GSP lights up Fort McMurray

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Recently Georges St. Pierre created quite a commotion up in Canada, but it wasn’t about his upcoming fight with Nick Diaz. Instead, it was for hosting an annual Jiu-Jitsu tournament at Gracie Barra Fort McMurray in Alberta.

Brown belt Michael King, who runs GB Fort McMurray, organized a Jiu-Jitsu seminar and tournament in Fort McMurray, the small, booming oil city in Alberta, Canada. He contacted his friend and fellow GB teammate Bruno Fernandes of GB Montreal and asked if he would bring GSP out to host the event. Bruno did and Georges agreed.

GSP expounds on the ins and outs of the choke. Photo: Bruno Fernandes's archives.

King found sponsors to pay for the event and they flew Bruno, Georges, Josh Russell from GB Calgary, and Rodolphe Beaulieu of GB Montreal out to Alberta on a private jet. The guys arrived on a Friday and they went straight to the school to visit some kids and talk to them about the benefits of Jiu-Jitsu. “We went to a French school,” Bruno says, “Canada is a bilingual country, so they took us there. There were about 200 kids at the elementary school. The kids were wearing GB gi’s and they made a big cake that had “GSP” written on it with his logo and bandana on it. It was really nice. They said it took them 18 hours to make it.”

Georges talked to the students about bullying. “He spoke to any bullies in the audience saying, ‘It’s not cool to bully,’” Bruno says, “He said that no one’s better than anyone else. When they hear Georges saying that, they listen. It’s better than hearing it from the teacher!”

After the visit to the school, a press conference was held and the local news station came. Georges talked to reporters first and then went into an auditorium full of about 300 people. Georges opened a Q&A and answered all their questions. “One little girl in a gi asked how he’d do against Mike King (her brown belt professor),” Bruno laughs, “Georges said he would run. It was cute. She was about eight years old. Everyone laughed!”

As one would expect, GSP was very kind and gracious to his fans. After the press conference, he stood patiently for hours signing autographs and talking to the multitude of fans who came from far and wide to get a glimpse of the UFC welterweight champion.

That same evening a two-hour Jiu-Jitsu seminar was held at GB Fort McMurray. The first hour was a fundamentals class taught by Bruno and fellow black belt Josh Russell from GB Calgary. Bruno showed attacks from the mount and Josh showed attacks from the guard. It was a full class with about 80 people on the mats. Georges came for the second hour and showed a few takedowns.

The students were really excited to see Georges and have him show them a couple of moves. “He was really interactive with everyone,” Bruno says, “It was very cool. He walked around, correcting people, and demonstrating techniques over and over again with Rodolphe Beaulieu (Georges’ friend and manager from GB Montreal).”

Bruno says every time Georges would show a student something, he’d get down on the mats and do the move with them. “The whole crowd would move to wherever he was to get closer to him,” Bruno laughs, “He was very interactive and gracious.” After the seminar, Georges took pictures with all of the students.

GSP and the group at Fort McMurray / Photo: Bruno Fernandes's archives

The next day the guys went to Michael King’s GB Fort McMurray Jiu-Jitsu tournament. Around 100 people competed and about 300 spectators came to watch. Georges was the host and opened up the tournament. “Everyone was screaming,” Bruno says, “Georges said a few words to welcome everyone and wished them good luck.” He took some more pictures and gave autographs to the fans and then left for the private lear jet that took them all back to Montreal.

Bruno says that Fort McMurray was really grateful to have had the chance to have GSP in their backyard. “Mike (King) made it all happen with the sponsors,” Bruno says, “Gracie Barra has made a real impact on the Fort McMurray community and GSP, being a GB black belt, really helped to emphasize that point.”


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