Interview with Ricardo Saldanha

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Ricardo Saldanha is a Wushu Sanda Athlete from Brazil. Saldanha is currently the two times Brazilian Champion as well as the South American champion and Pan-American champion in Sanda.

Sanda is a contemporary fighting sport which include takedowns, throws and striking using arms and legs. Elbow strikes, chokes and joint locks are not allowed in tournaments. The style is influenced by traditional Chinese Boxing and is normally held alongside with taolu or form competitions.


justine-4 1. When did you start sanda? Why did you practice sanda in comparison to other martial arts? 

I started training in sanda 8 years ago. I wanted to join sanda to lose weight and get into shape. At first I was looking for muay thai because many schools in Brazil have muay thai than kung-fu sanda. The academy I joined did not have it as an option. They had sanda which was rare. I chose sanda because the sport combines punches, kicks and takedowns.

2. What is the hardest part of training for your fights or matches? 

The hardest part is the diet to make the weight. Diet is hard and tough because I like to eat burgers, pizza and Nutella.


3. Do you have a ritual to prepare for your fights?

Yes, my focus and my mind are totally concentrated on the fight. I use my mind to see every possible detail of the fight.

4. Who are your teachers who taught you sanda and MMA? 

In sanda, my first teacher was Elton Candido. When I started competing in the Nationals at a higher level of competition, I started training with Daniel Dionisio. In MMA, my coaches are Renato Ferreira, Daniel Evangelista and Odair Samurai who are respectively with Luta-Livre, Wrestling, MMA and Boxing.


5. What is your goal for sanda? For MMA? 

My goals in sanda are to train and improve every day and keep myself at the top level in the world. While being realistic and patient in my journey, I want to be the best fighter in my weight class in MMA.

6. Do you have any advice for other fighters?

My tip is to “Become like water, my friend.”  This sentence of Bruce Lee is in this context that your mind is malleable. Basically it is hard training with humility and having an open mind. You can always learn and go ahead with the difficulties that exist, the hard training, diet and many sacrifices. In the end, happiness makes it worthwhile.



Translators: Henry Sato, Gustavo Dos Santos
Color Processing: Tim Wang
Photographer: Justine Agaloos



Justine is a National USA Wushu Taolu Judge and was on the 2017 U.S.A. Traditional Wushu Team. Justine works full time as a Systems Analyst. With her extra time, Justine currently travels to domestic and international wushu tournaments.