- We appreciate you giving us some of your time Professor Cuartero. Can you tell us about you how you got started in Jiu-Jitsu?
I started wrestling in high school and joined the U.S. Marines at the age of 20 in 1992. As I traveled the world I wrestled on my base teams and met a lot of great people. During this time Royce was winning the UFC’s and watching his grappling amazed me. After the Marines an associate of mine was a Judo Black Belt. I began to notice the similarities between Jiu Jitsu, Judo and Wrestling. Around 2000 I went to a local school “there weren’t many back then” and trained without the gi off and on for 2.5 years. In late 2002 I tried to out grapple a Royce Grace Purple Belt. He was so smooth and didn’t seem to get tired. I was basically still a 2 minute warrior and when I got tired he would work me over effortlessly. As I sat on the side of the mat and watched him, I was sold! What he was doing was far more efficient and effective than anything I had ever seen. In 2004 was a blue belt and met GB Black Belt Aparecido “Bill” Faria and have been training under him ever since.
2. How long have you been teaching and running Gracie Barra Jacksonville? In the Marine Corps I was an instructor and also an antiterrorism instructor for the government until 2004. Teaching others has always been a passion of mine. We opened GB Jacksonville in 2009 and it has grown every year.
3. Did you ever think you would be running your own school? It took Prof. Aparecido Bill awhile to convince me to quit my job and do Jiu Jitsu for a living. I have 4 kids and was stuck in the busy lifestyle of a business owner. I never imagined I would be able to do what I love, support my family, and help other as a career. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
4. What is the Jiu-Jitsu like in the north part of Florida. I think many people would immediately think about the south part of Florida when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu with well-known names there. North Florida is a large area and is spread out. There are several good academies and because of Jacksonville’s location at the end of I-10 intersecting I-95 we see people from all over the country come through and train.
5. Gracie Barra is well-known for having a laid out curriculum for their students. What do you think about this approach to teaching students Jiu-Jitsu? I believe that structure is a major component in running any successful Jiu Jitsu academy. The core of any curriculum should be what Grand Master Carlos Sr and Grand Master Helio laid out for us a generation ago. To me the heart of our art is self defense. Sport Jiu Jitsu is important but a curriculum must be based on self defense. Gracie Barra has done a good job in establishing a strong curriculum for beginners. I have always said that Jiu Jitsu is about discovery and creativity. As someone progresses through the belt system there are more open mat sessions and individual drilling time to help that creative spark for students to develop their own style.
6. As a teacher, do you feel it is important for student to participate in competition? Each student is on their own journey however, I do feel that competition can help everyone. Competition is not only a way to test your skills, it is about accomplishment, disappointment and most of all learning.
7. What would you say have been the biggest obstacles in running a Jiu-Jitsu school here in Florida? There are no obstacles that you don’t create for yourself. This art is full of opportunities and great people.
8. What advice would you give to someone who hopes to make a career out of Jiu-Jitsu one day? Be loyal, trust and follow your Professors and team. Only through time and dedication can you have a life in Jiu Jitsu. It is well worth the pain, injuries, and difficult times. Anything in life that is worthwhile is difficult to attain.
Thank you for your time! Is there anything else you would like to add? Gracie Barra Jacksonville has an open door. We love to have students from all over the world stop in and train.
To find out more about Roberto Cuartero and Gracie Barra Jacksonville, visit their website: http://gbjacksonville.com/