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Enjoy & Learn

An interview with Felipe Costa
Brazilian jiu jitsu

Brazilian jiu jitsu is getting more and more popular in Poland. Around the world, and especially in Brazil, there are many great academies that teach and promote jiu jitsu. The Brasa Academy of Rio de Janeiro may be one of the best because it has a special member: Felipe Costa. He is not only the world champion, but also a great teacher and a friend. He visited Poland for the second time, teaching Brazilian jiu jitsu in Lodz, Cracow, and Szczecin.

Felipe, I know you’ve been touring Europe for some time. How long exactly have you been on the road now?
I’ve been traveling for three months. I started in Mexico, went via the US, and for the last three months… I’ve been in Belgium, Spain, Holland and France, then I came here to Poland. Poland is the place I am staying the longest. One week in Lodz, one week in Cracow and the last week here in Szczecin.
Could you explain what the Personal Training Program is?
Jiu Jitsu started to develop in the rest of the world and everybody wants to have a black belt, whether from Brazil or not. They visit the academies, so that they can prove their skills. Most of the black belts don’t have time to come and stay longer, so they just come for two hours of the seminar, or two days, very short, you know. When I started to do this, I noticed that it was very hard for people to improve in just two days or two hour seminars. If I come here, to this academy, and I stay two hours, I can’t see what mistakes people are making. I’ll demonstrate a bunch of things, and maybe out of ten techniques, one would be very useful. So, I decided to stay a week so I can really experience the training, I can get to know the culture, become friends with people, and then it is very easy to help the students to improve.
I remarked today that you speak good English. Do you remember your first steps in learning English?
At first, I didn’t speak anything but I went as an exchange student to the US and I stayed there for one year. That’s when I started to learn it for the first time, but I learned like kids do: if I was to write something, I had no idea what it was, because I read with Portuguese sounds. The way I started to improve my grammar was by reading. I would sometimes read a comic book in English, use the dictionary, word by word. Sometimes I was like: ‘ha, I already know this word,’ but I didn’t know it was written that way. And also the Internet helped me a lot to improve my writing and become more fluent.
So now that you are older, do you have any “technique” for learning English?
Now, I feel that every time that I travel, by talking to people, paying attention to certain words and stuff, I always learn more. It is important to understand the idea, so, if there is a phrase and you don’t know too many words, by the rest of the phrase you can figure out what the person means.
I asked you about English, and now let’s get to jiu jitsu. Do you remember why you took up jiu jitsu?
Yes. I started when I was 12 years old. I looked for jiu jitsu because it was martial art, but, of course, self-defense was my first idea. The interesting thing is that at the beginning I was really bad. I liked to train, but in the tournaments I would always lose. I would lose for three years. When I got my blue belt, I started to win one fight or another and gradually I got better and better. This is what I like about jiu jitsu. You don’t have to be a natural talent to become good. I mean, with hard work, anybody can reach a very good level. Probably like in English. Nobody’s a natural, but if you train, you’re gonna get fluent.
Can you describe the moment you won the world championship?
My first title was in 2003. It was the first time that I fought in my weight division, because I had lost weight. It was very good for me, because the first fight was against the champion of the year before. The guy was very good, but I was confident and I won the first fight. It was a really big surprise, because compared to the guy I was a “dark horse,” I think you call it? My second fight was against a guy who I had never fought in black belts, but in the other belts I had lost. So I came and I submitted the guy, so in the final I was very confident and when I won it was like heaven. That’s when I decided to live from jiu jitsu, because, before I graduated from marketing and I was getting ready to work in an agency or something, and then everything turned the other way and I’m glad that happened.
Everyday things: what is your favorite food?
My favorite food here is what Bagi’s wife cooks. And the typical thing: pierogi!!! (he laughs)
What three things come to your mind when you think: Poland?
Ok. First, the bad thing: cold, very cold. Now, the good thing: people with very good hearts; I was very impressed with this. Well, the third thing: very nice architecture. For a Brazilian guy, very different. It’s something you used to see only in movies, things from old times, historical.

Jakub Leszczyński


- www.felipecosta.com
- www.berserkersteam.pl
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Who were berserkers?

Berserkers or berserks were Norse warriors who went mad when fighting. They would destroy everything around them and behave in a fierce and crazy way, sometimes even biting their shields. The rage was possibly brought on by eating fly agaric mushrooms. In more modern times, Berserk became one of RPG and Manga figures. In contemporary English go berserk means “to become angry and violent.”

Berserk actually means “bearskin coat,” because this is what they wore–and nothing else, in fact. Today bearskin hats (the fur often being man-made) are worn by some British soldiers, such as the guards in front of Buckingham Palace.
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