After 15 years at the helm, Purebred Jiu-Jitsu Academy owner and head instructor Stephen Roberto will retire next month. Oliver Cruz and David Harris belts, according to Roberto.
On July 3, the eve of his birthday, Roberto’s retirement will take effect.
“I will always have a hand in the business. I will always teach jiujitsu. I am not moving away completely. I am moving away from the majority of responsibilities due to the fact that I will be transitioning to a new career, ”he said.
Roberto has helped shape the jiujitsu community in Guam.
He had practiced jiujitsu for 25 years and had taught for 22 years.
“At this point in my career, having produced 34 Black Belts, I have a good team of guys who are stepping up and ready to lead the academy into this new era,” said Roberto. “I believe that the success of a business depends on its ability to adapt to the times and having these younger and fresher minds and eyes on the business can help point us in the right direction. and enable continued success. “
Around 2000, Roberto and his friend Ted Vida took over Purebred Shuto Training Gym Guam, which began in the mid-1990s by John Calvo and Enson Inoue, Roberto said. After Typhoon Chata’an and then Supertyphoon Pongsona hit Guam in 2002, Vida moved. Roberto stayed on the island to operate Purebred.
A few years later, in 2006, Roberto refocused Purebred’s mission of mixed martial arts towards uniquely Brazilian jiujitsu, and the Purebred Jiu-Jitsu Academy was born.
“Opening a jiujitsu academy was not really a popular decision. People didn’t understand what I was doing because we didn’t have a cage. We didn’t have a bag, ”Roberto remembers. “We weren’t your typical mixed martial arts center. We focused specifically on jiujitsu at a time when there were no jiujitsu schools on the island.
Roberto has remained steadfast in his conviction and his vision of the academy. He persisted in Purebred’s new mission, steadily expanding the sport’s footprint over the years.
Roberto opened the school when he had not yet obtained his black belt. He invited all the Brazilian jiujitsu instructors he met while training off the island to discover the growing community of jiujitsu in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The instructors got curious. They accepted his offer and visited the island.
“When the instructors would come and see the level of jiujitsu and the passion of the students, they would instantly note, ‘Dude, this place is pretty special, these people are very passionate and we want to help,’ Roberto mentioned.
The instructors would leave the island and rave about their time here, sparking the interest of others, who also flew to Guam. Guam has attracted more attention in the world of jiujitsu, Roberto recalls.
“Also, I have great support from my family, great support from students and great support from the public in Guam,” he said. “The Guam community has always been amazing when it comes to supporting the jiujitsu athlete.”
Roberto said the sport has exploded in popularity.
“Now there is so much jiujitsu in Guam, people can make money from it, make a living, and Guam is now recognized as one of the most populous places in the world for jiujitsu,” said Roberto.
Athletes have participated in countless competitions and won countless times on the international stage, always waving the flag of Guam.
Locally, as the sport grew in popularity, Roberto’s own journey in jiujitsu skills also widened.
Not just the body
He said he initially embarked on jiujitsu in hopes of reaping the physical benefits of the sport. But over time, it became clear that jiujitsu was a tool for strengthening the mind, as well as the body.
“When you think you’re going to quit, you’re so far from stopping,” Roberto said. “Jiujitsu has given me the option of not listening too much to my body rather than listening to my mind. … Your mind will stop long before your body wants it to.
“The other thing, which I think really comes into play during the pandemic period, is that jiujitsu teaches you to be very comfortable in the most uncomfortable places and situations,” added Roberto. .
These are life lessons he learned through the martial art.
Looking ahead, Roberto is confident in the leadership capabilities of the new owners of the academy. He said Purebred will continue to serve the island and provide the highest level of jiujitsu education. He said he was making the transition to his new career and taking care of his family obligations, including his mother.
Recalling the past 15 years, Roberto remains grateful.
“I just want to thank the whole academy for their constant support. We want to thank the community for entrusting us with the task of serving them by providing them with the best quality of education and helping every member of the community to understand the positivity of jiujitsu in their life, ”he said.
“It has been great to see Guam being the power of this particular martial art,” said Roberto. “Everywhere we go, wherever I travel, people know Guam for its beautiful beaches, cool people, great food and the amount of jiujitsu that is on the island. It’s really great to see Guam being recognized like that in the world of jiujitsu.