‘He Showed Us Good Vibes’ – Tye Ruotolo Says Andre Galvao Helped Reignite His Passion For BJJ
This Friday, the 20-year-old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu phenom will battle Magomed Abdulkadirov for the inaugural ONE Welterweight Submission Grappling World Title in the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 16: Haggerty vs. Andrade on Prime Video.
That history-making matchup is set to air live in U.S. primetime from Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Bangkok, and it represents Ruotolo’s opportunity to solidify his status as one of the planet’s top pound-for-pound ground fighters.
The Californian is no stranger to high-stakes matches. After a childhood that saw him win practically every major tournament available, he spent much of his teenage years competing against elite professional grapplers.
But despite his numerous accomplishments early in life, there was a moment when Ruotolo – like many other child prodigies – found himself losing his passion for the sport.
He spoke to onefc.com about the time he and his brother considered leaving BJJ for good:
“I would say the closest we ever got to maybe quitting was around 11 or 12. We were training like four times a day. It was a lot. Morning, nights. I think a lot of it too is the vibe of where we were training. You know, we just weren’t fitting in. It just didn’t feel like it was the right vibe, the right fit for us.
“So I remember we were younger kids at that time, and we were kind of like, ‘OK, we’re kind of over jiu-jitsu,’ you know, and I thought we were kind of – our love for it was dying out.”
On the verge of quitting and exhausted by their strict training regimen, the young Ruotolos and their parents knew they needed a change.
Luckily, they found just that in the form of San Diego’s Atos Jiu-Jitsu and legendary head coach Andre Galvao, who offered a welcome change of pace that resonated with the boys.
“We changed the gyms, you know, and boom, we found Andre Galvao. He showed us good vibes and ignited our passion for it again.”
The twins haven’t looked back since and have remained under Galvao’s tutelage while taking the adult BJJ ranks by storm, breaking records along the way.
In 2019, a 16-year-old Tye became the youngest-ever semifinalist at the prestigious ADCC World Championships. Three years later, Kade would become the youngest-ever gold medalist at that same tournament, while Tye earned the honor of the youngest IBJJF Black Belt World Champion.
Through it all, the Ruotolos have made sure to maintain balance in their lives, never allowing themselves to become so engrossed in training that it becomes monotonous. To that end, the soon-to-be World Title challenger says that frequent trips to the tropical paradise of Costa Rica have been key:
“We’ve always had little month breaks. We go to Costa Rica for a month, go surf, not think about it at all, and come back. And usually, we’re better and just fired up.”
Tye Ruotolo Says ‘Ambition To Learn’ Is Key To Sustained Motivation
For Tye Ruotolo, keeping his passion for BJJ alive is more than just escaping to Costa Rica.
The black belt says he approaches each training session with a renewed desire to absorb information, rather than just going through the motions of daily practice:
“I think it’s important to have the ambition to learn. I see a lot of my teammates – they go in, and because they’re training three times a day, their ambition to learn is gone.
“It’s the third training session, I see them, and they’re just there, they’re not learning, they’re not grasping ideas. They’re just there, so every time I train, I make sure I’m mentally ready to absorb and get better.”
The Ruotolo brothers started BJJ at the age of 3, and that “ambition to learn” has not only sustained their dedication to the sport but also fueled their continued evolution as two of the best grapplers in the world.
It’s that beginner’s mindset, coupled with finding passions outside of BJJ, that Tye believes has kept them inspired for the past two decades:
“Our whole careers, we’ve kept that mentality. And like I said, there were a couple times where we didn’t quite have that balance so good. And we were over it, you know, and then we realized like, ‘OK, we gotta bring the balance back.’
“And then boom, OK, we’re getting what we need to get done in jiu-jitsu. And we’re still enjoying the other aspects, so we’re just always trying to find the balance.”