A Family-Oriented School

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Photo by Angelena Ormonde

Professor Marcus “Soneca” Neuenschwander just opened Gracie Barra Long Beach in December 2009 and already has over 65 students training at his school.

At his first women’s class in February 2010, 16 women showed up for the class. Not only is his business “humming” along, but his personal life is also at a high point. He recently married Kyvia Gracie and they had their first daughter, Kiana, in October. Life is sweet for Neuenschwander for sure.

Neuenschwander says his dream has always been to have his own family-oriented GB school, “Master Carlos, Marcio Feitosa and I made the decision to come to Long Beach and I’m very happy here. We didn’t know it at the time, but our location is in a very family-oriented neighborhood.”

Neuenschwander says he wants to give the community a nice place to learn GB’s self-defense techniques and the BJJ lifestyle, “The school is growing fast. We already have 65 students after two months, but it’s not just the number that’s making me happy. What I’m excited about is that all the students are having fun and coming together like a family. They’re taking care of each other. The students organized the first GBLB breakfast. They like the family environment and it’s what I’ve always dreamed of being a part of. It’s really cool.”

GB Long Beach group. Photo: Paula Young

“Soneca” was trying to open the school at the same time his wife, Kyvia, was having their baby, “I originally hadn’t planned on opening a school so fast, but that changed when I found out Kyvia was pregnant. Then I really wanted to open a school immediately for my family. It got a little crazy because there was so much going on in my life all at the same time. One minute before I stepped inside the hospital room for my wife’s C-Section, I was getting calls that they were trying to put the mats down at the school! Everything’s great now, though. The baby’s fine, and the academy’s good.”

Self-defense class. Photo: Paula Young

Neuenschwander was a student of Professor Aldo “Caveirinha,” who is a black belt under Master Carlos. “I started BJJ as a kid at 13. He passed on to me all of Master Carlos’ ideas and showed me how BJJ can change your life. I learned how to live a healthy lifestyle and respect my colleagues at an early age. Those lessons changed my life and formed the person I am today. I want to pass those same ideas down to my students so they can enjoy the same healthy BJJ lifestyle and have it change their lives in the same positive way that it did mine.”

Neuenschwander has won gold in multiple state championships in Brazil. He won gold in the Brazilian Nationals Team Tournament and as a black belt; he came in 3rd place at the European Open, 3rd place in the No Gi Worlds, and was Dutch Open Champion and American National Champion in Gi and No Gi. But what sets this competitor apart from many other competitors is his team-oriented mind-set, “Everybody wants the gold medal,” Neuenschwander says, “But if that’s all you focus on, you start to lose the teamwork. So, sometimes I just go to tournaments to represent the team. Even if get bronze, I get points for the team. If I lose, I know I did my best, so I don’t get upset for myself, I get more upset that I didn’t get points for my team.”

Kids class. Photo: Paula Young

Neuenschwander says that although he has a busy business and family schedule ahead of him this year, he still plans on competing at every IBJJF tournament on the calendar. But at the end of the day, Neuenschwander’s just a family guy: “I have two brothers and three sisters back in Brazil. Now I have my own family here and I’m trying to build my academy into an extended family. It makes me happy.”

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