So I finally got the chance to do an athlete spotlight with a Black belt! And to kick it off, I am using the first person I ever met that did Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Joao Carlos Herdy “Junior”. I wandered into Marcello C Monteiro’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school and Junior, who was a brown belt at the time convinced me to come back when Marcello was there and talk to him about trying out the class. After I started Junior seemed to be a staple in the school, giving people little tips and hints to improve their game. When he left there was definitely a hole at the school. Junior recently was able to come back to the United States and started with a bang. He won his black belt division at the Arnolds, started teaching and training back at Marcello’s and won his first MMA fight back in the United States against Dustin Neace. With everything he does Junior seems to live, eat and breathe the sport. He pays attention to every little detail, and during class, he makes sure to point out every one, then he makes sure to stop and watch every person do the technique.
At his young age, Junior had some great responses. He has an amazing view on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA. He was also the first person I got to interview in person, which is a totally different experience, it is a little more interesting to see the responses people have to the questions. So I hope you enjoy Junior’s interview, and take something he had to say away with you !
How old are you?
Where are you from?
I am from the mountain range of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
How long have you been training BJJ?
11 years, I started when I was 12.
Marcello C. Monteiro, in my home town in Brazil. I got my belt when I was 21
What got you into Brazilian Jiu jitsu?
(Laughs) Do you want to know the truth?? I started really young and I started because of girls. I saw girls my age with older ex boyfriends, and the ex boyfriends were beating up guys my age that would date their ex girlfriends. I didn’t want to get beat up over a girl. So I started with judo but the school was too far and I had a classmate who was about to start jiu jitsu and Marcello’s and invited me. I started with my classmate and we even got our yellow belts together.
What do you like about BJJ?
The simplicity of the controls. You learn how to not depend on your strength you learn how to combine speed, pressure, everything. You learn about your body and about your reactions. you learn more about yourself.
What was one of your best memories so far from BJJ?
Every day on the mats, every day I am on the mats is a good memory, because everyday I’m around friends. Sure there are tournaments, but I love every day on the mats. That is the secret to doing this every day!
Are there any black belts that have influenced your game?
Many if not all! I used to watch a lot of Margarida, when I started jiu jitsu. Saulo, all of the old school guys, I grew up watching them.
I was 17. I did 5 fights at 17. I got my only loss on my fourth fight, it was against Brian Garidy. I started learning wrestling muay thai boxing, I started to learn different martial arts all at 17.
What made you want to do an MMA fight?
I was a purple belt, I was training with the guys from Integrated Fighting like Chris Lytle. Someone just asked me to do a fight. I did it just to see how I would react. I never fought in the streets because of the BJJ, and I wanted to test myself.
What weight class do you fight at?
I fight at 145 lbs.
(Smiles) To be one of the best. I would just like to be one of the best MMA fighters, I’ve been training for it and I have the team for it.
Do you prefer competing in MMA or BJJ?
I can’t compare them. MMA is technical, but you have to be really aggressive and want to hurt your opponent. Jiu jitsu is more technical, more smooth. There is adrenaline in both but it’s used differently, and you have to learn to use the adrenaline right.
Yea! I’m young I can compete in everything, I have nothing to lose. I am always looking for fights, and look forward to doing another again.
* Junior will be fighting in Wisconsin September 11th. More information will be up soon!
What advice can you give BJJ practitioners?
We all have those days where we’re not felling good, or don’t have the ‘mojo’. Just go to jiu jitsu and leave your problems at the door. Relax and have fun every day we are learning and changing our game. Don’t be lazy (laughs)
Is there anything else you would like to add or talk about?
Thank you very much for the interview congratulations on your purple belt and like BJ Penn says, “the belt is just an accessory!”