Interview With Leonardo Santoro – Always Respect the Belt

Last updated on 29.06.2019 by
  • 1. Hi Leonardo. Can you please introduce yourself to the BJJ community?

I’m a 1st-degree black belt under Federico Tisi. I started Jiu-Jitsu because I found a new way to improve my ground in this martial art. I started playing judo since I was 4 years old and a long time after that I saw people rolling, tried to roll with them and they ‘killed’ me. So, I started training Jiu-Jitsu. I am a black belt in judo, but Jiu-Jitsu is really different and I fell in love with this martial art.

  • Please tell us more about your academy in Torino. What made you decide to open your own place? Do you have active competitors? 

I opened my academy with my business partner Giuseppe Moriconi, who is black belt too, in 2005. We decided to open our own place because we had the necessity to roll and to have a place for our students to train Jiu-Jitsu every day. I have a lot of good competitors and I have a lot of people who started Jiu-Jitsu saying they don’t want to compete and after three or four months, they change their mind. Some of my competitors are Davide Scarano and Luna Giaimo and we attend many competitions both in Italy and Europe. We competed in Los Angeles World Championship three times. One of my students with white belt took two medals.

Interview With Leonardo Santoro - Always Respect the Belt 1 Interview With Leonardo Santoro - Always Respect the Belt
  • What do you think about people that travel and do Jiu-Jitsu at different academies over time? What is your gym policy for those people? 

I like people who travel for Jiu-Jitsu and every time someone comes to my academy, it’s free for them. They can stay, train, and roll one or two weeks for free. 

  • How do you view the progress of BJJ in Italy? How popular do you see the sport getting there? How do you see BJJ in the next 10 years?

Jiu-Jitsu is growing step by step, but in a good way. Sometimes, it doesn’t grow in a good way but like fitness. I have seen fitness gyms which aren’t academies, but include Jiu-Jitsu, for example, once a week for one hour. This is not good for our martial art because Jiu-Jitsu isn’t fitness and isn’t so simple. I suppose that in the next ten years, Jiu-Jitsu will come back to the basics. Just like the Jiu-Jitsu of JT Torres. JT Torres has a very basic yet sharp and powerful Jiu-Jitsu.

  • What are other BJJ players that you admire, and why?

There are a lot of good Jiu-Jitsu players, like JT, Keenan Cornelius, Michael Langhi, and Lucas Lepri. For me, some of the best are Marcelo Garcia, Tererê, and Galvão.  I have a lot of favorite fights, like Tererê against Vitor Shaolin and Roger Gracie against Jacare. It’s great that a lot of Jiu-Jitsu champions go to MMA, like Rafael Lovato Jr. and Michelle Nicolini.

  • What is your advice for the people who now practice BJJ?

I think that people who now practice Jiu-Jitsu have to approach it in a simple way but try to enjoy it at the same time. They shouldn’t forget that Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art and should treat it with respect and humility.

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@jedikimonos with @repostapp ・・・ #legalizeheelhooks #sweatshirt in #asakusa #tokyo #samurai #streetart #jedikimonos

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  • Tell us about JK Kimonos? How are the things and explain more to the people?

JK Kimonos is a brand we made due to the necessity for high-quality kimonos. Step by step, after four years of design, preparation, and testing, we created a line of kimonos. We’re a really small family company which is growing little by little. We’re a couple of people who work on kimonos and shorts. With our business partner, all the T-shirts, rashguards, and shorts are handmade here in Italy. So, their quality is really high. The price is not like China products because we have the cost of production.

  • Can you give any advice to our readers?  Any tip that can help people on the mat or real life.

When you travel, remember to always approach an academy which will host you. Try not to roll hard but very simple and always respect the belt. Be careful when someone asks you to roll in a light way, as it will always be in a hard way! ?

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