Gracie Barra has always been an enterprise designed to produce world-class BJJ athletes and world champions…a slow moving conveyor belt that has churned out more master Jiu-Jitsu technicians than any other organization, who have taken the world by storm. They have followed an exact recipe that’s included hard work and effort, repetition of GB Fundamentals, family-oriented values, and the coveted GB philosophy of putting “team before individual.”
Master Carlos’ mentality is unique in that it’s not just about winning on the mats that counts. It is also about proving yourself off the mats, too. Each belt earned comes with tremendous responsibility attached to it. As commerce has become more competitive and technologically has advanced, the way Master Carlos and his GB Association have chosen to allow their students to prove themselves off the mats and spread the GB message has changed.
The legacy that Master Carlos is leaving in his wake is what sets GB apart from other BJJ schools. Marcio Feitosa, Head Instructor of GB America says, “Master Carlos grew up with BJJ legends. His father was the first Gracie who ever learned Jiu-Jitsu. His main instructor was Rolles Gracie, the best of all time. Master Carlos is always providing us with guidance and counsel on how to uphold ourselves in our black belts, as individuals and professionals, on and off the mats. We are so honored to receive the benefit of his life’s experiences and philosophies; to be able to learn from him today.”
Under Master Carlos’ inspiring leadership, GB’s BJJ and business strategy has evolved to one that transcends what traditional BJJ schools have done in the past. Now, GB not only continues to unveil world-class athletes and world champions on the mats (as if that’s not enough), but they have created an internal production company capable of producing thoughtful, well-educated, successful businessmen and women, off the mats, too, who are carrying out Master Carlos’ legacy of spiritual wealth, health and prosperity through the beautiful art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Feitosa is very proud of the current team of instructors in the program. These young professionals have dedicated more than half their lives to reach the top of their sport, but they’re also committed to reaching the top of their professions as well. Feitosa is grateful to be able to give back to them and provide them with opportunities to continue to do the one thing they love most in the world, BJJ, after their competitive careers are over, “As an organization, we want to create opportunities for these guys so they can work in Jiu-Jitsu for the rest of their lives. We have so many great instructors; so much talent, but they cannot always find the opportunities to make it their life’s work. So, Master Carlos asked me to start working at the headquarters to identify who the talent is, and to give them guidance and advice and create those professional opportunities for them.”
Flavio Almeida, multi-time BJJ World Champion and Director of the GB Association, is himself a product of the GB business process. He and Feitosa co-created the instructor’s program currently in place, “At one time, I was just a fighter, too, but now I’m a business owner.” Almeida is proof that the process works. Just two short years after opening his first school in San Clemente, CA he was able to open his second school in Dana Point because of his first school’s rapid and sustained success.
Almeida believes that the students involved in the GB instructor’s program will be just as fortunate, “At this point we are at the first milestone of the program and already the results are extraordinary. The guys are really engaged in and committed to the process. They realize that BJJ is important, but also that business training is just as important. Each one of them is now 100% qualified to teach at any GB school and we’re starting to rotate them all over Orange County so they can get the experience they need to be the best instructors they can be. Eventually, this will help them achieve success in their own schools as business owners.”
As part of the instructor’s program, Feitosa and Almeida educate their students on how to teach classes in English, how to structure classes and set up a schedule, how to answer the phone, pick a school location, and be in a place they’d like to live. They also teach Business Management, Finance, and practical life skills.
The athletes in the program are so busy training, competing, traveling around the world, and instructing at their home schools, they don’t necessarily have time to go to a college to learn English or any of the other skills that GB now teaches them. Sometimes instructing on the mats and role-playing in the instructor’s program is the only way they learn to communicate in English and learn about the cultural and professional differences between Brazil and the U.S., which is essential for success in the U.S.
Lucas Rocha, a world champion purple belt who just arrived at GB America from Recife, Brazil (from the same school as the esteemed Braulio and Victor Estima / Otavio Sousa team), is 19 years old. He has achieved world champion status in every belt he’s received. He’s so good at BJJ, all his team members project him to be a standout in the 2010 season. Rocha will receive his brown belt any day now, but in the meantime, he’s arrived on U.S. soil with very few English language skills. Because he is such a respected member of the 2010 GB Competition team, and also a very mature and responsible individual off the mats, too, he has been handpicked for the instructor’s program.
Rocha says, “At first I thought all I had to do to be good at BJJ was to fight. Now I realize that I not only have to fight, but I have to think, too!” Rocha says he came here to train and to learn, “I want to win first place in all the big tournaments this year as a brown belt, but I also want to learn the business skills necessary to run my own school one day.”
This attitude about work-life satisfaction and balance has become infectious. Young men and women, who in the past were only thinking about their own current competitive urges, are now thinking beyond their youthful glory to that of their “golden years” and what their future holds for them. At just 24 years old, Philipe Della Monica is in the prime of his competitive BJJ career. Although this young man loves to compete and GB has high hopes for him in the 2010 season, it’s not just BJJ at its competitive state that’s got him motivated to succeed, “I’m looking for a location to open my own GB school right now. I am completely committed to competing, but I am equally committed to spending my time teaching.” He continues, “Jiu-Jitsu is so good for you. It teaches responsibility, health and respect. It makes your education better. I looked up to my professors as a kid and I want my students to look up to me. I need to pass my best on to the kids. They want to be like me. That’s a lot of responsibility, but I love it.”
That mature kind of mindset is impressive in a 24 year old. This is the kind of “talent” Feitosa seeks out on a daily basis, “Just being a part of the GB family and living the BJJ lifestyle inspires this kind of thinking in our students. We incorporate BJJ training in all of our business meetings because it’s who we are and where we come from. As soon as we don’t see each other on the mats and in our GIs, we lose a lot. So, we need to have a passion for both training and business. My goal is to create as many opportunities for these kind of GB Instructors as possible.”
Almeida says they are still a few years away from seeing true results of the program, but that it is extremely successful so far. Feitosa agrees, “Although we are far from having a complete business management system in place, what we are involved in is so rich, it is already succeeding even though we have so much work still to do. It’s a work in progress, but I believe we will reach our goals. I don’t know how long how it will take, but one day we will have a GB school in every city across the globe.”