Robert Drysdale has has a very unique background and perspective on the sport.
Check out his website www.RobertDrysdale.net
Robert Drysdale is definitely one of the top Jiu Jitsu Competitors in the world right now, winning the black belt world Championships twice, and leading his team Brasa to victory this weekend at the Brazilian Team Titles with a victory over Alexander “Café” Dantes.
There has been a minor amount of controversy as whether to consider Robert an American or Brazilian practicioner; the truth is he loves jiu jitsu and excels as both a competitor and an instructor and has has a very unique background and perspective on the sport.
OTM: Where were you born, and what is your background?
Robert Drysdale: I was born in Provo-Utah. My Mom is a Brazilian and my Dad American. But they decided to move to Brazil when I was still a kid.
OTM: Why did your parents move to Brazil?
RD: Well, basically because my Mom really missed her family in Brazil, I guess she felt lonely. And since my Dad spoke fluent portuguese there were no real issues holding us in the U.S.
OTM: Why did you come back to the United States?
RD: I have been going back and forth since I left the U.S. But the plan was that I should finish high-school in Brazil and move back to the U.S. to attend college.
OTM: What first attracted you to Jiu Jitsu?
RD: I’m not sure. I guess it’s because it is such complete sport. I mean, it is a physical and mental effort at the same time. I was always atracted to sports, but when I started training I was instantly hooked!
OTM: Did you know what Jiu Jitsu was prior to joining John Lewis's Academy?
RD: I had some contact with JJ while I was in Brazil. The sport was just beginning to grow when I left. But I remember joining John Lewis school as a white belt when I was around 17 years old. Another reason I started training JJ so seriously when I moved to Vegas, probably has something to do with the fact I was young and didn´t know anyone in town, so hanging out with JJ fighters (Brazilians and Americans) was a good way to make friends.
OTM: Why did you decide to go back to Brazil?
RD: After two years living in Vegas I was pretty sure JJ is what I wanted to do for a living. Everyone in Vegas kept telling me I had potential so I started believing them. At the time (2000) the west coast had maybe 2 or 3 tournaments a year! And I knew if I wanted to be good at this I needed to compete more. And the source for JJ competitions was Brazil. And since I had family in Brazil, everything was much easier for me. So I decided to drop out of college and move back to Brazil.
OTM: Who have been your main training partners / influences since you began jiu jitsu?
RD: I would say my biggest influences were Steve da Silva for never doubting my potential; Paulo Streckert and the Maromba team who gave me plenty of competition experience; and Leo Vieira who is a tremendous fighter, teacher and person. As far as training partners I would say the main ones are in the first place my students: Cristian Keller and Mauricio Carra; and at the Brasa training facility in São Paulo: Lucas Leite, Ricardo Feliciano, Felipe Porto, Demian Maia and more recently André Galvão.
OTM: Let's talk about your competition record now. What are your most significant and or meaningful titles?
RD: I look at competitions as only part of a process, so I like to think they are all important. But I would say the main ones are: my purple, brown and black Mundial titles; Brazilian National Champion twice as a brown belt (including the absolute); and winning the Black belt world championship twice.
OTM: What do you consider to be your greatest performance on the mat?
RD: I’m pretty hard on myself when it comes to judging my performance, so I really cant choose a specific one. I think this year at the bb world championship and at the Mundial I felt my performance overall was pretty good. I mean besides getting murdered by Roger in the Mundial final this year and the loss by points to Marcelo Garcia in the open, I finished every opponent by submission in both competitions.
OTM: Who is your toughest opponent?
RD: I would have to say the 3 guys I consider the toughest ones to beat are Roger, Xande and Jacaré. Of course there are plenty of other good guys, but these 3 I consider to be the toughest ones.
OTM: How do you go about preparing for a match?
RD: I remember when I was a purple belt I would compete literally every weekend.I really needed that kind of experience. But right now I try to choose the ones that are most important to me, like the Mundial and the bb world championships. There are of course others I consider important, but it is extremely hard to be well conditioned the whole year, so I try to focus on specific competitions were I can begin my mental and physical preparation months before the match.
OTM: What else do you want to accomplish in this sport?
RD: The absolute. This is what every JJ fighter aims for and it is the exact one thats missing from my record. Of course fighting and defeating guys like Xande and Roger is a difficult task. But just the thought that I am just a step below them makes me want to train even more. I honestly believe I will be able to beat them very soon.
OTM: Do you have any aspirations for fighting MMA?
RD:Yeah! For sure. I just try to take one thing at a time… I believe you can´t be good at two things at the same time. So I try to focus strictly in JJ right now. And when I feel ready I plan on moving 100% to MMA.
OTM: You have your own academy and students now. How is that going for you?
RD: Great. I have my own school in which I teach daily classes. I also have other instructors that are under me and teaching in different cities within São Paulo. Additionally, I have a social project that I run teaching jiu-jitsu to underprivileged kids. There are about 50 children involved and it has been really rewarding for me. Lastly, I have a regular flow of guys coming over from all over the world that are interested in training in Brazil. I set them up with everything they need and give them access to myself and other high level black belts. I can’t complain at all, I got the best job in the world!
OTM: What makes you a good instructor?
RD: I really love what I do. People that know me will tell you how crazy I am for JJ. It’s not uncommon for me to call up my students on a Sunday morning and ask them to train. I can go on for hours just discussing positions and training. Teaching class to me is the best part of the day.
OTM: Have you decided on where you eventually want to settle?
RD: I love both the USA and Brazil and have family in both places so I’m sure I will always spend time in both countries. I will be teaching seminars in Europe in September of 2006 and I will be doing seminars in the states at the beginning of 2007. There Is also a very strong possibility that I will be opening an academy on the west coast of the USA so I’m obviously really excited about that.
Please feel free to get into touch with me if you are interested booking a Robert Drysdale Seminar.
Check out his website www.RobertDrysdale.net