Growing up I wanted to be like Robert Kiyosaki (author of the “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” series) I would wear suits to school,(my mom hated this phase I went through since I didn’t mind playing morning basketball in a 3 piece) I carried a brief case and started my own candy business.
When I started BJJ I didn’t really know anyone’s story other than Helio Gracie. I became a fan of the BJJ practitioner, but I still hadn’t found someone I could relate to or mimic on and off the mat.
I went on a hard search(I ended up trolling the internet, there aren’t too many bjj biographies out there) to find my hero and gender was not a concern. After hours of re-reading magazine articles, online blogs, and countless Wikipedia pages, I can safely say I am a fan of Rafael Mendes and JT Torres.
JT is a blast to watch because you can’t help but root for the underdog. He wins but gold has eluded him in most of the major tournaments. He’s a great guy and keeps a positive attitude in losing and you can feel his jubilation when he wins. It’s his energy that’s made me a fan.
Rafael on the other hand is the guy you expect to win, but I like him because for the first time I understood what it means to watch art in motion(is this why they call it Arte Suave?) watching a highlight video of his on Youtube. I had the volume down and was listening to “Breathe” by Telepopmusik and something just clicked in my head, it was graceful, brutal, and made pride swell in my chest.
I had found my BJJ hero.
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