By Carlos Cobrinha
A BJJ training video recently posted to @graciemagoficial on Instagram caught fans by surprise. Amaury Bitetti, one of the greatest champions in the history of Team Carlson Gracie, had a coral belt around his waist.
The fact is that, in these times of confinement, the relevant graduation of an icon of BJJ — indeed the first-ever absolute world champion, who reigned over the division in 1996 and 1997 — went unnoticed.
“To my understanding, I was supposed to have gotten it last year, in the same year as Murilo [Bustamante] — we even fought together in our first year as black-belts,” said Bitetti, who will likely be honored during the next IBJJF Worlds. “It took its time but now it’s here, with the diplomas. I got the coral from my master Osvaldo Alves, but due to everything we’re going through, I haven’t yet been able to have a celebration to match. As soon as it’s all over, I promise a ceremony.”
While we had him, we asked Bitetti about the foundations that carried him to the coral belt though a life dedicated to BJJ, with no less than 31 years as a black-belt. We list them below.
1. Family and faith
“They are two things that walk together. My dad [Amauryzão] and my mom [Guiomar] were my main motivators, like my sister [Paula]. Before [Oswaldo] Paquetá started recording the matches, they were already attending the competitions and filming me. They were already doing that work with me at the time, with giant cameras and VHS tapes! It was not easy-to-use equipment in the early 80s. And we’ve always had lots of faith in God, that the results would come, with health to train and to fight well.”
“I had the privilege of having two masters that added a ton to my life: Carlson Gracie and Osvaldo Alves, two people that require no comment. It’s important to have people from outside the family to help us choose that paths we’ll follow, not just to perfect ourselves on a technical level. The good BJJ teacher goes beyond teaching a perfect technique; they can make a difference in many moment of our life, be it at epic wins or losses and great hurdles. Carlson and Osvaldo are the two masters I’ve had in my life.”
3. Good partners
“I’ve had excellent training partners. There was no shortage of examples to follow, friends who kept the pace high and new athletes I served as an example to. For instance, I’d see guys like Fernando Pinduka, from a generation prior to mine. By my side, great exponents like Bustamante and Ricardo de la Riva. And after that, younger guys like Paulão Filho. This forms a cycle that doesn’t stop and that completes itself.”
4. Great opponents
“I had opponents who pushed me to train more each time, and that’s also important. I had extremely tough battles against exponents like Fabio Gurgel, not to mention the very training I had daily at the gym.”
5. Learning the essence of BJJ
“I’ve always emphasized the basic teachings of BJJ, and that’s key. How can you be a strong tree if your root is weak? The fundamentals give the fighter the structure for technical refinement. Besides, I also learned a whole lot about the real BJJ, which is self-defense, so often forgotten in gyms these days.”