In light of Kids Worlds team success, Mendes bros reflect on own youth in Jiu-Jitsu

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Celebrating the win with the coaches. Photo: Owen Francis Photography

Celebrating the win with the coaches. Photo: Owen Francis Photography

The Mendes brothers are leading the way for future champions. This last weekend on July 19-20 the Art of Jiu-Jitsu Academy sent 82 kids to compete at Kids Worlds 2014. They won the team trophy on both days, gi and no-gi.

The brothers, Rafael and Guilherme, speak about the accomplishment: “Our academy is growing really fast and we have been investing all our time to develop strong curriculums and training programs. Today we have an amazing group of coaches and staff at AOJ that are doing a great job as well, and this team work is giving us good results.”

Gui’s thoughts: “I feel really blessed. This is more than I’ve ever dreamed to have. I’ve always wanted to have a beautiful academy, a kids team and be recognized by my hard work, it’s all happening so fast that sometimes I have to stop and dream a little bit more to have something to work on.

The team trophy. Photo: Personal Archive

The team trophy. Photo: Personal Archive

I’ve learned a lot about life since I started teaching the kids. When you are a full time competitor you have to be selfish, you want to be the best so you focus all your energy on you and you do whatever it takes to be a champion. You forget the world outside because you are too busy working on yourself. Today I do not feel like that. Every tournament that I go to coach my students I see myself more selfless and appreciating other people’s victories more than I do for my own and it gives me so much peace. A lot of times I ask myself if it’s happening because I’m getting old but I really don’t think so; I’m only 26 and I think it’s happening because I really discovered my passion in the sport.”

Rafa adds: “We are Christian, we believe in God, and we really believe that it’s all happening because he is allowing us to have it, because he wants us to use all this success to effect peoples lives–make a positive impact and give something back. Be able to help people to achieve their goals, families to find a place of happiness where they can stay united, make every student that walks into our academy a better person by showing them respect and teaching the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle. And above of all, use our lives, all this success that is given to us to glorify God and bring people to God. Because if this is not the main goal, why do we work so hard ? Why all this success? What is the point ? I believe this is life’s purpose and we must understand it in order to truly be happy, otherwise even having so much, you will have nothing and always fell empty.”

While the success of their team in both adult and kids categories has proven their leadership, it comes from something within. As a reflection on this latest achievement, the brothers dive into their own past and explain how their young selves adapted to life’s struggles with the help of Jiu-Jitsu:

“People think that life was easy for us but it was not. They can see our appearance but not our struggles. It’s easy to see someone being successful and think that they just “had a good opportunity”, but opportunities never come for people that never work for it.

The team accepting the team trophy. Photo: Personal Archive

The team accepting the team trophy. Photo: Personal Archive

We started in a small city and right when we started in Jiu-Jitsu our dad and mom broke up and our dad was an alcoholic. Because of families problems, we had to leave our house with our mom and it was a very difficult time in our lives. Jiu-Jitsu always taught us how to stay strong in bad situations and never panic. We had to become the men of the house when we were just kids, we could not look up to our dad because of that crazy situation so we saw our Professor Ramon [Lemos] as a father figure. He inspired us to become who we are today. I remember when we were twelve years old, talking to him in the academy after training, making our plans for the future, dreaming about traveling the world to teach, compete, and one day have our own academy.

Save my words. We are going to have a huge group of world champions in the future. Can’t wait for these kids to start fighting the World Championship in the juvenile division. We are going to shock the world! haha”

For more about GMA Art of Jiu-Jitsu Academy go to Instagram @aojacademy @mendesbros and


Mendes brothers with the Ruotolu twins. Photo: Personal Archive

Mendes brothers with the Ruotolu twins. Photo: Owen Francis Photography

Guilherme with a student. Photo: Owen Francis Photography

Guilherme with a student. Photo: Owen Francis Photography

The coaches with Gui and Rafa. Photo: Owen Francis Photography

The coaches with Gui and Rafa. Photo: Owen Francis Photography



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