Jackson Sousa Interview…

Jackson Sousa Interview…

Above Photo Credit : Preston Smith Photography & Design  (Facebook Page Here)

Jackson Sousa, now a black belt under Ricardo Vieira from Team Vieira Bros/Checkmat, resides in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and trains at the Fight Zone gym. Denied four times for a Visa to come to America and compete in Long Beach California for the Mundials, 2013 was the year his Visa was finally approved and his dream to compete at the Pyramid came true.

Opponent after opponent, we were there to witness Jackson dominate his Brown Belt division to finally become a World Champion on US soil. Although he fell short in the absolute division against Keenan Cornelius, Jackson still made his mark that day at the Pyramid in Long Beach.

His dream now realized, Jackson traveled all the way to England to train and teach at the London Fight Factory. A very busy man, Jackson was kind enough to take some time away from his busy training schedule before he heads back to Brazil to answer a few questions for us here at Grapplers Review.

Before we get into that though, have a look at the EatFilms short documentary showing Jackson at the London Fight Factory


How are you liking England? I bet the rainy weather is a bit of a change from Brazil.


I love England at times, when it is cold and snowy I can invite some friends for a coffee, exchange some ideas and also improve my English. It’s really different from my hometown in Brazil where we always have summer and always the same routines! (not that this is a bad thing)

You’ve traveled and trained in quite a few places, how is the training in Europe compared to say, America and Brazil?


Training here in Europe is kind of hard for me. As a competitor, I need a very tough workout. Nevertheless I train and drill with the students of the London Fight Factory here in London in order to keep my rhythm and my game. In Brazil and America I will have the best training in the world to become a champion.


You train with the Vieira Bros so you’re not new to training with legends. But in London you’re training with Tererê at the moment {he’s a huge Idol of mine along with the VB} what’s it like training with him?


My training with Tererê is fun. Most of our training consists of studying positions, tactics, and that infamous “malandragem” [trickery game] for competition. I learned a lot from him here at the London Fight Factory. It is a pleasure to be that close to him. I started training in his team with his cousin Leandro “Leu” Martins when I was only 10 years old.


Who has been the biggest influence on your Jiu Jitsu?


My mother was the biggest influence on my jiu-jitsu. When I was a child she always motivated me and believed that I could be a world champion, just like my friends in the community. My mother did everything to get to see me in my jiu-jitsu competitions.


You’re getting a lot of attention at the moment, is it hard to stay humble with the amount of exposure you’re receiving?


It is not difficult to stay humble. In fact, it is easier for me to be humble when I get a lot of attention and I love making new friends. When I make a new friend, no matter who it is, I always try to treat them the same as everyone else. But those that look from the outside know better than I do if I’m staying humble. (In our opinion he is super humble, always smiling and laughing and taking time to talk to someone even if there is a language barrier)


The team of Checkmat is growing (crescendo) to be a monster of a team, what separates Checkmat from other teams (Alliance, Gracie Barra, etc.) in terms of training?


That’s true, the Checkmat team is growing every day and that’s the reason why we have a good training, just like Alliance and Gracie Barra. I believe that the training is tough in every team but every team has different experiences.


It’s been documented in the Eat Films short video of your struggles (lutas) to get to America to compete in the Mundials, what did it feel like to step foot into the Pyramid for your first Mundials in America?


When I entered the pyramid in Long Beach for the first time in my life, I felt like a winner. I am very grateful for having had the privilege to participate in the biggest event in the world of Jiu-Jitsu. I had my US visa declined four times but I never gave up. Thank God, in the year 2013 I accomplished two dreams – getting my visa and becoming the IBJJF World Champion.


Describe the atmosphere off the Mundials in one word…


Words cannot describe…


Were you nervous while in the bull pen?


I did not feel nervous in the area of concentration. I felt happy inside out and was excited both with boldness and joy. I had the opportunity to share a common dream with all brown belts in the world – trying to become the world champion!


How did you feel when you won your division?


I felt fulfilled. I realized that there are no obstacles in life if you work with dedication and willpower. And that’s what I had during my training with my teacher Ricardo Vieira and my friends from the Checkmat team in Rio de Janeiro. Thanks to God and my dedication, I was rewarded during the IBJJF World Championships this year.


You had a highly anticipated match up with Keenan Cornelius, when we watching the video of your match you seemed frustrated by his guard, what was going through your mind while trying to pass?


I wasn’t thinking about anything, I just wanted to make a good fight with Keenan. Inside of me, I felt excited and focused and wanted to show my fighting style. But Keenan had a good guard and sometimes I couldn’t pass it. But that’s what a competition is about, it is like a game of chess and that is why I am in the Checkmate team – the best team in the world!


How do you usually prepare for a big tournament, do you do anything special or do you train normally?


I prepare myself very well for any competition. I have an excellent technical instructor – my Master Ricardo Vieira – who works a lot with my on my Jiu-Jitsu. In addition to that, I have my friends that train with me every day and help me with my drilling so we can learn from one another. I also have physical trainers, Henri Ribeiro and Leco Cardillo from Studio Fun Training, who help me with my cardio preparation. The diet is very important, as well.


Will you be coming back to America in 2014 to teach or compete?


Of course I will be back in 2014, focusing on competitions (and less on teaching). I want to do a good job now that I have earned my black belt because I believe that I have great potential to get where I want. I just have to train hard and always face the best athletes in the world championships. This will be my focus for the next year.

I will also have the privilege of going back to the United States and representing my team in the Jiu-Jitsu World Grand Prix Expo. I was invited by Renzo Gracie, a living legend in Brazilian sports.

(Since receiving his black belt, Jackson is no longer participating in the Grand Prix but will be apart of the Five man No Gi Expert Round Robin Tournament with Five Grappling. Keenan Cornelius is another participant)


What does Jackson Sousa have planned for the No Gi season?


I will be fighting the Brazilian No-Gi in Rio de Janeiro and the World No Gi in Long Beach and I hope to do a good job! (And the No Gi Expert Tournament)


I wanna say thank you again for answering these questions Jack, any last words or people you would like to thank?


I would like thank you guys from Grapplers Review for giving me the opportunity of speaking a little bit about myself. I would also like to thank my sponsors (Shoyoroll – Bear, Studio Fun Training and X-NUTRITION-BSB Brasilia), my family who always support me, my Master Ricardo Vieira for making me a world champion, and of course my workout friends from Fight Zone Rio de Janeiro and the whole Checkmat team in the world – thank you all! Ossss


As an update, Jackson’s Visa was granted and he will for sure be in Long Beach for the No Gi Worlds….his first as a black belt!

Jackson Sousa