Orlando Neto - An exclusive interview with Austria's bjj master


You've probably heard his name if you're following the sport or you train and compete actively: Orlando Machado Neto. Orlando started from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and travelled all around the world before ending up in Vienna where he opened an academy.

Orlando is one of the first Black Belts teaching Seminars over Europe since 2001, he opened his first school in Germany but for more than 5 years living in Austria where he is Leading the fusion of AkxeBJJ and "Roger Gracie Vienna" Located at Backyard Vienna. One of his latest achievement is the Gold Medal at the London Open 2014, where he won against the leader of Gracie Barra LA , World Champion and UFC Fighter Alberto Crane, but according to him the biggest victory is watching his students improve.

After getting his black belt he had a big surgery on his back and he could barely walk for the next six months. The doctors told him to forget about tournaments but he decided to take a different route and took on a few tournamenst despite all the pains and difficulties with keeping the weight. And the reason? He felt that the students will be proud.

Orlando Machado Neto on the past, his experiences, Gi vs NoGi and his opinion on the direction sport bjj took.


ellenfelem.hu: - Hello Orlando! Thanks for sitting down with us. So, you started with bjj at age 4 at the Copacabana when times were very different. Can you tell us about how was it like?

Orlando Neto: - Yeah, my stepfather was the 6th student of the Carlson Gracie school and I was there regularly, watching the guys train. I grew up with them but despite the big rivalry between these schools my stepfather had friends both at Gracie Barra and at Carlson's School. I was really lucky because I had the opportunity to know both sides and train at both which wasn't really common. The Gracie Barra guys trained in one district and Carlson's guys in another one. I had friends on both sides.

e: - Now that you look back how do you remember or see the Wallid Ismail conflict?

ON: - Ultimately I think it helped the sport to grow. I don't think there really was hate. The hormones were involved for sure and the sport was growing rapidly. Also these guys were all really competitive.

e:  - Probably you have a few wild and funny stories but can you tell us one?

ON: - Definitely. There are a lot of fun and crazy guys and they travel a lot so we are no short on stories. There was a fight once between Renzo Gracie and Eugenio Tadeu. I was very young and watching it close to the ring. My father was calling the fights, announced the names and such. Suddenly a huge fight broke out between the Luta Livre guys and the Jiu Jitsu guys. They've switched off the lights, chairs were flying. I was worried about my father as he was still talking into the microphone, trying to calm people and make them stop. I thought I had to rescue him otherwise someone will seriously hurt him and beat him up. I made it to the ring somehow, partially on all fours but when I got there I realized he left already. He was in the locker rooms somewhere and his voice was coming from the speakers. Now I had to make my way back! It's funny now but back then actually I didn't really enjoy it.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PaKER7VSh0&rel=0]

e: - You moved to the US for a year when you were 16. How do you remember those times?

ON: - I was an exchange student but unfortunately there was no bjj in the US at that time. I was already a blue belt and I couldn't train so it was a bit frustrating. I tried wrestling but when a guy took me down I slapped a triangle on him and he almost passed out yet they still said I lost because my back hit the ground. I couldn't understand this. After two days I stopped wrestling. Nowadays I really like it but back than I just didn't get it. I switched to American Football and after a while I started to teach bjj to my teammates. It was my first time teaching. I never had such plans as I was just a blue belt but my friends were asking me. It was a good opportunity as I could then train a little bit at least.

e: - Was it a conscious decision that you've ended up in Europe? Almost everyone relocated and competes, lives, trains in the US.

ON: - I like the US but it's really different to live here. There's something here that I felt the very first time I came here. Just a few hours drive and people speak a different language, live in a completely different culture with different ways of thinking and different foods. I fell in love with Europe and especially with this part of it. In a few hours I can go to Croatia, Slovenia or up to Germany. I just find this amazing.

e: - Why is it that Jiu-Jitsu becomes a lifestlye, a way of living and thinking really fast in your opinion?

ON: - I think it's a combination of many things. For me it's part of brazilian culture. So it's a cultural thing but also there's respect that plays a big part and the way it promotes a healthy lifestyle. There's jiu-jitsu and lots of other things around it like the Gracie Diet, the history around it and so on.

e: - We've asked Roger the same question but we'd like to hear your take as well on Gi vs NoGi. How do you see this topic?

ON: - I was very patient for a long time with people coming to my academy telling me they don't want to train in the Gi. Many teachers had this problem a few years ago when they came here that people have seen MMA and came to train but didn't understand the importance of it. Probably the Gracies had this less because of the name, their reputation. We had to explain to people a lot why they had to train in the Gi. All the champions, all the best fighters train with the Gi. I don't try to convince people anymore. We have NoGi days at my school but those who want to participate have to take part in the Gi classes as well.

e: - There's this new debate that sport bjj took a really different direction where they focus way more on sport-specific techniques, small advantages and such and left the self defense path and the effectiveness behind. How do you see this topic?

ON: - I think that both are valid and I love them. I enjoy the IBJJF tournaments but I also love when Metamoris is on. It's all jiu-jitsu. There's always something new, some new challenge and that makes jiu-jitsu amazing.

We wanted to hear Roger's take as well so we asked the same question:

Roger Gracie: - There's always something like this. For example many years ago it was the spider guard everyone said you cannot use in real life. In the sport bjj world they're looking for ways to win the match and not do defend themselves. They're focused on that and therefore it's natural that techniques, things will emerge.

It's the berimbolo now, it was the spider guard before. There's always something that people will try to use while others won't like it. It will always stay jiu jitsu however. No matter what techniques they'll come up with as others will figure out a way to defend and counter it and a lot of times you have to get back to the basics.

And if you're not  good with that you won't be successful.

e: - Do you guys prefer submission only tournaments?

RG: - I think it's impossible to do big tournaments like that. You can watch 6-7 fights like Metamoris but as fights can be 20-30 minutes it's hard to go beyond. Imagine you have a huge tournament and the first fight is 1 hour. You won't be too excited by the end and after that. You can set time limits and use different restrictions but still these are sepcial cases. Look at the number of guys learning jiu jitsu. They all need to compete.

e: - An easy one for the last: what's your favorite sub if any?

ON: - I like the Omoplata.

RG: - I don't have a favorite submission. Every submission is exactly the same to me. Whichever you able to win a fight with that's the best one. But I prefer chokes over locks. With a lock they can carry on fighting. Even if you break someone's arm they'll might continue. With a choke it's not possible. They'll pass out.