As one of the young guns coming out of Atos, Ronaldo Samson has built quite the name for himself already. Beginning at the lower belts, Rolando would always be someone to watch – not just because of what his pedigree or who his professors were, but also for the style he depicted in competition. Samson has been, and remains, without a doubt one of the most exciting young jiujitsu competitors in the world.
What is less known about Rolando Samson is that he’s never dedicated himself to jiujitsu 100%. In a world where would-be world champions are eschewing much of everything else to focus fully on training, Rolando has always maintained the rigors of preparing for life aside from jiujitsu. For him, that meant balancing a demanding academic schedule with training alongside the killers at arguably of one of, if not THE, toughest place to train in the entire world.
Read on and learn more about Rolando’s life ahead of his match vs. Paul Woo at Fight 2 Win 95.
Fight 2 Win 95 – Rolando Samson (Atos)
Rolando, you’re pretty well-known on the mats already. Tell us more about your life story.
I was born and raised in San Diego California. I train at Atos Jiu Jitsu and am a black belt under Professor Andre Galvao. I started training when I was 9 years old. I stopped training for about 3 years due to Osgood-Schlatter. I again started training at 16 and my love for BJJ was regained. I joined Atos in 2011 and it was the one of the best choices of my life. While training at Atos I was going to school full time. I later graduated high school in 2012 and went straight to college afterwards. I went to a junior college and later transferred to San Diego State University in 2017. I go to school full-time, work part-time, and train part-time as well. Training part time for me is only being able to train 2-3x/week. I am still very young and have so many things I want to do for not only me but my family. I will be graduating from SDSU in May 2019.
How did you discover jiujitsu?
I started training jiujitsu because my dad watched the Gracie’s dominate larger opponents by using just Brazilian jiu jitsu. I was a small kid, so my dad put me into bjj so I can have some sort of self-defense against bullies. I have been training for about 10 years on and off. Training has done more than I could ever imagine. It has shaped me into who I am today and why I know who I know. A lot of my friends I have met through jiu jitsu. Especially training at Atos HQ we get so many visitors and I am able to connect with all different types of people while learning about their culture. Only people who train can truly understand and appreciate the blessings we receive from doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Atos is world-renowned. People know training there has to be tough. What’s it really like?
Training at ATOS is something different. I can never find the right words to describe the vibe when you enter those doors and then step onto the mat. Training at Atos is one of the most fun/grueling places you can train. Every time I walk in, especially after a long day of school and work I am pretty much beat. As soon as you see everyone it gives me this spark of energy to work my ass off instead of slacking off and have easy rolls.
What do you do when you’re NOT training?
When I am not training, currently I am doing one of the three things or even two at a time. The three things I do when I am not training is go to school because I am a full-time student, working a part-time job, or studying. When I am not doing the three of those things I love to hang out with family and friends.
Who do you credit as some of your biggest influences?
That is a really tough question. At Atos my biggest influences are a few people. The main influence for me is Andre Galvao, the leadership he possesses shows in just how well we all perform in tournaments. Another influence of mine would be Jonathan Torres, the man is an animal and he works insanely hard. Other than these guys, my BIGGEST influence would be my family.
How would you describe your jiujitsu to somebody that’s never seen you compete before?
I honestly never had this question asked me. I would tell them to just Youtube Andre Galvao, Fernando Terere, Ronaldo Jacare, Rodolfo Viera, and the Mendes Brothers.
You stay so busy. What’s the toughest part of it?
The biggest obstacle I have is time management. I have such a hectic schedule and I want to do so much with family and friends. It is rough but I always try to stay optimistic about it all.
What drives you to succeed?
My biggest motivation in jiujitsu is to show everyone that you can do something full-time and still be successful training part-time. Especially for children and young teenagers. I believe that some of the younger generations are not as guided as they were before. My family is also a big motivation for me, I am one of the oldest of 24 immediate cousins.
What accomplishment are you proudest of so far?
I think right now the accomplishment I am proudest of is …. My most proud accomplishment will be in May of 2019 where I will graduate from SDSU with a BA majoring as an Exercise Generalist. I will be the first person in my family that went to a university and graduated college with a degree.
That’s awesome man. I can’t wait to congratulate you when the time comes. How about this weekend, what are you expecting out of Paul Woo?
I expect him to be tough as nails.
Doing anything special to prepare?
I prepare how I would for any tournament. Just shut up and train my ass off.
Whats next for you after this?
Go to Bali as a requirement for me to graduate, and when I am in Bali I will be teaching children how to speak English. Also, I will continue to focus on graduating from SDSU.
Any last words?
I just want to thank my girlfriend, my family, my supporters Moya Brand, Armbar Soap Company, Monkey Tape, and Electrum Performance. Thank you to Andre and Angelica Galvao for all that you have done for our family and team. Thank you to my team mates for constantly pushing me to be better. And a big thank you to everyone who supports me!