Interview with Pedro Sauer
6th degree black belt, Professor Pedro Sauer, doing
what he does best...teaching killer Brazilian Jiu
Fighting Stars: Good evening lady’s and gentlemen we are delighted to have with us this evening, Professor Pedro Sauer, the world-class instructor of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Pedro, can you tell us how you got started in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Pedro Sauer: I began training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with a friend of mine by the name of Rickson Gracie. He was good friend that I knew from my neighborhood and he took me to train Jiu Jitsu. And that’s how I got started.
FS: So was Jiu Jitsu the first martial art that you had studied?
Pedro Sauer: No, I started training in Boxing, Judo and Tae Kwon Do. I was around five years old when I first started training in the martial arts.
FS: And who were your instructors at that time?
Pedro Sauer: In boxing my teacher was Santa Rosa. Judo was Professor Alberto. In Tae Kwon Do it was Master Wo Jae Lee.
FS: And who were some of your martial arts heroes while growing up?
Pedro Sauer: Bruce Lee!
FS: He seems to be everyone’s hero.
Pedro Sauer: Yes sir, I loved watching movies with Bruce Lee.
FS: Did he inspire you to continue in your martial arts training?
Pedro Sauer: Yes, absolutely.
FS: Now I would just like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on earning your 6th degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Pedro Sauer: Yes, Thank you very much.
FS: More so than any other person I believe that the Gracie family seemed to take you under their wing. Can you describe for us what it was like to be a part of this great Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tradition?
Pedro Sauer: It is an incredible family and they have a very good bond. They all have incredible athletic abilities. They are very nice people especially when you get to know them. You learn that they are very simple and very humble people when you get close to them. They know an incredible amount of Jiu Jitsu and they are just incredible people. I have a lot of good things to say about the family. I knew Helio Gracie’s family the best. Helio has always been a very tough, hardcore and very disciplined man. And Rickson was the same and Relson and Rorion also. Everybody was always the same they were tough and well-disciplined and very nice people.
FS: So they were very supportive of you in your training?
Pedro Sauer: Yes, I was a very small guy back then. When I first got my black belt I was only 120 pounds. So I guess Helio and everybody else always figured I was just a little guy and I think they figured I needed more help and maybe some polish because of my size. And today I would just like to say that I am thankful for all the help that I got from them.
FS: Can you tell us some of the key fundamental differences between traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Pedro Sauer: I believe that traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu has a lot of takedowns and a lot of throws and good joint manipulation. And I believe that in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu we work primarily on the ground. So the grappling aspect and the evolution of Jiu Jitsu was a lot further. I see the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as being a lot more involved in tricks and submissions that require a lot of setups. Traditional Jiu Jitsu was very effective but it was not as detailed in the submission or grappling aspects that one finds in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
FS: Yes, from what I have been able to observe there seems to be a great deal of sophistication in your technique. And from what I have seen you have an incredible ability to impart that knowledge to your students. However, I was wondering if there is any emphasis on striking in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
Pedro Sauer: Yes, we have a great deal of emphasis on striking. In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu we use a lot of boxing skills that have been incorporated into the striking. What you should do is try to strike from a close range. And with the techniques that I use I like to keep an open mind. I learn a new movement every day from everybody. So, every time I see somebody doing a move. It can be done right or wrong, but either way, I am learning something. I am always learning what to do and what not to do. And I think you should keep yourself humble in always learning and you are never going to see the end of Jiu Jitsu.
FS: What was the most important aspect of your training that made you the champion that you are today?
Pedro Sauer: Well I was not a champion to be honest I was a very small guy and I had incredible matches when I was a kid and what made me different was the numerous hours that I had in private classes with Rickson Gracie and for over 6 years I had private classes with him and the same thing with Helio Gracie I took a lot of private hours with him and Royler Gracie. Every time I had a chance to take some training with one of the Gracie’s I just had to take the opportunity and just do it.
FS: What are some of your favorite Jiu Jitsu techniques?
Pedro Sauer: There are a whole bunch of things in Jiu Jitsu that I love. I love arm bars and I love chokes those are my favorite moves. Yes, I would guess my strongest moves are probably the chokes and the arm bars.
FS: Can you tell us about some of the competitions that you entered into? And what were some of the outcomes of those matches?
Pedro Sauer: I competed several times in Judo matches in Brazil and I took the gold medal in I believe every tournament that I competed in. In Jiu Jitsu I fought a few hardcore guys and I got a few golds, I got a few silvers and I lost a few times. Back in Brazil they didn’t have too many tournaments so we used to go to every tournament and just show up. We went to Judo tournaments, we went to Jiu Jitsu tournaments any time there was a tournament going on we would sign up for it. That was back in the 70s and 80s when there weren’t that many competitions. But the competitions were very hardcore because anyone that was there was a very good Jiu Jitsu practitioner
Interview with Pedro Sauer
Fighting Stars: Can you tell us some of the names of the people that you considered were your best competitors at that time?
Pedro Sauer:Yes, one of my best competitors was Royler Gracie. The other was Ricardo De Lariva was another one of the incredible guys that I competed against. He was very technical. Also, there was Marcio Macarrao Strambovisky . Oh, there were so many I can’t even remember all the names to be honest.
FS: Do you have a basic strategy that you employ in your fighting?
Pedro Sauer:Yes, in my mind it is to be positive. I try to just focus on the fighting and the competitive aspect. I try to just go and use my game and to fight my game. I try to never get caught up with…Oh say, how good is this guy? How good he does things? How good are his techniques? I try to fight my game and I try to just evolve from that.
FS: You are one of the most sought after instructors for martial arts seminars. Can you give an example of how you assess a student’s weaknesses and how you shape them into becoming a better fighter?
Pedro Sauer:In the seminars that I teach that student is going to learn a lot. Because in our association I see the guy maybe once every two to three months and so when I see the student I am able to pass on some techniques. First some simple techniques and after that I can watch the guy training and then I can evolve that student and start to build on the movements from that position. So what I try to do in the seminar instead of just showing you 30 beautiful techniques I try to show you half a dozen of very effective ways of fighting. And then I try to show other combinations from the same technique. So that is how I try to evolve everybody in class.
FS: What are some of your aspirations for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the future?
Pedro Sauer:I would like to keep doing what I am doing and to develop the association the way that I am doing it now. I think that we have an incredible number of very talented, gifted and athletic guys in our association. And I believe strongly in the loyalty and the integrity that we bring to the mat. And also important is the respect that we bring on the mat. I think it is important not only to teach someone to be an effective fighter, I think it also important to teach that person to be respectful towards others and so we encourage social skills a lot in the class.
FS: Now earlier in class you spoke to the students about how important it is to help one another and how you need to work with your classmates. Can you tell us a little bit more about what you meant by this?
Pedro Sauer:When you are on the mat or in class learning with your friends you should never try to just beat your friends or classmates. You should train with the guy and when you see his weakness you should try to help him to overcome any weakness and this is a way that you are going to make yourself better too. You share the same techniques that you are working on with your partner. Because knowing that your partner knows the same techniques then you know that you have to get that much better than him using strategy. It’s too easy to beat someone that doesn’t know Jiu Jitsu when you know techniques that your partner doesn’t know. So you want to try to help each other get better.
FS: So when you help your fellow students to get better then that will in turn help you to get better also?
Pedro Sauer:Yes, exactly. The more you share, the more you help your students the more you help your friends in class the more you are going to get better.
FS: How many schools do you currently have?
Pedro Sauer:We have close to 45 schools right now.
FS: And you came here originally from Brazil?
Pedro Sauer:Yes, I came here from Rio De Janeiro Brazil in May of 1990. And when I came here I didn’t speak one word of English.
FS: Well you are doing very well now. Can you tell us how you like the United States?
Pedro Sauer:I really like the United States. I have seven kids here now and I don’t see myself moving back to Brazil. I see myself going back to Brazil to visit and to spend time over there. But I plan on staying here in the States with my kids. We like the culture and I think we can accomplish a lot over here. I think the American guys have incredible talent. I think they are stronger and more dedicated than many of the people that we trained back in Brazil. The dedication is incredible over here. When you tell someone over here to do the move he will do it 20, 30, 40 or even 50 times over and over. In Brazil we do the move a few times then we want to do something else. The Brazilian culture tends to be more laid back. I think I would like to raise my daughters and my children over here in America.
Interview with Pedro Sauer
Fighting Stars: And your children are also training in Jiu Jitsu as well?
Pedro Sauer:Yes, everyone studies Jiu Jitsu. I have all daughters and they all train in Jiu Jitsu and I have one stepson that also has trained in Jiu Jitsu.
FS: I understand that you have trained the FBI, CIA and Special Forces and Special Operations. Can you describe this training for us?
Pedro Sauer:Yes, I started by putting together some Jiu Jitsu self-defense for law enforcement. And I first did that to help out a law enforcement department. As the time went by I saw how valuable that training was and it was very soon after that when I met Frank Cucci from Virginia. Frank was a Navy Seal and he introduced me to the Navy Seals. Today we have a great course. It’s called the TAG course. It is a specific course for law enforcement and for military personnel. These are incredible techniques for self-defense and of course for attacks too, or to make someone say uncle. In law enforcement you need to make your opponent submit. You can’t expect to just twist the hands and have them submit. Of course that will work with a compliant guy, but the non-compliant guy you need to understand how to make him say uncle or to get him in the handcuffs or to get the job done.
FS: You are probably going to help save a lot of the law enforcement agencies from lawsuits.
Pedro Sauer:Yes, that’s the beauty of what we do in this course because it’s almost like we are helping these groups to be liability free or as close to that as possible. We work on the joint manipulations and even if you happen to snap the joint the joint can be put back into place and if you take an x-ray you will see that the joint is back in place and the body mechanics work well. After the joint manipulation your ligaments and joints can maintain proper body mechanics and so there is no damage and any possible liability problem would not hold up in court.
FS: I know you have a plane to catch so in closing is there anything else you would like to add?
Pedro Sauer:I would like to tell everyone to keep your incentive. To always keep positive and train very hard. Don’t get hurt so that you can enjoy a happy and healthy life. Try to stay on the mat as long as possible. Try to help out with everyone. Don’t save the techniques just for yourself, but help everyone else. If someone helps you make sure you do the same to help other people.
FS: Thank you Pedro and have a safe trip back to Utah.
Pedro Sauer:Thank you, it’s been my pleasure.