Brazil! The traditional pilgrimage for anyone training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The birthplace of the Gracie’s who made the art famous and the land where the first world championships were held. The birthplace of some of the greatest practitioners past and present!
In recent years however, many of the top athletes have moved to America, places such as New York, Vegas and Miami now have high concentrations of Jiu Jitsu Academies. While Brazil is the spiritual home of the sport, California can claim to have become a new Mecca for the sport. Not only is the biggest competition of the sport the IBJJF World Championships held in California, at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach but there is an extremely high concentration of academies out there.
In the first of these two blogs we will cover our favourite 5 academies to visit in the spiritual home of Brazilian jiu jitsu, Brazil. Looking at a mixture of current hotspots of Jiu Jitsu and those with a little history. While in the next blog we will look at our recommended 5 places to train at in California.
Based in the city of São Paulo, NS Brotherhood is the home of arguably the number one pound for pound Gi grappler in the world Leandro Lo. Founded by the man himself after breaking away from PSLSB Cicero Costha, the academy is in the affluent neighbourhood of Aclimação based in a Biofitness gym. While not an academy that has been around for many years, the attraction is obviously to train with Kingz Athlete Leandro Lo. The 12.30 Pro training sessions are legendary, mainly consisting tough sparring rounds, each round is a battle for survival against some of the best athletes in the world, from Leandro himself to other season black belt competitors such as European Champion Yago De Souza, Brazilian national champion Rafael Mansur and recently crown LA UAEJJF Grandslam Champion Caio Caetano. An academy for the modern jiujiteiro to visit once in his lifetime !
The HQ of Powerhouse jiu jitsu academy Alliance can also be found in São Paulo. 11 time team title winners of the IBJJF World Championships, the HQ is an absolute pristine academy, with some of the highest quality facilities you can find in jiu jitsu. Headed by the ‘general’ Fábio Gurgel, one of the leaders and co founders of Alliance, expect to see some big names walk on those mats, including multiple time world champion Michael Langhi, Current world champion Isaque Bahiense and future world champions. With it being an academy steeped with history, along with the great athletes you will see and be able to train with, its definitely an academy for you to visit !
PSLPB Cicero Costha
The final São Paulo academy on our list. The academy itself might not be as pristine in terms of facilities like Alliance, but the Jiu Jitsu on offer rivals it. A social project set up by head coach Cicero Costha, which aims to help kids get off the streets through jiu jitsu. The academy itself has produced some of the finest talent in modern jiu jitsu. Past representatives include Leandro Lo and Yago De Sousa before they set up NS Brotherhood, most famously the Miyao Brothers originated from this power house. In recent times some of the best lighter weight competitors in the coloured belt divisions have been produced by this gym, guys like Thalison Soares (mini Miyao) Jonas Andrade, 2018 purple belt world champion and Wilson Moreira 2017 heavyweight champion (actually weighing in at lightweight). Every year Cicero seems to produce more world class athletes who make headlines on the world stage.
Equipe 1 - De la Riva
Switching over to the sunny beaches of Rio De Janeiro, we turn to the picturesque beaches of Copacabana. Just a few blocks away from the beach itself, is home of one of the most influential people in jiu jitsu history, Ricardo de la riva. His academy is based in a fitness centre, Equipe 1, and is located in the basement of the building. A modest sized mat, but one of the busiest mats, with training taking place almost every hour of the day. The man himself is present at the academy most days, however he has a large catalogue of black belts on hand to teach, these include IBJJF World Champion Claudia Do Val, and Helvecio Penna. The innovator of the ‘De La Riva Guard’, and coach to the legendary Nogueira brothers, his academy is definitely one to visit.
GF Team Meier
One of the powerhouses of the competition scene in Brasil, the GF Team HQ’s is surely an academy to visit if you are ever in Rio De Janeiro. Headed by master Júlio César, the academy can claim lineage through one of the few non-Gracie lineages, Luiz Franca. The past decade has seen GF Team become one of the most dominating teams in world jiu jitsu, with champions such as Rodolfo Vieira, Ricardo Evangelista, Patrick Gaudio and Gutenberg Pereira being produced at the headquarters. With the new metro in place in Rio the academy is now a lot easier to reach, so well worth the visit!