It’s 7:45 am in Irvine, California, and Gracie Barra headquarters is a good bit busier than usual for this time of the morning. About 40 people, all in GB uniform, have their notepads and pens in hand and are getting settled around the screen set up on the main, upper-level mat area. It’s early by anybody’s standard, but the day started much earlier specifically for one blackbelt hunched over a laptop, putting the final touches on his presentation.
Professor Flavio Almeida, a third-degree blackbelt and the one in charge of the Gracie Barra Association, is about to launch the third Gracie Barra Instructor Certification Program, and he looks to be quite focused. The reason for this state of concentration is summed up tidily in a quote displayed on the first slide he’s putting up:
“The biggest challenge my students with key roles in GB organization face is to develop essential syllabuses and other standards about everything we do, so that our schools may provide the same benefits to the rest of the world as are enjoyed at our HQ.” Carlos Gracie Jr.
That’s what the course is all about. Gracie Barra is expanding at breakneck pace, and the teaching methods, not to mention the way the schools are being managed and how Jiu-Jitsu is being presented to new students, are being improved at the same rate. The organization’s polices have also been changing in line with the goal of providing “Jiu-Jitsu for everyone,” and a number of the association’s efforts and resources are meant to make sure every Gracie Barra school in the world is on the same page, speaking the same language.
Nearly 200 Gracie Barra instructors and professors enrolled for the course, which will stretch from now until late December.
“We know we’re asking a lot of everybody. We’re asking for two hours of your time every week for almost three months. But this will seem like very little if we’re all dreaming the same dream: to one day to have a Gracie Barra school in every city in the world,” says Almeida, who, upon awaking at four this Monday morning of October 10, was actually getting up just to take part in this huge dream.