An interview with a BJJ Coach

Deciding to learn BJJ can be a life-altering choice. As a result, once you’re committed you might feel like it’ll take a lifetime to master.  Fortunately, your BJJ Coach is along with you for the ride. Think about it, how would we even know where to start without a BJJ Instructor? In other words, BJJ is a martial art that requires so much investment of time and effort, a BJJ coach does not just teach techniques to students.  Consequently, a BJJ Coach connects with their students and guides them to be the best version of themselves on the mats (and sometimes even off the mats).  Importantly, teaching BJJ requires time, patience and a social intelligence that anyone that has decided to learn BJJ can agree to.

So who are the dedicated humans that pass on their knowledge?  

We asked The Fight Centre’s BJJ Coach Ícaro Nauã Sandes a few questions to find out who he is, why he coaches BJJ and learn more about his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journey.

Black and white image of TFC BJJ Coach Ícaro Nauã Sandes

The Fight Centre’s BJJ Coach Ícaro Nauã Sandes


  • Meet BJJ Coach Ícaro

    How old were you when you first started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? 

    20 years old 


    What got you into BJJ? 

    Being in the same tribe and environment as my friends from Brazil. Firstly, everyone started doing some martial arts when we were young. Some of my friends started Capoeira and BJJ. I started  doing Muay Thai first and always watching BJJ class before my Muay Thai class. As a result, I was curious to learn something new and never stopped after that 


    Where was your first time training?

    It was in my friend’s garage. I didn’t have a Gi. As a result one of my friends lent me a Gi top to wear for my first time 

    Icaro as a white belt in his first ever gym that was owned by his friend

    Ícaro (far right) with his first ever BJJ Coach and fellow students

    What is the biggest lesson that BJJ has taught you?

    Resilience about the diversity of life, be ready to get out of a trouble situation. Importantly, you must hide all weakness when you are fighting. Try to show up for your opponent or for the life than you are ready for whatever happens ahead. 


    Why do you fight?

    To get the balance and to develop my physical, mindset and soul 


    What is your motivation as a coach?

    To do the same things that my coach did for me. That is to say, spread the best part of me and my Jiu Jitsu to my students.


    What is your proudest moment in BJJ?

    Each time I watch my students on the mats fighting 


    Can you name some of your tournament wins? 

    I’m invicto of my weight division for 2 years at the Queensland State Championships 


    What advice would you give to somebody thinking about starting BJJ?

    Learn to tie your belt before starting classes. Keep your personal hygiene clean. Have an open mind and spirit to get to know a martial art where we use technique and feeling to control our opponent. It doesn’t matter the size and where.

    Icaro holds up his gold medal from the Queensland State Championships

    Ícaro has won multiple Queensland State Championships

  • What do his students think of him?

    We asked a few of Ícaro’s students to tell us a bit about their experience training under TFC’s BJJ Coach.

    Lachlan Wigan

    ‘Firstly, Jiu Jitsu has changed my life, I would not be the person i am today without it. But I can’t give credit to anyone else than my awesome professor Icaro. I get train with him almost every day learning new skills not just in martial arts but in life. He has really taught me a lot and how to be a good person. I love being able to go to training after a big day of work. Being able to work hard but feel happy and have a laugh it just makes that happen somehow.

    I feel he and I have this special bond. I can’t really explain it but i just know he is always looking out for me. If i need to talk to him or something he is there for me. He is always looking out for his students.  There are many things I could try and say but I wouldn’t be able to say it all. All i really need to say is thank you to Icaro, the absolute best coach and person I have met.’

    Lachlan Wigan drilling BJJ leg lock positions with his training partner

    Lachlan Wigan drilling leg lock positions


    Joy Tarawhiti

    ‘Since starting BJJ just over a year ago with coach Icaro, he has been incredibly patient. He is also encouraging and shown professionalism in his teachings. As I do not have a fighting background his leadership and support has given me the confidence to enter into BJJ competitions and achieve my goal to win gold. His knowledge is well received and I hope to be able learn as much as I can from him. I am very proud to have him as a coach.’

    Joy Tarawhiti posing with her team mate wearing three gold medals

    Joy Tarawhiti (right) after a successful day in competition

    Steph Chan

    ‘Starting up BJJ with Icaro has been an amazing journey. Having a busy schedule with uni for a while he was very understanding. He was also mindful of my pre-existing back pains. Icaro has a great interest in all of his students. He is super observant and truly cares for the development of each member and their goals. I look forward to returning back to BJJ after injury and to continue working through the details of the sport with an awesome coach!’

    Steph Chan poses with her friends after a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class

    Steph Chan (middle) is all smiles training with her BJJ crew

  • Final Thoughts

    Whether you’re training to compete or to keep fit.  Whether you like training in Gi or in No Gi. Once you’ve found a BJJ Coach that suits your style and learning method, it can possibly be one of the most impactful relationships you develop.  BJJ is a journey full of ups and downs so having a guide to help push you through each milestone is invaluable.

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