BJJ History: Roberto “Gordo” Correa

BJJ History: Roberto “Gordo” Correa

In the history of BJJ, the Gracies are the most well known and prolific family, but innovation has come a long way since the early 90’s. The old guard have awarded many black belts since that time and not everyone went into MMA, but a lot of those BJJ specialist have come up with some very effective tools people use in the cage. One of those people is Roberto Correa who is better known by his nickname “Gordo”.

To sum up Gordo’s contributions to the sport of BJJ and MMA simply is to just say Half-Guard. That is right, Gordo helped to innovate and make the position of half guard a viable position to use. Gordo grew up around the Gracie family but did not start training in BJJ until 1985 when he was 19 years old. He started to train at the famed Gracie Barra camp under Jean Jacques Machado and made the transition to the US to help grow the brand of BJJ when it exploded here after the first few UFC events.

The turning point in Gordo’s studies of BJJ came when he was a purple belt and severely injured his knee. Most people told him he could not train anymore, but he was relentless in figuring out a way to stay on the mat. He used what today is known as the half-guard since it allowed him to roll but took a lot of pressure off his knee. This was a position many people had fallen into before while rolling, but no one had taken the time to explore the possibilities from there until Gordo’s injury. Now, the half-guard is one of the fundamental positions taught by every BJJ school around the world as part of the basics.

Gordo was given his black belt in 1993, eight years after he started training, by Carlos Gracie Jr. who was the president of Gracie Barra at the time. Eventually, he split from the famed Barra gym and formed his own school called Gordo Jiu Jitsu, and he spends time training fighters, traveling to do seminars, and running his own gym. He has won many medals in the sport of BJJ as a four time Pan American champion as well as having won the highly regarded Brazilian National Championship. One of Gordo’s most successful students is current UFC Lightweight contender Rafael dos Anjos, but Gordo’s legacy spans far past his accomplishments as a trainer. That is why he is a figure you should know in BJJ history.

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