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Tainan Dalpra, Leap Of Faith

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Leading the way of one of the best brown belt teams in the world today is Tainan Dalpra of the Art Of Jiu-Jitsu (AOJ) academy in California.

Originally from Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil, Dalpra started jiu-jitsu by the influence of his father, Deivid Soares, who took him to the gym where he (dad), already practiced the gentle art. The training conditions for a young child, however, were not optimal as Dalpra explained to BJJ Heroes in an interview performed in August 2020:

When I started, I remember the gym had no kids training, I had to go with the adults.

They say pressure makes diamonds and this is precisely what that adult training environment provided Tainan. 3 years later the young talent decided to switch teams, looking for a more competition-driven environment, finding precisely that at Carlos Dourado’s AS Team affiliate gym. From then the wheels were set in motion for a promising future.

Tainan’s first overseas expedition took place back in 2014 when he as an orange belt, a time when Dalpra came to Long Beach to compete at the IBJJF Pan Kids, where he was victorious. Making the most of his time in California, Dalpra visited the world-famous AOJ academy, home of the Mendes Brothers: Rafael and Guilherme, two athletes deeply admired by the young Santa Catarina native, who also happen to run one of the most successful jiu-jitsu kids programs in the world.

After his first international experience, the seeds for an ambitious career had been planted. Tainan knew he had the talent to make it at the highest level and with the support of AOJ, the sky was the limit. This path was not an easy one to take. Moving by himself to a foreign country at the age of 14 showed great fortitude and professionalism. A true leap of faith by Tainan and his family.

Despite the many obstacles, Tainan did opt to move to Costa Mesa’s AOJ and was able to grow from the experience with the help of his close family:

My parents always supported me 100%, they helped me financially in the beginning when I first moved here, one of the hardest things about moving is staying away from your family.

Arriving in 2015, Dalpra was one of the first members of the Believe And Achieve program, quickly becoming the poster boy for this incredible initiative designed by the Mendes. A grappling equivalent of Professor Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters, if you may. A space where talented young athletes are catered for and guided towards competitive greatness.

Since joining AOJ, the list of accomplishments by Dalpra is truly remarkable. Here are a few of his titles over the past few years:

IBJJF World Championship
– 2016 blue juvenile 1
– 2017 blue absolute juvenile 2
– 2018 blue adult middle and absolute

IBJJF Pan American Championship
– 2016 blue juvenile 1
– 2017 blue juvenile 2 middle and absolute
– 2018 blue adult middle and absolute
– 2019 purple middle

IBJJF World No-Gi Championship
– 2016 blue juvenile 1 middle and absolute

– 2019 brown

With all the gears in place for a fantastic brown belt campaign for Tainan, the COVID19 pandemic threw us all a curveball, striking across the world and leaving jiu-jitsu in a limbo of which it is yet to recover. This setback has not worried the talented grappler who said of the current year:

To me, 2020 was never a lost year, I started the year winning the Europeans. During the whole pandemic, I was training privately in sessions with the [AOJ] competitors and professor Gui! That really sharpened my game, right now they just announced Pan Ams, this will be one of my next goals,” Dalpa explained, anxious to take out his division. “I want to enjoy my brown belt, these are times that will never come back, and when the time is right I’ll be ready to make my run at the black belt, I’ve been saying this since as a kid, and I’m preparing all these years for the black belt world title.

Over the past 5 years, we have seen Tainan Dalpra continuously grow, technically and mentally. He is currently at the very top of the food chain in the brown belt division, having beaten an array of the category’s top tier athletes and even a few solid pro black belts.

Dalpra’s style is relentless, he is truly at the forefront of his generation, a fortress of success which would have likely failed to come to fruition had Dalpra not believed in himself as a teenager. That system of belief was what set him apart then, and what sets him apart today. Expect a great future from the young AOJ prodigy.

Tainan Dalpra (purple belt) vs Bill Cooper (black belt)


5050 Guard Instructional by Lachlan Giles

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