The boy Thalison Soares (link to bio & grappling record here) has grown up. Now in a new phase as a Jiu-Jitsu instructor at We Roll, his own academy in Australia, the 20-year-old Unity Jiu-Jitsu star is starting to prepare for his first big black belt season. In 2020 Thalison wants to crown his career with major titles at the European, Pan, Brazilian and World Championships, all bearing the IBJJF stamp. The path to victory is well known as his three Grand Slam wins at the colored belt divisions would express. A virtual award that is given to an athlete who wins all 4 main tournaments of the year, back to back.
Alongside his students and his team of instructors, Thalison is already training for the European Championship, scheduled for the second week of January in Odivelas, Portugal. As usual since his rise in the sport, the young athlete is a favorite for the title in the rooster division. In the piece below he comments on his move up to the black belt and how he will keep up his training routine.
“My climb to the black belt was a long-time commitment; I have been training Jiu-Jitsu for almost 10 years now and I have decided to be a professional athlete in this sport for five of those years. I have been preparing myself forever, my training has always been focused on being a black belt champion and in all my training I give my best. I am blessed to have great training partners of the highest caliber and this made me know early on what the top-level looked like. Because of that, I knew where I could go and push to go further. Now it’s a matter of continuing my hard work towards the success I had in the previous belts. My practice sessions will be the same, I will keep the same mindset since I was blue-belt or purple. So I will not change anything. What worked in the past I’ll just keep feeding it and evolving to keep up the same pace. It works,” said Thalison, before analyzing what can’t be done in a high-level black belt duel.
“The difference between the black belt and the color belt is the game of errors. In the colored belt, for example, if you make a mistake, you can reverse the score or apply a finish if you are trailing. But in the black belt, you are unlikely to win if you make a mistake during the match. It’s a game of who errors less.”
Thalison also took the opportunity to express what it is like to live between high-intensity training to be a professional athlete and to be a Jiu-Jitsu teacher at the same time. In a sincere analysis, he defines the art of teaching as self-knowledge.
“It’s been a very good experience for me to be a teacher and a competitor. This has helped me evolve as a person and athlete as well. I think when you are just an athlete, you are very instinctive, very natural. But when you start teaching you can understand, see what your students are doing wrong, the difficulties they have. Teaching is a step towards self-knowledge as well. When I teach during class, I also learn. It’s amazing to live this experience.”
Before wrapping up, Thalison has further projected his long term career, where he dreams of facing the sport’s renowned names in the rooster division. See what he thinks:
“Yes, I’m a big fan of the top guys in the category. Since I started taking Jiu-Jitsu more seriously, it’s been a dream to fight the best in the sport. To be the best, I need to beat the best. Apart from the competitive side, it is a dream come true to be competing at the black belt, as I have always trained hard to compete at the highest level. It is a great satisfaction for me to be able to accomplish my goals.”
Interview and cover photo by Vitor.