Ivam Maciel is 29, born in Curitiba, Brazil and has been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over thirteen years. In BJJ, Ivam’s lineage is through Carlson Gracie > De La Riva > Eduardo Brigadeiro. Ivam has also trained in Muay-Thai and Vale-Tudo at legendary Chute Boxe Academy under Anderson Silva and Rodrigo Vidal.
“When I was 16 years old, like every teenager I was looking for something to give me more confidence and personality, fortunately… I found Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu!”
The beginning: I was introduced to BJJ at the start of my career as a Web Designer, when I used to spend all day in front of a computer. One day a friend recommended me to a BJJ academy that was looking for someone to design their website, so I offered my services. The gym owner explained that he wouldn’t be able to pay for the website but that I could train for free in exchange. I had never really thought of training in martial arts, my involvement in sports so far had just been football. With nothing to lose … I thought, why not?!
First class: I wasn’t very big, only 65kg and the instructor asked me to do star jumps. That was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life! I didn’t know how to do them, also I had no coordination! To be honest I couldn’t do more than 4 or 5 repetitions without missing one… it was hard! Everyone in the class was laughing, so you can imagine how hard the rest of my first week was… but facing these challenges taught me one of the most important lessons in life… never give up! I started practicing star jumps at home as homework, within one week I was an expert at them!
I really enjoyed the training, going 5 times a week in between high school and my website job. I was 17 and my confidence was growing so much. I worked hard to learn the positions and sparred with people much bigger than me. I was now ready to face my next challenge: Competitions!
I trained for my first competition for about 6 months. My teacher told me – “Go there and remember, you have nothing to lose, everything is an experience, even if you make mistakes, learn from them.” That is exactly what I did… made mistakes! Many of them! Result of the first competition: 2 fights and two losses! I was very upset (I hate to lose), but you know what? That was the best time to learn not to make the same mistakes again.
After that I went to a lot of state and interstate competitions. Many wins and some losses, at the end of the day it’s all part of the game. I learnt so much from it, won many trophies, and gained a lot of experience which I share with my students today.
Something I missed was the BJJ Mundial. Unfortunately at the time it was too expensive for me go to Rio de Janeiro, also I couldn’t leave my job to make this long trip (more than 1000km from where I used to live). Maybe in the near future this is something I can make happen…
In 2006 I came to Europe. I started training in Italy with MMA champion Fabricio Nascimento, the head instructor of Nova Uniao BJJ Italy. Whilst there I represented Nova Uniao Italy, I took part in 5 submission wrestling fights with 5 wins. Also in Italy I had my first MMA Amateur fight, which I won after less then 20 seconds by rear naked choke.
In 2007 I was already in England, and after receiving an opportunity from my head instructor, Eduardo Brigadeiro from Brazil, I started to teach at ZT Fight Skool in Brighton, working with Sol Gilbert. At ZT I learned so much, first of all as a BJJ head instructor, teaching a lot of students and sharing what I had learnt from my experiences. I then started to train as an MMA fighter. When I was in Brazil it was different, there I was training as a sport/hobby, now I’m fighting as a professional, and this is a big difference. During my time at ZT, I did some MMA fights and thanks to Sol, my teammates and also my students I’ve won all of them.
Thanks to God today I have established myself in Brighton, UK, opening my own BJJ Academy in Hove and affiliates around the country. I love teaching so much and thanks to this amazing sport my life has changed a lot. BJJ has given me the opportunity to meet great people, share experiences, and I have learnt a lot from it. I consider myself privileged to be teaching BJJ today and hope I can carry on for many years to come.