Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Get this.  We're so cool now, we don't even do our own work.  No.  We get other, smarter and more grammatically correct people to do it and then give to us to pawn off as our own.  That, my little grappleros, is how we roll. 

Check out this amazing article (exclusive to DSTRYR/SG) written by Shawn Smith, a freelance MMA journalist out of Ontario, Canada and, of course, a friend and supporter of DSTRYR/SG.  Shawn sat down with Abmar Barbosa in the wake of the world class grappler's reemergence onto the BJJ competition scene (after a lengthy recovery from an injury).  We thank Shawn for his contribution to the site and to Abmar for being a kickass subject (and for pioneering the Jiu Jitsu mohawk).  Go. 


In life, we are taught to grow up, get a job, and support out families. To most, that means becoming a farmer, a school teacher, or perhaps a truck driver.

To instead take up a sport where few become successful and even fewer are able to make a living at it is bravery and risk taking on levels most cannot understand. It takes a confidence most will never possess.
Jiu-jitsu practitioners at the highest level are a unique breed. They weren’t brought up on wrestling mats in local high schools. There are no scouts watching them, willing to give them a free education if they are successful. For many, Brazilian jiu-jitsu was an outlet, an opportunity to take out aggression, get off the streets, and learn the beautiful sport. They are self starters who are motivated by success, not greed, and have reached outside the box and take their passion to another level.

It takes a special man to be known as The Outlaw in a world of outlaws.

Abmar Barbosa, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Robert Drysdale, is one of the most unique personalities in a world where normalcy does not exist. A chameleon of sorts, Barbosa is as friendly as could be off the mats. He refers to you as his brother and will go out of his way to make your life easier.

On the mats however, Barbosa is ruthless. His aggressive, fast-paced, and tiring style make him one of the most entertaining grapplers to watch, and has led to great success. In the 2010 Pan-American games, Barbosa put the jiu-jitsu world on notice with a dominating performance over heavy favorite Kron Gracie, finishing the tournament in second place.

The win over Kron Gracie made people take note of his grappling abilities. Barbosa was as close to an overnight sensation as one can be in the grappling world. He had lost three times to Gracie and worked rigorously to fill the cracks in his game after every defeat. Barbosa credits his ability to put ego aside and focus on training for his improvement.

“I think firstly you need to forget that you are already a black belt because when you train you have to put your ego outside,” said Barbosa. “There are a lot of people who train with ego and this is not really training. Their training becomes a competition. Our jiu-jitsu does not get better from competitions. It gets better from training and trying new things. You go to competitions to show what you have learned from training.”

In 2011, Barbosa did not get the opportunity to show what he had learned from training as he suffered a serious groin injury that kept him out most of the year. Now in 2012, he is finally ready to return to competition, beginning with the World Pro Trials in New York (taking 3rd in his stacked division). As well, Barbosa plans to compete in the Pan-American World Championships, the Rickson Gracie Cup and the Asian Open.

“It was hard for me to sit out of competitions but I never stopped training,” Barbosa said. “Even when I have a serious problem I make sure to put on my gi and train a little bit even if it's only with children.”

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Barbosa has no plans of leaving for the world of mixed martial arts anytime soon. He is still in love with jiu-jitsu and only plans to try MMA if he gets bored with jiu-jitsu.

When Barbosa is not competing, he changes his focus to training. Sharing his vast knowledge of the sport and seeing it expand is something he enjoys, which is why he has opened multiple affiliates located throughout the United States, as well as in Brazil.

“My affiliations are doing very well. I have Two Swords Jiu-Jitsu in Newport, Rhode Island run by my black belt Pat Watterson and Rising Sun Martial Arts in Hudson, Massachusetts run by my purple belt Doug McDonald. As well, I have Floridiana Tennis Club in Rio Claro, Brazil run by my black belt Joao Anderson. Right now I am teaching at Fairfax Jiu-Jitsu in Fairfax, Virginia.

When you see Barbosa take to the mats in the upcoming months, you’ll notice something different: his signature Mohawk will be missing. That’s because, as Barbosa puts it, it made him “too beautiful.” Whether or not there’s any validity to that statement is up for debate, but there’s no denying the beautiful grappling ability of Barbosa. He will certainly be a name to watch in the upcoming year on the grappling circuit and if things go his way, we might see an Outlaw as world champion sooner than later.


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