By: Adisa Banjoko, HHCF Founder
The Hip-Hop Chess Federation now has a jiu jitsu team. The goal of the team is to unite some of the best minds and souls in Jiu Jitsu to help humanitarian efforts and keep peace on the streets. Each month we hope to profile 2 members of the team. Sergio Silva is an amazing guy. He has raised a lot of money for disaster victims in Haiti, Pakistan and other parts of the world. This is his story
AB: When did you start training jiu jitsu and why?
I start practice Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in August of 1992 when some of my friends and brother start to practice BJJ with this guy name Jorge.The Jiu-Jitsu that he used to teach it used to be Half BJJ and half Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. It was in 1993 where I start practice the pure BJJ.An academy opened right next to my house(two block away).
I start practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu due of the violence in some parts of Brazil. I used to go watch soccer games and like everyone know Soccer in Brazil is HUGE. 95% of the time in the end of the game I used to watch or be very close to big fights. One day I watched this guy getting into a fight where he was actually the guy that started the fight but he had no idea how to fight. Coming back home with that scenario in my head kind of made me anxious. Get in a fight with no answers was something that made me very scared even to think about it. After few weeks I watch another scneario that made my head think very serious about enjoying a Martial Arts(BJJ) academy.
This group of guys tried to get in a fight with this rich kid. The rich kid did not wanted to fight at all, he had his girlfriend and was inside this building in a party. But this 3 guys were very serious to keep the provocation until the rich kid lost and went outside to see what this guys wanted it.
I was outside watching everything. The kid wants to talk with the big of all of them and asked him what was the problem.
The big guy did not wanted to talk much and start to push the rich kid. In fraction of seconds the rich kid put the big guy down and suddenly he was in the back choking the big guy telling him :
“THIS IS JIU-JITSU MY FRIEND YOU SHOULD HAVE TAUGHT TWICE BEFORE STARTING ALL THIS.”
The most impressive thing it was he did not throw one punch or kick he just used grappling techniques-In that point I was sold-the next thing I would have to do it would figure it out how to get the money to start practice since BJJ was very expensive.
AB: When did you decide to seriously go after your Black belt and for those seeking your level, what should they expect to endure?
If you do expect to get your black belt one day make sure to know that the journey start with several major sacrifices in your life. I went through injuries after injuries I had to stop going to University, gave up my dream of graduate in College, lost girlfriends(due of them not understanding my mat time space) and had trouble to keep jobs due of the flexibility of been traveling all the time for the tournaments.
When I went to my first competition and lost one of my teammates was an engineer and one day he brought his chess set to the academy and start talking about strategy and how we all related through this Human Chess that is BJJ. My teacher at the time Evanri Gurgel told me to start play more Chess to improve my ground game(I taught What a Hell he is talking about it?). Back then most of my friends did not like it or did not know how to play Chess. So one day I was walking in a very busy street in Curitiba and I saw some old folks playing Chess(they looked like homeless). I approach one of them and asked them if I could play(underestimating this folks was one of my biggest mistake).
I start playing thinking that I would smash this old man. In the middle of the game he talked for the first time, until then I had no idea how is voice sound like it.
He said:“You move really fast making amazing mistakes and is all because of your speed of thinking”
He defeated me two times with no major problems at all…
In the end he told me again:
“Think more before make your moves young man…when you make a decision you can’t turn back and if you take your hands out of the piece that move is DONE”.
Playing Chess that day made a HUGE impact in my Jiu-Jitsu game,the next day I tried to move really slow in practice and people taught that I was sick or not serious. I was only a white belt trying to move like a blue or purple belt-
How Dare I was???
AB: You have hosted some historic events raising money for victims of natural disasters. Most notably Haitian earthquake relief as well as Pakistan flood victims. Tell me how those ideas together and how hard was it to organize so many schools that do battle to come together for a humanitarian cause?
SS: To tell you the truth organizing this events was kind of scary. I was in the U.S Open for the weekend and I went to get a cup of coffee.When I got there to get a cup of coffee I saw several people with the computer in the shop,I saw a young couple arguing about that the establishment did not had half and half for them put in their coffee ,people with the best cell phones. And here I was getting ready to fight the US Open with tons other of our BJJ community people spending cash to do something nice for ourselves but what are we were doing for somebody else?
Thousands of people were dead or dying and all we could think about it is how we could win this tournament. When I start thinking that way I realize that the value of the tournament went down and I did not even care as much about the result and all I could think about it was how we all could come together and make something special not for ourselves but for others…help people without have them to ask for help it was my main objective. I went around talking with ever single teachers and professors and telling what they think about this and all of them really sound very positive and supportive. It took me another week getting everyone in the same room and get the cash to help the victims. The feeling of doing something so special it was unreal.
BJJ Haiti Raises 4k for Quake Victims
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AB: Of all your matches what are your top three that taught you something about yourself?
The other fight was in Porto Alegre I was fighting one of the best guy in that State,everyone was there but from my TEAM just me and 3 other guys.Ze Mario Sperry was his coach and for some odd reason I got intimidated for that and gave the guy way too much respect-I did an amazing fight and I wish I had that tape for that fight.I end up loosing by an advantage in the end, that time we did not had advantage and was most interpretation of the referee.
The other one was in 2009 in the finals of the Pan American Championships where I taught the fight was already done but we still had 10 seconds to go…I end up loosing by the interpretation of the referee that told me in the end that I was way more tired then the guy-I taught the fight was over but it’s only over when is over.
AB: What are the characteristics of being a good teacher? Also, what are the characteristics of being a good student?
SS: I believe that before talk we must be able to listen.When we are born that is the most effective thing that we have.Be able to listen then talk. Students as well teachers must be able to listen. Respect is one of the most important thing that a student in martial arts must have for the person that is bringing the acknowledge. If you were never able to get a triangle choke or to apply this amazing sweep and now after few months of training now you are able to pull all this sweet moves together there is one person besides yourself that you must take your hat off for it and that guy is your teacher. Loyalty to yourself and the people around you that is helping you to achieve that level- Remember jiu-jitsu is an individual sport but without the TEAM you will have nobody to practice.
Discipline is the key of Success also if you are not focus and willing to learn it will be very difficult to see any progress here…A good teacher it will listen to you if you have a problem or an injury and will understand what need to be done in order for you to progress. A good student will always listen, respect and have a great amount of discipline involve in training that everyone on the mats will take him/her serious. And also don’t forget to laugh at your teacher’s jokes even if is kind of corny.
AB: What are your favorite Hip Hop jams that motivate you on the mat?
SS: Yeah I like the old school hip hop where they used to talk about politics and right ideas. Public enemy has a good beat that I enjoy very much.Fight the Power is Tight…I like when the motivates me to move my body or to choke someone but having fun in the process.
AB: Any last words?
I would like to say thanks for Adisa for putting this interview together and believing in the power of BJJ and Chess. I also would like to give a quick shout out for my wife and son and all my Teammates without you guys life would be very sketchy.