“A good foundation lasts forever.” These were the closing words of Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Jorge Santiago, aka “The Sandman,” after he gathered the participants of yesterday’s seminar for a final lesson at David Loiseau’s Crow Training Center.
Jorge Santiago Rodrigues, aka “The Sandman,” is a retired Brazilian mixed martial artist. He was the first Sengoku Middleweight Champion and is the former Strikeforce Middleweight Grand Prix Champion. He also competed for the UFC, King of the Cage, Titan FC and BodogFIGHT. Santiago is currently the head coach of “The Blackzilians,” a professional team of MMA fighters based in Boca Raton, Florida. The team includes UFC light heavyweight champions ‘Suga’ Rashad Evans and Vitor Belfort, and former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez.
As David “The Crow” Loiseau himself put it, “Jorge Santiago is an Encyclopedia of martial arts! He’s the real deal. He’s done it all!”
There was a strong turnout for the seminar, with participants from David Loiseau‘s gym along with jiu-jitsu practitioners from other schools. Some even traveled from Ontario to learn from the legendary “Sandman.” The experienced jiu-jitsu coach and UFC vet stuck to fundamentals as the theme of the day. He provided several drills, focusing on very fine details on the basics of the art and their application in realistic scenarios.
“I like it when it’s perfect,” Jorge told me when asked to describe his teaching style. And it showed. I’ve been to many training seminars, including jiu-jitsu, MMA and other combat sports, but Santiago is one of the best I’ve ever seen in terms of managing a large group and successfully demonstrating and explaining essential techniques.
Jorge took the time to work directly with every member of the seminar, correcting their techniques and helping them to understand not just how to implement a particular move but also the concepts behind it. It was abundantly clear to everyone that Jorge was an expert at every aspect of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, yet he taught with a humble and welcoming approach, well suited for the inclusive environment at the Crow Training Center.
After every demonstration, Jorge opened the mats for questions. “I like questions,” Jorge stated with a smile, encouraging the crowd to ask anything. Between sessions, I would catch him in downtime “shadow-grappling,” preparing for the next sequence he was going to teach and making sure he based his instruction on what he noticed that the students needed to work on.
The participants certainly enjoyed and appreciated the knowledge and expertise shared by Jorge. Together, Loiseau and Santiago made it their goal to provide a strong conceptual base for white belts to learn from, while fine tuning skills for the higher ranks.
It was a day of fundamentals and how focusing on them can improve anyone’s technique. But there was also a message of bringing people together with jiu-jitsu and “The Sandman” showed to have a holistic and zen-like mindset to the training. “A good foundation lasts forever,” Jorge reiterated to me at the end of the seminar, before adding, “A good foundation saves lives.” Said like a true martial artist. — Wes Derequito