Name: Felipe Cabral Pinheiro Abad
Grappler’s Planet: We are with the renowned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu athlete, coach, and
referee, Felipe Cabral Pinheiro Abad, who has granted us an exclusive interview about his
BJJ journey. To begin, tell us about how you got started in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Felipe: I began my BJJ journey at Carlson Gracie Academy in Rio de Janeiro,
Brazil. While I became the 2008 CBJJE South American Champion, my true
affinity for BJJ stemmed from the sport’s power to transform lives, enabling
students to break through all perceived barriers both on the mat and in life.
GP: Speaking of overcoming any limitations, what major competitive
achievements have you earned in the United States?
Felipe: I won bronze in the 2017 IBJJF American National Open Championship;
gold in the 2018 San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Jose IBJJF Opens; and gold
in the 2019 BJJ Tour American Cup.
GP: Aside from your successful competitive achievements, how else have
you developed Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Felipe: I have refereed many of the sport’s major events, including the IBJJF
American National, Pan American, and World Championships.
GP: Who are some major athletic competitors who you have refereed?
Felipe: I have refereed renowned BJJ stars such as Elisabeth Clay and Rafael
Lovato at the 2019 No-Gi Worlds, as well as Rafael “Formiga” Barbosa and Igor
Paiva at the 2020 Pan Americans.
GP: Arbitration must require ensuring the safety of athletes, coaches, and
spectators while allowing competitors to demonstrate their martial arts prowess and
mastery of strategic techniques. What is inspiring about refereeing world-class events
Felipe: Arbitration is very important to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s development, which
requires the accurate enforcement of consistent rules. The international events that
my referee work facilitates fuel the growth of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by providing
opportunities for athletes to expand their abilities, share global knowledge, and win
GP: How does your referee work develop the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sport?
Felipe: Athletes are motivated to train for events that will sharpen their skills and
enable them to earn awards that distinguish them within the sport. My referee work
provides these resources by facilitating many of the sport’s most competitive
events, giving meaning to the hard work that athletes put into their training.
§ Even competitors who don’t make it to the podium expand their skills by
grappling against highly competitive opponents. By consistently enforcing
the sport’s rules and judgment criteria, my referee work provides the
“yardstick” by which to measure athletes’ progress within BJJ.
GP: Do you also coach Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?
Felipe: Yes, once authorized, I began coaching BJJ at Caio Terra Academy (CTA)
in San Jose, California. I use the knowledge gained through my competitive
experience to transfer winning strategies to athletes, producing high-performance
GP: What inspires you about coaching the sport?
Felipe: I believe that everyone you meet in life is, in a sense, fighting their own
internal battles. As a BJJ coach, I enjoy creating an environment where people from
all walks of life can “leave it all on the mat” and evolve as both athletes and
individuals. Whether improving people’s lives through martial arts was a sort of
predetermined destiny or path solely of my own creation, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu holds
an enormous amount to offer those who seek the sport’s immense benefits.