Teco Shinzato, a two-time Black Belt Mundials Champion and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor at Evolve MMA in Singapore, was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to sit down with me to discuss how he first got started in BJJ, his experience winning two World Championships as a Black Belt, and the joy he gets from coaching his students. Teco, a 4th degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the legendary Elcio Figueiredo and native of Brazil, has been training since 1993 and has coached secveral of the top names in the sport out of the Integration Academy in Brazil before taking on a new challenge in both life and BJJ by moving to Singapore in 2015 to coach and train at Evolve MMA, which is widely known as the #1 martial arts academy in Asia
How did you first get started in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? I have a friend that did BJJ in Hawaii and then came to Brazil. (At a demonstration,) I saw this small Japanese guy control a big guy and almost made him cry. Master Kimura was the guy’s name and I wanted to train after that. I started training in Brazil in 1993 and never stopped.
Were you a natural at BJJ when you first started?
I wanted to be good since I started. I had a lot of passion. My city was not Rio de Janeiro. it was easy for me after a month. So when my grand master came and taught me, I already knew how to pass guard and play open guard. So I was good from the start. My Jiu-Jitsu is very clean, so I learned it fast.
What is clean Jiu-Jitsu? Clean Jiu-Jitsu is understanding the situation and the goals and the targets. It is very clean. My target and goals are very clear. Goals are submission, side control, back control, and mount. I train for the three positions and it is very clear and very important for how I teach.
How did it feel to win two Black Belt World Championships? Best moments of my life. First time was okay, second time I was injured one week before Mundials and I didn’t want to fight because of my injured right knee. When I arrived at the gym (the day of the event), I felt different emotions and borrowed my friends gi and competed. I won all my fights. My knee ligaments were injured. So second time was very emotional.
What do you enjoy the most about teaching Jiu-Jitsu? In Brazil they open the gym and throw you in with the lions. I lived a good life in BJJ. I discovered my talent to teach and I had opportunities to teach a lot of champions including Buchecha and Leanrdo Noguiera. All high level, it made me grateful to teach. It is a good way of life. Discovering talent is great for my life. A good champion is not always a great teacher. It is a good emotion when Buchecha and Nogueira faced off in the finals at Worlds, since I taught them since they’d were 15. I taught Leandro to Brown Belt and Buchecha to Blue Belt.
Why did you move to Singapore to teach at Evolve? I need challenges in my life. My grand master and I were comfortable with our gym in Brazil, Integration BJJ. A lot of students were overseeing the facility and one of my students taught at Evolve MMA and tried to get me here. Last year I decided to come after speaking with Chatri Sityodtong who owns Evolve. I am very happy here. Very good students here.
Here is a video of Teco demonstrating five side control escapes every BJJ student should know.