Roberto Pedreira is the publisher of Global
Eddie: What got you started with GTR (Global Training Report)
and putting your work online?
Roberto Pedreira: I wanted to learn how to make a web site.
I was already writing
for Black Belt magazine and some others. The magazines paid
me (except for
Karate Bushido in France, whose check bounced), but they also
content and demanded the copyrights. I wanted to control my
retain my copyrights, and also publish the articles in a form
remain accessible for a long time. I get paid nothing for
this, but that's
Eddie: Where are you currently living?
Roberto Pedreira: I currently live in Chigasaki, Japan (20
minutes south of
Yokohama), about 10 months of the year. Chigasaki is famous
for surfing in
Japan. The rest of the year I live in Pattaya, Thailand.
Eddie: What martial arts have you studied?
Roberto Pedreira: I studied boxing, muay thai, kali, silat,
judo, hapkido, savate,
non-sport taekwondo. goju-ryu karate, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu,
and Greco-Roman wrestling. I'm not an expert at any of them.
I like some
more than others, but with the exception of taekwondo, none
was a complete
waste of time, although goju-ryu came very close. Any style
contact and resisting opponents and sparring that fairly closely
the real thing is good, as far as I'm concerned.
Eddie: Which style do you think is best for self defense?
Roberto Pedreira: None.
The best style for self defense is common sense and self control.
However, it is useful to back up common sense and self control
with training and my personal opinion is that if you can only
do one style and you have competent instruction and training
facilities and partners, then the best would be muay Thai.
That is for a lot of reasons, including how you are going
to explain the damage you did when the cops arrive, the potential
for self-injury, etc. That is assuming you can only do one.
Obviously, the best way is to train striking, standing grappling,
and ground together as an integrated whole. Which is what
I try to do as much as possible.
Eddie: It is hard to know from your writing what your nationality
is. What is your native country?
Roberto Pedreira: I went to school in the USA (Berkeley,
CA, and Austin, Texas) and
I have an American passport.
Eddie: Is Roberto Pedreira your real name?
Roberto Pedreira: It isn't precisely the one my parents gave
me, but it is just as
Eddie: When did you first hear about the Gracies?
Roberto Pedreira: About
1992, in Seoul, Korea. A guy showed up from the states with
the first Rorion and Royce instructional tapes. I knew nothing
grappling at that time but tried the uppah escape from the
mount and was
impressed, because the technique was simple, logical, and
worked. My first
chance to actually train with (more accurately, near) a Gracie
January 1995 at Rickson's old academy at 11054 Pico, in West
LA. For about
6 months prior to that I was serving as a practice dummy for
unknown (so far) but great fighter/coach named John Frankl,
who was already
at Rickson's. So I learned most of the most basic escaping
him. At the time, I considered myself a stand up specialist.
naively think "I won't go to the ground", but I
did think that I already
knew more about ground fighting than people who didn't specifically
for the ground, and I thought that was adequate for my needs.
But at some
point I decided to get more deeply into it. I didn't really
Rickson was at the time either, but since John was there,
I decided to go
there too. John by the way recently got his black belt, after
years of consistent hard core training and will be opening
his own academy
in Chico, California in July. He also is the man who introduced
jiu-jitsu to Korea, and probably one of the most intelligent
people in the
world. Anyway, between 1994 or 1995 and 1998 I trained at
for a total of about 7-8 months. Whenever I was passing through
the USA, to
or from Brazil, I would try to spend a few weeks or a month
and also at the Inosanto Academy. But most of my training
has been in Japan
Eddie: What was it like training with Rickson?
Roberto Pedreira: I didn't train with Rickson. He was preparing
for the Japan Vale
Tudo 95 (I think it was) and didn't teach much. On Tuesday
and Thursday he
did advanced classes but I didn't go to those. Due to the
fact that I was
Eddie: So you didn't get a chance to meet Rickson?
Roberto Pedreira: I met him the same way everyone there met
him. He was there a lot
in the afternoon, just hanging around or passing the time
or whatever. I
didn't have anything to tell him so I didn't try to talk to
him, and as far
as jiu-jitsu went, his assistants (Luis, Mauricio, Jason)
could help me
perfectly well. I was still at the stage of trying to understand
escape so what Rickson had to teach was far beyond what I
comprehended then (and probably now too).
Eddie: Did you detect a sort of super star aura around
Roberto Pedreira: Far from it. He just seemed like another
guy there, friendly and
easygoing. No one, even new white belts, made any big show
respect. No one called him sensei or anything like that. He
Eddie: Are you a Rickson fan?
Roberto Pedreira: Sure, in general, but for jiu-jitsu, his
game is too advanced for
me to understand. I don't try to do jiu-jitsu like him, if
that's what you
Eddie: Then who does inspire you for jiu-jitsu?
Roberto Pedreira: I like anyone who is versatile (guard and
passing games, standing
and ground games), adaptable, and attack oriented, but strategic.
who have more or less normal physical attributes. Also guys
pretty close to the fundamentals. And guys who look for the
Eddie: Are you still teaching Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil and
what school do you represent?
Roberto Pedreira: I never
taught jiu-jitsu in Brazil!!! Everyone I met in Brazil knew
more than I did. Not until my third trip did I meet anyone
that I could sweep or tap. I knew nothing to teach anyone
about jiu-jitsu. Now if anyone had asked me about muay Thai,
I might have had something to teach them, but no one did,
and I was first and foremost there to learn from them. I trained
at many academies in Rio de Janeiro, mostly Master Alliance,
Dojo, and Corpo Quatro, and one in Sao Paulo called the Top
Form Academy run by Prof. Ricardo Kowarick) but I do not represent
any of them.
Eddie: What is your belt level?
Roberto Pedreira: Still a beginner after 8 years. Still trying
the get the basics
Eddie: What city or cities in Japan is Jiu-Jitsu most
popular or prevalent? (For example: California is the Mecca
for jiu-jitsu in the U.S. and Rio)
Roberto Pedreira: Jiu-jitsu
is popular in Tokyo of course, and any city where there are
a lot of Brazilians and a qualified instructor. There are
many academies between the two biggest cities of Tokyo and
Osaka. There are some good Japanese instructors, Yuki Nakai,
for example, but most of them are teaching jiu-jitsu in the
context of mixed martial arts. For them, jiu-jitsu is basically
shooto (or shoot fighting) with a gi.
Eddie: Who is the most egotistical fighter you have ever
Roberto Pedreira: With only a few exceptions, all the interviews
in GTR are
translations done by myself or by Yoko Kondo, from Japanese
magazines. So I hardly ever interview anyone. But I've talked
fighters and teachers. None of them was egotistical, although
and Jason Delucia seemed unusually fixated on justifying why
they lost to
Vitor Belfort (Tra) and Royce Gracie (Jason).
Eddie: Out of all the martial arts you have practiced
is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu the one you enjoy most?
Roberto Pedreira: Probably, because of the rolling and because
there's something new
to learn everyday, unlike boxing or muay Thai where the tools
are few and
easy to learn and the art is in perfecting the timing and
needed to execute in competition. Based on my limited knowledge
of judo and
wrestling, I think one could say that about them too. The
you need to win are relatively few, and most athletes practice
efficient at a few high percentage techniques rather than
learning more and
more techniques of questionable effectiveness. I may be wrong,
how it seems to me. Don't misunderstand this to be a criticism
etc. The fact that boxing etc techniques are relatively few
and simple to
learn is an excellent thing, especially if you have upcoming
keep you motivated. If you don't have, then perfecting one
techniques could get boring after a few years and learning
a new move now
and then would be stimulating. I suppose some jiu-jitsu guys
get to the
point where they are learning relatively fewer new moves because
so much already, but I'm no where near that. That's why I
best. That and the rolling. With or without gi, it's all good.
Eddie: Do you practice jiu-jitsu for self-defense, sport
Roberto Pedreira: Originally for self-defense and to have
a more rounded game, but
now just because I like doing it.
Eddie: Do you still study hapkido?
Roberto Pedreira: No, but I like to see if I can find set
ups that will allow me to
do some of the hapkido joint locking techniques. It's a challenge
can be done, sometimes. They work best from standing up, of
Eddie: What is the meaning of the word,"Yamato Damashii"
I know it is a tattoo that Enson Inoue has on his back but
would like more information regarding this mind set or attitude
if you can possibly expand upon it. I find this subject fascinating
as I have read the works of Eiji Yoshikawa (A book of five
rings) and the life of Sadaharu Oh. Each of these individuals
spoke about the concept of "Body of a Rock" which
I believe is related to Yamato Damashii.
Roberto Pedreira: It means
"Japanese spirit", in particular the spirit of old
Japan (which was called Yamato). It is more or less synonymous
with "fighting spirit", or "not giving up",
"no surrender". Japanese fans like this and when
foreign fighters use such expressions it seems to please them.
It was promoted by the Japanese military during World War
Two to encourage the people to make more sacrifices when they
were under pressure from the American Army and Navy. Thanks
to "Yamato Damashii" Japan would defeat the weak,
self-centered sissy Americans and impose enlightened Japanese
rule on all of Asia, and eventually the world. As it turned
out the Japanese people did make all the sacrifice that the
Japanese military asked them to, and more, but in the end
it didn't help. On the contrary, it hurt tremendously. I don't
think it helps fighters either. But the fans like it, even
if the younger ones have no idea that, like most of what people
now think is traditional Japanese culture, Yamato Damashii
was actually invented during the 30's as a tool for controlling
and exploiting the population in the service of military ambitions
for conquest and empire. (Sorry about the digression!)
Eddie: Many jiu-jitsu masters have emigrated to the United
States to teach (mine included) is their primary purpose because
Roberto Pedreira: I don't know about primary, but it for
sure can't be a small
consideration. Being unemployed in Brazil is no fun at all.
addition, I guess they must enjoy teaching and they probably
certain aspects of life in the USA and other countries.
Eddie: Many predict that the United States will eventually
have equal jiu-jitsu skill to the Brazilians, do you espouse
this idea as well?
Roberto Pedreira: It makes sense to me that if enough people
do anything long
enough, they will get very good at it. The Japanese had a
big head start in
judo, and similarly the Brazilians (in Rio at least) had a
big head start
in jiu-jitsu. Thais are good at muay Thai, Koreans are good
Filipinos are good at kali. It is merely a matter of how many
doing it and how long they've been doing it.
Eddie: I wanted to learn more about De La Riva, will you
interview him more extensively in the future?
Roberto Pedreira: I might the next time I go to Rio, but
I don't know when that will
be. Or maybe the next time he comes to Japan. He's an interesting
possibly the only person in Brazil who doesn't have enemies.
He's the only
one in Rio who nobody dislikes, according to many Brazilians
I talk with.
Believe it or not, there are a lot of people in Rio who don't
Gracies, but no one doesn't like De La Riva. He is regarded
quintessential technician. One of his students, former Pride
Rodrigo Antonio Nogueira, said recently in Tokyo "I've
tried and I've
tried, but I still can not pass professor's guard". On
the other hand, from
my experiences with him, he doesn't talk much, so an interview
might not be
all that revealing. Could be better to just train at his academy,
have the chance.
Eddie: Have you ever seen live sword sparring in Japan?
I understand one of the ryu's called Katori Shinto Ryu practices
using a live blade.
Roberto Pedreira: Never saw it.
Eddie: In the past many Jiu-Jitsu practitioners have been
criticized for not working on their take down skills. Have
you seen any changes in Brazil since you have been there in
reference to a great emphasis on improvement in take down
Roberto Pedreira: As long as you can pull guard in a jiu-jitsu
contest, you can get
by without great takedown skills. If you want to have better
then you have to spend time working on takedowns. Most jiu-jitsu
prefer to spend that time of ground grappling. Obviously,
the guys that are
competing in events like Abu Dhabi, UFC, Pride and so on,
they need better
take-downs and defenses and most of them are working on that,
and some have
become very good. They tend to be the guys whose jiu-jitsu
is already at a
high level. Less advanced guys have to decide where their
They may be restricted by what their instructor wants to devote
to. But the basic wrestling techniques (double leg, single
crotch) are not complicated. Once you can do them, it is just
a question of
drilling with a live opponent. Anyone can do that after class
Wrestlers do this. One guy takes a shot, the other guy defends.
alternate like this maybe 20 times. Do this every day and
pretty soon you
will have serviceable takedowns. If you mean judo throws,
then you can do
what the judokas do, which is called uchikomi. One guy stands
there and the
other guy sets up the throw. Usually 20 times for each of
about 4 or 5 of
the basic throws, and then they switch. These drills are good
offense and defense. Don't ask me why more jiu-jitsu guys
don't do them.
Eddie: In your article "Corpo Quatro" Sylvio
Behring spoke about Xadrez, which is a way of training Jiu-Jitsu
like chess. Have you seen or employed this method to accelerate
your learning of Jiu-Jitsu. If so has it been successful?
Roberto Pedreira: Actually, I haven't used it much. It's
hard to explain to other
guys the process sometimes and most guys like rolling. But
it's a good idea
and probably I'll try to do it more in the near future. Thanks
reminding me. The best way that I have found for improving
my jiu-jitsu is
to concentrate on one position at a time and forget about
tapping or not
tapping. For example, the bottom guy works kimura variations,
omoplatas, from every possible set up and the guy in guard
tries to go with
the technique and find where the holes and exits and counters
are, and at
what point his base is lost, etc. It can be very instructive
for both guys.
A lot of instructors say something like "you can't improve
if you never
tap". I can't disagree with that. I also agree with Rickson
who said you
should train at 50% intensity most of the time and without
gi about half
the time. Not only because he said it but also because I noticed
improvement after I tried it. One more drill that helps is
to play pass the
open guard, with or without gi, with neither guy using ands,
or at least
not grabbing cloth.
Eddie: Your interview with Orlando Cani was fascinating.
Have you ever trained personally with him or utilized any
yogic techniques in your training?
Roberto Pedreira: Actually the interview was conducted by
Paulo Ruy Barboso. I have
not met Orlando personally, and I don't specifically use yogic
unless I'm doing something that is yogic that I'm not aware
of, which is
very possible, because most of the people I learned jiu-jitsu
Ginastica Natural from Orlando Cani, or from someone who learned
As everyone knows, Rickson is a believer in yoga, and it hasn't
any. Leka Vieira was big time into the Cani movements too,
it seemed to me.
Eddie: I have heard of jiu-jitsu exercises performed in
Brazil called "Kempo." Perhaps my spelling is off
but have you ever heard of these exercises and do you do any
special exercises for flexiblity and strength other than weight
Roberto Pedreira: Never heard of kempo in Brazil, other than
what Orlando says in
his interview, I never heard anything about it. Personally,
in addition to
high reps weight training, I spend a lot of time with the
Working the bags is hard to beat. It's not an accident that
have heavy bags.
Eddie: In your interview entitled,"Academia Shoto-kan"
you said you didn't like the culture of the Japanese dojo
very much. Can you elaborate on this statement and perhaps
contrast the way Brazilian jiu-jitsu dojos are run?
Roberto Pedreira: Just what I wrote. The Shotokan dojo was
run like any dojo
anywhere. Something like a religion or military organization.
You do what
you're told and everyone does it the same way. You have no
idea whether any
of it will work, for yourself, or for anyone. Some people
like this way of
training. I did it myself for about five years, and I don't
like it. A
jiu-jitsu academy is more like a laboratory where you make
find out what works and what doesn't work. I like this way.
This is just
me. Everyone can train the way they want to. There are plenty
Eddie: I couldn't help but laugh as I read your Mario
Miglio Luta Livre academy report, especially reading that
your consistent attendance was rewarded with his (Mario Miglio
) consistent absence. Did you ever find or see a Luta Livre
academy and did you ever get to meet Mario Miglio?
Roberto Pedreira: Never did. Problem was there were so few
Luta Livre academies at
the time (maybe now too), and I didn't have the time to go
for them. Maybe next time.
Eddie: Who is the strongest person pound for pound you
have ever grappled with?
Roberto Pedreira: The best guys were not generally the strongest.
Or at least, you
couldn't sense their strength because their technique was
so good. I didn't
grapple with anyone in the Carlson Academy. Probably I would
strength there. As Carlson says, when the other guy also has
then strength is important, and Carlson guys tend to stress
than the Humaita guys, the Barra guys, the Alliance guys,
and the various
other guys. But De La Riva was originally a Carlson guy, so
it's hard to
Eddie: If you could interview any living martial artist
today who would it be?
Roberto Pedreira: Someone, anyone, who has been around forever
but whose version of
jiu-jitsu history in Brazil we haven't heard yet. Helio Vigio
(of course he is known in Rio), or any old guys like that.
The only version
we have really heard has been Rorion's and I have meet a few
older guys and
researchers who claim that Rorion's version is slanted, to
say the least.
But I'd much rather interview Paul McCartney or Pete Townsend
martial arts person.
Eddie: Would you ever like to write a book on martial
arts? If so what would the title or subject be?
Roberto Pedreira: I'm planning to do it. It's in the works.
Subject is jiu-jitsu and
Muay Thai from an anthropological point of view.
Eddie: Have you ever heard of a martial art called Systema?
If so what is your opinion of it?
Roberto: I haven't heard of it.
Eddie: When was the first time you met Rickson Gracie
and do you still stay in contact with him?
Roberto Pedreira: Met Rickson at his academy in January or
February 1995. He wasn't
teaching that day but was just watching me (maybe my second
or third class)
get crushed by a big body builder type guy who kept putting
his forearm in
my throat and leaning heavy on it. Rickson saw this and, without
up, gestured how to deal with the situation-parry the guy's
his centerline, trap his arm against my chest, and wrap my
arm around his
head, and take his back. This was very effective and a move
I still use.
After the class I worked out some variations with my friend
and coach John
Frankl, who I mentioned earlier. From that position you can
sweep, and you
can choke. It's jiu-jitsu in action, very simple, logical,
and it works.
Obviously, I met Rickson many times, because I was at his
academy 3-4 times
a week. He never taught any of the classes that I attended,
but he was
often just hanging around. I also met him in Japan at Pride
2 (Royler was
fighting Yuhi Sano). However I don't know him well enough
to keep any kind
of personal contact. He wouldn't even recognize me if I met
Eddie: Have you ever grappled with Rickson?
Roberto Pedreira: I have not, but several friends have. One
says Rickson is
different from everyone else. In this sense, "Renzo,
Royce, Royler and most
other guys are a million times better than we are, but they
are doing the
same jiu-jitsu that we are doing. Rickson is doing a different
his own. Mainly his sensitivity is at a much higher level.
You know what
he's going to do, and you know what to do to stop him, but
you can't stop
him. And then you are tapping." (interestingly, he mentioned
that B.J. Penn
had this unusual level of sensitivity too). Another asked
Rickson where his
jiu-jitsu came from. Rickson said (35% from his family, 65%
he made up).
Eddie: What are two or three of the main differences (differences
such as discipline, class curriculum, approachability etc.)
between training in Japan and Brazil?
Roberto Pedreira: You
mean training jiu-jitsu, or training in general? Things that
are considered traditional martial arts in some way in Japan
tend to be extremely formalized, structured, and even ritualized.
The Japanese believe that the right way to teach beginners
anything (including cooking, flower arranging, foreign languages,
sex, anything) is to break everything down into named steps
and to follow an exact sequence, and that the teacher knows
all the answers and the student doesn't know anything worth
knowing yet. It isn't always bad method in general. Everything
is exactly the opposite in Brazil. However, jiu-jitsu can't
be learned like this, so jiu-jitsu in Japan is taught the
same way it is taught in Brazil. The only difference is that
classes begin and end on time and students bow to the instructor
before and after class. Boxing in Japan is taught in the same
step by step method, but there is no bowing in a boxing gym,
so it sort of depends on whether the activity is categorized
as traditional Japanese (even though the bowing part is a
recent innovation), or as Western.
Eddie: When you teach does part of your curriculum entail
teaching the self-defense techniques Helio Gracie taught to
Roberto Pedreira: I don't teach, I coach. I try to help everyone
with whatever it is
that they want to learn. I also try to emphasize the things
that I am
personally working on, so lately that would be no gi takedowns,
especially upper body throws. However, everything must involve
opponent, as soon as the basic movement is understood.
Eddie: You mentioned meeting and working with Dan Inosanto
on occasion. Have you trained in Kali, JKD and other arts
and do you still practice them?
Roberto Pedreira: I trained
at the Inosanto Academy of Martial Arts in LA for about 10
months in 1994-1995, and for a couple more months in 1997
and 1998. I took almost all of the classes that were offered.
I learned from Guru Dan himself, Chad Stahelski (kickboxing,
kali), Erik Paulson (shooto, kali), Larry Hartsell (who missed
almost every class, but promised to show up next time for
sure, "unless something comes up".) Fred Ginn (boxing),
Damon Caro (kali). Yori Nakamura (shooto), Ron Balicki (kali,
muay Thai), Nick Saignoc (savate), and Salem Asseli (savate).
I didn't take the silat classes but learned the silat from
a guy who did, the same John Frankl I mentioned earlier. I
don't train these styles as such anymore, but I have retained
what is useful. I do the kali stick drills as a warm up. As
Eric Knauss (Dog Brothers founder) once said, there are only
about two kali techniques that work (a hard fast forehand
and a hard fast backhand) and one defense for each ("many
are taught, few work" Eric says). I occasionally teach
these mainly because they are so simple and so effective.
My interest in kali was and is purely to avoid getting hit
with sticks or cut by knives and doing stick or knife patterns
just doesn't seem to be useful for that. I also try to incorporate
silat moves into standing take down drills. I don't mean they'd
necessarily be the right moves to try in a vale tudo, but
in other contexts, they can be more appropriate than tackling,
pulling guard, smashing guy's face with your elbow, etc.
Eddie: Did you ever hear the time that Gene Lebell tapped
out Bruce Lee on one of Lee's movie sets? Gene was there as
Roberto Pedreira: I asked Gene LeBell that question myself,
and many others, when
his agent offered to make an interview. However, Gene never
answered any of
the questions. Too bad, because there were some good questions.
So I can't
tell you what happened with Bruce Lee.
Eddie: Which do you enjoy most: Writing or practicing
the martial arts? Or is their specific enjoyment derived from
Roberto Pedreira: Without a doubt, I prefer training. I like
writing, but if I
didn't train, I would write about different things (which
I did before I
started writing about training-I wrote about music, and about
politics and history).
Eddie: Do you have a chance to watch many of the Pride
or Shooto fights in person?
Roberto Pedreira: When I was covering the Japanese fight
scene for the magazines I
mentioned earlier, I saw all the Prides, Pancrases, and K-1's
in person. In
the case of Pride, they charged the Japanese press for the
taking pictures and sitting close to ringside. Black Belt
wasn't about to
cough up any money, so my seats were always far away from
the ring. I got a
better view by going out into the hall and watching on the
Pancrase and K-1 seats were good though. Now I prefer to watch
versions on video.
Eddie: Have you ever fought in vale tudo style or had
a desire to do so?
Roberto Pedreira: Have not. Too old to do it now, but I think
I would have wanted to
do it at once, for experience. But only once.
Eddie: Do you believe like many NHB fans that the NHB
will eventually take over in popularity to boxing?
Roberto Pedreira: I don't think there is the slightest possibility
that this will