Jul 22, 2008

Interview With BJJ Legend Pablo Popovitch!

I had a chance to interview one of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu's greats- Pablo Popovitch. If you train Jiu Jitsu, you know who Pablo is. If you dont, look at his accomplishments and you'll know why I call him a legend.

So, without further ado...

The Punch Kick Choke Exclusive Interview with BJJ Legend and Instructor, Pablo Popovitch

Well Mr. Popovitch, thank you for having this interview- before we start, just in case someone doesn't know who you are, let's list off a few highlights of your accomplishments taken from your Wikipedia page:

* 2007 World Jiu-Jitsu Champion
* 2007 Abu Dhabi World Championship ADCC- Finalist

* 2007 USA Team Trials Champion

* 2007 N.A.G.A Lightweight Champion

* 2007 Florida Atlantic Cup Superfight Champion

* 2006 N.A.G.A Instructor Of The Year

* 2005 Abu Dhabi World Championship ADCC- Finalist

* National Champion USA- 10 times

* Grapplers Quest Champion- 7 times

* 2003 North American World Submission Champion

All that along with a 2-0 MMA record? That is absolutely scary. So, now that my readers know that I didn't just pull some schmuck in a Gi and a black belt to do this interview, let's begin.
How did you get involved in Jiu Jitsu? Tell us about your journey in grappling.

I started jiu-jitsu because my father was really good friends with Gracie family. I’ve used to watch my father train and at 4 years of age I started training and never stopped ever since. Jiu-Jitsu is very addicting, the challenge, friendship that you get from jiu-jitsu is something really hard to get away from. At first I did because It was a lot fun, but after winning a couple tournaments I loved the challenge. Nowadays teaching gives me even more fun than competing, but reality is I love to do both.

Now's the time to do some shameless plugging- tell us about your BJJ Academies, any contact pages, and anything for a little self promotion :)

I currently have 2 academies in Florida , Ft Lauderdale and Pembroke Pines. We offer classes for men, women and children of all ages. For more information please visit our web site www.bjjcenter.com, I recently started a new blog that includes: techniques, MMA and bjj new etc… also there is some great videos and classes information there.

I structured this interview a little differently than I usually do- since you're so well respected in the grappling community, I let some of my readers and BJJ-training acquaintances submit questions for me to ask you on their behalf. Ready?


Why did you decide to forgo collegiate-style wrestling after high school? Did it come in handy alongside your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Training?

There wasn’t a wrestling program where I went to school, but it didn’t keep me away from training my takedowns. Wrestling is very important, every match starts standing and being confident on your feet will make a better competitor.

How do you mentally and physically prepare for matches? There's usually so much pressure in competition- how do you handle it?

Mentally I tell myself everyday that I am going to win no matter what, I usually start drilling(you can write down in a piece of paper or tell yourself) 30-45 days before competition that “ I am going to Win.” That trains you brain to think only about winning.

Another great way to get rid of competition jitters is to compete as much as you can, I have competed so much that I learned to transfer the common competition fear to excitement and enjoyment. I feel no pressure whatsoever and I can’t wait to start my matches. It does takes time to get to that point, but the sooner you can become in harmony with yourself and learn to control your fears, the easier competition will become.

In terms of training physically, I train jiu-jitsu and wrestling 6 days a week, and then work on my strength and conditioning 2 days per week to get me in shape for any upcoming matches.

What are your favorite submissions from different positions? Any favorite progressions?

No gi- I like the kimura from half guard, and back chokes. Gi- Arm bar from the guard, choke from mount and I love the transition from the back double attacking the neck and arms.

What do you consider to be your most memorable matches, and what set them apart from the rest of your storied grappling career?

Probably my wins against Saulo Ribeiro and Marcio Feitosa. The guys are world champions and legends of the sport. I grew up watching Saulo win World Championships, ADCC and more. .. To defeat them showed me how much work and time I’ve had put in to the sport, it was a great feeling.

How do you feel about the creation of new techniques? Do you prefer going solely on tried and true existing techniques, or do you spend a good amount of time on the creation of new techniques or variations on older techniques from non-orthodox positions?

I am a true believer on the fundamentals of jiu-jitsu. I think that if you master a particular technique, you will catch a lot of people, regardless of it being a simple or advance. I am not against creating new techniques, but I am against not mastering the fundamentals of jiu-jitsu.

A solid foundation will give you the necessary tools to develop new techniques and take your game to the next level. How much time do I spend developing new techniques? Not much, but I spend a lot of times making the techniques I already have in my arsenal sharper.

What is your teaching style? Do you prefer that your students know the principles behind the techniques they are using or do you feel it's more practical spending precious training time on pure technique and sparring?

The principles are very important, understanding the technique will make you not only attack but also defend better against your opponent. I have a very solid program and proof of that is my team winning NAGA numerous times. We work so much on the fundamentals and drilling the same technique that my students show great skills in tournaments.

Rather than showing a lot of variations I like to build solid foundations, have 10 techniques but master them all. I would rather master 10 techniques than know a 100 and not be good at any of them. Sparring is great but you need to know your techniques, sparring will make you tough, get you in great shape but if you lack technique you will only get so far.

Very wise words. For my JKD-practicing readers, I believe Bruce Lee said something similar.

What advice can you give to both budding and veteran Jiu Jitsu practitioners on keeping the right attitude and learning quickly and effectively?

Train jiujitsu as much as you can, never pressure yourself and have fun.

Thank you very much, Mr. Popovitch, and best of luck to you in the success of your schools and in all of your endeavors. Any last words?

I would like to thank you and the readers that helped with this great interview.

Once again, Mr. Popovitch's site is www.bjjcenter.com, and you can see him in action here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bB1RbszpCQI ...the man is a beast.


Anonymous said...

You got to interview Pablo? Lucky you-

Great work!

Erik M said...

nice interview. i like where he mentioned mastering 10 techniques instead of 100

frank said...

very good interview.. learned alot form him

fred moncaio said...

pablos is one of the best for me not only as a fighter but alo as a master ... i would love to see him fight jacare, or roger gracie !!

acredita popovitch