Professor Flavio Almeida is having the time of his life. His first school, Gracie Barra San Clemente, is a huge success, his wife, Vivi, just had their first baby, Valentina, and now just two years after opening GBSC, his dream of opening a second school has come to fruition. GB Dana Point had its Grand Opening on Sunday, November 15, 2009.
Professor Flavio made sure the day was packed with activities and events for all to enjoy. With everyone smiling and feeling elated about the new school, its seaside location and the excitement of being able to “roll” on brand new mats, Flavio and his coaches started the day off with a Little Champs class. Then the women took to the mats and Flavio taught a special Rape-Safe class that has become one of his signature classes at Gracie Barra San Clemente.
After a BJJ Fundamentals class, the most anticipated class was taught – a two-hour seminar on sweeps and submissions from butterfly guard. Over 35 students from schools all over Southern California crammed onto the mats, while Master Carlos Gracie, Jr., black belts from other schools and family members and spectators filled the bench spaces behind. Almeida stood on the mats watching, in awe, overjoyed with the success of his new school’s grand opening.
As the day came to an end and all the happy faces of the students began to depart, Flavio stood on the mats, taking the day in. You could see that he was reflecting on the path he took in his life to get to this place – to this day. He walked over to benches, took a seat and began to read his letter that had brought everyone to the school that day:
“I hope this letter finds you and your family in good health and spirits.
Exactly two years ago Gracie Barra San Clemente was born. I still remember the start up meeting, at a Starbucks Cafe in Lake Forest, where coach Felipe and I met to discuss our vision. Over a cup of coffee, we decided to pursue the dream of building a Gracie Barra school in San Clemente. We were committed to creating a center of excellence in Jiu-Jitsu instruction that would allow anyone to experience our sport and embrace a better lifestyle.
Back then, Felipe did not know that the school was on the top of a hill in the middle of nowhere and that the only “walk-in customers” we would have would be the rabbits, coyotes, and roadrunners that pop in every once and a while. But what Felipe also did not know, and neither did I, was that the “school on top of the hill” would have the blessings of so many great people. Since we opened, each and every one of our students has played a major role in building our school and our team. Your enthusiasm, passion, discipline, dedication, and commitment have made our dream possible.
As we traveled this journey, we learned a great deal about the art of Jiu-Jitsu and our roles as instructors. We realized that Jiu-Jitsu instruction is not an end in itself but rather a tool that, if used properly, can have a very positive impact on individuals and communities. From that realization followed a transformation of our dreams and an expansion of our vision: we have embraced the challenge of using the lessons learned in building GBSC to reach out to other cities and benefit more people. In doing so, we believe we will better fulfill our responsibilities as ambassadors of our sport and place an even more meaningful contribution in keeping alive the legacy of the Gracie family.
To achieve that, one of the main questions posed to us was: how can we replicate GBSC? In other words, how can we replicate our selves? Yes, we wanted to pursue the big vision, but we wanted to do that while we continued to improve the quality of classes and programs of our main school: Gracie Barra San Clemente.
We debated for many months how we could make it happen. The answer was quite complex and had many components, but luckily a great asset came in and made the solution possible: our people. The constant improvement of our school over the last two years went side by side with the development of our team of instructors and staff. From a team of two people, with a few helpers during the first months, we grew to over ten qualified instructors and supporting staff. These people have contributed remarkably to all our students by sharing with them their knowledge and passion for Jiu-Jitsu.
A strong team of instructors was the missing link and thanks to all these people, we are now 100% ready to start our second location: Gracie Barra Dana Point. Through their efforts we will be able to replicate exactly the same classes and training experience at both schools.
Thank you for your support in fulfilling our dream of changing as many peoples’ lives as possible through the way of Jiu-Jitsu.”