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BJJ Veteran Eduardo Rocha Training Winners in SF Bay
At first, Eduardo Rocha looks like a bald, muscle-bound guy, who you find sitting on weight benches between sets. Looking at it again, it’s scary. With bronze eyes that take you in your place like a memo on a notice board, Rocha doesn’t seem to have much trouble on the dark streets.
At 43 years old, Rocha is a fourth-degree black belt and world-class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter. When she’s not training for the competition, Rocha is busy with a fast-growing school, a fast-growing baby, and her favorite Libra hobbies: skiing, snowshoeing, and avoiding conflict.
While a pacifist nature may seem at odds with his chosen career, Rocha’s years in the military have taught him to choose his battles very carefully.
“Sometimes drunk guys want to mess with me,” she says. “And I think so Man, you don’t know what you’re doing. But I just stopped. It’s not worth making a problem. “
Rocha’s Libran likeness is about more than just breaking waves and avoiding bar fights. The immigration process requires life skills. An émigré doesn’t just leave home and family, but his familiar identity behind. Experiencing a new culture, a new language and a new way of life means seeing the world with new eyes. The world becomes a 3D version of Where’s Wally, and you are Wally. It takes time to find your new self and your new eyes in your new world in a constant cycle of learning and forgetting, leaving and returning, connecting and leaving. When running a business and raising a child, everyone can feel stressed. But Rocha seems to be taking it all in stride.
“When I first came here, everyone told me, ‘Be careful, there are some bad areas here.’ They never saw it favelas in Brazil. This place is Disneyland. “
Born near the sea, Rocha’s first love was water. But when his family moves from the quiet town of Gavea to Rio, then-teenager Eduardo discovers a new imperative: survival. So he traded his fins for fists and his goggles for a gi and began his long love affair with martial arts.
Having started training as a teenager, Rocha was awarded his black belt at the age of 27 by BJJ legend Royler Gracie. Now a fourth-degree black belt, Rocha has competed for years in seemingly endless Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments – with strikingly similar names – here and in Brazil. Rocha also competed in a discipline called Vale Tudo, which means anything goes. As the name implies, Vale Tudo is a no-holds-barred, drop-kicker that combines elements of Thai Boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and ancient brutality.
Aside from the technical skills and form, Rocha’s preparation took many hours spent to perfect the art of boxing.
How do you learn to punch?
Rocha smiles a crocodile smile. “You let someone beat you to the point of exhaustion.”
Without a doubt, Vale Tudo has a lot to offer, and Rocha’s love for his teeth eventually won out over the dubious appeal of Vale Tudo’s testosterone poundfests. Since then, he has dedicated his time and energy to teaching and training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Rocha’s life has had its ups and downs, but he talks about it with the tone and tone of an accountant who is auditing. The eldest of three siblings, Rocha felt the weight of responsibility at an early age. Her warrior spirit seems to have been inherited from the energetic Libra woman who kept their modern family with a smile on her face and samba music in the background.
“It confused me,” says Rocha, echoing the sentiments of any teenager from the time they’ve been embarrassed by their parents’ preferences. “Now, I can see why he likes it.
Blood and betrayal, sun and shadows, God’s intervention and evil spirits – all this is part of Rocha who sings the Brazilian soap. After nearly dying in a car accident, a fight gone wrong and the birth of a son, Eduardo Rocha felt it was time to start thinking seriously about the future. Rocha came to the East Bay in November of 2004 with a suitcase, a surfboard, and a dream to build something that could be for himself and his family. His unique style attracted a following and Rocha became their Prophet of Pain, on a holy mission to free the true men of the East Bay from their inner sisters.
The forceful nature of BJJ promoted by the therapists along with his undeniable skill has been a recipe for success for Rocha in Oakland. In a sport where black belt instructors are treated like rock stars, Rocha is the King of his brand of Rocha ‘n’ Roll. The emotion associated with the sport can be confusing to those who have never heard the call of Jiu-Jitsu, but who seem to think and say anything. The discussion of BJJ fighters revolves around three things: the submission they almost got; they are new he said to find; and either style will change the game forever—or until next week, whichever comes first.
Eduardo Rocha traverses the dynamic styles and uncompromising integrity of California Jiu-Jitsu with a seemingly invincible Libran.
When asked to explain his success, the crocodile suddenly becomes lice.
“It’s my influence,” says Rocha.
It could be. But with a bright future, Eduardo Rocha talked to me about the past.
Why Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
My city, Rio, is very violent. I needed to find something to protect me and my family.
Why not a gun?
Because a gun will put you in jail, fast. There are a lot of fights in Rio, but most of them don’t involve guns. Guns are in the favelas. At least, that’s how it was when I started. Now it’s different. Now it’s a war.
What is all this fighting about?
If you want respect in Brazil, you have to prove that you are strong.
Wait a minute. Is Jiu-Jitsu a fight, or a sport, or what?
Jiu-Jitsu is everything. Fights, games, and games.
In America we have a saying: “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” What is important to you?
Success. In Brazil, there is no second place. You are either the first or the last. In Brazil we say: “Second place is first place for losers”.
Is that why you moved to California?
I am in California because the door opened for me at the right time. California is the capital of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in America. I was here to play, and when the door opened, I entered.
Jiu-Jitsu seems like a pretty cool sport. How does your school fit into the East Bay community?
There are a few smart guys in the East Bay too. Not many, but some.
Can non-men gain anything from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
My school is open to everyone, but Jiu-Jitsu is not for everyone.
What is your biggest fear?
In this world, sharks. In another world, evil spirits.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
On a big boat, he is traveling alone. The sea will be my next challenge, when I can no longer use my body to fight.
I hear there are sharks in the sea.
(Rocha laughs) That’s a good thing. I love fear. Adrenaline makes me feel alive.
What about pain?
No. I don’t like it, but you have to learn to live with it.
Your name means “rock” in Portuguese. Do you feel like a rock?
I try to be as strong as one.
Stones are cold.
They bask in the sun.
So is the snake.
We all get used to the way things are.
That’s the bad thing about rocks.
I think no one is perfect.
If you could be anyone other than Eduardo Rocha, who would you be?
Someone who doesn’t need anyone.
Like a rock?
Or a shark.
If you could turn back time, is there anything in your life that you would change?
Everything. I made many mistakes in my life. I had to learn the hard way. Sometimes you have to go through hell to find a way to live.
You have many medals and trophies. What are you most proud of?
Medals do not make a fighter. You are what you are. The thing I am proud of is surviving here, in a foreign country. To show people that I can do anything, not just fight like a bull.
What is your pet?
Weak people. People who are always looking for the easy way out.
What do you like about America?
How Americans do business. Here, you can take action. In Brazil, it’s all about having fun.
What does happiness mean?
Beautiful women, my child, it’s a beautiful day to swim.
Did Jiu-Jitsu give you anything other than more muscles and trophies?
Jiu-Jitsu gave me strength. It teaches you how to survive when you’re not on top, and how to adapt to adversity.
What is your main goal as a fighter?
Do you have a hero?
No. But I love Batman.
This interview took place in 2006 in Oakland, California.
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