Rubens Cobrinha is synonymous with excellence, hard work and great results. At 37 years old, he’s been competing (and winning) at the highest level since 2006. It’s not easy to stay on top of the game for 11 years, but Cobrinha seems to have a lot of gas to burn still. Just this past weekend, he conquered the featherweight division of the European Championship competing against athletes sometimes more than 10 years younger than him.
So, what can you learn from the incredible career Cobrinha has built in all this years as a black belt? We have selected five lessons from talks we had with the 4X black belt world champion and 2X ADCC champion. Here they are.
1. Repeat until it becomes natural
Cobrinha is an avid supporter of drilling techniques until they become a instinct. He told us: “I started drilling when I was doing capoeira. I even applied it to my work as a cake baker. Repetition would lead to better products. So, I use that to everything I do in life. You need to have a lot of persistence and discipline to get the results you need from drilling.”
2. Start slow and then add speed
Whenever you learn something new, the worst thing you can do is try to do it in full speed at first. Mistakes will happen much more often and you will get frustrated faster. Cobrinha knows that. “I like to train each technique very slowly, paying attention to each detail. You need t start in slow motion and then increase the speed as each movement becomes more natural.”
3. Always be ahead of your opponent
One of Cobrinha’s most powerful ingredients for success is staying ahead of his opponents. He explains: “In Jiu-Jitsu, you need to be ahead of the opponent to always frustrate him and achieve victory.” Simple and direct. If your opponent is always reacting to what you just did, chances are they are not doing what they planned to do.
4. Be a (little) selfish…
A Jiu-Jitsu match is after all a dispute between two people where each one wants to defeat their opponent. How much you want to win can be a powerful starting point on the path to victory. Cobrinha gives his take on the matter: “A Jiu-Jitsu match is a moment of selfishness for me. I need to be hungrier than my opponent to get that plate of food that is the win.”
5. ...but also be patient
The drive to win cannot be confused with rush or impatience. That could lead to mistakes and mistakes will add up to bad spots and defeat. Cobrinha has the recipe: “I need to be more patient than my opponent and I need to keep him frustrated. Once I get to a position of dominance, I need to use my pressure to stay there. That’s when we return to patience and positive thinking. Don’t rush yourself and think positive about your options to get the finish and win.”