you for taking the time Renato, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your school?
I started training in 1974 in Teresopolis at Serrana Academy with Grand Master Geny Rebello and Master Elias Martins. Training there for almost 12 years and in 1988 I moved to Rio de Janeiro and started training at Carlson Gracie Academy. There I had an opportunity to train with names like Masters Carlson Gracie Jr, Marcelo Alonso, Ricardo Liborio, Murillo Bustamante. And great fighters like Amaury Bitetti, Ze Mario Sperry, Paulo Filho, and a hundreds of great competitors and fighter.
What has it been like teaching, training and competing in Florida for over 10 years?
Florida has been my home for 10 years and I love it. In 2002 I came to stay just for 3 months before moving to Kentucky but I was welcome by Conan, Marcelo Silveira and Liborio at ATT. I had to go back to Brazil in 2002 for family reasons and in 2003 I moved back for good. For about 4 years I was training at the main academy and was able to compete and improved my game tremendously. It was a dream come true for me. I was able to train every day for 4 to 6 hours, sponsored with a place to stay, supplements and meals. Live and teaching in Florida is amazing. Weather, beach, the lifestyle you can have is great.
How has Jiu-Jitsu changed in your point of view from when you first came here to the States?
Jiu Jitsu in the U.S. has been growing fast. After the IBJJF moved the big events to the U.S. the level of competitors increased and the opportunity to cross train with other academies and competitors have helped the sport. Competitors usually come for a couple weeks and sometimes months before big events and go visit different schools to get ready for the tournament In Brazil the culture of Jiu Jitsu is still a little close for cross training.
What do you think of the more modern style of Jiu-Jitsu nowadays versus the way it was when you were coming up through the belts?
I think the opportunity to know what is new and what people have been training or doing to get ready for the big tournaments with the internet (youtube, facebook, online training,..) plus the opportunity to do seminars teaching or learning, make people have more access to the sport. I personally have been doing around 12 to 16 seminars a year spreading the BJJ in US and countries like Costa Rica, Porto Rico, Mexico, Honduras, Canada, Poland, France… And have people all over the world watching my videos on my YouTube page and my online training.
Do you think there is more emphasis on the guard versus takedowns and passing the guard currently? If so, why?
I think Jiu-jitsu has lost a little bit of the standup portion for the guard passing. All the new generation that come with different guards, Berimbolo, 50/50, tornado make people get more focus in doing guard. But if you have a good stand up you can start the fight scoring and be able to control the fight, make your opponent open his game to try to score back.
As a teacher, how do you manage teaching more modern positions versus the traditional techniques?
I focus on the basics. Without basics you can’t do the other movements. But is important to know and let your students know what is new out there. We are training some new movements and at the same time how to avoid them. We need be up date always. That’s the reason I love to compete.
You also have a very successful network of schools; can you talk about your association and your goals for it?
The Renato Tavares Association started in 2004 and since then we have grown every year. The reason for the association is to share Jiu Jitsu, new motions, condition training, diet, stretch with as many people as possible and share the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lifestyle. We always talk about how Jiu Jitsu can help with your daily stuff. Deal with problems and find answers, improve you focus, set up goals to be successful on the mat and in life. I always say “Be a Black Belt in Jiu Jitsu and in Life”
Thank you for the time Renato. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Just wants to say thanks for all my Masters and coaches Geny Rebello,Elias Martins, Carlson Gracie, Carlson Gracie Jr and Marcelo Alonso that help me be the person I am. And also Marcelo Silveira, Ricardo Liborio, Conan and Dan Lambert for the opportunity to be here doing and sharing what I love OOSSUU