The Mendes brothers, Guilherme and Rafael, have been at the top of podiums as athletes for years. Since opening their Art of Jiu-Jitsu Academy in July of 2012 they have extended their knowledge and way of training to their students.
What makes them a bit different from other academies is their dedication to the kids program. At the 2014 IBJJF Pan Kids Championship on Feb. 16, the brothers led their team to victory for the first place team trophy. This is the second consecutive year winning as a team under the Atos banner, and they improved from 15 gold medals to 25 gold medals.
Guilherme answered a few questions for an exclusive interview about how and why their kids program is so successful:
GRACIEMAG: What kind of training do your kids do in the programs at Art of Jiu-Jitsu?
GUILHERME MENDES: We have a very well-rounded program for kids of all ages and skill levels. We are always trying to improve upon it, by adding new things and removing the things that are not producing results. I think this constant evolution and attention to detail along with our will to have the best kids program make the classes at AOJ an amazing experience for the students.
Who teaches the classes and how do you determine which students take certain classes?
We offer 7 kids classes a day at AOJ which are separated by age. In the class we hold safety as our top priority and further separate the kids by belt level and size. Rafael and myself teach the competition team and we have seven more coaches who are all active competitiors that teach the other classes. The amazing thing about the AOJ coaching staff is the level of dedication and team work. We have weekly meetings to discuss the program and each individuals progress. This is really raising the level of our students.
Do the kids come to your academy with the goal of competing or do they decide after they start training?
Most of our students come to AOJ with the goal of gaining confidence, and that’s our goal on the mat: help them to develop a better personality, be able to handle tough situations and face and resolve problems they will encounter throughout their life. We believe competition is a great tool to test yourself, overcome your fears, and learn about self control. But competition is not the main goal at AOJ. We focus on developing our kids into confident adults ready to succeed in life.
What type of high level training do the kids at AOJ do and what is the weekly schedule like?
The kids at AOJ train every day. I do not recommend training more than once a day when they are young. I think this is the main reason for kids quitting Jiu-Jitsu because it stops being fun. The kids have a long way to go and I don’t want them to burn out. Having one great class a day is the perfect way to make them always feel excited to train and learn more. This system of training is working very well. Atos had 25 gold medals at Pan Kids coming from our academy.
We really enjoy seeing how much AOJ is influencing the Jiu-Jitsu community. New academies are opening up all the time with white mats, white walls, and polished concrete floors. Also when you look at the points from this year’s Pan Kids you can see that many schools are following our lead and investing in their kids programs. This makes us happy because since we started Jiu-Jitsu it was always our dream to change the sport and leave our mark. We believe that by creating a strong kids programs we are achieving our goal and creating opportunities for the next generation to use Jiu-Jitsu as a way to improve their lives.
You can follow the brothers and the AOJ kids team at www.artofjiujitsu.com