Helio Soneca is a black belt currently residing in the midwest. I ran into him a few times when I was a blue belt out in Indiana, and even competed at a few of his tournaments. At his first tournament he threw in Kentucky he joked that he was a ‘Brazilian Redneck.’ Helio was great to watch at the tournaments, he was continuously running from mat to mat. He either was instructing people on what he wanted done, and how he wanted it done, or he was running around trying to make sure he was there to coach any of his students. Even though he was shorter than almost everyone else there, except for me I’m short, he could easily be hear. His telltale yell was the Brazilian word porra, turned into two words “POH- HA” he wasn’t mad, just getting his point across. Helio is a happy guy, someone who would answer any question you had, settle a debate on points, and then run off to help elsewhere. It is my honor to interview him, and I know there are typos, but I refuse to alter what anyone says in an interview, I would never want to accidentally misinterpret them.
I can teach all BJJ secrets. Except for my age, this is like I am giving you my neck to choke.
Where are you from?
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Where are currently living?
How long have you been training Brazilian jiu jitsu?
When did you receive your black belt and who awarded it to you?
In 1993 by Carlos Gracie Jr. but I was always a Jean Jacques Machado and he left for the US
I am part of the No Liars BJJ association, I am myself.
What got you into BJJ?
My best friends, my family, integrity, personality and values.
In jiu jitsu what is your claim to fame?
What do you like about Brazilian jiu jitsu?
What has been one of the most memorable moments in your Jiu Jitsu Carreer?
Winning the World Championships in 1996
What have you seen as the biggest changes in BJJ?
I BJJ lost the glamour and I think a lot of people came to America where they started to think that they were Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck, etc.. Also their is a lot of liars who never did 10% they claimed to have done.
Where do you draw inspiration and motivation?
What is a lesson you have learned from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
It doesn’t matter how rich or how poor you are when you put on the Gi everybody is the same. The most important part is the dedication and the brotherhood.
Are you where you want to be in your jiu jitsu career?
No I have not, I will be complete when I am able to change poor American kids lives. Because USA has given me too much and I have not done anything in return, but I will one day I will create life champions through BJJ.
Change the big the fightwear companies mentality and make them give support (tournaments, sponsor new fighters, etc) for this part of the country. Because everything is concentrated in California and people from this area buy more fightwear than everywhere.
Is there anything you would like to add?
I want to say thank you for the opportunity and make people understand I am in this life for people to have strong feelings about me. Love me or hate me!