Seminar with Caio Terra at Gracie Barra 67

Caio Terra’s European tour stopped in Strasbourg on June 20th for a BJJ seminar in the Gracie Barra 67 academy. Over 50 participants discovered his techniques and philosophy about Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Sparing from the outset

After a few words, the seminar began with some sparing with the higher ranked guys. The remaining people was sitting around the mat watching Caio Terra’s mastery and his know-how in an curious and admiring silence.

Those willing to learn new techniques had to be patient. Caio Terra continued his seminar with a speechto present his cursus and share his view on Brazilian jiu-jitsu with us.

Caio Terra: a difficult start in jiu-jitsu

Caio Terra séminaire BJJ Strasbourg Gracie Barra 67Uncovered Caio Terra told us about his youth in Rio de Janeiro and how he began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. As he was a small and light weight teenager his mother worried about his safety. So she forced him to do his first steps on the mat when he was 16.

Without any motivation and interest for this combat sport, he reacted being a rebellious and a troublemaker teenager to the extent that he was threaten to be expelled from the BJJ course. Up against the wall he had to choose between keeping on training and be more involved in this sport or just stop it.
As you know, he decided to continue BJJ. Wounded pride, he went from training two times per week to a daily training under Grandmaster Paulo Mauricio Strauch and Grandmaster Reyson Gracie.

BJJ learning reappraisal

At that time, Caio Terra felt his progression stagnating despite of the daily training. That’s why he decided to take a global view and watched the techniques and fighting strategies of the people who dominated him. He noticed that most of them content themselves by systematically repeating the same techniques. They were not looking for new ones. The unique goal was to tap their partners (that also remind you somebody?!…).

All these memorized techniques, known by heart, would nevertheless be helpless in some unusual situation. Why? According to Caio Terra it is not a sequence of movements but concepts you have to master. Repeating, memorizing techniques with each detail may allow you to use such technique on such precise moment but not to understand it.

To pass his message, Caio Terra compared the BJJ learning process to school. A known-by-heart lesson may be known on the evening before an exam but it will be forgotten a few days after. Another example is bike riding. Nobody forgets how to ride a bike even after many years without practice because one does not learn but understands how it works.
Last example… I am joking, I guess you have understood?!

A new approach of Brazilian jiu-jitsu

Then, Caio Terra decided to review his approach of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. His new goal was to understand all the concepts to better appropriate and use them against fighters from all weight classes. He became passionate to the extent that he installed a mat at home to train more than once a day (I know… A mat in the living room, many of us dream about that…).

What were the benefits? As everybody knows: Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt after only three years of practice, first light weight BJJ fighter to win main international competitions in absolute black belt and of course an impressive list of wins in his own category (7 times world champion Gi and no gi in -57kg and -61.5kg, a weight category change that might be explained by his little weakness for chocolate).

Like a storyteller Caio Terra lead us through his experience to his main idea: being focused to understand the technique so as to adapt it to all kind of situation.

Side control and attack

After this introduction, he would show us some techniques by themes we would vote for: side control and attack, spider guard, half guard, berimbolo or De La Riva guard…

Caio Terra démonstration BJJ Strasbourg Gracie Barra 67

Most of us voted for the side control and attack theme. It was introduced by Caio Terra as the simpliest and most accessible one (you can imagine the deception from all berimbolo fans!). However the black belt managed to teach us new effective concepts. Everybody felt like a white belt training in jiu-jitsu for the first time (even for the higher ranked..).

As a light weight I was immediately interested in such approach of the side control, only based on hips controls and weight transfers. I tested it during some sparing. It allowed me to considerably limit the movements from heavier and stronger opponents (in conclusion it should be very effective for women against men! For copyright reasons, I won’t introduce all the details, but it works!).

Beyond this control I tried to apply his concept (well, I have remembered the lesson… Not! I have understood the concepts!). My goal was to focus on hips controls in sparing. It allowed me to deal with new situations. Of course it was not really innovative but I trust implementing this approach can open one’s jiu-jitsu to news situations.

Triangle and juji-gatame from side control by Caio Terra:

This time again the main concepts from these techniques are based on simple weight transfers, with a triangle or armbar finalisation depending on the opponent defence.

What do I like in these techniques? They are only based on controls and do not use strengths. Besides “if you use your strength it means that you are doing it in the wrong way” explained Caio Terra. It is a “simple” way to get your opponent to do something. You only use his reaction. Proved effectiveness!

If anyone has attended one of Caio’s seminars, what do you think about his concepts?

Caio Terra séminaire BJJ Gracie Barra 67 Strasbourg


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Photos credits : M. Lorentz