Ricardo Evangelista of GFTeam is 33 years old and is in the best phase of his life on and off the mat. Nearly turning 12 as a Jiu-Jitsu black belt, Ricardo Evangelista today resides in Lake Houston, Texas, where he is the head teacher at a Renzo Gracie branch. With undeniable titles in Brazil and abroad, he has reached the mark of two decades of commitment to the sport that changed his life.
Before living fully for Jiu-Jitsu, Evangelista first spent 4 years at a university to secure his Physical Education diploma. That ended in 2009. But it was not until 2011, after 2 years of training and teaching in schools at the same time, that the student under Julio Cesar saw his career take a professional turn with titles in the Brazilian Championship and Rio Open, where he won an absolute over Leandro Lo. Ricardo fondly recalls his early years as an elite athlete and what he has done to stay on top of the increasingly tough competitions.
“Today, my secret is to have time to train and live Jiu-Jitsu all the time. I take good care of my physical part, I have a very good diet. To keep me well, at the top, I’ve been focusing a lot on my fitness. Today Jiu-Jitsu is much more professional and athletes are better conditioned. Those who does not adapt the specific physical part to the training will end up not achieving the desired results. It’s so good to see that my decisions were right, and I’ve never skipped steps in my life. First, I graduated from college, earned a degree, and after that my career in Jiu-Jitsu took a professional turn. I look back and see that I’ve achieved a lot and I’m still hungry for more,” says Evangelista, who has been practicing Jiu-Jitsu since he was 13 years old.
With over 100 black belt victories, most of them by submission, they were created from the closed guard. Seeing Ricardo fight, you notice that one of the most basic positions of Jiu-Jitsu is really very effective at the highest level of the sport. Proof of this were the fights he had last weekend in Los Angeles, California, at the UAEJJF Grand Slam. In the 120kg division, he was able to eliminate Victor Hugo and Polish sensation Gerard Labinski.
“Practice leads to perfection. It’s been more than 20 years doing closed guard and it’s still working. The tip is to practice and risk the position along with its variations. Many people are ‘afraid of losing at training’ and this vanity ends up hindering the improvement of techniques. The best time to make mistakes is in training. Practice what you are good at to become excellent,” says Evangelista, before telling how he beat Victor Gerard.
“Both are very talented athletes, no comment needed. I had a different strategy for each one, but over the course of the fights things were going differently than I had planned. With Victor, I got an 8 to 4 score in a very tough fight where I came out exhausted. Now with Gerard it was another war, a more obstructed fight. I was able to get a score of 4 to 2 and make myself champion. Not to mention that I also won a week of lower back pain.”
Evangelista’s résumé includes gold medals in the Brazilian National, Pan, European and UAEJJF World Pro Championships.