Master Helio "Soneca" Moreira Interview by Mauricio "Tinguinha"
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Name: Helio "Soneca" Moreira
Belt Rank: Black Belt-4 degrees
Occupation: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Instructor
Hometown: Louisville,KY

I am very glad to have the opportunity to interview Master Helio "Soneca" on our website. Master "Soneca"is one of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu legends, whom I had the lucky to have as a training partner for many years and from whom I learned so much in BJJ. A big part of my game comes from Master "Soneca" and I am very grateful and have a lot of respect for him. Following is the interview with Master "Soneca".

1) Soneca can you talk a little bit about your beginning in BJJ? How did you start? Who was your role model back at the time you started?
A: I started when I was 8 years old. I was a very jealous boy. My Mother was a beautiful woman. A couple of boys in school made fun of her. I punched them, but they were older, like 13 or 14 years old and kicked my butt. My Uncle decided to put me in BJJ to learn how to defend myself.

2) You were always pretty close to the gracie family,can you talk more about your relationship with some of the gracie familiy members?
A: The Gracie family helped me a lot. They've helped a lot of guys in the world. I am in U.S.A. because Royce Gracie opened the door for me. Because of the Gracie Jiu Jitsu I can make a good living doing what I love.

3) How do you see BJJ today comparing to the time you started? Can you tell us which changes happened? and if they were possitive to the sport?
A: BJJ today is more competitive, they are more professional. Before, we used to fight for medals and out of the love for BJJ. Today fighters make money. Before it was for the love of Jiu Jitsu, now it's a profession for the fighters

Gracie Barra 1st World Championship- Champions team
Soneca far- right

4) Lets talk about tournaments now. those who watched your fights know how much of a pleasure and exciting it was to see them . your fights were a warranty of a show ,can you talk a litte bit about your style of fighting in tournaments? and why do you think today we don't see too many bjj sport fights as exciting as your fights used to be?
A: Like I told you before, I used to fight for fun, my opponents did too. Also, in the early days there were a lot of mismatched fights it was easy to see who was the best. Today everyone is tough, they are great, smart fighters and athletes. Today's fighters are better matched. Everyone knows everyone else's game. This can actually make the fights more boring at times.

5) Can you tell us which of your fights you would say was one of your favorites? and why?
A: The fights I lost made me learn a lot of things. Another valuable lesson I learned is that when you are a champion everybody wants to be your friend, you find out who your true friends are when you are not a champion or famous.

6) If it was possible for you to go back in the time and pick one fight you lost and have the chance to try something different to win the fight, what would it be? and off course which fight would that be?
A: My real fight is against my back problem. If I could go back in time and take care of it I would. The fights I lost early in my career made me a better fighter / instructor today

7) Soneca you have been teaching bjj for a long time and today many of the bjj champions and mma fighters are either your students or have trained under you.what does this mean to you? and can you tell us some of the names of some students of yours that are known in the bjj community and the mma ?
A: I have been teaching for over 20 years. I have made a lot of good black belts, champions and lions just inside the academy. I taught Vanderlei Silva, Jose "Pele" Landy, Miguel Torres, Stephan Bonnar, Alan Belcher, Rick Sparks, Marcio Feitosa, Mauricio Tinguinha and many others.

8) Soneca you are considered one of the embassadors of bjj due to your good relationship with all in the bjj community doesn't matter which team they represent everybody has an open door for you. you were also one of the pioneers on spreading bjj in brazil and now you are doing the same thing all around the world, can you talk more about this?
A: I think because of my simple and nice way. I don't like marketing myself. Also, I think competition is just for inside the ring. Before and after, we are brothers, sons of God. Let's drink and party together

9)How would you describe your teaching style and what would you tell somebody interested in joining your school?
A: Which restaurants sell more? Health food ones or fast food? Obviously fast food sells more. But, what foods do you give your kids? My BJJ is like the health food restaurant. It's good for you. I don't give belts just to give belts. You have to earn them, and that takes time. Belts are not part of my business.
Don't be a black belt scared to spar and tap to a blue belt. It's better to be a good blue belt than to be a ridiculous black belt.

Thanks soneca for the great interview and thanks for everything you did and are still doing for BJJ. It was a pleasure for me to do this and I look forward to have you here in the near future to teach a seminar for us.

For more information about Master Helio "Soneca"Moreira visit:


2970 E. La Palma Ave. Ste B
Anaheim-CA 92806
Ph: 714-630-6218

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