Interview by David Webb, 22nd March 2010
Robson “Robinho” Moura began his training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at the age of 10 after his father took him to an academy in his hometown of Teresopolis (a small town in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). His first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teacher was Ailson “Jucao” Brites and Robinho’s Jiu Jitsu skills developed very quickly under his tutelage, competing in his first championships after only 3 months of training he laid the foundations to become a champion very early on.
When his “Jucao” moved to Rio, Robson started training under Professor Andre Pederneirasfrom the famous team Nova Uniao (new union). Here he continued to further his skills and abilities, achieving national and international titles whilst training with the likes of BJ Penn and Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro at Nova Uniao. By the age of 18 Robson had achieved his greatest dream of becoming a BJJ Black Belt and today is an extremely sought after instructor as well as one of the worlds most successful Jiu Jitsu competitors ever.
World Champion (Mundials): Years 1996 / 1997 / 1998 / 1999 / 2000 / 2002 / 2007
Brazilian Championships for Team: Years 1997 / 1998 / 2000 / 2001 / 2002 / 2003
U.S. Nationals Pro Black Belt Champion: 2007
LA Sub X Champion: 2006
Pan American Championships: Years: 1996 & 2007 – Los Angeles CA.
Rio de Janiero Championships: Years: 1990 / 1991 / 1992 / 1993 / 1994 / 1995 / 1996 / 1997
Sao Paulo Championships: 3
Netherlands Open Championship: Years: 1996
Challenge Med Cannibal Champion: Year: 1996
KombatClinic.com: Professor Moura, thank you very much for your time in doing this interview, I know you are very busy with the Robson Moura Jiu Jitsu Association and teaching/training at your establishment in Tampa, Florida. Together with the other athletes in this issue it means a lot to me that you have taken time to share your thoughts with KombatClinic.com
Can we start, as we always do, with a little background to Robson “Robinho” Moura? Your background in the martial arts, how you came across Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, your peers during training at the lower belts and your influences in the sport of BJJ from day one and right up to today?
Robson “Robinho” Moura: I started training jiu-jitsu 22 years ago, when my father took me to a school where one his friends used to train at. At that time, I wanted to follow all the jiu-jitsu champions’ steps, so I started to compete with only 3 months of training. I was training 2 or 3 times a day to be who I am today, and I have no regrets, if I had to, I would do it all over again. My first instructor, Ailson “Jucao” Brites, was a big inspiration for me back then.
KC: As a competitor you have been crowned Mundials Champion on no less that seven occasions (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 & 2007). Having scooped these titles you have fought the likes of Vinicius Cruz, Fredson Alves and Samuel Cruz to name just three. Over the years who would you say has been your toughest opponent and which match is your most memorable?
RM: I faced very tough opponents, guys like Ricardo Veira, Fredson Paixao, Muzio De Angelis for example. They all had different games, but the most memorable fight was with Marcos da Matta (Parrumpinha) in 2000 worlds.
Robson ‘Robinho’ Moura vs. Marcos ‘Parrumpinha’ Da Matta at the 2000 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Mundials.
KC: Looking back over recent years’ Mundial results they suggest that Team Nova Uniao were most successful in 1998 and 2000 with both yourself and Marcelo Ferreira (Galo) claiming gold in ’98 and then in 2000 Robson Moura (Pluma), BJ Penn (Pena) and Vitor Ribeiro (Leve) placing first. Since 2000 (as a collective) team it seems like Nova Uniao’s dominance, especially in the lower weights, is not what it once was.
In 2009 Thiago Gaia secured a bronze medal while Ricardo Gonzalez lost in the Pesadíssimo final to Roger Gracie, the world’s best grappler. Who do you foresee coming through the ranks from team Nova Uniao over the next few years to assert the team’s dominance?
RM: We have some guys who able to reach a good positions for the next few years at Nova Uniao. Here are just some examples: Marcelinho Freitas, Bruno Bastos, Thiago Gaia, Steve Rosenberg, Joseph Emanuel and Ricardo Abreu.
KC: Is it far to say that whilst Team Nova Uniao haven’t had the success recently in BJJ (Gi) based tournaments they have added a number of titles from No-Gi events (the No-Gi worlds) and the world of mixed martial arts (WEC Championship)?
RM: I think is just a phase, my friends and training partners are fighting more in no Gi events at the moment, but as soon as they start to compete with Gi again, the results will come up great again.
KC: Recently there were some clips of you posted on YouTube rolling with UFC veteran Hermes Franca. Firstly, is Hermes still working with the American Top Team or has he switched to Nova Uniao and second, do you get many visitors coming to your academy from other teams in the US especially being based in Florida with such as ATT and the Pablo Popovitch BJJ Centre?
RM: Hermes Franca is not ATT anymore, but he is a personal friend of mine who comes to train sometimes with me, the same way I welcome all my friends to come to my school in Florida whenever they need to train.
KC: Staying with clips on YouTube, I was watching a match between Shinya Aoki and Joao Batista (Nova Uniao) from a while back and remembered reading that Batista was a black belt in BJJ under you. Is this correct? And are there plan’s afoot to set the Robson Moura Jiu Jitsu Association in Japan?
RM: Joao Batista is one of my black belts and he carries Robson Moura Association in Japan, while Fabricio Nascimento does the same in Italy, and in the USA, Robson Moura Nova Uniao Association is getting bigger day by day.
KC: I understand you recently awarded your first American Black belt to your student Josef “Ze Cobra” Manuel. Is it important to you now to establish more black belts in the US and in doing so furthering the Robson Moura Jiu Jitsu Association? And how did you feel upon Josef winning the No-Gi Worlds at black belt?
RM: Josef has been working hard as an athlete and as a teacher, I am so proud of him, and I think he deserves even more. My goal is to grow a big black belt team with good people who can carry our team name as a family.
KC: Back to competition, this coming April sees the next instalment of the Abu Dhabi Pro Cup with an estimated prize fund reported to be close to $150,000. With more opportunities for competition [and] competitions with prize money attached each and every time there are mouth-watering prospects at every championships. One such prospect, that pretty much all enthusiasts want to see, is the battle between arguably the two most successful Pluma y Pene fighters: Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles Maciel and Robson Moura. Is that something you too relish?
RM: First of all, I think the ADCC has been doing a great job offering money, and supporting the Jiu-Jitsu competitors, something that most of the tournaments should think for the professionals. I am a big fan of Cobrinha; it would be an honour to compete against him.
KC: Professor Moura, thank you so much for taking time to talk with KombatClinic.com today. Do you have anything else you would like to mention that we have not covered in this interview or anyone you would like to thank specifically?
RM: I would like to thank KombatClinic.com for giving me the opportunity for this interview. I also want to say thanks for my all RMNU associates family. Special Thanks to John Graybeal, my partner and friend, and for all the people and fans that has been supporting my career over the years. Don’t forget to check out www.robsonmoura.com and www.novauniao.com