patrick bittan Bio
By Ludovic Mauchien
He is only 49 years old (in 2022) but his life could already fill several volumes of a literary work. At the edge of romance, at the heart of everyday life, Patrick Bittan has contributed to the history of French martial arts. Nourished in Judo, forged in Krav Maga, educated in Thai Boxing, it is in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that he finds his fullness and touches the essence of the art. He is one of the pioneers of the discipline in France. In 1997, he participated in the 2nd Championships in history. He regularly goes to train in Brazil with the biggest names in BJJ. At the end of the 90s, he went into exile in the United States and became a pupil of Rickson Gracie for almost two years. In the early 2000s, he was the first French black belt to win medals at the BJJ Worlds. Today, with his 6th Degree, he is the highest ranking non-Brazilian living in Europe. Above all, he is one of the most brilliant teachers in the discipline. Founder of the Bittan Academy in 1999, he teaches his art to some 1,000 students in his two French clubs. Recognized for his pedagogical qualities, he is called upon to deliver his expertise in different countries. Spotted for his professional skills, he worked for many years with prestigious intervention groups, in France GIGN and ERIS) as well as in Israel. Patrick Bittan dedicates his life to martial arts, living his passion for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu on a daily basis. He does not practice BJJ. He embodies it!
Highlights of a life like no other…
“Krav is about being more aggressive than your attacker”
He had stopped Krav Maga to better devote himself to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, of which he is the highest ranking European. Ironically, it is thanks to BJJ that he will find his way back to the Israeli combat school. In 2001, he developed Jiu Jitsu in Israel and rubbed shoulders with elite troops who gave him a taste for Krav. In 2003, he created the FFMI (French training for individual control), which combines his know-how in BJJ and Krav. Since then, he has worked with several elite units. If he is above all known for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Patrick Bittan is also a recognized expert in Krav Maga, his second hobby. From the age of 12, he learned the basics in Sarcelles, from a former Israeli commando, Joseph Kalfa (1952-2010), founder of the Hakoah Club JK. “It was the time of gangs, which were called cults. Sarcelles was a melting pot. We all had different cultures. We got along well, but there were problems. Between drugs, assaults, theft… It was quite violent. At the time, Krav Maga was communal. Girls, men, everyone, took lessons in order to have the basics to defend themselves in the street. Our teacher was a veteran of the Israeli army who had also been in the paras in France. He was quite military…”. Understood, the Krav Maga taught by Joseph Kalfa was too. “Being more aggressive than your attacker” then took on its full meaning. In parallel with Judo, which he started at the age of 6, and Thai Boxing, Patrick Bittan is assiduous in Krav Maga. He received his black belt 10 years after his debut, in 1995. “We went to the clubs in Sarcelles. We rubbed shoulders with boxing champions, French boxing, Thai, Kick, full. It helped me a lot in my Krav Maga.” 1995 is also the year he hears about BJJ. It’s love at first sight. In 1996, he abandoned everything to devote himself exclusively to the art of Gracie, of which he became one of the French pioneers. “It was very complicated to combine Krav and Jiu Jitsu. In addition, for the high level, I had to stop the percussion and start to have another game, another approach to confrontation”. In 2001, after spending a year and a half in the United States with Rickson Gracie and obtaining his black belt from the hands of Flavio Behring, he was invited to Israel to give a course in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. “It was the first time a black belt teacher showed them BJJ. Royce Gracie came a month later. So I am the pioneer of BJJ in Israel,” he smiles. The various courses provided logically lead him to rub shoulders with members of the security forces, police and army, interested in the techniques developed. “I was lucky enough to be approached by special units, which I continue to work with. Krav Maga is made to respond to violence with violence. The problem should stop instantly. The military was interested in developing techniques for containing the aggressor, not for destroying it. We started to develop methods. Having practiced Krav Maga so much before helped me in the search for solutions. And it also gave me a taste for Krav again.” From then on, he will train at least one month a year in Israel, with the biggest names (KMG by Eyal Yanilov, Zeev Cohen, Impact KM, Surviving Denis Hanover Hisardut, Itaï Gil, etc.). “I didn’t have a tag so I was lucky enough to be able to train with everyone”. He has been training very special units since 2001 such as Shabak, Yamam, Shaetet 13, Duvdevan, Massada, Magave, etc. … From his experiences, Patrick Bittan will quickly write a method associating his different martial cultures, which he will develop through the “French federation of individual mastery”. From 2003, he worked with prestigious units, GIGN and ERIS at the top of the list, a collaboration that will last until 2016. But his work and research are still ongoing. “I develop my Jiu Jitsu and my Krav Maga at the same level. It’s a lot of work. You have to keep up to date with the information. People do not attack in the same way today as 10 or 20 years ago, in prisons and on public transport. Life evolves. We’re here to find the best solutions.”
In September 1996, Patrick Bittan enrolled at the School of Public Works and Building in Vincennes to become a topographer-surveyor. He is already a black belt in Judo. He wants to keep training. Vincennes is one of the historic hearts of French martial arts, it is the city where the Cercle Tissier was created. This is the club where the French JJB was born in 1995. He had seen it while watching the K7 videos of the 1st UFC. He had been intrigued. “I had fought a Brazilian in a Judo competition. It had been super hot on the ground, on the strangulations, the keys…! “. At the Cercle Tissier, Christian Derval and a very small team of curious people had embarked on learning this new method. He had already been to Brazil once. But it was really the beginnings of BJJ in France when Patrick Bittan enrolled in the course at the start of the 1996 school year. “We were looking for techniques, philosophy. I remember my first lesson! There was a super physically strong wrestler. He grabbed our heads, crushed our necks, broke us into a thousand pieces… He bent us! “. The 1st French BJJ Championships were organized in 1997. About 200 people took part. Patrick Bittan is registered in -85 kg and in “all categories”. Result ? 12 fights, 12 victories and 2 titles of champion of France! The story is on…
His 1st Worlds in Brazil
Summer 1997. A new French team is formed to compete in the 2nd World Championships. About fifteen intrepid people land in Rio. 2000 fighters await them. The French sleep in the Dojo of the 1st Alliance team, the historic one, with Fabio Gurgel, Jacare (now 7th Dan), the Viera brothers, Comprido… “I was a blue belt. We trained with them for 2 weeks, 3 times a day. It was war on every Randori! We learned everything on the job: open guard, half guard… We slept on the tatami. It was quite Spartan but it was a very beautiful human adventure. And we had a deadline: to fight Brazilians, in Brazil, at their world championships! “. 3 French people manage to cross the 1st round, including Patrick Bittan, a feat for this time, an extraordinary memory for this enthusiast. “In the 1st round, I fought a student of Mario Sperry, who I was absolutely a fan of. I watched all of his videos. And, there, I see him coaching the guy… And I beat his student! It was a great adventure! We were the first to beat Brazilians.
In 1998, after having again won two titles of champion of France (-85 kg and all categories), in lack of competition, Patrick Bittan decided to leave for the United States, at Rickson Gracie himself! “I wanted to advance in my Jiu Jitsu. I am going to live in his Academy in Los Angeles. I came back to France every 6 months because of the visa and I left again. There, I lived off odd jobs. It cost $250 to do all-you-can-eat classes! “. In total, Patrick Bittan will have spent a year and a half with the greatest fighter in history, undefeated in more than 400 fights. He will not be disappointed… From the first weeks of his new life, he is subjected to an intensive diet. The first televised United States Championships are on the horizon. The stakes between schools are enormous, the rivalries at their peak. Rickson Gracie wants to assemble the armada. He wants to align a team A and a team B by color of belts. There will be 4 elected by category out of several hundred fighters. “The deal was to train once a day for 4 weeks. We were allowed to miss one lesson. If we missed two, we were eliminated. At the end of these 4 weeks, Rickson decided. Team A were the ones they thought could make a podium. The B is just for them to gain experience.” The verdict falls… Patrick Bittan is chosen in Team A to represent the school. And he will fly the colors of the Academy. The Frenchman is only beaten in the final. “It was truly amazing!!!! And it was Rickson himself who coached me! »…
The 1998 US Championships
Los Angeles, United States Championships 1998. “And me, and me, and me? “, could say Patrick Bittan, little Frenchy lost, incongruous of incongruous. He is aligned in -85 kg and fights in blue belt. To everyone’s surprise, he strings together the tricks like stringing pearls. The Frenchman qualifies for the semi-final! In front of him ? A student of Carlson Gracie, the academy as much cousin as enemy, with opposite styles. “It was a very violent Jiu Jitsu, very focused on the fight. Carlson’s team was famous for that! My opponent came from Vale Tudo. He was the tournament favorite. In the lap before, he had broken the arm of a guy from us on a key !!!… Rickson and his whole team were supporting me. I remember his advice: “You are lucky to be French. You don’t understand what they are saying. Do what you know how to do best. I trust you, go ahead! “. The fight starts. As expected, it’s tense. The exchanges are at the limit of regularity. “At one point, I hand over custody to him. To leave, he gives me the thumb in the eye. The referee does not see or does not want to see. It almost ended in a fight. But, 1 minute from the end, I strangle him and he hits! Rickson, everyone, got on the mat. They lifted me in the air, as if I had won the tournament! (he’s laughing). It was very hard to concentrate again for the final. I was no longer in the fight! “.
The “Pan Americans” 1999
In the wake of the World Championships organized like every summer in Rio, where he spent 2 rounds this time, he left for a second stay with Rickson Gracie “to continue learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the art of combat” . He attends classes daily. Rickson Gracie considers him in good esteem. He sends him again to defend the colors of the club at the Pan American Championships in Miami. “Royler and Rickson were coaching me! It was another level than what I had known so far! I watch the fight of a guy in my category (-85 kg) with whom I trained at Rickson. His opponent puts a compression on his biceps and he breaks his radius and ulna! He breaks both bones! It was Braulio Estima. If I qualify for the final, I meet him”. But the French will not have the opportunity. And he still has his defeat in the semi-finals in his throat. “I come across a kind of psychopath, very violent. I didn’t know it but the referee was his teacher. I break his foot in an ankle lock in the axis. I feel her crack. He doesn’t hit! We end up tied and he gives it a winner! It screams, Royler screams, everyone gets confused. In the final, with his foot bandaged, he gave up after 20 seconds”.
Grace, it’s over
The year 2000 corresponds to his 3rd and final stay of 6 months with Rickson Gracie. Patrick Bittan decides to hire a French team for the 1st Rickson Gracie Championships, which are organized in Los Angeles on the grounds of the famous university, UCLA. It goes badly, for him, as for his students and fellow travelers. He was eliminated in the first round in circumstances that he still considers unfair today. “I fall against a Brazilian. I hand over custody to him. In my head, I won. We stand up and… he raises his arm. He is declared the winner!!! I am told that he kept my sleeve between his legs when I passed the guard and that it could not be counted. I’m really pissed off… I go to see Rickson but he explains to me this, that, that he was a Brazilian… That’s when I stopped working with him. Yes, I came back from the United States super disappointed. Christian (Derval) tells me that a huge tournament is organized in Belgium, the BIG, Belgium International Grappling, which I win”. In the -90 kg final, he is opposed to a Brazilian. As usual, he is not the favourite. He finds the flaw and finalizes it on a shoulder lock. It is the general astonishment! The French repeated his performance by also winning the tournament in all categories. The French BJJ is exported wonderfully. By doing so, Patrick Bittan wins a ticket to Brazil. But this is another story…
BJJ pioneer in France
In 2000, Patrick Bittan moved back to France. The previous year, he founded the “Bittan Academy”. He still frequents the Cercle Tissier and contributes to the development of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in France. Since he started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in September 1996, he hasn’t missed a step. He grew up at the same time as BJJ in France. He attends the training courses of the very first Brazilians who deigned to come, the world champion Helio Soneca, Paulo Caruso, Roberto Traven, Jacare, Romolo Barros, the right arm of Rickson Gracie… “It was really very important to assimilate the techniques. They also gave us the first blue belt exams”. The first French BJJ championships were organized in 1997. Some 200 people registered, only precursors with a varied profile. Patrick Bittan, of course. He wins, as in 1998, before he decides to go into exile in the United States, to learn BJJ with Rickson Gracie. Patrick Bittan spent almost two years with the icon of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. “In France, we were stagnating for lack of method. It was absolutely necessary that I acquire a technical program. At first the Brazilians didn’t want to show me their Jiu Jitsu. I had to draw ideas. I then made the decision to write down each technique in a notebook, and even the feeling I felt when I was subjected to a technique. I copied the schedule for the blue, purple, brown and black belts. This, in all, I did every day for over 12 years. I must have 4 whole binders written by masters, incredible people on ways of working, on the philosophy of Jiu Jitsu… I still show things today in my classes that cannot be explained on the Net. You have to have the physical sensations to really feel the technique. In short, I come back to France with a lot of material, when no one had anything! I gave everything to Christian Derval. We scrupulously passed it on to our students.” The information and lessons learned that he passes on to the BJJ community will be a game-changer.
The 2000 French Open
This is the meeting not to be missed! One of the very first to mark the history of France! 2000 saw the birth of the Open de France de Grappling. Everyone wants to fight there, regardless of style or school. Cheick Kongo, Cyrille Diabate, Sambo world champions… were engaged. Patrick Bittan too, in -85 kg. He fights under the banner of Rickson Gracie. He reached the final against the feared Dutchman Martijn De Jong. “He was finalizing everyone on ankle locks. All his fights lasted 30 seconds. I engage. After a minute, he grabs me by ankle lock. I apply the defense that I have worked on. I go out and, instantly, I re-engage in shoulder lock (Kimura). I whispered to him: “Either I break your shoulder or you hit me”. And he hits.” On the strength of this victory in -85 kg, he also aligns himself in all categories which he… also wins. “As by chance, in the first four rounds, I come up against Dutch people who only thought of avenging their teacher! … I had a real festival! I had finalized on the right, on the left. In the final, I face a heavyweight Sambo world champion (125kg). I do not finalize it but I win 22-0 ”. And two new victories in the purse of the child of Sarcelles!
Flavio Behring in France, it’s him!
The French JJB is confronted with a huge problem in 2000. The bridges are cut with the Brazilians, starting with Rickson Gracie. There is no longer a referent for all these practitioners. The hexagonal Jiu Jitsu lives in autarky. However, the level has clearly improved since the beginnings of 1995-96. Now, in international competition, the French regularly manage to dominate the Brazilians, Patrick Bittan in the lead. It would be necessary to move up a gear, to fight in a black belt. And if there is one who can aim for a result, it is Patrick Bittan. He is in full swing. He initiates the idea. But how to do it ? How to have the legitimacy to wear a belt in Brazil? Chance will then obviously do things well. “A Brazilian passing through France, a purple belt, came to train at the Academy, in Pontoise. He was a student of Flavio Behring, who is one of the 1st black belts of Helio Gracie, the founder of JJB! At the time, when Helio mounted fights, it was Vale Tudo » Du « tout permis », the ancestor of MMA. In short, Flavio Behring is one of the ultimate references in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He will become the “master” of Patrick Bittan. “I contact him. He is not at all interested in coming. He ends up accepting. I take a credit! No 8th Dan, no one of his stature, had yet come to France! I organized an internship at the Bittan Academy where everyone came. I introduced him to everyone.” Flavio Behring stays 8 weeks with Patrick Bittan. The latter took the opportunity to inform him about the French problem, about the lack of a guide. “Every morning, I was in private lessons with him. In the afternoons and evenings, he watched my lessons. After 3 weeks, he told me that he did not think the level of BJJ was such in Europe”. At the end of his stay, Flavio Behring is enthusiastic. He was impressed. His story with France is just beginning.
Black belt !
Before leaving France, after 8 weeks spent observing Patrick Bittan, Flavio Behring talks with the Frenchman. The Brazilian master announces to him that he considers him worthy of being a black belt. “When he told me that… I still remember it… He said: “whether in terms of pedagogy, teaching, technique and combat, you are a black belt”. In 2001, apart from Brazilians, Europe did not welcome any black belts within it. The reward can be a heavy load to bear… Flavio Behring brushes aside the possible problem in one stroke. He knows that Patrick Bittan won a plane ticket to Brazil at BIG. He offers him to come and fight in the “Sao Paulo States”, the Paulista championship. ” I accept ! And Flavio added: “I will validate your black belt according to what you will do during your two weeks in Sao Paulo”. Patrick Bittan flies to Brazil where he will train with “Macaco, Cyborg, Barbosa, Cicero Costha, Adriano Silva, Fabio Gurgel, Ricardo Murgel, Marcio Corleta, Joao Alberto Barreto, Murilo Santana… What incredible people! Monsters ! “. Sao Paulo Championships. It is the first time that a European fights in black belt in a competition of a Brazilian federation. Games are scheduled for 10 minutes. But Patrick Bittan loses in the 1st round, against the future winner. “I do the 10 minutes while he finished all his opponents in less than 3 minutes. I only lose one advantage. This impressed the entire competition team at the academy. We go to Flavio and there, he prints my black belt diploma.
His duel against Pardoel
In the 90s and early 2000s, duels between martial arts schools abounded. The tradition is rehabilitated. It is even formalized through the UFC. What is the best style? Who has the best technique? Who is the strongest ? The only way to know is to fight. There must only be one left… Herald of French BJJ, Patrick Bittan is at the top of the list to hold the flag high. The idea germinates to mount a star fight at the Paris Open Grappling. We are in 2002. One of the terrors of the time is called Remco Pardoel, a Dutchman of 110-115 kg who has several appearances at the very first UFC in 1994-95. The idea is gaining ground. Christian Derval touches on this to Patrick Bittan. “At the time, I was not very hot. Pardoel had only knocked out in the UFC. He weighed 20 kg more than me. It was a bit like David versus Goliath.” He ends up accepting. Remco Pardoel too. The Dutchman offers an unlimited fight in time. “In his mind, there had to be someone who said stop! Personally, it suited me that there was no time limit. My goal was to get him to be more tired than me. If we fought in 5 minutes, I wouldn’t have managed to do anything. He would have held on with just his physical strength.” It is finally decided that the fight must take place over 20 minutes. No problem… “I manage to finalize it after 6 minutes. He picks me up off the ground, I spin around, and I put an armbar in the air and he hits! »
His 3 world podiums
The ritual is now immutable. Every year, the French send a team to the Brazilian Worlds. Patrick Bittan is obviously in the game. He is even the spearhead. In 2001 and 2002, he participated in both the State Championships in Sao Paulo and the World Championships in Rio. He is now a black belt and fights with the elite of the elite, the crème de la crème. Margarida, Saulo Ribeiro, Jamalo… are in their category. His progress is obvious but not sufficient. However, he reached the final of the Sao Paulo Championships in 2002 where he faced the Brazilian Demian Maia. “He finished me. He was too strong! I still didn’t have enough of a career as a black belt. You can have the heart, the desire to fight but master the timing, put the body weight where you need it, use the right technique at the right time… I was not yet at the level. I had some progress to make.” The following year, in 2003, Patrick Bittan and his traveling companions resumed their summer habits: heading to Brazil for 3 to 4 weeks to train in the best schools and compete in international competitions. In the Sao Paulo championship, where he fights BJJ stars (Cicero Costa, Adriano Silva), he again finishes 2nd. At the World Championships (IBJJF) organized in Rio, he was eliminated in the second round. But at the Sao Paulo World Cup, Patrick Bittan achieved the feat of becoming the first Frenchman to climb on a world podium. He won the silver medal (-85 kg), only dominated in the final by Demian Maya (UFC champion). “It was huge! A black belt podium! The work was starting to pay off. And it is noticed. Mister Macaco himself takes Patrick Bittan in his team for the “Pro League Grappling”, an event broadcast live on Brazilian TV, the “happening” of the year. The Frenchman never ceases to be surprised and surprise. He reached the final where he lost an advantage. “Against the right arm of a school rivaling that of Macaco “Godoi”. They hated each other. It was war, this final! Previously, I had fought a guy from the Amazon rainforest. I manage to take his foot to give him an ankle lock. He doesn’t hit! Macaco, who was coaching me, said to me: “What are you waiting for? Break his foot! “. I don’t know why, I continued, it cracked, the referee stopped the fight. He was just waiting for this. It’s quite special!!! “. 2004 is an “annus horribilis” for Patrick Bittan. Victim of a motorcycle accident in which he suffered an open tibia-fibula fracture, he went on to hospital stay and rehabilitation. At 30, his career seems over. This is without counting on his strength of character. “As soon as I had the right to walk, I was on the mat, at the Cercle Tissier”. So much so that in 2005, he returned to the France team. Motivated as never before, Patrick Bittan achieves the two greatest feats of his career. At the World Cup, he had the luxury of winning two medals, bronze in -85 kg and silver in “all categories”. “It was revenge on life, on fractures… It was something incredible to experience”.
The History of World Ne-Waza Ju-Jitsu began in France
Meeting with Judo… Patrick Bittan “The chance to meet master Awazu…” We are in 2003. Patrick Bittan has just returned from Brazil where he won a silver medal at the World Championships, the very first in French Brazilian Jiu Jitsu . With Christian Derval, he decides to meet French Judo. The two heralds of French BJJ will turn into heroes: they will present their style in front of some 500 senior officers, all committed to the cause of the Kano school. The story of a historic encounter that could have erased an age-old feud. In 2003, the French JJB has largely passed the stage of infancy. In less than a decade, it has developed at breakneck speed. But it has not yet achieved official recognition from sports authorities. It evolves in its corner, not within it. To accelerate the movement, to demonstrate the viability of their practice, Christian Derval and Patrick Bittan decide to open the borders. They think that it is necessary to go and confront the representatives of the Kano school, in other words the “official” Judo, the one recognized and dispensed by the Kodokan through the FFJudo. “We lined up for the Jiu Jitsu, Ju Jitsu Fighting and Ju Jitsu Duo Fighting championships,” says Patrick Bittan. “Then we went to see Eugène Domagata at the French Judo Federation (FFJDA). At the time, he was the national trainer of Ju Jitsu Fighting today World President of Ju Jitsu. In his office, we showed him several BJJ videos. He showed interest and, obviously, he perceived the potential of our school because he invited us, Christian and me, to intervene during the major training course for Judo/Ju Jitsu teachers in Boulouris”. Kano vs Maeda, Ne Waza vs JJB In August 2003, the two heralds of French JJB arrived in the Var. Training judokas, they are not in unknown territory. But still… Because, in front of them, they will have the highest ranks of French Judo (minimum 5th Dan), who participate in the annual course dedicated to teachers of the Kano school. Suffice to say that the Maeda school is not their cup of tea. “We were lucky enough to meet Master Awazu (who died in March 2016 at the age of 93, he was one of the founders of French Judo). We talked to him. We talked to him about BJJ. He said to us: “Ah, the old historical quarrel of the them schools”. Kano vs Maeda, Ne Waza vs Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, tradition vs evolution. Mitsuyo “Conde Koma” Maeda, a brilliant student of Jigoro Kano, was sent by him around the world to demonstrate the effectiveness of the school he had just founded. Maeda would be credited with 2000 victorious fights. In 1914, he moved to Brazil, to Belem (for the record, also the birthplace of the Machida family). He meets a certain Gastao Gracie, father of Carlos and Helio, grandfather of Rickson. Gracie Jiu Jitsu, the Maeda school, has just germinated. “Show us what this BJJ is…” Patrick Bittan will immediately be put in the bath of the “old historic quarrel between the two schools”… “I was prevented from getting on the mat because my Kimono had patches . It needed an all-white Kimono. Out of respect, I complied,” recalls Patrick Bittan. “I gave a lesson for over an hour. At the end, a red and white belt came up to us and said, “It’s amazing! I feel like I’ve been lied to all my life about getting around. I feel that we must do as you have just shown us. This is a way of working that we had neglected. THANKS “. Would the hardest part be done for Christian Derval and Patrick Bittan? Not yet. But the first step has been taken with some success. But they will have to pass the next level, a quasi “man to man”, a JJB vs Ne Waza with tricolor sauce… “We were offered to go to an adjoining Dojo. We ended up with 4-5 senior officers. There was Patrick Roux, Eugène Domagata, Jean Michel Feste, a coach from the France team… And there, we are told: “show us what this BJJ is!”, laughing Patrick Bittan today. “Christian explained and I showed on the mat. It was supposed to last 5 minutes. After 25-30 minutes, Patrick Roux, the French Ne Waza expert, wanted to try. I found myself doing a Randori with him! “. “Patrick Roux was very strong. It’s a science! “An old-fashioned duel, an opposition of acquaintances, an association of skills… Patrick Bittan retains a rather emotional memory of this historic meeting. “The Randori was in Judo on the ground. Patrick Roux was very strong. It’s a science! He wasn’t using any force, he was on placement. It was the same on my side. I launched attacks that I knew he could not know, developments in BJJ, in particular positions, which does not exist in Judo. This is called the “invisible” Jiu Jitsu of Rickson Gracie (whose student he was in the United States). At the end of Randori, Patrick Roux said in front of everyone: “there is a whole part of Ne Waza that I don’t know”! “. This day could (should) have changed the history of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in France. The union was almost sealed. But, 15 years later, it is clear that it has mostly failed. Marrying Ne Waza and JJB seems mission impossible. “It’s a shame,” laments Patrick Bittan. “But I see that we, our school, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, have many champions from France, Europe and the world in official Ne Waza competition: Nelly’s Tonco, Laurence Cousin, Océane Talvard… And many others” . And tack!
Netflix at the Bittan Academy
From October 19 to 22, 2016, the filming of BJJ4Change took place, a series of documentaries filmed in several cities around the world, and which relies on Patrick Bittan for its Parisian stage. On the program, training with big names in the sport, visits to emblematic places in the city, filming in new places… We were amazed. We took the time, after the event, to talk to Patrick so that he could talk to us a little in more detail about this project. Can you present the BJJ4change project to us? Patrick Bittan: I was invited for the first shooting of BJJ4Change in Punta Cana last February as the highest ranking non-Brazilian Frenchman and pioneer of BJJ in France with Roberto “Cyborg” Abreu, Abraham Marte and Rodolfo Will age. The shoot went well and we bonded. The directors then signed a contract with the Netflix company to make a series of 13 episodes. 13 episodes of documentaries on sport including BJJ. When I returned to France, Netflix contacted me to find out if I was interested in hosting the filming of an episode in Paris. At first I thought it was a friend who was playing a joke on me, how could a global audiovisual player contact me? After five minutes, I understood that it was not a joke. To be able to complete this project, I had to meet a few criteria: • have a private room in which to film, • limit the casting to a maximum of 50 people, • present a script, a common thread for the episode. Once these criteria were met, I signed a contract with those. It took me 7 months to set up this extraordinary project. What is the purpose of such an initiative? P.B.: The aim of the documentary is to show how sport changes people’s lives. With Jiu-Jitsu, the world can be better, on the tatami you can be rich, poor, black, white… the important thing is to train together. With the series of terrorist attacks that France has suffered in recent years, it seemed important to us to be able to broadcast this message from Paris. How did the filming go? What were the highlights? P.B.: The documentary was shot over four days, morning, noon and evening. In the morning and in the evening, it was training: Flavio Behring, Robert Drysdale, Braulio Estima and myself demonstrated techniques on the mats of the Bittan Academy in Verrières in front of around fifty participants each day. In the afternoon, it was a visit to important places, from a tourist and cultural point of view, such as the GIGN headquarters in Versailles, but also the Bataclan, Montmartre, the Champs Elysées… The first day , I loved what happened between Braulio Estima and Master Flavio Behring. They had never met on a tatami although Braulio knew Flavio’s grandson very well. A real complicity settled in a few seconds between the two men. Then Flavio told us about his Master Helio Gracie, how he developed Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Braulio confirmed the words of his eldest. It was really incredible to experience, all the participants felt the same as me. During the second day of filming, Robert Drysdale told us about his anthology fight against Marcelo Garcia, in the final of the ADCC. For those unfamiliar with the story, Robert had caught Marcelo with his signature technique: the Darth Choke. He knew his opponent was going to attack his leg and that he would only have fractions of a second to initiate his submission. He had prepared for this fight and it went exactly as he had planned. At the end of the second day, after the morning training and the walk in Paris in the afternoon, we ended the day with a Crossfit training. Everyone was very tired, but you could hear cries, suffering, people who had never seen each other before saying to themselves “don’t give up, hold on, we are with you!” “To see such a united group, it was fantastic. During the third day of filming, we went to the quays of the Seine where we embarked on the barge “Le Mistinguette”. On the deck of the boat were installed tatami mats and we were going to shoot Superfights. In the script, the three professors were to face each other. I then realized that I was going to have to rub shoulders with Braulio and Robert. A fantastic moment, an incredible technical exchange, an incredible chance. A little anecdote: the departure of the boat was scheduled for 2 p.m. An hour before, Braulio tells me that he forgot his kimono at the hotel, 45 minutes away. I rush to the hotel, but on the spot they logically did not want to open the door of his room for us because only he could. I had to call on a policeman friend who came in uniform and had the door opened, all to be able to retrieve his kimono… For the final scene of this third day, we had planned to shoot on the forecourt of rights of man at the Trocadero. Unfortunately, we did not have the agreement of the police headquarters for the filming, but it took more than that to stop us. And then it was only going to last a few seconds. I took the initiative to bring a truck with the tatamis. Within seconds we had the mats set up on the forecourt and sent in some fights for the shoot. The onlookers were just beginning to gather around us when we were already packing up the equipment. There was no question of getting arrested either! A very strong moment too, was the visit to the GIGN training center, to be able to see how exceptional men train and talk to them, it was really interesting for all the participants. When will the documentary be released? P.B.: The series will consist of 13 episodes including five on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Filming will take place in eight different countries and as of today, there are still five countries left to visit. Next filming in Israel then in India and Japan. The assembly should be completed in about 18 months. Are you satisfied with how the filming went? P.B.: When you prepare an unprecedented event of this magnitude, for a channel like Netflix, you are a bit under pressure! I had no room for error. But each event or intervention had been scheduled for a long time. There are always imponderables, such as forgotten kimono or plane delays. But as far as I’m concerned, everything went perfectly. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I am very proud of all the camp participants who showed an incredible technical level, friendship, love for our sport. I did a lot of camps, a lot of training abroad, this one will remain etched in my memory as a particularly strong event. Do you have people to thank? P.B.: I would like to thank Roberto Abreu who invited me to Punta Cana for the first shoot. I also thank the direction of Netflix, the director Amar Kaleka and his team as well as the various clubs which came to join us. I thank BJJPix, Gracie Mag, Adidas, Venum, Karate Bushido, France TV, Canal+, BJJHeroes, AB production, and Alizée boats for their participation. I would like to say a word to my students, who have been following me for so long. I know that I am asking a lot of you, that I am very demanding, but without this professionalism we would never have been able to have a shoot like this in France. Thank you for your respect, your loyalty and above all your level of Jiu-Jitsu which continues to increase.