Exclusive Interview with IBJJF Champion Caio Terra

Hailing all the way from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, Caio Terra is a leading BJJ rooster weight. He is also the owner and head instructor of the Caio Terra Academy. We recently partnered with the Caio Terra Academy in San Jose, California, outfitting the facility with our martial arts mats and custom-printed wall mats.

Former Zebra owner and CEO, Chuck Blanski sat down with Caio at his academy to talk about how he got into Jiu Jitsu, his facility and what his plans are for the future.

Here are some of the highlights from the interview:

How Caio Terra Got His Start with Jiu Jitsu

Although most competitors begin their BJJ training when they are children, Caio Terra started when he was 16 years old. How and why did he get started? His mother actually forced him into the sport.

Caio Terra: “I was getting into too many fights in school and my mother told me that I needed to learn to defend myself.”

Moving Up in the Sport (and to America)

By age 20, when he came to the U.S., he was already a black belt. Since then he has become an 11-time black belt world champion (the record for IBJJF), and is currently a third-degree black belt.

His brother is here in the U.S. with him but his parents still live in Brazil.

The Beginning of The Caio Terra Academy and its Focus on Jiu Jitsu

When asked about the origins of the Caio Terra Academy:

Caio Terra: “Our facility has been at this location since 2011. A few years ago I decided to focus solely on Jiu Jitsu rather than all martial arts. We have 8,000 square feet, it’s a pretty good space. We have three mats areas. But Jiu Jitsu started growing too much and we needed more mat space so we decided to only do Jiu Jitsu. We used to have MMA, kickboxing, krav maga, cardio kickboxing, wrestling, you name it.”

Caio Terra Academy also employs many other black belts and Jiu Jitsu stars.

Caio Terra: “Yuri Simoes, who is a beast and is one of the best in the world. He is an ADCC champion. He is a black belt who has won Pan Am and also Worlds at every belt level. He also won Worlds no-gi. He’s just amazing… We also have Kristina Barlaan, who won the Europeans. She also got second in the Worlds last year. She always places in the big tournaments.”

caio terra zebra mats facility

A Growing Presence

Caio recently opened a second school in Woodland and currently has about 400 students as well as a large staff. But he doesn’t want the school to become too big.

Caio Terra: “I keep in touch with all my affiliates. Numbers were never my priority because we want to grow in a way where I can know everyone personally. That’s my goal. We only want people who are really fixed in and reject more applicants than we approve. We probably have over 50 (affiliates) from all around the world.”

His Thoughts on the Future

Caio always has his mind on Jiu Jitsu. In fact, he thinks of little else. When asked if he had any other hobbies, he responded:

Caio Terra: “Not really. Even when I’m doing something else I like, like watching a movie, I’m still thinking about Jiu Jitsu. If I’m listening to music I’m thinking about Jiu Jitsu, too. I think that’s why I’ve succeeded because I’m always thinking about Jiu Jitsu.”

When asked about the future, Caio told us about how he doesn’t plan on quitting Jiu Jitsu anytime soon.

Caio Terra: “I never thought that I would be doing Jiu Jitsu for a living. I actually went to college and graduated and thought I would be doing something completely different. But I love how Jiu Jitsu has grown and I love teaching it. I don’t see myself doing anything else.”

Learn more about the Caio Terra Academy by visiting their website.