Interview With Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 4th Degree Black Belt Professor Paulo Ribeiro

Professor Paulo & Me

Interview with Bjj 4th Degree Black Belt Paulo Ribeiro.

I train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Professor Paulo Ribeiro in Naples, Florida.  He and his wife Professor Natalie own PRBjj in Naples.  I have been training with them a few years and recently he gave me answers to some questions I asked him.  It is always a learning experience when talking with people and talking with Professor Paulo is no exception.  I hope you enjoy the interview with Professor Paulo Ribeiro as we get a glimpse of his life, background and other insights from his journey with Brazilian jiu jitsu.

Mike:​ Something I think readers would like to know is, what was the catalyst that drove you to Brazilian jiu jitsu?
Paulo Ribeiro​: Well I remember my father, grandfather and uncle talking about this family called the Gracie’s and how they would just destroy anyone who would stand in front of them at tournaments or even on the beach. Brazil can be a tough place to grow up and I had gotten into a couple of crazy situations as young boy and always wanted to know how to defend myself and since I had shown interest in the Gracie’s my uncle decided to bring over a VHS tape to our house for me to watch. It was the very first UFC with Royce Gracie. I remember being amazed and after that I was hooked. I started looking for a place to train the next day.”

Mike: “What was your first brazilian jiu jitsu class like?”
Paulo Ribeiro:​ “In my city back then, Brazilian jiu jitsu was still new and hard to find. I finally found an Instructor named Diojones Farias who’d introduced brazilian jiu jitsu to Maceio, Alagoas. I was one of his first students. My first class was one on one and I remember he showed me an armbar from the mount, scissor sweep, double leg takedown and defending from a head punch. I absolutely LOVED it. I signed up for everyone of his classes that day. I began to train morning, noon and night.”

Mike: ​“Have you ever had to use your brazilian jiu jitsu to defend yourself?”
Paulo Ribeiro:​ Yes. My most memorable story and the one that helped me choose a better path was when I was a blue belt in Brazil. I was at a nightclub and was having a good time when I saw a guy I knew from around town. I came up to him and put my hand on his shoulder and asked him how he was and invited him to come train brazilian jiu jitsu. Now at the time I did not realize he was pretty messed up and was acting very paranoid and manic. He must have thought I was trying to intimidate him, because next thing I knew he was punching me with a body hook. I was caught off guard so he punched me again. I stumbled backwards and slipped on the slick floor. I stood up using the technical lift. Exactly like I had drilled a thousand times in class and immediately went for a body lock with an outside hook takedown. (I did not want to get punched again. lol.)  I fell directly into mount. He was at a loss (not knowing jiu jitsu.) and grabbed my hair, so I started to push his head and face for the finish and next thing I know I was being pulled away by security. I learned a few things that night. ONE- never drink in public. TWO- avoid situations like that entirely. So I don’t go to clubs. Never got into another fight since.

Mike:​ “I’d like to ask you about your eating habits and what is your favorite meal?
Paulo Ribeiro: That’s easy!  Pan seared salmon with a ton of sauteed zucchini, squash, onions and carrots. I try my best to stay away from heavy starches like bread, pasta, and rice.  So I normally eat a lot of vegetables.

Mike: What is your reason for staying away from carbs and heavy starches?
Paulo Ribeiro: I am Brazilian so I used to eat rice and beans almost everyday.  I remember my Mama would make Alio Oily which is pasta tossed in a garlic and olive oil, mashed potatoes, and rice and beans along with a protein and salad.  That is a lot of carbs and I ate it up as a kid along with something called a Toddy which is a brand of chocholate milk very popular in Brazil.  As I got older I started not digesting carbs and starches the same way I use to.  They made me feel heavy and tired and I would crash a lot.  When I took out the heavy carbs I felt better.  I don’t stay completely away from carbs I just have a lot less and usually opt for more vegetables.

Mike: What is your favorite treat or snack?
Paulo Ribeiro: Acai!

Mike: LOL, I knew you would say Acai.  Don’t all Brazilians eat that like everyday?
Paulo Ribeiro:Acai is to most Brazilians what pie is to most Americans.  It is a beloved treat, but healthy.  Acai is a very small fruit originally grown in Para in a part of the Amazon.  The story goes that fisherman would eat acai with fish and they would have amazing strength and vitality and live very long lives, so of coarse Bjj guys are going try it out too. It is a proven super fruit.  I love making my own version at home.  I remember being a young man in my city and sitting at a small hut on the beach and eating a huge bowl of Acai.  So there is a little nostalgia for me with Acai.  I am Acai for life.

Mike: Moving on from food and onto a few questions about your game and teaching style.  How do you believe your jiu jitsu game has evolved or changed over the years?
Paulo Ribeiro: I used to play a lot of guard as I am tall with long legs and lean, but always wanted to grow my jiu jitsu knowledge and I began working on the top a lot and now I am proficient at both.  I have no real preference.  I do have favorite techniques though from certain positions as my students and training partners know.

Mike:​ “Yes, I have fallen victim to your helicopter and hook sweeps many times. Speaking of students and my earlier question of teaching styles, how much self defense do you incorporate into your classes? Do you think basic self defense is an important part of your curriculum?”
Paulo Ribeiro: ​“Everything about Jiu Jitsu is self defense. The more experienced your opponent is the more experienced you need to be. Basic self defense in my opinion is fundamental jiu jitsu and extremely important for everyone to know. It is my wish to see everyone of my students to black belt and I hope to one day see them teaching by my side. I also see my students as an extension of myself in a way, so they can have no holes in their jiu jitsu. In my Academy I go over what we call fundamentals at least twice a week.”

Mike:​ “When it comes to the uniform Paulo. Do you prefer Gi or No-gi?”
Paulo Ribeiro:​ “I believe you need both. They complement each other. My preference however is gi. Always has been. I think it is easier to take someone with a ton of gi experience and train them specifically for no-gi rather than vice versa.”

Prof. Paulo Demonstrating a helicopter sweep

Mike:​ “What do you mean easier?”
Paulo Ribeiro: ​“In my experience it is easier to train a very efficient gi player and work on speed, explosiveness and grips for no-gi. I believe your base comes from the gi. ”

Mike:​ “Paulo I want to go in another direction now and ask a few random but I think insightful questions.
My first question is, if you could have a billboard in New York city, what would it say?”
Paulo Ribeiro:​ “Everything I do is for God so my message to the world would say…Jesus is the answer.”

Mike: ​“ My next random question is, do you surf?
Paulo Ribeiro:​ “Yes, I AM Brazilian. I live in south Florida now so surfing is rare I do more stand up paddle boarding these days. When I go to visit Brazil I surf. I am ok. My Professor Diojones Farias and his wife Bianca Andrade are surf giants and put me to shame.”

Mike: ​“ You mentioned Brazil and your Professor Diojones Farias. Do you visit Brazil often?”
Paulo Ribeiro:​ “I try to go at least once a year. I usually try to coincide that with a BJJ camp for myself and my American students. It has been very popular.”

Mike:​ “For our readers who may be interested what does the BJJ camp entail?”
Paulo Ribeiro​: “ We try to do the camp at the end of the year at my Professor’s academy. It includes hotel accommodations, travel to and from airport and trainings as well as private group classes in the morning followed by evening team classes. We host a Brazilian BBQ at the end of the camp and have plenty of leisure activities included. Look on our team website in the next few months for a definite date for the camp. The price is usually around $1,500.00 US dollars.

Mike: ​“Changing gears and delving more into your day to day activities. You are now 39 years old, and have a birthday coming up soon. Do you do anything special to stay in shape?”
Paulo Ribeiro:​ “ I train. I make sure my butt is on the mat everyday. I have a good mindset which I think is very important and I eat really healthy and drink a lot of water and coconut water. I also take vitamins and minerals regularly.”

Mike: ​“What is your typical day?”
Paulo Ribeiro:​ “I wake up around 7 am and make coffee. I LOVE coffee. Then I wake up my oldest daughter Annabella (8 years old) which is always a ton of fun. (She is not a morning person.) After dropping her off at school I usually come back to the house to pray and eat. My younger daughter’s Carolina and Leanora are usually up by then and we play together until my wife gets breakfast ready for them. I head to the Academy to clean and teach around 10:30 – 11am. After teaching, and cleaning again. (I clean a lot.) I pick up my oldest from school around 3pm to bring her home. We eat and I shower and change for the evening classes. 4pm I head back to the school. With my family in tow so my wife can help teach the kids classes or kickboxing. After the first class my wife Natalie heads home to get the girls ready for dinner and bed. I teach the next 2 classes back to back. I try to be home by 9pm to kiss my girls goodnight. I eat light at night always, like a salad with some type of protein mostly. I shower again and usually relax by watching a show. My wife and I are really into Lethal Weapon right now. Monday thru Fri. I personally teach 4 classes a day not including any privates, which I do have pretty frequently. I am a busy man, but a very happy one. God has really blessed me.

Prof. Paulo Leading the kids class

Mike​ “Paulo what are your plans for this year? Any tournaments, seminars or events?”
Paulo Ribeiro:​ “This year has already been busy for me as you know. Due to hurricane Irma we had to move our location so we just opened a new academy and it is really taking off. We plan to expand this year as well as add additional academies. I also plan on competing if God is willing in the Florida State tournament, Miami Open and World Masters to name a few. Also I think it more than deserves a mention that our school will have a Bully prevention summer camp going on. Lot of amazing things happening.


Mike ​“That is a lot going on!!  Thank you Professor for the great interview.
Paulo Ribeiro:​ Your welcome Mike.  See you in class!!

Thank you to Professor Paulo for taking the time to answer my questions.

Since conducting this interview, Professor Paulo went and competed in the 2018 Miami Open taking Gold!!!

Below is a training video with Professor Paulo. Enjoy!

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