How 17-Year-Old Art Of Jiu-Jitsu Competitor Tainan Dalpra Handles Pressure

How 17-Year-Old Art Of Jiu-Jitsu Competitor Tainan Dalpra Handles Pressure

17-year-old Tainan Dalpra is one of the most successful products from the Art of Jiu-Jitsu: you name it, he's won it.

Oct 19, 2017 by Hywel Teague
Tainan Dalpra is one of the most successful products from the Art of Jiu-Jitsu academy: You name it, he's won it.

Worlds, Pan Ams, No-Gi Worlds and No-Gi Pans… The sky is the limit for this 17-year-old, who was one of the earliest athletes to move to Costa Mesa, CA, full-time to train with the Mendes brothers at Art of Jiu-Jitsu.

"I first visited AOJ when I was 13 years old and came to U.S. to compete at Pan Kids," Dalpra says. "I remember that I visited many schools because I really wanted to make jiu-jitsu my career and train to become a professional athlete and make a living with jiu-jitsu in the future."

​Dalpra training with Guilherme Mendes at Art of Jiu-Jitsu in Costa Mesa, CA. Photo: Art of Jiu-Jitsu

Dalpra visited various gyms before settling into AOJ, a wise choice for somebody so young.

"AOJ fit the best for what I had planned for my future. There I found high-level training, a facility that is an example of how things should operate, and a professor that is dedicated to the students," Dalpra says. "The Mendes brothers came from a small city in Brazil, and they are still young and well accomplished in the sport. But leading a team and having a successful business... that's the kind of future that I want."

nullDalpra is one of the lead athletes in AOJ's Believe & Achieve program, which offers young athletes sponsorship, tutelage, and training at the gym. Among the many expectations of Dalpra, he bears the responsibility of carrying the AOJ patch on his back, being an example for the other competitors in the program, and dealing with his own personal motivations.

"Tainan came to AOJ as a little kid full of dreams," Guilherme Mendes says. "I noticed that he was always willing to listen; to me it's the most important quality for people that want to become successful.

He reminds me of us when we were teenagers; confident in preparation and hungry for results. He is a hard worker and I can't wait to see what the future holds for him.
Others might crack under this pressure, but Dalpra takes it in his stride.

"I put pressure on myself because I want to succeed and accomplish all my goals in life," he said. "Professor is constantly teaching me how to manage this pressure and use it to keep me on track without destroying my mind for the competition."

​​Photo: Art of Jiu-Jitsu

The 2017 season is Dalpra's final year as a juvenile competitor. Despite an incredible medal haul in both 2016 and 2017, he felt that he's only now starting to hit his stride, and there are many improvements to come.

"My body is getting more mature and I am understanding more about how to think in training and in the competition, and it's making a big difference," Dalpra said. "I listen to what my professor says and I work on improving what he thinks are my weaknesses, filling the gaps until there are none left."

It won't be long before Dalpra starts competing in the adult divisions year-round, although he has already begun to enter adult divisions where possible. This next phase of his career is crucial, and he's got a clear plan for what he wants to achieve:

My goal is to double gold at every competition as a blue belt adult.

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