Monday, November 16, 2009

Gracie Mag Article

Below is the article about Professor Jacare from Gracie Mag:

Look back and move forth

In an emotion-filled report, the leader of Alliance Atlanta sums up a year replete with joy and hardship

Alliance founder Romero “Jacaré” Cavalcanti lived out a year 2009 full of highs and lows. His team won its fourth Jiu-Jitsu World Championship, but the master had some close calls where his health was concerned. “After training with Cobrinha, I felt this horrible pain in my chest. I went to the hospital and woke up with a quadruple bypass, along with some other things,” recalls Jacaré, who had another scare early in the year, when a kidney problem kept him out of combat for a few weeks.

It was in Jiu-Jitsu that Romero sought support: “The whole time at the hospital I was thinking it wasn’t time to go, that I still have much to do.” A phone call from a friend helped in his recovery: “Renzo called me one day and I was too weak even to speak. He told me from the other end of the line, in his characteristic cheerful and positive way: ‘Champ, be strong because you’ll get past this, we’ve been through rougher patches before, this is nothing.’ And I imagined him standing before me, with that winning smile that shrugs off hard times, and thought to myself: ‘Of course I’ll make it past this.’”

Jacaré (in the black gi in the middle) and the Alliance black belts during training in 2008

After the scare, Jacaré turned 57 on October 22 and the date made him reminisce about the beginning: “I had a flashback of these past nearly 30 years, ever since I started, back in the ‘70s, at the famous Carlson Gracie academy, above Casa Gebara, in Copacabana. I trained with Professor Tuninho. That was where I fell in love with Jiu-Jitsu, a sport that wasn’t as hyped as it is today. There were no World Championships, no Pan-Americans, etc… It was the north zone versus the south zone, in Rio.” Competing was a lot different too: “Heel-hooks and slams were allowed; it was rough, a mistake in defense would cost you the match. You would only get a rematch the following year, since it wasn’t like now with competitions all the time. I once took a slam at the Rio Championship and spent a few months unable to train. I got greedy about the arm from the guard and only woke up a while later.”

Since then Jacaré witnessed the growth of his passion and the transformation of a sport into a global industry, as he himself recounts: “Our art is perhaps the fighting style growing most in the world, reaching epidemic proportions worldwide. Wherever you go, at all four corners of the globe, there is Jiu-Jitsu.” And, without feigned modesty, Jacaré knows he played an important role in this growth: “I’m happy to have helped, along with the others, to get Jiu-Jitsu to where it is. I produced good teachers and students, participated in all the competitions since the ‘70s. Alliance, which was first Jacaré and then Master, is around to this day and even the best in the world these past two years. From it others arose, like Brasa and Check Mat. My mission is being accomplished.”

Gurgel and Jacare

The inspiration for this tireless work comes from the example bestowed on Romero by his great master: “I always converse with my late master Rolls Gracie. I ask him: ‘Now are you satisfied? You left the party early, but we’re here till now to make you happy.’ He answers: ‘Dear Jacaré, this isn’t even the beginning. We still have a long way to go.’”

With the words of Rolls echoing, Jacaré finishes: “In 1989 I promoted my first black belt, Fabio Gurgel. He is without a doubt doing an extraordinary job and if today we have branches in South and North America, Europe and Asia and still remain united, I owe a lot of it to him, who always believed we could stand tall again after all we went through with the split. With work and perseverance, we shall always have the hope of better days to come. I wish the entire Jiu-Jitsu community a 2010 loaded with success and everyone doing their part for this marvelous sport to become even greater so when the day comes that we meet our eternal masters, Carlos, Helio, Rolls and Carlson, once again we may ask them: “Where do we go to train?”

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