From student to teacher

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Black belt Marcelo Brandao got into Jiu-Jitsu because of his brother, Pedro. When he was 12 years old and on vacation at his aunt’s house for a month in another state, Pedro called him saying he’d started training Jiu-Jitsu. He said that Gracie Barra Rio was a “cool place” and that Marcelo was really going to love it.

When Marcelo got home and went there, he signed up right away to start training. “It was the best thing I did in my life,” he says. His instructor was Marcio Feitosa, who was a purple belt at the time. His professor was José Leão Teixeira, aka Ze Beleza. “Everything I know – my fundamentals – I got from Professor Marcio and Professor Beleza. Professor Soca was my 2nd teacher. He is now the owner of Soca Jiu-Jitsu. I learned all of my submissions from him.”

Marcelo says GB Rio is like GB America in Irvine. It’s a two-story building with two mats. The adults trained upstairs and the kids trained downstairs. Marcelo says he trained every day, five days a week, two hours a day. Some of the other students he trained with included Professor Marco Joca, Igor Gracie, Gregor Gracie, and Professor Rafael Ramos (GB Encinitas). “I never trained with Professor Flavio (Almeida),” Marcelo says, “He went upstairs to train with the adults as soon as possible. He’s always been a pretty big guy.”

Marcelo finally got his chance to train upstairs when he became an orange belt at the age of 15. “Everybody was there,” Marcelo says, “Ryan Gracie; Renzo Gracie used to come train; Flavio, and Marcio – you got to see all the black belts – the one’s who’d win all the tournaments. It was a privilege to watch them train. It was even more of a privilege when I got to train and spar with them. It was amazing.”

Marcelo showing his students a technique

Marcelo says the students also got to train and spar with Master Carlos, which he says was an honor. Master Carlos was at the school every day. Sometimes he would teach classes and sometimes he would spar with the students. He set a good example for all of the instructors and students to follow.

“When I got my purple belt, I asked Professor Marcio if I could help instruct,” Marcelo says, “He said, ‘yes,’ so, I started coaching on the mats. Gustavo (Pires) and Marcelo (Souza) used to help, too.” Eventually, Marcelo started teaching the morning classes at GB Rio. He received his black belt at the end of 2005.

In 2009 Marcelo had the opportunity to teach for Gracie Barra in the U.S. His first stop was Tennessee and then was asked to teach in California. Marcelo started teaching at GB America in Irvine for a couple of months, then moved on to GB Anaheim Hills. Soon after, Marcelo started teaching at GB Dana Point and GB San Clemente.

Marcelo with Carlos Eduardo Ferreira Guimaraes at a GB Instructor's Meeting

Students should know that they are in very good hands with Marcelo. He’s a 3-time national champion, a multi-time state champion and he took 3rd in the Worlds as a purple belt. “I love competing, but teaching is my passion,” Marcelo says, “I think it’s the best thing you can do. I really enjoy passing my knowledge on to others. I followed what Master Carlos, Professor Marcio, and other professors did. I don’t have to be the best; I just have to help others and pass along my knowledge. I love to do that. My students have become my friends.”

Marcelo says he’s having a lot of fun at all the GB schools where he teaches. “All the students are really cool,” he says, “I’m meeting a lot of new people and they’re really nice. I’m glad to be here.”

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