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GuardianLV sat down with Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) trainer Leandro Lorenco (manager at WandFightTeam) for an interview. This reporter had the privilege of being a student there and knowing him as his students do has the potential to change mindsets on why MMA is beneficial for not just an adult, but for a young child. His perspective provides an understanding of how MMA changes a person not just physically, but mentally. I have asked him a couple of questions, and hopefully with His answers to the questions in this interview may provide insight into why MMA is a positive influence for Leandro.
Q. My first question is what got you into JIU-JITSU?
A. I first got into JIU-JITSU when I was 14 years old. All the teenagers wanted to look tough somehow and I felt like if I started JIU-JITSU, nobody knew what it was so everybody stayed at a distant wondering what it was, ‘this guy knows JIU-JITSU, what is that?’. That’s how I started, but after a while of practicing you start falling in love with the art. You start learning more and more, and the more you learn, the more you want to be on the mat, and the more friends you are going to make through JIU-JITSU. To start I had a reason, but to keep it changed everything. The way of learning the new technique, it never stops. That is what kept me going and going and going.,
Q. I noticed you train out of two different gyms, why is it important that you train out of two?
A. Basically I train in Judo and teach JIU-JITSU at Ryoku Judo Club with Sensei Sergio Sanchez, and manage and train JIU-JITSU classes at WandFightTeam. My whole life I pull guard. I felt that I need to improve my take downs and standing game and grappling game. I looked into in Las Vegas as a place for Judo and Wrestling. They just have them in high school (Wrestling). So I found Judo, which I have been practicing for 3 years in Brazil, and I started practicing with Sensei Sergio. He’s from Cuba, 4th Degree Black Belt, super tough. And I continue training and started to get motivated in competing in Judo, and started competing in Nationals in 2013 and got 3rd place, last year I competed in 3 smaller tournaments, I got 1st place in the 3 tournaments. And then I went to Nationals and I won Nationals. I started training to complete my JIU-JITSU game and I started getting into Judo as well. And after a while the Sensei asked me if I wanted to teach JIU-JITSU there. The same to complete the Judo people and I started teaching there, charging a small amount compare to the other gyms and it’s just to have a group of people and have fun and share JIU-JITSU. That is a place that I don’t make any money and I just have my guys there to learn and spread the JIU-JITSU knowledge and all the benefits that JIU-JITSU can bring you.
Q. Now is this how you and Thaisa (Monteiro) were able to meet up in JIU-JITSU?
A. Yeah, we met in College, we went to the college games in Brazil and the day after I met her I was going to compete in JIU-JITSU and I invited her to watch. And I won the tournament and we just started talking more from there. I discovered she was a Black Belt in ITF Taekwondo, she started training JIU-JITSU with me as well. And now she trains in Judo and JIU-JITSU with me and practices in Muay Thai. It’s the same life style and it’s easy to have a wife who likes the same things in relation to MMA as you, which makes it easy to do together. So it’s more fun.
Q. How important is it for you to train kids in JIU-JITSU?
A. Kids, they are the future. At first I was a little scared to teach kids, but then when you learn to fulfill their needs, it’s amazing. In one year they can change their behavior, their techniques. They learn a lot. and their relationship with their parents changes. They don’t just learn JIU-JITSU, but become better human beings, and that’s our future. If everybody learns discipline through MMA, we would have a better world. Last week I had a class of kids up to 9 years old. I had 21 kids in the class. That’s amazing. They like to do that, for them it’s like playing but with discipline and with rules.
Q. Now does this change your whole mentality from when you started JIU-JITSU till now?
A. For sure. I got into it to feel better and more confident. When you have skills to protect yourself, your whole life changes. Your mentality changes. Your behavior changes. You don’t want to get into any problems, you don’t need to prove yourself with those who don’t practice in MMA. Because if you want to prove yourself you have to enroll into competitions. Go and compete against with someone your weight, your age and your knowledge, and then you’re going to see if you are tough or not. That’s how you prove yourself, not against someone that’s on the street who has no knowledge of Martial Arts. You might just prove that you’re a coward. You want to prove yourself then join a gym and train and spar with guys who know what they are doing. Then you can tell where you are at. We can’t forget one of the main things in MMA is to be humble enough and committed to the philosophy, not just the performance, we have to follow the virtues of a Martial Artist. And I think people forget about that. We try to do good and get the next generations to be good people.
Leandro is an ambassador for MMA and the positive influence that the discipline of the sport can provide for students young and old. His philosophy and approach is infectious, and is shared by a large percentage of MMA practicioners. For those who are reluctant to enroll their kids in classes or engage for the entertainment value of the sport, just fifteen minutes of talking with Leandro might be all it takes to gain a whole new perspective on MMA.
Interview By Arturo Aranza
Interview with Leandro Lorenco, January 19, 2015