New Nova União academy in Arizona: a dream come true

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It’s been a long time coming, with plenty to brag about along the way; but Gustavo Dantas, one of our busiest GMA members, has now made his longtime dream come true: After 12 years at world-renowned professional MMA stable Arizona Combat Sports, he is finally teaching at a location exclusively for Jiu-Jitsu. And the best part: it’s all his!

Gustavo Dantas at academy entrance: stoic expression not betraying the excitement of 20 years’ dreaming coming true / Publicity photos

“I focused a lot on building champions, which I love doing and will continue to do,” Dantas tells—the attendance sheet for his gentle-art class including the likes of TUF 8 champion Ryan Bader, TUF 7 runner-up CB Dollaway, UFC middleweight contender Aaron Simpson, former WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner, and competition-Jiu-Jitsu medaling monsters Steve Rosenberg, Kristina Barlaan and the Broadnax twins, Christian and Christopher.

“But I want more,” he explains; “I want to help people change their lives through Jiu-Jitsu the same way it did for me. … It doesn’t matter if their goals are sports related or not; they have to go after their goals, and martial arts can help you to develop the discipline, perseverance, and dedication that you need to achieve anything you want.”

The leader of the US wing of MMA-heavy team Nova União and vice president of the Arizona State Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (AZBJJF), Dantas has been long been involved in both mixed martial arts and the gentle art. And though his tenure at Arizona Combat Sports did bear fruit in the purely Jiu-Jitsu department—besides his team having produced 20 World Championship medalists and regularly placing top spot in the state of Arizona, his Arizona International Open, Arizona State Championship and Southwest Classic tournaments are major destinations for competitors from without the state—, he feels his MMA obligations have been steering him off course:

From left, ex-UFC fighter Thales Leites, Dantas and Nova União team leader André Pederneiras

“The reason why I came to the United States was to teach Jiu-Jitsu for a living. I really like MMA,” began the Rio de Janeiro native in speaking with, “so when my instructor André Pederneiras needs any help with fights in the US, I meet up with him and do what I can to help out. But I love Jiu-Jitsu, and that is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life!” he said, painting a more detailed picture of what led to the new Tempe, Arizona academy on 1848 E. University Dr.

Now fully functional and operating since the 5th of March, GD Jiu-Jitsu Academy is an ample, 4500-square foot facility complete with a shop, lounge and children’s play area; men’s and women’s restrooms with showers, changing stalls; a private room for introductory and private lessons; and a 1600-square foot mat area with a 46” LED flat-screen TV. “I’d been promising my students that I was working on a better and more efficient way to share tournament footage with them. I used to bring my little laptop to class. … But now I have this large flat-screen. … When I show my students a high-level, world class competitor landing the techniques I am teaching on another high-level, world class competitor, I’m showing them that not only are the best in the world able to use those techniques; I’m showing them that they can can use those techniques and have great success with them,” he says in justifying the investment.

And with all investments come risks. But from Dantas’s own words, it would seem that the very risk he is taking in opening the academy is itself one of the lessons he will be teaching there: “I read once that dreams take time, patience, sustained effort and a willingness to fail, if they are ever to be anything more than dreams. And that is what I try to instill in my students.

For further information on the new Nova União/GD Jiu-Jitsu facilities in Tempe, Arizona, visit

Check out some photos of the new facilities:

[flickr set = 72157629239987080]

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There are 15 comments for this article
  1. Pingback: GDJJ Academy featured on | Gustavo Dantas Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu - BJJ in Tempe, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert
  2. Silvia lourenco at 10:57 am

    Gustavo, congratulations! You are a Champion on Jiu-Jitsu and on your life. You are the example that when you BELIEVE and WORK, the DREAM will be TRUE. Silvia Cecilia

  3. Defsantiago at 11:29 am

    After attending a seminar with Gustavo and Robson Moura, it’s clear that Gustavo not only has the passion, attention to detail, and drive that make a fantastic black belt instructor but he also has a mastery of the English language and can easily and effectively communicate with Americans and use effective analogies that truly express the techniques. At no time during the seminar was I trying to “figure out what he said” or found my self struggling with the techniques at all. There are PLENTY of fantastic Brasilados that have comfortably made the states their home and are fine BJJ/GJJ instructors, but I see Gustavo as being a gifted, world class instructor/coach/teacher that just so happens to be sharing and teaching his passion in BJJ.
    If Gustavo trained under water basket weaving, I’d pay to sign up!

  4. Pingback: New Gustavo Dantas Nova União Academy in Arizona « Best Of BJJ
  5. Pingback: Gustavo Dantas’ interview on Graciemag | Gustavo Dantas Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu - BJJ in Tempe, Scottsdale, Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert
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