Off the Mat with a BJJ Black Belt: Isaac Toledo Dull – Training And Competing In Brazil

“I told with myself that “one day I will be training with those guys that I see in the magazines” and it realizes!”
“The training is brutal and violent between the black belt competitors…”
Isaac Toledo Dull

Isaac Toledo Dull is a Gracie Barra black belt who this author met at the original Gracie Barra academy in Barra de Tijuca in Brazil.
“Dull” (Isaac’s last name – everyone in Brazil has a nickname!) was teaching morning classes was a highly technical instructor and instructing students from all over the globe who came to Gracie Barra in Rio de Janeiro to learn at one of the best academies in the world.
“Dull” just competed in the Abu Dhabi World Pro 2016.


Jiu-jitsu Times: “Dull”, you grew up in Aragarcas, state of Goias in Northeastern Brazil and later moved to Rio de Janeiro to train jiu-jitsu.
Can you tell us how and why you got started in Brazilian jiu-jitsu?

Isaac Dull: I was doing bodybuilding in a gym with a friend of mine, Marcos Vinicius, and there were jiu-jitsu classes.
One day my friend ask me to take a look in the class and I did want to do a experimental class.
Like I had already lived in the state of Bahia abd there I had trained boxing.
At that time i think that the striking is the best way to finish a fight, but when I did the experimental class in jiu-jitsu I got completely lost on the ground so I saw the efficiency of it.

Jiu-jitsu Times: Who were your professors and what did you learn from each of them?

Isaac Dull: My first professor was Adilson Esteves, he teach me in a filial of Gracie Barra Gym (Goiania) that we can do more then what our mind says.
After I get the black belt I went to Goiania, the capital of Goias, to train with the master of my professor, Frederico Pimentel.
He taught me that the jiu-jitsu is a big fraternity where one helps each other to get his objectives.
After Goiania I moved to the Matriz, the headquarter of Gracie Barra located in Rio de Janeiro, where I started to train with the world champion Jefferson Moura that teaches there in the night.
Joelson Sousa that teaches in the morning with Jose Andrade and in the afternoon with Vanessa Silva.
They teach me the gentle of jiu-jitsu, the details that makes difference.

Jiu-jitsu Times: What got you addicted to Bjj?
Isaac Dull: It is about how hard I have been smashed when I was a beginner.
I wanted to be the smasher.
Everybody wants to be the lion, but almost all give up when know how much it costs.

Jiu-jitsu Times: You love to compete and are an active competitor in Bjj competitions in Brazil.
Can you tell us a little about your training preparations leading up to a competition?

Isaac Dull: I just train like a mad man, still in the gym all day. Sometimes doing 10 sparring sessions of 10 minutes…

Copa Sul América de Outono 2016 Isaac Dull

Jiu-jitsu Times: What championships have you won?
Isaac Dull: At the time i live in Aragarcas – Goias, I had a win in a super fight in the Araguaia Fight.
When I moved to Goiania I won the RockStrike.
In Rio de Janeiro I won the Copa Guaratiba, Copa Jacarepagua, Campeonato Panamericano from CBJJO, Copa Helio Gracie From FJJRIO, and a super fight in Copa Cyclone.

Jiu-jitsu Times: Any special or memorable matches that you remember?

Isaac Dull: At Copa Cyclone against Otavio “Cremogema” Sousa, it was a fight that was memorable because the crowd cheering for my adversary was really big.
It was in a championship organized by his team.

Jiu-jitsu Times: What drives you to compete?
Isaac Dull: The learning lessons that I have with, for jiu-jitsu and for myself.

Jiu-jitsu Times: At Gracie Barra, you have trained students from all over the world who visited Gracie Barra.
Can you give some advice for guys who are thinking about coming to Brazil to train jiu-jitsu?

Isaac Dull: Here is hot sometimes, so drink water, if possible coconut water to replace the minerals.
Here the people usually train more, so is good to be ready for hard sparring sessions.
Here is not so much dangerous like the press says but walk alert, don’t walk distracted – it could make you a target.
The night life is wild but remember, Monday you have to train hard.
Don’t talk too much and respect everybody in the mat or you could get injured in the training.


Jiu-jitsu Times: You said that you wanted to come to Rio to train at the academy with the highest level of technique.
What is the training like at Gracie Barra in Rio?
Isaac Dull: Its brutal and violent between the black belt competitors, but you don’t need to do it, you can do a lighter training if you want to.

Jiu-jitsu Times: How good is the life in Rio for the jiu-jitsu fighter? (the beaches, the acai, the training)
Isaac Dull: Even you don’t have much money, life is good in Rio.
The nature is exuberant, the mountains, the waterfalls, the after train with an acai, the training partners – you will know very good people, that talk about good things, that smile, that cries with you!
The cities around also is enchanted, God blessed Rio.

Jiu-jitsu Times: Can you talk about your philosophy of Brazilian jiu-jitsu training and life?

Isaac Dull: Jiu-jitsu is a tool to self-knowledge, it is the life and life is a big mat that you are trying to fight against, to don’t tapout, to survive, to live.
Like a tool for self-knowledge you will work through fears, your sins, yourself, to be a better person.

Jiu-jitsu Times: How do the lessons / philosophy in the gym carry over into the rest of your life?
Isaac Dull: Well, the requirements to be a fighter is at the minimum have a healthy way of life, so jiu-jitsu helped me to stop to drink alcohol, to eat better, to sleep better.
In the final it changes all your habits, all your life.

Jiu-jitsu Times: You are known for your X-guard game and leg locks.
How did you develop your leg lock game?

Isaac Dull: practicing with people that don’t like it. ;-]
Some people don’t like the leg locks because they don’t train, so I practice his weakness knowing that is effective.
Some people have a preconception with this techniques, in Rio they say that is from suburbans.
That is a rude thing, but just because it is effective and hurts his ego when it works, got it?

Jiu-jitsu Times: You said that many famous competitors ( Braulio Estima, Marcio Feitosa, Lucio “Lagarto”) come home to train at Gracie Barra when they visit Brazil.
They show you techniques they have developed from their academies all over the world.
Can you talk about what it is like to learn from all of these great instructors?

Isaac Dull: Those guys smash me a lot! It is incredible to roll with somebody that makes you see that jiu-jitsu is technique.
Thats why I travel in search of this knowledge.
When I was living in Aragarcas, Goias, I told with myself that “one day I will be training with those guys that I see in the magazines” and it realizes!

Jiu-jitsu Times: Can you share a principle or training practice, (or motivational quote, tips on nutrition, attitude etc.) that worked for you in your training?

Isaac Dull: I am not a talented guy, I need to train hard to get good results in the championships.
I say that if you really train hard you may beat the more talented guys, so work hard and don’t give up.
If you lose a championship, don’t give up. You may loss 2, 3 or more championships but your time will come.
The victory will come with really hard work – don’t give up! God is in the control.

Jiu-jitsu Times: You spent some time teaching Bjj in the United Arab Emirates where there are hundreds of Brazilian black belts there.
What was that experience like?

Isaac Dull: It is interesting by an point of view, the people from there are incredible.
Conservators, defenders of family, religious and hospitable.
The sheiks have the great idea to put jiu-jitsu in the schools and in the armed forces is law that you have to do jiu-jitsu to get promoted inside the military.
Now I have heard that soon in Dubai, they will start a project for people with special needs to train jiu-jitsu also.
The government is wise, they have the culture to give for the people the best and yet in Brazil it is not a reality.

Jiu-jitsu Times: Can you talk about what it was like to teach bjj in that part of the world?

Isaac Dull: It is weird to get far from the people you want close, but sometimes we need to do some sacrifices to give an better life for them.
Teach bjj, work far from home, is like be in the ocean with dark clouds over your head, you know Thats a storm is coming, but you have to do it.

Jiu-jitsu Times: Can you tell us something interesting about yourself that most Jiu-jitsu Times readers would not know?

Isaac Dull: I take ayahuasca for 15 years and it helped me in very different ways, inside and outside from the mats.

Jiu-jitsu Times: Are there any exciting projects that you are currently working on / competitions or events that you are preparing for?

Isaac Dull: I should go to Dubai to teach bjj there soon.
There I should fight some competitions from the United Arab Emirates Jiu-Jitsu Federation like the World Pro.

Leglock Counter vs the ‘Waiter Sweep’ from Deep Half Guard


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