It’s one thing for paint to dry; quite another when painting jobs themselves dry up. That’s what happened to Brazilian-born house painter Juliano Coutinho. But while the recession sapped the life from the house painting business that provided income for the 6 foot, 3 inch 260-pounder, he’s seen opportunity can come knocking in unexpected ways during tough economic times. And for those who like Coutinho are ready to seize the day — in Latin it’s carpe diem; in Portuguese it’s aproveitar o dia — there is hope.
It’s one thing for paint to dry; quite another when painting jobs themselves dry up.
That’s what happened to Brazilian-born house painter Juliano Coutinho. But while the recession sapped the life from the house painting business that provided income for the 6 foot, 3 inch 260-pounder, he’s seen opportunity can come knocking in unexpected ways during tough economic times. And for those who like Coutinho are ready to seize the day — in Latin it’s carpe diem; in Portuguese it’s aproveitar o dia — there is hope.
You can find your way to Coutinho’s hope by playing hop-scotch with the potholes as you drive down Fernloc Street off Yarmouth Road, Hyannis, behind Barnstable Municipal Airport. Keep going past battleship gray, pre-fab warehouses and you’ll wind up in the industrial area that is home to the Barnstable Boxing Club and The Dugout, where baseball players hone their skills in and out of season.
Go a couple of doors further and you come to the Daniel Gracie Academy of Cape Cod, where Coutinho is a rising star and instructor in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Inside these doors is a different world. A narrow, rectangular room about 50 feet wide and several hundred feet deep is dotted with punching/kicking bags and thick blue mats. At the far end is a steel octagonal cage. That’s where 30-year-old Coutinho hopes to strike it rich.
“There was no work; it dried up,” says Coutinho. “My wife Angeline is the breadwinner now. She’s a CNA [certified nurse assistant] at Cape Cod Hospital, and she’s been really supportive of me.”
The Coutinhos, who came to the United States from Brazil nine years ago, have a 3-year-old daughter.
The Daniel Gracie Academy of Cape Cod is named after the legendary Brazilian famous for developing the martial art and combat sport that focuses on grappling, which is gripping and controlling an opponent through ground fighting, without striking.
Coutinho is a rising star in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Early this month, he won the Men’s NO-GI (not wearing Judo uniform) Advanced Super Heavyweight division at the Arnold Festival in Ohio, a huge national event in the sport that also includes bodybuilding and power lifting contests.
He will compete this weekend in the Pan Am Jiu-Jitsu Championships in California, an event in which he finished third last year.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that uses chokes, arm holds for submission and knee bars.
“It’s like a Russian ballet,” Coutinho laughs. “Russians are so tough!”
Coutinho swam competitively in Brazil when he was young, and took up Jiu-Jitsu when he was 19 because “the kids in that age group had nothing to do. After two months, my friends brought me to a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competition and I won. I was hooked and entered competitions every two weeks,” he says.
He owns the sport’s highest belt, black.
Coutinho says most people who come to his facility do it for health, fitness and self-confidence. A few are looking to compete, but most of his teaching is on the mats.
He outgrew his former facility on Route 28 because the sport has become so popular.
And while Coutinho’s heart is in Jiu-Jitsu, his eyes are on one of the fastest growing phenomenon’s in sports — the Ultimate Fighting Championships. Seen locally on the Spike Network, UFC generated almost a quarter-billion dollars in revenue in 2006, and those figures are increasing annually.
Not for the faint-hearted, UFC adds boxing, punching and kicking to Jiu-Jitsu. And it is fought in a steel, octagonal cage. Coutinho proudly says he has the only one on Cape Cod.
He’ll step into the steel cage for his first sanctioned bout on the Reality Fighting card in July in Plymouth.
“I get anxious before a fight, not nervous,” he says. “There‘s an adrenalin rush; but once I’m on the mat, it's gone. I feel confident; nice and calm.”
Coutinho says there’s a lot more conditioning involved in UFC — running, Muay Thai training [kickboxing, striking with elbows and knees] combined with the ground fighting skills he already has.
There’s also the potential to make a lot of money. “The loser in the recent championship fight made $1.5 million in four minutes,” says Coutinho, shaking his head and smiling at the same time. "I’m interested in UFC because that's where the money is.”