Loughborough Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is affiliated with Ben Poppleton & the Gordo Association Europe
Gordo. The king of half guard
For those in the BJJ community who have been living in a cave for the past 30 years,
Roberto Correa or “Gordo”, is a 6th degree blackbelt and one of the most significant figures in Jiujitsu history.
Gordo won every Jiujitsu title there was at least once. World, Brazilian, Pan Am, and during an era when the light heavyweight category was stacked with talent, Gordo beat them all.
He fought in legendary matches against Gracie slayers Ze Mario Sperry, Wallid Ismail, Amaury Bitteti and Saulo Ribero. With his epic 10 minute dual with Sergio “Bolão” Sousa being considered one of the greatest fights of all time.
During the semi final of the 2003 Pan Ams, Gordo suffered for 5 full minutes inside the closed triangle of Rener Gracie before escaping to defeat his younger opponent. A feat which many believe is still the greatest show of endurance ever witnessed in the modern jiujitsu competition arena.
Gordo's road into jiujitsu was inevitable. A childhood friend of the Gracies, he went to Nursery school with Ralph and growing up, spent his time on the streets and beaches of Barra with Ralph, Ryan, Renzo and Daniel Gracie.
"Gordo (back row, 2nd from right), as a youngster, on the tatami with Renzo Gracie and Helio Soneca"
In 1985 Gordo was invited to train by Rigan Machado, who at the time was teaching the white belts at Carlos Gracie jr’s school, Gordo never looked back. Receiving his black belt in 1993 from Carlos Gracie Jr at the age of 22.
"In front of the 'Taz' at Gracie Barra headquarters. Gordo on the backrow flanked by Renzo Gracie and Carlos Gracie jr. Marcio Feitosa in middle row. Ricardo 'Big dog' Almeida, Draculino and Gordinho kneeling."
"If Carlsberg made Jiu Jitsu teams -
Probably the most terrifying 'open mat' in history."
Gordo's crowning achievement however, is revolutionising BJJ with the introduction of the modern half guard.
After blowing out his ACL as a purple belt, Gordo was forced to adapt his game and looked to other options when fighting from his back, taking him into the unchartered territory of the offensive half guard.
For over 100 years the half guard was the last bastion of hope before your guard was passed.
The notion that it could be used as an offensive tool and an aggressive fighting strategy was laughed at. But Gordo changed all that.
The concepts and mechanics he innovated were incredible. It was revolutionary, he opened up totally new avenues of offensive play from the bottom, in a position that had been previously lain dormant since the modern form of jiujitsu and judo had materialised from the battlefield, over 100 years earlier.
The modern half guard we use today began to materialise, and Jiujitsu would never be the same again.
Eddy Bravo made the lockdown famous through his 10th planet system, but it was Gordo who had developed it, and was using it, over a decade earlier when it was previously know as, “Gordo's foot”, or “The Scorpion”.
Marcelo Garcias “X Guard” creation of the early 2000’s is a development of one of Gordo’s mechanics of ‘off balancing’ from his half guard which was on display in the mid 90’s
Huge staples of BJJ and the modern grappling game are from Gordo's developments.
As World champion Bernardo Faria stated,
“Many years ago there was no half-guard in BJJ. The half-guard was just a way to pass the guard. Then Roberto “Gordo” Correa started playing and developing the half-guard game. He made the half-guard an offensive position.”
Since his competitive prime Gordo has gone on to coach, producing a stable of exceptional jiu jitsu athletes to continue his legacy.
BJJ world champions: Celcinho Venicius, Marcio ‘Pe de Pano’ Cruz and Antonio Braga Neto.
UFC fighters: Babalu Sobral and Rafael dos Anjos.
Gordo also coached his former rival, former World absolute BJJ champion, Ze Mario Sperry during his super fight at ADCC as well as World Champion Kyra Gracie and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.
He was selected as the Head instructor to the UAE JiuJitsu Federation in Abu Dhabi, with a coaching team of 600 blackbelts under him.