The Neon Belly Podcast

The Parable of Marcelo Garcia

February 16, 2022 Drew Darce
The Neon Belly Podcast
The Parable of Marcelo Garcia
Show Notes

"I wasn't a good student, and even now I never say I am better than anybody, but I know I love jiu-jitsu more than anybody." - Marcelo Garcia. 2010.

Flashback to May of 2007. The legendary Marcelo Garcia is a 2x ADCC champion, and more importantly is The People's Champ. He's on a quest to get double gold medals at his 3rd ADCC. 3rd time's the charm--he's submitted all 7 of 7 opponents in regulation on his way to the Absolute Finals, and he's the smallest man by 24 lbs / 11kgs to get this far (and to this day, no one else has accomplished either feat.) We are about to see the single greatest display in the history of submission grappling. And yet...Marcelo falls short of Absolute Gold and loses by submission to Robert Drysdale.

When Marcelo was asked what he could have done different, he smiled and said simply, "I need to be faster."  Marcelo also joked and said he actually did have 8 for 8 submissions for the weekend...if you included the one where he himself tapped! He could've made so many excuses, but instead he made none while also not taking himself too seriously.

I always loved this story, as told by Josh Waitzkin and Sam Sheridan in The Fighter's Mind. Josh was Marcelo's 1st black belt, and the subject of the film, Searching for Bobby Fischer, about his time as a young chess prodigy. 

Josh states, "Marcelo doesn't think in shades of grey. Everything is black and white...I'm more of a grey-type guy, so it can be frustrating, because at times Marcelo seems overly simple. But it's incredibly powerful...In the chess world, there were plenty of guys like him who I envied, guys with pure clarity and no existential dilemmas, without angst..."

We all could be a little more like Marcelo Garcia. =)

Whether it's on the mats, or in life, relationships, family/friends, careers, etc, I appreciate the beauty and simplicity of this type of thinking. It doesn't come naturally to me, but I want to take the next month to strive to find one through-line or theme where I think I can improve in in Jiu-Jitsu, relationships, career goals, family, friends, etc, and pursue that one theme in each of those areas.

And even if we can't be like him on the mats, we can borrow a valuable method that he uses to solve problems in order to improve our own lives. I also find it admirable that Marcelo went out on his shield, and I've noticed in my own life that I could stand to take more risks.

Big shout outs to Riccardo Ammendolia for his historical highlights and analysis of Marcelo Garcia! I watched some of the footage below in researching this episode. PS. This is the first but certainly not the last time we will talk about Marcelo on this podcast!  

- Video essay exploring Marcelo Garcia's overall ADCC greatness:
- Marcelo's historic RNC over Shaolin at ADCC 2003:
- Highlight of all of Marcelo's 2005 ADCC Matches:
- Highlight of all of Marcelo's 2007 ADCC Matches:
- Marcelo's ADCC 2007 Absolute Finals loss:
- Marcelo Garcia Highlight video by Rob Degle:
- Amazon Link to The Fighter's Mind & The Art of Learning: &