Yuri Simoes is one of the best athletes in the Checkmat Academy. The black belt under Ricardo Vieira, is a former world champion (purple and brown) and Pan American champion (black belt) who is doing a tour around Europe giving seminars after a while living in Australia. BJJ Heroes had the opportunity to catch up with Yuri in England and talk about his recent trips and a bit more.
Yuri Simões Interview: “Australia is certainly a place that really marked my life (…) I know I did not build a team there, I gained a family”
You’ve been in Europe for a little while, spent some time in Liverpool in England, also in London and now Sweden. How did the opportunity to visit the old continent come about and what have you been up to?
Soon after the World Cup in June, I got in touch with some BJJ friends and started planning some seminars. I started my trip in northern Italy, then England and now I am in Sweden. I’m really enjoying it, very cool and rewarding to know that I’m doing all this through jiu-jitsu.
You came by some of the biggest BJJ academies in England, where Jiu Jitsu has grown considerably over the last few years, what did you think of the level of the gyms and athletes?
I have been in many academies in England and was really well received. I enjoyed the training very much here in the Queen’s island, the level of training is very high and the guys are very much up to date with the latest techniques and very zoned in to BJJ. Man, it’s been great and I have everything to thank to all my friends from over there for making this wonderful trip come true.
You spent most of the year training in Austraulia, having awarded your first black belt Kit Dale over there. How was this experience in Austraulia, how is the Jiu Jitsu evolving there when compared to Brazil / USA or even the BJJ practiced in Europe?
Australia is certainly a place that really marked my life, where I first had the experience of being a teacher and assume the responsibilities of a teacher. It’s different for a guy who only competed suddenly having to coach a team and having to train as well, but surely even not giving classes there any longer it was worth every minute because I know I did not build a team there, I gained a family, today the team is well represented by my mate Kit Dale who took my place and is doing a great job. The level of Jiu Jitsu in Australia is not high yet, very few athletes who get placements in international tournaments but I believe that within three years they will be getting to the level in the USA and maybe Brazil.
You always medal in the major competitions, but this year you missed a few podiums including Worlds and the Pan American (although you did win the American Cup). What do you think was missing this time around at the World Cup and Pan Am? You think the time spent in Australia affected your performance?
I don’t think the problem in the Mundial was my performance, I won the Las Vegas Open and the American Cup, coming second in the absolute. I think in the Worlds I got a really tough athlete in Rodolfo Vieira at the quarterfinals and ended up not being able to show much of my jiujitsu, specially as I only had one fight before with Diego Herzog that I won by 5-0. I was saddened by the defeat but not just because of not medalling, more because I didn’t have done more fights.
We all know that the monetary situation of a competitor is often difficult. You have always been a high level competitor since some years ago, as you will have financial support to stay on top of the sport?
I do not consider myself in the top of the sport I think I need to do much more to earn that title, but it surely is very difficult to get far in Jiu Jitsu and train yourself to get ready for a competition of a sport that is abandoned in terms of sponsorship and media. Today I have the Shoyoroll that helps me a lot and the rest of my income I take from teaching and doing seminars and also owe a lot to my parents who always supported me and helped 100%. Today I cannot complain much as I am getting more opportunities, but the beginning was tremendously difficult.