In this interview, we talked with Bill and Gustavo about how they met, their jiu-jitsu passion and how Bill’s biggest improvements and changes connect jiu-jitsu to real life situations.
Bill: “How did we meet many, many years ago in Virginia Beach?”
Gustavo: “Right after 9/11 I had my Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Virginia Beach. And I had the pleasure of meeting you there. And I guess you never left.”
Bill: [laughs] “No.”
Gustavo: “You started Jiu Jitsu. And enjoyed it so much.”
Bill: “Yeah, I remember. I think it was actually slightly before 9/11.”
Gustavo: “Was it?”
Bill: “Yeah, I think it was early 2001. Yes. And I remember I had actually gone to another place first, one time. And it wasn’t a good fit for me. And then I remember walking into your place that was underneath the bridge there, by the freeway. Yeah remembering just walking in. It was still a canvas-covered mat. And just, I walked in and I saw it. I just thought to myself, ‘Man, this is… this is home right here’.”
Gustavo: [laughs] “It was really… it was really raw back then. We didn’t… we didn’t have real mats. So it was a whole experience with no A/C, no heat.”
Bill: “Oh yeah, I remember freezing in the wintertime, having jackets on and socks on, and then in the summertime just melting.”
Gustavo: [laughs] “That’s why you liked it.”
Gustavo: “It was good jiu-jitsu, too, but that whole environment… I think brought people – unique people – to that time of my life, to jiu-jitsu. That was the biggest thing.
Bill: [nods] “That was awesome.”
Interviewer: “What improvements and changes have you noticed in Bill since he started [jiu jitsu]?
Gustavo: “Of course, as far as a jiu-jitsu fighter, technical changes, instead of being over aggressive, sometimes they gear down. What I noticed for the changes on Bill was that you became more technical, obviously more knowledgeable, became more exact on his jiu-jitsu learning and [easier] to coach.
So as a person, I had the chance to be in your guys’ wedding and be part of a lot of things off the mat. Which means I noticed improvements that are not only connected to real life but [also] improvements for the mats. They’re together [connected] really. But only a few people can notice that. And I’ve been close to him for so long that I noticed improvement. Especially after he got married. It was like that was the real deal. You know, so he changed. He was already amazing. And then all of a sudden, with training and his personal life everything kind of got together.”
Bill: [nods] “Yeah, definitely more than just jiu-jitsu. As far as the, you know, the kind of the team and being together, and we were in each other’s weddings…I mean there was, yeah.”
Gustavo: [laughs] “Yes. But it’s hard to notice when you don’t know somebody. Right? When you don’t hang out with them, when you don’t see when they’re at your work? I’m sure that helped you to be a little bit more ascertained into what you have to do next. Big time.”
Interviewer: “What sets BJJ apart from the other disciplines?”
Gustavo: “Jujitsu is different from other disciplines because it incorporates all of them. What Judo can’t do – we do it. What wrestling can’t do – we do it, but we do wrestling, too. So a lot of things… A lot of times in sports – jujitsu became a sport – but also, it’s more realistic than others. As far as close distance goes, as far as far range goes… that’s… you have to find every type of discipline. So jiu jitsu finds the adaptation on a fight. It is easier for a jiu-jitsu person. I think they can kind of understand and adapt to the circumstances better and that’s why I think jiu-jitsu is more effective. A little bit more.”
Interviewer: “And Bill, do you wanna speak about how – for both of you – how Brazilian jiu-jitsu fits with pistols?”
Gustavo: [nods] “Nice.”
Bill: “Yeah. So how does jujitsu fit in with pistol craft and with combatives and you know, stand up grappling and all those things? Basically, if you don’t understand how to move your own body and move other people it’s going to be much harder for you to draw any tools. So it’s one of the foundational things – being able to move yourself and move other people. Being able to control the situation also allows you to do things with a lot less violence – if you understand how to move people and how to control people without having to go to some sort of a tool. So it’s a huge advantage if you do understand how to do that. And I would say no combatives guy, no true martial artist is going to be complete unless he understands at least a baseline level of grappling and has a baseline level of a grappling ability.”
Gustavo: “I agree. Completely. We start with jiu-jitsu. I think it makes me understand better where is my body? I can protect my weapon much easier because I’m aware of people reaching on me. That comes on with training. I think a lot of martial arts give that but jiu-jitsu give more [of] the grappling aspect: the hands on, the wrist control, the distance awareness, people behind you. Nobody in jiu-jitsu likes to have somebody walking behind you. So automatically in jiu-jitsu training, I already feel like I can look at my peripheral much easier. And being aware of my own piece, of course, hands on, to avoid their piece or their tools I think jujitsu helps so much, too.”
Bill: “To that, I know, for sure, that jiu-jitsu is not one of the primary things that I teach when I’m doing combatives training, but it’s woven into every piece of it. And I know so many times when I’m demoing something, you know, coming in trying to get seatbelt grip on a guy you’re trying to do counter-gun stuff. There are many, many times that if I was not a jiu-jitsu guy, I would have gotten punked by students. Bottom line. It’s not that they’re trying to do it. It’s just that they’re not used to..a lot of these guys that aren’t grapplers are not used to being hands on. And so they’ll do something weird when you grab them. And being a jiu-jitsu guy, it’s not a big deal. I just do this, then. I’ll just transition to something else and do it. So it’s definitely you know… while it might not be the main thing that I’m putting out continuously, it’s one of those underlying foundational things that without having that, everything else… is shakier.”
Gustavo: “Yes. It’s hard to understand. A jiu-jitsu person is easier to understand. They understand it quicker. They have a better reaction but it’s just like MMA, for example. I don’t like to compare or anything like that. But MMA for example. Jiu-jitsu is the spine of MMA. Without Jiu-Jitsu, you can’t just be a striker, you can’t be just a grappler. You know, obviously, when you deal with tools, it’s much broader. The circumstances… but the situation… but it’s still very, like you said, woven together. And it glues a little bit more solid foundation on us, I think, which is great. For me, it’s great to hear that.”
Interviewer: “Last one: Has it ever helped you in your job? Maybe in the military?”
Gustavo: “Nice. That’s awesome.”
Bill: “Yeah, absolutely. So has jujitsu helped me at my work in my former profession? Absolutely. Just being able to control people, being able to control people with less violence. Absolutely. It has been very helpful. Also noticeable for you know speaking as a group of guys, the more guys trained via jujitsu and striking and all these things, the more guys had willingness to close with guys that you couldn’t just shoot. Right? So, with someone that was maybe being non compliant, but hadn’t reached that threshold yet of we need to shoot this guy. The guys that train were always the guys that would have a high level of willingness to go in and close the distance and deal with them.”
Gustavo: “They’re more calmer, you think?”
Bill: “Oh, for sure. And well, just they’ve done it so many times and trained against guys that are way, way better and way stronger than anyone that you’re dealing with on the battlefield. That when it’s time to go against, you know, some guy that doesn’t know how to control his body, he’s very easy to deal with.”
Gustavo: “Yes. Awesome. Great to hear.”
Bill: “All right. Well, Gustavo, thank you for coming out here.”
Gustavo: “It’s a pleasure.”
Bill: “Gustavo is out here for the jiu-jitsu and pistol class. This is now the second year. Hopefully, this is a yearly thing that we will be doing. Because it’s always great for me to be able to go back into student mode and just sit there and enjoy.”
For the Amtac Shooting Jiu-Jitsu and Pistol Course my long-time friend and Jiu-Jitsu teacher Gustavo Machado came out to teach the Jiu-Jitsu portion while I taught the shooting portion.
Students were not required to have a Jiu-Jitsu or grappling background in order to participate; whether you have never stepped out onto a mat or you have been rolling for 20 years, your grappling skills will increase.
Jiu-Jitsu topics included:
- guard passes
- positional domination
Pistol topics included:
- fundamentals of marksmanship
- shooting with an aggressive fighting stance
- one-handed draw stroke
- combative weapons retention shooting
- correctly dealing with malfunctions
- reloads among other things
Gustavo is the Head Instructor and proprietor of Gustavo Machado Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Professor Gustavo is currently a 5th Degree Black Belt under the legendary Roberto “Gordo” Correa. He has dedicated his life to teaching and spreading the understanding of the technique that he has mastered from his teachers in Brazil. There are many outstanding students at his academy in Virginia Beach, with a few embarking upon careers of their own as BJJ instructors.
There are 16 Gustavo Machado affiliate academies along the East Coast that create a Gustavo Machado Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Team Association. The Gustavo Machado Team has become both nationally and internationally renowned with many champions on the mat. In addition to his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu accomplishments, Gustavo has also had the opportunity to work closely with Law Enforcement and Special Operations units from the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and U.S. Army for the last 13 years.