The Next Step For Jiu Jitsu In Hawaii
Romolo Barros, who founded the Hawaii Triple Crown of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, believes jiu-jitsu has made him a better person.
He was born and raised in Brazil, but didn’t learn jiujitsu until he was a senior in high school living in California with his older brother Robson (who also is a black belt), and their roommate was Rorion Gracie, creator of the hugely successful Ultimate Fighting Championship.
“Learning jiu-jitsu improves your overall life in every way – to be a better husband, a better father, a better human being and a complete fighter,” explains Barros. “You will become more secure with yourself. You will learn how to defend yourself, but in the process of getting there, you also will learn a lot more than just how to be a better fighter.
“The essence of Gracie jiu-jitsu is leverage – using the least amount of force for the maximum results. Whatever position you fall into, you just have to find the leverage there, and you’ll be fine. So Brazilian jiu-jitsu is for everyone: big, small, weak, strong, young or old.”
In addition to jiu-jitsu, Barros also loves to surf, and he moved to Hawaii 30 years ago for the waves, as well as the beauty of the Islands and the aloha spirit.
Shortly after, Relson Gracie (Rorion’s brother), also moved to Hawaii and started teaching his family’s style of self-defense here. Barros started training with Relson, and together they shared a passion for promoting jiu jitsu in Hawaii. “Relson was the first to put on jiu-jitsu events here, but then he stopped and I felt there was a need to continue it,” says Barros. “It’s about the opportunity to showcase the talent in Hawaii through friendly competition, So, I created Hawaii Triple Crown of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.”
The first event of this year’s tournament series, the Hawaiian Open Championship, is scheduled for May 3 at Pearl City High School from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The final two events of the series are the State of Hawaii Championship in July and the Aloha State Championship in November. Barros also has the Maui Open in August and the Kauai Open in September, and plans to expand to the Big Island next year.
“This year is our 10th anniversary, and we are upgrading our equipment to maximize efficiency, such as new mats and implementation of electronic scoring systems and hour-by-hour timeline of events,” notes Barros. “Also, one of my black belts, Chris West, will be taking over as tournament director/promoter. He’s also an MMA fighter, head coach for Kamehameha’s wrestling team, and has a lot of experience in running wrestling events which is similar to jiujitsu.
“We just want to make the event better and more professional, and I think Chris will take it to that next level. We are the longest and the only local official Brazilian jiu jitsu event in the state. We follow the rules of traditional Brazilian jiu jitsu.”
Barros, who is a fifth-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, owns and operates Brazilian Freestyle Jiu-Jitsu/Gracie Elite Team, as well as the Brazilian Freestyle Jiu-Jitsu Association.
“Although I originally learned jiu-jitsu from Rorion, I got my black belt from Rickson Gracie, who continues to be my mentor and close friend,” adds Barros. “And Rolls Gracie also was a great friend, instructor and inspiration. I got my first belt, a blue belt, from him and Rorion. Rolls passed away very young, but left a legacy for all of us, just like Grand Master Helio Gracie did.”
The Hawaii Triple Crown of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu features different brackets by weight, belt, and gi or no gi. There also are kids and masters divisions. Winners of their brackets receive medals, and Hawaii Triple Crown champions will get trophies and championship belts. Also, for the first time, roundtrip tickets will be awarded to some of the champions to compete in the World Jiu Jitsu tournament in Long Beach, Calif. in November.
“One of the greatest things about jiu-jitsu is it makes you a more humble person,” adds Barros. “I see it all the time in class. You also become more confident, and you develop physical and mental skills. It’s one of the best workouts you can have.
“From when I moved to Hawaii, jiu-jitsu really has grown a lot. There used to be only one school, Relson’s school, and then mine. Now, I can’t really tell you how many there are, but there’s got to be hundreds.”
Barros continues to teach and train jiu-jitsu, as well as surf, swim and lift weights. He also follows the Gracie diet, which is based on a proper combination of foods.
Anyone can attend the Hawaii Triple Crown of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Hawaiian Open Championship. Cost is $10 for adults, $5 for kids, free for children under 5. Cost to enter the competition ranges from $55 to $75. For more information, visit hawaiitriplecrown.com.