Interview with Alain Pozo – Head Coach of ZR Team in the UK

Last updated on 06.11.2019 by

Nice to meet you, Mr. Pozo. Could you please introduce yourself to the readers?

Hello, my name is Alan Pozo. I’ve been doing Jiu Jitsu since 1996. I started with Ze Radiola in
Recife, Brazil. If there was a membership card at the time, I think I would have been member
number 5 of his team. It was a very small gym and a very small team at the time. So, I’ve been
very blessed to be one of the first members there. Then, I moved to Europe a few years later and
I’ve been a black belt for 8 years now. We run the ZR Team in the United Kingdom, a very
strong team of which we’re very proud.

How did your BJJ journey begin? Tell us how and when did you find about it?

I didn’t really go to school much and I only finished fifth grade. When I was young, I spend most
of my school days at the beach in my local area. So, when I was in my early twenties, one of our
guys came to the beach and suggested we see a gym nearby. I knew about Ze Radiola before as
he was a professional surfer and I was curious about this Jiu Jitsu thing I’d never heard before. I
thought it was going to be something like a karate thing. When I walked in there, I was very
surprised as it was only grappling. I got submitted many times and I decided to continue training
Jiu Jitsu.

You are the head coach of ZR Team in the UK. Can you please tell us more about it?

The ZR team in the UK hasn’t been around for a long time, only two and a half years. So, we
have about sixteen affiliate academies throughout the whole of the United Kingdom. We also
have an affiliate in Belfast, Northern Ireland and in Greece. We won medals in the IBJJF in the
UK and in the Europeans and in some local tournaments too. We have two guys on our team
who have been world champions, one in California, the other has been a world champion in Las
Vegas. We have one athlete in the UFC and another in Cage Warriors. The team constantly
keeps growing.

Alain Pozo in Action

How does your daily routine look like? How do you keep yourself in shape?

My daily routine is now very different than it used to be. Back in the 90s, no one had any clue
about nutrition, but now I am 45 years old and I train every day, but not to compete. I am not a
competitor anymore, even though I did compete in Tokyo this year. Nowadays I am more
focused on being an instructor and I train for fun.

What is your favorite position and submission?

This is a very difficult question for me because as an instructor I have to be aware of every
position and submission so I can pass them along to my students. Currently, I am working a lot
on the Inside Berimbolo, the Kiss of the Dragon position. So, lately, I am working a lot in that
position because I think it’s very interesting for our young adult team. When it comes to submissions, it varies greatly. I’ve been working a lot on the Wrist Lock from the Back lately,
but that doesn’t mean it’s my favorite. There are so many positions and submissions in Jiu Jitsu so
it’s difficult to pick only one.

Are you doing anything aside from BJJ?

I was doing something before Jiu Jitsu, but in 2009 I completely quitted my full-time job. Since
then, I focused only on Jiu Jitsu. It was very difficult at the beginning as I used to live in the gym
and I’m very lucky that my wife was paying my phone bills. But we’ve managed to turn things
around and I have a very blessed life now. I am now teaching seminars, traveling the world and
doing only Jiu Jitsu. I have to say that if one day you decide to live only from Jiu Jitsu, you have
to be prepared as in the beginning it’s going to be very difficult.

Alain Pozo and Wife

How do you sense when someone is ready to get promoted?

This is something you cannot really explain as a coach. You just know it as soon as someone is
ready. We try to do gradings at the end of the year and in the summer, but during the year we
always grade someone we know is ready. All you have to do is look at how they are doing in
training. We never do any kind of testing but instead, analyze the student throughout the whole
year. So, if the student has been training very hard a whole year, if they have shown great results
in training and competitions, and if they have a good personality, all things count. Each
individual is different and it’s very important for the instructor to use their experience to analyze

How do you explain the great performance of ZR Team in competitions?

In the ZR Team we try to keep everybody humble and with their feet on the floor. We never say
that we’re the best team because there is always someone better and who is doing something
different than you. What we’re trying to do is work very hard. So, if you are in ZR Team and you
work very hard, you’re going to have an opportunity. From what I have seen in the past in some
teams is that they give the opportunity to only one person, but we’re different.

ZR Team seems like a very tight team with good relationships among the students. What do you do to cultivate a positive atmosphere in your school and associations?

One of the most important things is that Ze Radiola, our coach, inspires all of us. If you have an
opportunity to have a look at the team at the Europeans in Portugal in January, you’re going to
see the leader of our team coaching from Monday, when the competition starts, all the way to
Sunday, when the competition ends. He’s going to be the first person to get to the venue and he’s
going to be the last person to leave the venue. So, he expects all the other coaches to do the same
as he does. When he’s lifting the trophy, we all feel that he deserves that. We are proud to see
him there as he’s leading everybody. Also, we all try to keep each other humble, normal and we
understand that Jiu Jitsu is not a professional sport like MMA. So, if you start getting very
arrogant, these things come back to you. We’ve seen that in other teams and we make sure we keep all our students with their feet on the floor. Our students have fun, but also understand the
hierarchy of the team.

Do you have any advice for the readers?

The advice I can give depends on whether you are a student or an instructor. But the main thing I
want to share with the readers is what I tell everybody, “What do you want to do with Jiu Jitsu in
5 years from now?” So, do you want to be a world champion, have your own academy and
students? Whatever thing you want for you, you have to become obsessed about it. Just working
hard is not enough, but you need to become obsessed and live Jiu Jitsu 24/7.