Sunday, 16 March 2014

Meet BJJ's Rising Star Mason Monsevais

Today I bring you an interview with Mason Monsevais. He is considered to be one of the best blue belts in the world today, so it has been a pleasure to get the chance to interview him. I hope you guys enjoy!

For some people who may not be familiar with you, could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Mason Monsevais. I'm a blue belt underneath the Mendes Brothers at the Art of Jiu Jitsu Academy in Costa Mesa, California. I got started in jiu-jitsu because I was a fan of MMA. UFC fighter Josh Koscheck opened up a gym in my hometown of Fresno, California and I joined shortly after. I trained MMA for a bit but fell in love with jiu-jitsu. After a while I knew I needed better training if I wanted to be successful so I put my life on hold in order to move down to Costa Mesa and train with the Mendes Brothers.

What is it about Jiu-Jitsu you love so much?

I love jiu-jitsu because there is always something to improve on and get better at. It's impossible to master and always challenging. Even if you win you can always find something to work on. 

What drew you to initially start training at the Mendes Bros Academy?

I remember watching Rafa submit Cobrinha at Pan Ams 2012 and instantly became a fan of him and Gui. It just so happened that a few months later they would open up their gym a few hours away from where I was living, so I made the decision to train full-time and move down to Costa Mesa. I really liked their style so I thought it'd be best to learn directly from them. 

What is it like to have Guilherme and Rafael Mendes as your head instructors?

It's absolutely amazing. Their knowledge and attention to details in unrivaled. I feel really fortunate and blessed to be able to train with and learn from them. They're both also really cool off the mat and outside of the gym.

Mason with Professors Guilherme and Rafael Mendes

What’s the overall atmosphere like at AoJ?

The overall atmosphere at AoJ is really cool. Professors Rafa & Gui really focus on the family environment and pay a lot of attention to the kids program. It's very welcoming for guests to come and visit as well as help people start their jiu-jitsu journey. 

Do you ever get the opportunity to train at any other Atos Affiliates?

During training camps we have the opportunity to head down south to San Diego and train with Andre Galvao and his students. 

What was your first experience with competition like?

My first competition experience was pretty chaotic. I signed up for a local tournament just three months after starting training and really having no idea what to expect. I didn't understand the rules or points system but somehow was able to win three fights and take 1st. After that experience I was hooked and began competing as much as possible. 

How significant is competition in the progression of your Jiu-Jitsu?

I think competition is very important when trying to progress in jiu-jitsu. It allows you to test your techniques against people you've never rolled with before and is also a great way of finding mistakes and things to work on. Win or lose you have the opportunity to correct mistakes and better yourself. 

Do ever get nervous when it comes to competition? If so, how do you deal with them?

I don't really get nervous anymore when it comes to competition. I view the tournaments as an extension to my training so I find them pretty enjoyable. It's an opportunity to showcase my jiujitsu.

You have accomplished a lot over your short career, but what has been your most proud accomplishment?

My proudest accomplishment so far is definitely winning the IBJJF Europeans earlier this year. I had 5 really tough matches but was able to grind them out and take gold.

Mason takes gold at the 2014 IBJJF European Championships

What has been your most challenging match in competition to date?

My toughest match so far was probably my semi-finals match at Europeans. I fought a tough kid from Brazil who put me in a lot of challenging spots. 

Who would you say is your biggest competition throughout the entire blue belt division?

I think there's a lot of good competition at blue belt right now but I feel comfortable and confident fighting everyone. 

Ultimately, what are your goals throughout 2014?

For the remainder of 2014 I'd definitely like to win Worlds both in the gi & no-gi as well. I'd also like to make it to Japan and compete in the Rickson Cup. 

Looking at the big picture, what are some of your future goals?

My future goals are obviously to be a Pan& World champion at every belt level as well as an ADCC champion. Once I'm done competing I'd really like to share jiu-jitsu with as many people as possible and start training my own champions. Jiu-jitsu has changed my life in so many ways, I can't help but try and spread it to as many people as possible.

You are widely considered to be one of the best blue belts in the world, how does that make you feel?

It's a really good feeling but my goal is to one day be one of the best black belts in the world. It's a good short term accomplishment that I hope translates through to every belt level. 

Source: Boston BJJ Scene

Could you share your training schedule throughout the entire week with us?

My training schedule is pretty simple. It's basically 3-5 hours in the morning, a little break for lunch, then back to the gym at 4PM to teach kids classes and train again at night. Overall I spend anywhere from 5-7 hours a day training jiu-jitsu. This is Monday through Saturday and resting on Sunday. 

Who are some of your Jiu-Jitsu Idols?

Obviously my Professors Rafa & Gui are my idols when it comes to jiu-jitsu. There's a few other guys who I really enjoy watching fight as well, especially Clark Gracie because of his omoplata game. 

Overall would you say your instructors have the biggest influence on your style of Jiu-Jitsu?

Yes definitely. I am on the mats with them for hours upon hours so they have a huge impact on my jiu-jitsu. I moved to Costa Mesa to train specifically with them so that I could emulate their style. 

What other people besides the Mendes brothers have an influence on your style of Jiu-Jitsu?

I'd have to say Clark Gracie because I'm a big fan of the omoplata. Other than that I am pretty much just doing Mendes Brother style of jiu-jitsu. I think their style allows a smaller person like myself to be able to control the distance and be successful against any size opponent. 

What style of Jiu-Jitsu do you personally like to play?

I enjoy playing guard but lately I've been coming on top and passing the guard. My interests change from time to time but as of right now I really enjoy playing on top. My mind works in a weird way.. I become obsessed with certain moves and get fixated on attacking that move. Right now it's currently omoplata's & the knee slide pass. 

Is drilling a major priority for you in order to progress your Jiu-Jitsu?

I think drilling is very important because it teaches your body how to do the move or movement. It's hard to try something live if your body isn't familiar with the move. 

Do you do any cross training in order to improve your Jiu-Jitsu?

I don't do any other cross training. I think if you want to get good at something, you should do a lot of that one thing. I train a lot of jiu-jitsu because I want to get good at jiujitsu. 

Personally, do you take any supplements? If so, which ones?

I'm not a very big fan of supplements because I think without a proper diet they don't make a difference. I really like caffeine (haha) because it allows me to get amped up when I'm feeling sore and tired towards the end of the week. Other than that I think a proper & balanced diet is the main thing. 

What is the preparation like at AOJ for a big competition?

The preparation doesn't change when we are preparing for a tournament. We are always training hard and competing as much as possible so the training is always tough and geared for competitions. 

How did you do at the recent Pan Ams?

I won three fights and made it to the quarter-finals. In my fourth fight I lost after a controversial call. Even though I didn't get the result I expected I was really proud of my performance. I never once felt like I was out of control or in danger during any of my matches. Obviously I wanted to win but these situations happen and it is what it is. I cannot wait until 2015 to have another opportunity to become a Pan-Am champion!

Are there any non IBJJF competitions you would like to do in the future?

I am really looking forward to traveling to Japan at the end of the year and competing in the Rickson Cup.

Source: GrappleTV

Will you ever consider making the jump to do MMA in the future?

Depending on how jiu-jitsu goes over the next few years will determine whether or not I will make the jump into MMA. I am definitely interested but my jiu-jitsu goals come first! 

Besides Jiu-Jitsu, what do you like to do in your spare time?

To be honest I don't really do much besides jiu-jitsu. When I am not training I am at home resting. It's hard for me to even sit through an entire movie without daydreaming or focusing on jiu-jitsu. I am a big fan of art but jiu-jitsu controls my mind & thoughts 24/7! 

Which do you prefer Gi or NoGi?

I love training in the gi. I hardly ever train no-gi but I will when a no-gi tournament approaches. I one day want to fight in ADCC so I will start focusing on the no-gi training in the future. 

Coming up next month is Metamoris III, with the long awaited rematch of Royler Gracie vs Eddie Bravo, who do you think will win and why?

It's hard for me to say but I think Eddie Bravo will find a way to win. I am really excited for this event and can't wait to be there live. Both my professors are fighting! 

Okay, time for the quick fire questions, they are:

1.     Gran Turismo or Forza? Gran Turismo. 
2.     The Rock or Stone Cold? The Rock of course! 
3.     Smile or Game Face? Smile.  
4.     Crushed Ice or Cubed Ice? Crushed Ice whenever I have the choice!
5.     Be older than you are or younger than you are? Man I wish I was younger! 19 was the perfect age.
6.     Goku or Vegeta? Goku! #TeamGoodGuys
7.     Ed, Edd or Eddy? DoubleD was always my favorite. 
8.     Headphones or Ear-buds? Headphones to cover my cauliflower ear. 
9.     Freddy or Jason? Jason.
10.   Duck or Chicken? Chicken!
11.   Snickers or Twix? Snickers! 
12.   PSN or Xbox Live? I never play video games but probably Xbox! 
13.   Resident Evil or Silent Hill? Resident Evil. 
14.   Call of Duty or Battlefield? Call of Duty. 
15.   Jedi or Sith? A wise man once told me, "You're either a jedi or you're not.."
16.   Darth Vadar or Darth Maul? Darth Vader forsure!
17.   Christmas or Halloween? Christmas! Not a big fan of Halloween...
18.   Mashed Potatoes or French Fries? I loooove mashed potatoes (haha)!
19.   NWO or DX? Not sure?!
20.   Shaken or Stirred? Shaken?
21.   Hurley or Billabong? RVCA ;)
22.   Digital Alarm Clock or Ringing Alarm Clock? iPhone Digital Alarm Clock!
23.   N*sync or Backstreet Boys? Hanson (hahaha)!
24.   Coffee or Hot Chocolate? Coffee hands down.
25.   Cartoon Network or Boomerang? I was always a fan of Cartoon Network.

I think this will conclude our interview. I'd like to thank you for giving me the chance to interview you, it has been great! Before we end, is there anybody you would like to thank?

Yeah no problem. Was awesome! I'd like to thank my Professors, family, and AoJ family for all the support. They make it all possible!

If you want to stay updated with Mason and his journey, follow him on Instagram and Twitter, and also add him on Facebook!


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