TATAME MAGAZINE since 1995 – 20 YEARS FIGHTING FOR INFORMATION . HOW TATAME BEGAN : The year was 1994 and the place was Rio de Janeiro. Exactly three years had gone by since that historic jiu-jitsu victory over wrestling, transmitted live, nationwide by Rede Globo. Those who are younger won’t recall, but this was a turning point that sped up the growth of jiu-jitsu throughout Brazil. Back to 1994, the so-called “gentle art,” which was spreading like wildfire in Rio de Janeiro, began to be recognized worldwide in the wake of Royce Gracie’s undisputable victories at the Ultimate Fighter 1 and 2 in the United States, and Rickson Gracie’s wins at the first Japan Open in Japan. The Gracie brothers had been lining up the big gringos, champions in other styles, rewriting the history of Martial Arts, proving to the world that the art refined by the Gracie family had no opponents in a true face off of styles.
It was in this spirit, in the most “carioca” style possible, in a conversation at Arpoador beach, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil that “O TATAME the Jiu-Jitsu Newspaper” came about. Pioneering initiatives, idealized by three young men without any money or professional experience, to print a pamphlet, imagine a newspaper. That’s right, Tatame, which you know today, got its start as a newspaper focused exclusively on jiu-jitsu. In June of 1994, the three guys began outlining plans: the idea was to get a minimum number of subscribers, which, coupled with the newsstand distribution, would guarantee meeting the expenses.
But things didn’t work out as planned and they were only able to get a single subscriber. If it hadn’t been for the confidence and initiative of Sérgio and Miguel, two businessmen from Bibi Sucos, RJ, and the first to believe in the TATAME project, the inaugurating issue would have been released without any advertising. Even though the sale of advertising didn’t turn out as planned, the three decided to move forward. The idea was to produce the Tatame newspaper and rely on sales. At the same time, the “staff” was cut, since only two of the original three were left. They didn’t give up and in 1995 they printed the first released copies of the O TATAME newspaper.
Proud of their achievement, and almost without any cash, they began thinking about what they could do to get people to read what they had written. After all, O TATAME featured unprecedented and exclusive articles. Among them, the last interview granted by Master Carlos Gracie Sr. prior to passing away, the Rio state championship, Rickson Gracie’s second win in the Japan Open, and one of the first super fight challenges that there’s a record of, between Carlson Gracie Team vs. Barra Gracie Team.
THE FIRST COPIES
The first O TATAME issue #1 went to the newsstands in March 1995, This edition of O TATAME featured a photo of Royler sweeping Soca on the cover with the headline: “The greatest championship of all time,” referring to the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu championship. The tournament was actually one of the first events able to bring together a large number of athletes from around the country. The first issue also included coverage of the long standing Atlântico Sul cup, and for the first time in the Brazilian press, coverage of Royce Gracie’s win at the Ultimate (UFC 4).
At that point, there was a minimum framework and a little cash to work with; and with that issue of O TATAME newspaper #2 was printed on time, one month after the previous one. The cover was an interview with Master Carlson Gracie and the newspaper also published an article about the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu national team that would represent Brazil internationally, which later didn’t work out.
O TATAME PICKS UP STRENGTH
Beginning with newspaper #2 O TATAME had already begun to make its mark, reaching new readers with each issue. The public’s liking to O TATAME was so big that the number of advertisers grew to fifteen. Meanwhile, the editorial staff continued to grow, and as best it could, set out to meet its deadlines. The May 1995 edition of O TATAME #3, set sales records during these tough years. The cover with Rickson Gracie, in a photo by Aaron Chang, was the first issue to be in every capital in the country. Its success was so big that today, that issue can only be found in the hands of collectors or in the publisher’s special archive. It’s no longer possible to purchase this number.
In the next newspaper, O TATAME #4, the third page editorial addressed the issue of gangs of fighters. That issue also drew attention to the fight between Wallid Ismail and Edson Carvalho, which turned into a police matter. But not everything was bad news. That month the first Brazilian Team Championship at Universidade Gama Filho, an institution that had always backed sports and fighting, and O TATAME debuted “Cervical,” a column written by Marcelo Alonso – its first and oldest collaborator.
VALE TUDO AND RICKSON GRACIE
Vale Tudo began gaining momentum each day around the world. The Ultimate began picking up space in the USA and Japan began putting on large events of this type.
In another issue of O TATAME #5 newspaper, again Rickson Gracie starred on the cover. He arrived in Brazil to disseminate the first great event of this style on a national front. That issue featured a photo that is curious to say the least: Rickson squeezing the throat of César Maia, the then mayor. At that time Vale Tudo was not yet prohibited in Rio de Janeiro, and they believed they had the mayor’s support.
The Maracanãzinho would be the stage of this great event and the winner of the national phase would classify for the international. The winner of this phase would go on to fight Rickson in the final show. On September 23, 1995, every practitioner of the gentle art was surprised by the jiu-jitsu champion; Amary Bitetti’s upset to Master Hulk Capoeira, in the first phase of Vale Tudo.
The subject matter of O TATAME #6 compared the Bitetti’s fight with the final of the Soccer World Cup in 1950 in the Maracanã. It may sound like an exaggeration, but for those who followed jiu-jitsu at that time, the upset was unbelievable and it began to change the conception that jiu-jitsu man to man was unbeatable. Confirming this tendency, the issue also showcased Marcos Ruas’ victory at UFC VII; Marco was called “Creonte” by the jiu-jitsu community for having trained the gentle art without defending his flag. He was the first to have a vision of the cross training era, that is, to train various fighting styles in order to achieve better in Vale Tudo.
PICKING A FIGHT WITH MARCOS RUAS
The subject matter and in the editorial of O TATAME #6 we criticized the radical posture of the jiu-jitsu community for labeling him as a “Creonte”, but Ruas didn’t see it that way and thought that, maybe because it was leveled at the jiu-jitsu followers, the newspaper was also calling him a “Creonte”. Nobody could convince him otherwise and Ruas ended up spliting with O TATAME until the #47 issue.
Those were other times. The amateurism and the rivalry between the styles and the teams were still quite evident. The figure of “Creonte” was common place in conversations among athletes and practitioners, but things evolved considerably and the exchange between styles and teams, defended right from the start by Ruas, almost became the rule in professional “Vale-Tudo.”
Amid all this running around, O TATAME missed its deadline once again. This was the result of a move to its first office. Established in a commercial location for the first time on Rua Francisco de Sá in Copacabana, with a better set up, the staff got to work and was excited about the second phase in the Maracanazinho. However, the event was a failure; there was neither an international event, nor a fight for Rickson. The organization couldn’t pay the athletes and there was lots of confusion for the audience to get their ticket money back.
TATAME BECOMES A MAGAZINE AND HAS ITS FIRST INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE
Closing 1995, O TATAME newspaper had earned its place and an army of readers and fans. If the next issues didn’t meet their deadlines, they didn’t exceed them by much. In January of 1996 O TATAME was promoted to a magazine. Now it was “O TATAME, the Fighter’s Magazine.” Over the months that followed, motivated by the first Mundial de Jiu-Jitsu, the magazine got color, first on the cover and later on the inside.
The Mundial set the stage for jiu-jitsu and O TATAME #9 was there to provide the largest journalistic coverage that had ever been seen in the history of fights in Brazil. An entire issue was dedicated completely to the competition. Dozens of photos and interviews reported on everything that took place at the Tijuca Tenis Club in Rio throughout the competition. Memorable fights highlighted this first Mundial: Wallid and Roleto; Libório and Castelo; Royler and João Roque; Gurgel and Bitetti and many others.
In its tenth issue in May 1996, O TATAME once again was an innovator, providing the first international coverage at a Vale-Tudo Japanese. With the help of a group of advertisers, Marcelo Alonso, photographer and reporter, brought first hand, Carlão Barreto’s show, Hugo Duarte, Wallid Ismail and Johil de Oliveira in the 1st Universal Vale Tudo. On his return, Alonso also covered the Ultimate Fighting 9 (where Bitetti would lose to Don Frye), writing a special report on Brazilian black-belts who had already begun colonizing California.
This was the start of business at TATAME, throughout the ups and downs, hard work and willpower prevailed. With this same spirit, the magazine changed its format, increased its circulation, became completely colored and conquered Brazil.
Alexandre Esteves – CEO and Founder of TATAME Magazine
Alexandre Esteves is the only one left in the group of guys who one day, talking at the beach, decided to put together a fighting newspaper.
TATAME MAGAZINE SINCE 1995 – 20 YEARS