Ricardo “Franjinha” Miller Exclusive Interview

9 02 2011

Through my jiu-jitsu career I have had the honor and privledge of meeting and training with some of the best guys in our sport. Ricardo “Franjinha” Miller is one of those individuals. For those of you who don’t know, Franjinha is the founder of the power house team Paragon and has produced some of the best black belts in the world including Bill “The Grill” Cooper and Jeff Glover to name a couple. I got the honor of training with Franjinha when he was in Texas visiting all of his affiliate schools. He is a phenomenal instructor and coach as well as one of the nicest people in the world. He is someone who clearly exhibits what it is to live the jiu-jitsu lifestyle. I was able to catch up with Franjinha and he was willing to take the time and answer a few questions. Check out our EXCLUSIVE interview below! Enjoy!

Mark:

Tell everyone a little bit about yourself: Who are you? What’s your rank? Where do you teach out of? Etc.

Franjinha:

My name is Ricardo “Franjinha”Miller, I am a black belt from Alliance BJJ  under Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti, the head coach and founder of Alliance BJJ Team. I am the founder of Paragon BJJ academy in USA. Today ,I am currently teaching in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Hollywood in California. Also I do seminars around the world. Paragon is growing well and today with have associations schools in California,Texas and Sweden.

Mark:

How did you start your jiu-jitsu journey? Where did you start training?

Franjinha:

I started training in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1990 at Jacare’s academy in Ipanema. My friend told me about his class there and I went to try it out with him. I got in love when the instructor show me the first choke and I never stop anymore.

Mark:

I know you are the founder of one of the most well-known teams and powerhouses in the jiu-jitsu world – Paragon. How did you come about starting such a great team?

Franjinha:

I came to United States with the intention to just learn the language and spend some time here with my wife. But things started to build up for us and we ended up staying. I started teaching to a few guys and the group started to grow. I met one person Michael Florimbi that a consider my brother and God father here in USA. Michael helped me to stay here legally and helped me to start the Paragon Academy being my sponsor.

Mark:

How has being a part of the powerhouse team Alliance helped in the development of your own great team?

Franjinha:

The instruction that I got in my early days was the most important in my opinion. When you expose yourself to a good instructor in your yearly days of training and he shows you a solid foundation of basic moves. You will develop good habits and once you master this foundation the rest will be easy to learn. So I consider the knowledge that Jacare and his top instructors passed to me in my early days was for sure the key for my success and my students success today.

Mark:

You are the coach of some of the superstars of our sport such as Bill “The Grill” Cooper and Jeff Glover among others. What has it been like watching them come up and have such great success as well as the success of your team?

Franjniha:

For sure my students success will be my success too. I am very proud today to have names like these ones you mention in our team. But we have a lot more, they are just good grapplers. We work to give these people some kind of future too. I am very proud too to have guys that started with me doing jobs that they did not like and today they are academy owners. They are healthier and happier than before in their lives. Stuff like that makes me love more and more to teach jiu-jitsu.

Mark:

Do you have any young up and coming guys training with you right now that we should all be on the lookout for in the near future?

Franjinha:

Right now, with Jeff and Bill being black belts, we are creating a new generation in our group. But for sure one name that comes up in my mind is Jacob Sandoval. He is a blue belt from Santa Barbara and he qualified to go to ADCC with 2 wins in the East and West coast and he won the open in the East coast too. So he will have his expenses paid to go there. Also, we have Katie, my first female black belt qualifying to ADCC too , so far.

Mark: What are some of your influences in jiu-jitsu or who are some of your influences in jiu-jitsu and why?

Franjinha:

My biggest influence in jiu-jitsu for sure comes from Jacare and Fabio Gurgel. With them I learned how to love jiu-jitsu and how to be a professional teacher. They taught me how to pass my knowledge and how to treat people that come to our academy. In terms of technique, I am a big fan of all good players out there. I try to keep myself up to date by going to all tournaments, competing, and watching DVDs.

Mark:

Now I know you have a great network of schools in the Paragon affiliation. Where are some of the places those schools are located?

Franjinha:

We have schools in California, Texas and Sweden. Please go to Paragonbjj.com and get more information about each one of them. We will soon be launching a new website for our association schools and we are working in one new project that will help people to learn the Paragon style of jiu-jitsu too.

Mark:

As for your several affiliate schools in the state of Texas, which is where we originally met, where are they particularly and could you talk about the head coach at each of them a bit?

Franjinha:

My first affiliation school in Texas was Corpus Christi. The head instructor there is Aurelio Galegos. Aurelio is a World Champion No-gi and many times BJJ medalist. Also, Aurelio is a great teacher and he has been doing a tremendous work in Texas. His school is one of the biggest in South Texas. Today, he supervise for me the other schools in Texas. He tries to go once a month in all of them to help the other to grow faster.

We have one in Edinburg where we have Romi teaching and his wife Brenda is helping us to build a female Team there. She is doing a good work. She just did a female only seminar there that was a huge success and gave the females in the valey the oportunity to get together and exchange technique. I love that Idea. Romi has a solid school and his kids team is amazing. His team has bring good results to us at the Valey tournaments with all his students getting good results on the tournament and representing us with respect and dedication.

Also we have a school in Laredo, TX. The coaches there are Fred, Frank and Felipe. Those guys training like a mad dogs and they are growing at every tournament. Fred won the Pan and Frank did very well too.  They are building a good teen team. They brougth some young guns to the pan that really surprise me. Very good players. I expect a lot good guys come from there. Every time I go there a see a lot of potential in their students and I see the love in the instructor eyes when they teach.

Also, we have one in Alice where Polo is teaching and are building a good Team. It still a small academy,but is growing well. Alice is a very small city. But I heard they are doing a great job and soon we will have some MMA guys come from there.

We have Adam in Corpus on the other side of the city. I forget now the name of the place that he teaches by himself, but he is helping Aurelio to get the team strong there. Adam also helps Aurelio run some classes at Aurelio’s place. Adam is a great competitor and he is doing well in his path to Black Belt.

The most recent one that we will be open soon is the Austin Academy and we will have Darrin and Robert teaching there. It is a nice place and I know for sure they will add a lot of good things to our team there.

Mark:

I know a new branch is opening up in Austin, Texas in the next several weeks. Could you comment on that by chance? I know the teacher is going to be our mutual friend Darrin Lillian. Could you also comment on him and how you feel he will do as an affiliate under you?

Franjinha:

This actually is a very unique thing for us too. Because so far all our affiliations is from guys that start with us and are going up in their belts. The Austin Academy is the first Paragon that will be run by a black belt from other lineage. I am very excited with It because I have the chance to meet him and train with him several times before he opens. He spent a week here with me in California and we exchanged a lot of information and I know he will do well there. I can tell you that he has a solid game and he will add a lot to our style. Also, now he will be able to quite his regular job and be a full time instructor, so his game will be more impressive in a few months for sure. The same thing goes to Robert that will be able to go full time teaching and he is a maniac in conditioning, so we expect these guys getting in a good tournament shape soon.

Mark:

I know you are well aware that jiu-jitsu is much more than a sport, or a martial art, or a hobby, but it is a lifestyle. In your own words, what is it to live the jiu-jitsu lifestyle and how do you see yourself living it day in and day out?

Franjinha:

To live the jiu-jitsu lifestyle is a great thing for me because it keeps me focus and out of trouble. I eat healthy because I can not gain weight because of the tournaments. I don’t drink or go out a lot because I need to train for the competition that is coming up. So all these things keep me focused and healthy in life .

Also, another point that I love about the jiu-jitsu lifestyle is that through jiu-jitsu I notice that I could use It to make people’s life better and that reason makes me fall in love with our sport. I really like it when I get some trouble kid and three months later his parents come and appreciate my work with him or I get an overweight guy and a few months later he drops 50 lbs and he comes and thanks me and tells me that he is more confident and his work is improving because he is feeling better in his life. I thank God everyday for that. In my owe life what I like the most in jiu-jitsu is that I can teach some classes and go back home to enjoy my kids and than go back to the academy and teach again. So I love the free time in the midle of the day that gives me the opportunity to participate in the growth of my kids. I am not that dad that leaves 7 am and comes back at 8 pm to home. For sure some days is hard, but overall I can see them.

Mark:

I know in your jiu-jitsu journey you have bound to come across a great example of the “the jiu-jitsu” lifestyle. Are there any prime memories that stick out in your mind that you could share?

Franjinha:

My memories go back to Jacare. He was a role model for me and his attitudes in how to treat people and how to give back to the community for sure will follow me forever.

Mark:

Well that is all I have. Is there anything you want to add or mention that I may have forgotten?

Franjinha:

I really wants to say thank you for the opportunity for this interview and I want to say thanks to everyone that has been supporting us like our students, family, opponents in tournaments and fans of the Paragon jiu-jitsu style. I can tell you that we try our best to make the most beautiful jiu-jitsu possible and please feel free to email me at paragonbjjventura@gmail.com if you have any questions about our academy or our technique that you think I can help you with.

Mark:

I want to say thank you to Franjinha for giving me the time and answering these questions! It just goes to show you another great example of what it is to Live the Jiu-Jitsu Lifestyle!


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One response

15 02 2011
Darrin

That’s a great interview!!

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