Yuta Shimada is Japanese home-grown Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, a rank earned from the legendary Naoya Uematsu of Nexusense academy.
Shimada is also one of the top competitors in the IBJJF international circuit and has won the Asian Open as a Black Belt 3 times. In addition, he has notable showings in both ADCC and the Brazilian Nationals as a Purple belt.
I first met Shimada after his seminar conducted at ARETE BJJ back in May of 2016, at the time a Brown Belt; Shimada taught an excellent seminar detailing back control, guillotine chokes and passing techniques. That same weekend he competed at the Copa De Bangkok that year, winning the absolute division in spectacular fashion with an armbar.
2 years after his last visit to Bangkok he came again to conduct a second seminar in September 2018. Now, 2 years as a black belt a lot had changed, including the number of titles under his belt. The seminar was excellent, detailing passing technique and crucifix details but more than that Shimada had dramatically increased his ability to conduct a seminar in English. Having traveled regularly to New York to visit Marcelo Garcia’s academy he had made a concerted effort to improve his second language.
Shimada agreed to sit down with us to give a short Q&A interview:
Lets’s go the beginning, how did you come to train Jiu Jitsu?
From the age of 5 to graduating Junior High School I was training Judo. I joined the photography club going into high school but feeling physical complacency I decided to join a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club based off of a poster I came across advertising Paraestra Koga.
What were your thoughts when you were promoted to Black Belt?
The starting point to the road to becoming World Champion.
What are you current achievements in BJJ?
IBJJF Asian Open Champion (2018/2017/2016)
ADCC Asian Trials Champion (2017)
IBJJF Pan Championship 3rd Place (2018)
CBJJ Brasileiro Champion (2013 purple)
IBJJF Asian Open Champion (2015 brown, 2013 purple)
IBJJF World Championship 2nd Place (2013 purple)
IBJJF Asian Open Championship 2nd Place (2013* purple)
IBJJF World Championship 3rd Place (2015 brown, 2014 purple)
IBJJF Pans Championship 3rd Place (2016 brown)
Out of all of the competitions that you have entered which was the most important to you personally?
When I won the Brazilian Nationals at Purple belt.
Why was the Brazilian Nationals the most important out of all the other competitions that you had entered and won?
Winning the Brasileiros was when I started to realize this is something I wanted to dedicate myself to, to become a professional Jiu Jitsu Athlete.
Where does your motivation to train day in and day out come from?
The fact that I have to use both body and mind in unison to fight some of the best in the world is my biggest motivation and thrill.
Is there anyone currently that you would like to compete against?
Not at the moment.
Is there an opponent that you have faced in the past that left the biggest impression on you?
Joao Miyao without a doubt; I have fought him 5 times and have lost all 5 times. The drive to beat him next time is making me train hard every day and to research new techniques.
How do you find the training environment abroad in comparison to that of Japan?
In overseas, there is a large number of full time Jiu Jitsu athletes at any given academy, all are working towards their goals to becoming world champion. I think the training environment breeds a rivalry and brotherhood that motivates the athletes and creates an elevated training environment than that of Japan.
How do you train before a competition?
Challenging new movements and technologies constantly does not change, however just before a competition, I will consciously make the effort not to make mistakes, lose points or deviate from my match strategy.
What are you thinking about prior to your matches?
I tell my body to move as it has done in the countless hours training on the mat and expel any thoughts besides winning the match in front of me.
Out of the BJJ academies you have trained while abroad which ones left an impression on you as both student and competitor?
Marcelo Garcia Academy NYC, Alliance Sau Paulo, 10th Planet HQ.
Why were these did these 3 academies leave such an impression on you?
Alliance Sao Paulo was the first time I was exposed to how world champions trained and as an aspiring athlete it left a huge impression on me being able to witness what the atmosphere in a championship gym was like.
10th Planet HQ surprised me as all of Eddie Bravo’s students emulated his style of Jiu Jitsu and it made me think of how influential he is as a coach and a former athlete, how much his students believe in his style of Jiu Jitsu.
Marcelo Garcia Academy because it was Marcelinho’s style I emulated the most since starting Jiu Jitsu. The mere thought of possibly being able to view Jiu Jitsu from the same perspective as Marcelo Garcia excites me more than any other athlete active or retired.
What do you think is missing when you see the active competitors in Japan or the state of Jiu Jitsu in Japan?
Including myself, I think motivation and technical skill are missing.
Coming from an active competitor on the world stage, why do you think this is?
Progress in both techniques and motivation may be slower as fewer people are aiming to win the Mundials in Japan.
Out of the Asian countries currently practicing Jiu Jitsu, which country do you see making the biggest mark, or which is has highest growth rate?
Without a doubt it will be Korea. Korea has a higher proportion of motivated young athletes higher than Japan. You will see big things from Korea soon.
As a current ranked competitor what are your current goals?
Winning the Mundials period.
Lastly, who would like to thank?
If I starting listed names it would be endless, therefore I would like to thank everyone that is with me on a daily basis. The only reason I have been able to achieve what I have thus far is not by my efforts alone but because of those that have trained, sparred and strategized with me throughout my career. If just one of you were not present, I would not be where I am today. The medals I have won are not mine alone, but those who have shared this journey with me. I will continually be supported by you all in the future I’m sure, but I will face Jiu Jitsu with earnest hard work.
Main Achievements * IBJJF Asian Open Champion (2018/2017/2016) * ADCC Asian Trials Champion (2017) * IBJJF Pan Championship 3rd Place (2018) Main Achievements(Colored Belts) * CBJJ Brasileiro Champion (2013 purple) * IBJJF Asian Open Champion (2015 brown, 2013 purple) * IBJJF World Championship 2nd Place (2013 purple) * IBJJF Asian Open Championship 2nd Place (2013* purple) * IBJJF World Championship 3rd Place (2015 brown, 2014 purple) * IBJJF Pans Championship 3rd Place (2016 brown)
（複数） アリアンシ マルセロ・ガルシア、アリアンシ サンパウロ、10th Planet HQ
アリアンシ サンパウロでは本場の雰囲気を身をもって感じ、世界王者がどのように練習に取り組んでいるかを初めて間近で見ることができたので非常に印象的です。 10th Planetは全ての選手がコーチであるエディ・ブラボーと同じ動きができます。みんな10th Planetのスタイルが本当に好きなんだと思いました。 アリアンシ マルセロ・ガルシアには僕が最も学びたい柔術があります。マルセロと同じ視点で柔術を見ることができたら、一体どんな感じなのかワクワクします。
個人名をあげ始めると終わりがなくなってしまうのですが、日頃自分に携わってくれる全ての人に感謝しています。 これまで大会で優勝することができたのは決して自分の努力だけで成し得たものではなく、スパーをしてくれる仲間やテクニックや戦略を授けてくれるコーチがいたからこそです。 誰かが欠けていたら今の自分にはなっていないはずで、手に入れたメダルも自分だけのものではないと思っています。 今後も多くの方々に支えてもらえるよう、誠心誠意柔術と向き合っていくつもりです。