Márcio Stambowsky, also known in the jiu jitsu world as ‘Macarra’ or ‘Macarrão’, is a jiu jitsu coral belt and one of the most respected figures of the sport. Being an original Rolls Gracie black belt with an overwhelming experience in competition, also being the highest ranked jiu jitsu man in Connecticut, who’s son is the up and coming MMA star Neiman Gracie; there were plenty of reasons to get together with Master Márcio for an interview. So let’s start from the beginning:
You have launched a federation (Connecticut State Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation) to help promote jiu jitsu in the state, how did that come together?
My federation started in 2013. There were no high level events in the state, and I felt there really was a need to start something like this to help the development of jiu jitsu in Connecticut. I joined forces with two other coaches from the region who felt the same need, Luigi Mondeli and Marcio Alencar. I also brought in a few other staff of my personal choice, they were selected for their character and because we share the same vision.
What is your main goal with the CTSBJJF?
The objective is to put to use the excellent jiu jitsu we teach here, promoting the sport in the state and building state champions. This is the way I found to expand the real jiu jitsu, which is the jiu jitsu I teach, of which I am one of the few remaining upholders. I was lucky enough to have learnt everything, from white to black belt fro the great Rolls Gracie.
How many competitions do you guys run per year and which rule set do you follow?
At the moment e do 4 tournaments per year, but we intend to do more. We follow the IBJJF rules at the moment, but some things I don’t agree with so we will change them up next year, we will revolutionize the rule set, stay tuned!
In the 70’s and 80’s, no one closed out in the finals, you even fought Maurício Gomes, who was your best friend and team mate, several times in the absolute finals of different tournaments. How do you see the ever so common, gentlemen’s agreement in the sport?
I have no problem with the close outs, as long as they can settle who the winner is later in closed doors at their academy. Today fighters have so many fights to get to the finals that I don’t have a problem with the guys not fighting after an exhausting day of fights, in my day there weren’t as many athletes, so if you didn’t fight your training partner, sometimes you wouldn’t get much out of the tournament.
Still on the old days subject, in your competitor heyday, the sporting rules were very different. How do you see these new rules and the way they have influenced the changes that we see in modern day jiu jitsu?
I see a lot of stalling, too many guys fighting for the advantage and not enough fighting for the submission, we are losing the essence which has always been the submission.
After 7 years working in the US, what is the general assessment of the evolution of your academy?
I am so happy and fortunate to be working in what I love to do. The gym is always getting better, some of these students are very tough guys. It takes time to develop a tough team, but these last few years, the results are really showing.
Your son (Neiman Gracie) has been doing very well in MMA, how has it been following his career?
I am very happy with his career, he always dreamed of being an MMA fighter since he was a child, and that desire has only grown bigger with age. He managed to fulfill his dream and started out with straight submissions, true Gracie style.
I see his discipline and his sacrifices, I think he will go far, but he has nothing to prove to anyone. He doesn’t fight for his surname, he fights out of sheer drive of getting that belt, so what father wouldn’t be proud of seeing his son fight for his dream? I am his biggest fan, as a fighter, and as a person. He is a very dedicated kid, he didn’t chose an easy goal, but he’s going to get there (laughs) he deserves it.
One last question, how did the nickname, Macarrão (spaghetti in portuguese) start?
Ah this nickname is from my surfing days, which was the first sport I fell in love with, before jiu jitsu. In reality the nickname was given to my brother on the beach, but we were always together, so they started calling me the same (laughs), it stuck!