Brief Bio and History – Rafael Lovato Jr began training martial arts at a young age with his father. Lovato Senior was heavily influenced by Jeet Kun Do and Bruce Lee, and would often travel to seminars and train a variety of martial arts styles – from Kali to Karate to Boxing. Rafael’s initial martial arts aspirations were in the sport of boxing, until his father ran into the Gracies at a JKD seminar in California, and immediately fell in love with the sport. Making long drives on a regular basis to visit Carlos Machado, Lovato Senior would come home to share and drill with his son – who also became engrossed in the sport.
As the years went on, Rafael Jr began to serve the role of traveler and information gatherer, as his father stayed at home to tend to his family and his martial arts academy. In Oklahoma, Rafael had few talented training partners, and depended heavily on traveling to any competition or seminar that he could in order to gather information to bring back to his father. He attributes this effort to make the most of his learning to be a key element in his development as a competitor. Today, Rafael is by far the most decorated American Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner – with multiple World Championship titles, and recent big wins in the Metamoris Pro and the Black Belt Absolute Division at the 2013 Brazilieros. His top students include Justin Rader and James Puopolo, among other notables.
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Reputation and Speciality – Rafael is one of the few heavyweight BJJ grapplers who’s explicitly known for the variety in his game. Coming up in the BJJ game with little or no formal “direction,” he explored X-gaurd, closed guard, spider guard, and many other styles which now contribute to his vast array of attacks and options. On top, he is known primarily for his pressure passing and his strong Kimura finishes, in addition to his brabo chokes.
Lovato’s style is notoriously aggressive, and he is an outspoken proponent against any kind of stalling from top or bottom positions (his interview article on BJJEE explains the rule changes he’d like to see in the sport).
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BJJ Record: Rafael’s competitive career is argued to just approaching his peak – and he continues his hunt for gold at major gi and no-gi tournaments around the world.
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Instruction and Technique: Most high level competitors don’t have nearly as much purely instructional content online at Rafael Lovato Jr. In addition to his two BJJ courses: “Ultimate Pressure Passing” and “Seal the Deal” (the latter of which is dedicated to submissions), he has a variety of his game up in an instructional format – as opposed to merely highlight videos. Below is a selection of his techniques from both top and bottom:
passing 1/2 guard
guard pass variety
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