‘Step up, represent jiu-jitsu’ – Rene Sousa is leading the charge to make grappling more exciting

Elite no-gi competitor and new 10th Planet black belt Rene Sousa spoke to Grappling Insider about making grappling more exciting.

Rene Sousa is more than willing to take risks each and every time he competes, and he hopes others will follow his lead.

Fresh off his sensational, come-from-behind submission victory over dangerous veteran Kieran Kichuk at Who’s Number One, Sousa recently spoke to Grappling Insider about a wide range of topics, including how he thinks competitors can make grappling more entertaining.

Additionally, the 10th Planet standout discussed his BJJ journey, the buggy choke, his competition goals moving forward, and much more. Check out the full interview below.

Known for his buggy choke and overall submission-hunting approach to grappling, Sousa tries to compete without the fear of losing, attempting to dismantle his ego in the process:

“It’s dope to go against the best guys, just like, let’s run it, let’s see what’s going on. I never thought I could do it just because I didn’t think I was that good. But recently, in the past year or two, I just try, when I compete, I try to totally forget about me. It’s totally the opposite of what Gordon Ryan does. Gordon’s like ‘I can’t lose.’ When I go on the mat, I remember this quote from a Taoism book: ‘Give everything you can, hold nothing back, and watch the walls of self crumble.’”

Sousa is all about taking risks and going for the submission whenever he competes. He says this focus on offense, rather than grappling simply not to lose, will ultimately make the sport more entertaining:

“I’d rather just go for some crazy shit and lose than look like a b****. So much jiu-jitsu these days, so much, we’re getting the best opportunities and these dudes are out here protecting their egos and protecting their records. If you wanna take this thing to the next level, you have to take it to the next level, not just Gordon Ryan. You gotta go for it. Maybe some people disagree with me. But we’re getting the attention, step up, represent jiu-jitsu. Stop being this, collar tie, hanging out. Go for it, bro! What do you have to lose?”

Sousa’s risk-taking, submission-hunting approach was on full display in his recent match with Kichuk. After over 10 minutes of high-paced action, Sousa appeared to be on his way to losing a judges’ decision. But in the final minutes, he turned up the heat and found a dramatic knee bar finish.

Sousa recapped his strategy going into that encounter:

“I had the plan of dismantling leg locks. I had the plan of starting to pass a little more bit more towards halfway through the match. I had the plan of trying to play guard. That was foiled, he didn’t want to come up at all. But I just gave everything I can and I just kind of listened to the moment…

“I was just making him extremely uncomfortable and you got to see that it wore on him over time, which was the plan… I just did those things to wear him down because I know I can’t just pass his guard right off the bat…”

Perhaps moreso than any other competitor on the scene, Sousa is synonymous with the buggy choke, with his own “Buggy Choke The World” seminar series and t-shirts.

He explained why the buggy choke is such a unique submission:

“Why I love jiu-jitsu is, it’s so cool learning. It’s so cool, not like egotistically showing people that I’m better than them, but that’s the cool thing about a buggy choke, you have no idea it’s coming. You have no idea. You’re in top side control, you have good control of my legs, good control of my hips, maybe you even have me in an arm triangle, you’re about to mount me and for a split second I throw up a buggy choke and it’s game over. It doesn’t matter who you are.”

Ben Coate

Ben has been involved with grappling, whether through wrestling or Brazilian jiu-jitsu, essentially his entire life. After wrestling throughout his childhood, Ben found Brazilian jiu-jitsu as a young adult and quickly fell in love. He has been training for over ten years and currently holds the rank of brown belt, and remains involved in both the MMA and BJJ scene. Ben has been writing about combat sports since 2017. He has interviewed and profiled some of MMA's biggest stars, including multiple UFC champions.

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