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13 Reasons to Choose Brea Jiu-Jitsu

1. Quality Competition Focused Instruction

For adults, our class structure and atmosphere is suitable for those looking to stay on the cutting edge in sport/martial art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from our black belt instructor Dan Lukehart. This is realized by the emphasis on the aspects that are most relevant to competitors such as:

  • High repetition drills for conditioning and the development of muscle memory during transitions. Self repeating drills focusing on transitions lasting 30 minutes are common.
  • Greater number of sparring rounds with less rest.
  • Techniques tailored to the needs of the modern BJJ competitor including strong knowledge of passing and defending the open guard.
  • All sparring starting from the stand up position. Starting sparring on the knees is near universal at BJJ gyms despite competitions and self defense situations starting on the feet.
  • Strategy relating to competitive Jiu-Jitsu including detailed knowledge of rule system.
  • Knowledge of great champions and their respective style.

We attempt to balance our classes between technical training, which tends to have a weakness on the toughness side of the equation, and tough training which tends to have weakness on the technical side of the spectrum. Observe the type of analytical and technical skills that are promoted at our academy with this detailed analysis video of Keenan Cornelius competed by Coach Dan:


Dan commentating with 4 time black belt adult world champion Braulio Estima.

Coach Dan’s analytical abilities have made him a go-to commentator for the largest Jiu-Jitsu events such as the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships, Word Jiu-Jitsu Expo and World No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu Championships. The skills that commentating requires – being knowledgeable about a wide variety of techniques and styles, the ability to articulate what is going on in a high level Jiu-Jitsu match and staying up to date with the latest innovations in grappling – are precisely the skills needed to be an effective teacher.


Teaching is a much different art than practicing Jiu-Jitsu. It must be studied, practiced and refined. Prior to Jiu-Jitsu, Coach Dan was a public school music teacher for the Brea Olinda Unified School District and comes from a family of educators. Coach Dan worked on perfecting the art of teaching long before obtaining the rank of black belt. Many in the Jiu-Jitsu community first took note of his analytical abilities by producing quality online instructional videos at purple belt.  Check out the time warp!

In recognition of his contributions to the Jiu-Jitsu community, at brown belt Coach Dan was approached by the owner of Budovideos to produce an instructional series – currently the only brown belt to have ever been asked to do so. Budovideos is the largest distributor of martial arts videos in the world and is one of the most prestigious and recognizable brands in the sport.

At our gym we feel that you do not come to class to do push-ups, sit-ups and jumping jacks for 25-50% of the class. Click here to see a standard Jiu-Jitsu warm up.  Imagine doing this same routine for about 10 years every day. Not only is it dull, very minimal learning takes place unless it is a student’s first week. This message will resonate with anybody who has spent some amount of time on the mat. Since Jiu-Jitsu can only be practiced with a partner, we maximize class time by warming up with Jiu-Jitsu techniques rather than movements that can be done at home. As a result, we are able to increase the productivity of our class time. An hour and a half class consists of an hour and a half of Jiu-Jitsu. You will get an amazing workout from the drilling alone in most cases.

At our gym, students do not need to wait a number of months before they start rolling. Students may start rolling as soon as they feel comfortable in doing so. We feel that rolling as soon as possible will speed up the learning curve and increase the enjoyment of the martial art.

Having a competition focus sounds scary, right? However, students need no experience to join our gym! We want to teach you everything you need to know – from scratch! The overwhelming majority of students that first come through our doors have zero experience with any form of martial art.  Having a competition focus sounds intimidating, but its NOT. We are nice people and wont run anybody through the ringer. The emphasis is a reflection of how we take our art seriously and is the atmosphere we like here. Most of our members DON’T compete regularly, but would have the chops to do so if they desired to.  We want to build you step by step, but do it in a way which is not watering down the experience.

View a full class from Brea Jiu-Jitsu which incorporates video analysis into the class setting:

What to expect on your first trial class:


Check out our reviews on Facebook! Over 100 reviews!


Our Google reviews:


2. Low Prices

Our membership rates are upfront, honest, haggle free and allow unlimited access to our class offerings. All of our tuition is listed clearly on our website where you can review them in the comfort of your own home. We feel this is the best way to grow our gym in the long term.

We do not offer tiered membership rates for a very specific reason:  We want our students to come to every single class on our schedule. Many gyms are offering tiered membership rates which offers psychological advantages when trying to extract as much money as possible.  The logic behind such systems is explained here. 

Click to see our rates and contract

Large chains will do everything they can to get you in the door to try a class. They will refuse to disclose their rates until you have tried a trial class in person. Some intentionally don’t post their schedules and rates online. We strongly disagree with this style of promotion. For those that don’t post their rates online, they are typically around $175 per month.

Often these academies have ways to extract money out of students beyond the typical monthly tuition in the form of requiring expensive academy uniforms ($150), requiring patches be purchased, mandatory academy branded rash guards under your gi and the like.  It is not uncommon for tuition to go up as they are promoted .  They have “black belt classes” or “advanced classes” and increase the months cost because the amount of classes offered to the student is increased.  The tick here is that these black belt classes are “available” to the white belt student after just a few months after they begin training and as a result increase monthly tuition.

At Brea Jiu-Jitsu, not only is our monthly membership less than these academies, but you wont feel nickel and dimed. As a result, our true start up costs – a typical barrier to entry – are less than half of other gyms.

With the exception of a Junior transitioning into the Kids Program, our rates never adjust upwards as students progress in rank. Our tuition actually decreases as you are promoted. We feel this method of rewarding our members is most in keeping with our gyms philosophy.

We will never put a contract in front of you and pressure you into signing up. We actually don’t even give you a sales pitch before you leave. Most of the time we let the student doing a trial class bring up on their own if they want to sign up and even encourage thinking the experience over before signing up.

3. Independent and Family Owned

Being an independent gym has very practical benefits that separates us from the masses. An instructor who carries pride of ownership is important in nearly every aspect of the gym and its management.

It is quite frequent for instructors who are hired by gym owners to bounce around from one gym to another every few years.  Having a falling out with owners, new opportunities at other gyms, expired work visas, and frequent travel back to Brazil are some common reasons instructors turn over. These situations are causes of great stress and the source many conflicts.  Our gym is owned by our instructor so you will never see a revolving door of teachers.

Having an unaffiliated gym allows us to not only welcome people from different gyms and affiliations into our academy, but allows us to not conform to a cookie cutter “One size fits all” approach.  Everything – from the construction of the gym to the techniques taught in class – has our instructor’s heart and soul behind it.

We are not opposed to the concept of Jiu-Jitsu chains when the network of schools has some actual connection with the affiliations lineage. They can carry the traditions of the instructor and pool resources. The unfortunate reality is that many have no affiliation with the exception of paying their dues to the franchise every month.

A common practice is a high ranking well known practitioner comes around infrequently to give a seminar and promote students.  While it certainly makes for a neat picture on Facebook, it’s really does next to nothing to ensure standards across academies. Many large affiliations recruit affiliates directly out of grassroots Jiu-Jitsu magazines.

Though filled with many talented individuals, many affiliations recruit from grassroots magazines.

Some go as far as providing certifications to non Jiu-Jitsu based martial arts gyms after attending pricey seminars and evaluation. They provide reasoned and articulate explanations as to why this prevents the watering down of the sport, but the proof is in the pudding. Most of these certified centers have teachers who have never actually done live sparring teaching a class! It is our experience that those who are loudest about standards across the sport are responsible for those standards being undermined. 

4. Safety

A mat frame to test various types of foam

Our mats are 2 inches thick of 10 lb. bonded foam. We built a test mat and experimented with different types and combinations of cross linked foam, closed cell foam and various ratings of bonded foam. This was necessary to achieve a slightly softer feel relative to many of the inexpensive closed cell polyurethane mats on the market. The 2 inch thickness allows the mats never to bottom out on hard throws and takedowns. Our mats are a dream compared to standard Zebra Grappling mats and aids in preventing repetitive strain injuries to the knees and other joints.

Our 18 oz. vinyl is RF welded to have a seamless cover which prevents toe and fingernail injuries associated with all puzzle style mats. Click here to see an example of a fingernail injury that occurs while grappling on puzzle mats. The seamless vinyl cover aids in sanitation due to dirt and grime not being able to accumulate in the joints of the mats. The frame of our mat is also padded to reduce injury rate.

5. Cleanliness

A very common complaint in the Jiu-Jitsu community is that they love their gym, but their mats are extremely dirty and not regularly cleaned. The stuff that can cause problems on the skin and with infections is microscopic and mats need to be cleaned after every session.

Dirty mats from another Southern California school

Our mats undergo a rigorous cleaning regimen to aid in the prevention of common mat borne communicable diseases. Our mats are sanitized twice daily with Kenclean Plus Athletic Surface Disinfectant Cleaner. Kenclean Plus is used in many hospitals and is approved to protect against MRSA, Community Associated MRSA, Influenza A Virus, Ringworm, AIDS, Herpes Simplex, Staph, Strep, Hepatitis B & C and many more. It does not irritate the eyes or skin the way bleach does which is important when grappling on the surface you are attempting to disinfect. For each mat cleaning, solution is sprayed on the mat and a freshly laundered microfiber mop is used. 

Our floors are epoxy coated for a slip free surface that is easy to clean. The floors are swept daily and moped with freshly laundered anti-microbial mops. Our restrooms are cleaned with separate cleaning supplies than the rest of the gym to prevent any cross contamination.


6. Schedule

Our schedule features daily 7AM classes that will never be cancelled on a long term basis. This is somewhat of a niche time frame and we have a number of members that only do their training in the mornings before work, school or family time.

We only have 1 evening Adult class offering which allows for additional mat time after class. It is our gyms firm belief that much of a student’s progress takes place discussing techniques, drilling or training after class.

Exchanging ideas after class is possible with our schedule

You will never be kicked off the mat after class (AM or PM) and our schedule was designed with this training concept in mind.

We utilize assistant instructors from time to time in the Kid’s Program, but with the exception of illness, all of our classes are under the direct instruction of our coach.

7. Atmosphere

One of our goals is to make Jiu-Jitsu exist beyond the walls of our academy. It is important that students be aware of current events, the landscape of top black belt Jiu-Jitsu competitors, internet forums to discuss grappling, instructional videos, top schools and their history and the tournament scene. We wish to avoid creating students who are just leaning the techniques and rolling but are ignorant of the art and its subculture. It is our view that learning from as many sources as possible is beneficial to the student.

The focus on training with a greater purpose is tangible and reflected in not only our member’s attitudes, but in the class structure. Long rounds, ample specific training, drilling as a form of warming up all contribute to this atmosphere. Our focus here is only on Jiu-Jitsu. You will not be distracted by death metal music or a cardio boxing class going on at the same time.


8. Kid’s Program

At Brea Jiu-Jitsu a strong competitive kids program is a priority. This is reflected in our schedule by the availability of daily kid’s classes, kid’s competition classes and a separate Juniors program. This allows the student to take their training to whatever level they are willing to work for. It also allows parents the flexibility of choosing a convenient training schedule.

Click here compare our kid’s schedule with some other nearby gyms. Most Jiu-Jitsu gyms only offer training 3x per week for kids. Some schedules have daily kid’s classes, but only allow access to certain blocks of classes. This is a result of how Jiu-Jitsu came to the Unitied States in an effort to prove to adults it was the most effective single martial art for self-defense in the 1970’s.

View the kid’s schedule of other nearby schools:

Tinguinha BJJ Academy Schedule

Checkmat La Habra

Gracie Barra Placentia

Our instructor has had over a decade of experience in the public education system at the elementary level and is very experienced in working with groups of children. He leads by example by training twice daily, abstaining from drugs and alcohol, consuming a healthy well balanced diet and conducting himself in an honest and ethical manner on and off the mats. 

9. Facility

The floor plan was designed by our instructor to have all the amenities that Jiu-Jitsu practitioners need. The design maximized mat space at just under 1300 square feet while still providing a spacious shower, laundry services, private changing areas, restroom, reception area and waiting area. Private changing areas are especially nice for children who would otherwise be uncomfortable changing in a locker room.  Our shower is especially convenient for those planning on attending 7AM classes before work or school and aids in the prevention of Ringworm, Staph Infection and others. Our shower is always stocked with freshly laundered towels and soap.

10. Punctuality

Our classes start and end when they are posted to start and end. There is an expression in the Jiu-Jitsu community called “Brazilian Time.” If you have attended nearly any Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament you will have some familiarity with this concept. This is primary a cultural difference as the concept of time is more relaxed in Brazilian culture. Click here to view the abstract of a study titled “Perceptions of Time and Punctuality in the United States and Brazil” originally published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. At some academies a 7PM class can start anywhere between 7PM to 9PM and early morning classes are frequently cancelled. Our 7AM class starts at 7AM.


11. Promotion Standards

Attendance card from another academy

Many gyms promote based on a schedule guided by attendance cards.  They claim is that it is easier to track a students progress, provides motivation to continue to train and establishes a minimum number of classes before a student can be promoted.

Our view is that this undermines a good portion of the martial arts experience from both the student and instructor perspective. Attendance cards undermine this process in four primary ways:

  •  Despite the claim that attendance cards are only a guideline, in practice they quite frequently become scheduled promotions.   There are often two tiers of students within the same school: Casual practitioners who are promoted to the day based on attendance cards and a minority of competitors who are not. This is especially true at the lower belts. This is more of a business decision than it is a philosophical one.
  • Attendance cards promote complacency by the instructor by relying on the cards for promotion instead of taking the additional time and effort to track each student’s progress individually. Often, an office manager or receptionist will alert the instructor that a student is ready for promotion and it is then when the instructor reflects on if this student is ready. It is our view that it is the instructor’s responsibility to be heavily involved with each student’s progress on a daily basis. Relying on somebody else to inform them they are ready for promotion is disrespectful to the student.
  • Attendance cards, while providing short term motivation for students, undermine many of the virtues that learning a martial art are intended to instill. A student must learn to become intrinsically motivated to come to class and participate in the art simply on its own merit. It is quite frequent that students will excessively focus on getting “credit” for attending a class when advancing in this style. Our view is that minimal carrot and stick motivation techniques should be incorporated into martial arts. Knowing when one will be promoted, either a specific date or a general time frame, keeps the focus on the belt and not the advancement of knowledge that that belt is intended to represent.

Click to see promotion standard at a large chain taken from their website

  • Attendance cards actually serve the opposite function of preventing premature promotions. The guidelines established by the largest chain of schools are much too short. For example, with attendance of only twice weekly you are a candidate for the next belt after only 8 months. Though our system avoids making set time tables or guidelines for promotion, it would not be possible for even the most gifted athlete to achieve the next belt level at our academy.  It is not even a point of discussion at this point within our system.

Click to see the kid’s belt standard from a large chain taken directly from their website

In addition to not using a promotion card, we do not make up belts or stripes in an attempt to motivate the student and/or charge a belt testing fee. It is becoming more common practice for the watering down of belts in children’s programs as seen in other martial arts. Others use as many as 13 belts – all available after a belt test fee is paid! Our Kids Program follows the 5 belt system and we never charge you as you advance in belt.


12. Integrity in Marketing

The number of Jiu-Jitsu and MMA gyms adopting marketing techniques that make you feel as though you are being sold a used car is increasing dramatically. While many of these gyms have very talented students and instructors, it is often tolerated for the financial results it can potentially receive.  There are 3 popular choices within the Jiu-Jitsu community to advertise a gym:

1. Align yourself with a major chain or affiliation and let the chain promote for you.
2. Adopt an aggressive style of marketing and management being sold by a prominent BJJ coach.
3. Do little to no advertising and let word of mouth or reputation do most of the work.

Since some disadvantages of a major chain have been outlined, we will focus on this aggressive marketing being sold by a well known BJJ coach. This style has been adopted by many independent gyms who are struggling to expand their student base beyond a number of athletic males in their 20’s who hear about their tough gym through word of mouth. This system claims to make these school owners almost overnight millionaires and is very attractive to a struggling business owner.

The advertisements are very loud, makes bold promises, self given titles, low quality advertising, triple guarantees backed cash offers, soccer moms getting the same training as UFC champions, free DVD’s if you commit to their mailing service and will upsell you at every opportunity.

Even leaving a gyms page proves difficult with this marketing style

This system of marketing is effective but the cost of such success is not worth the financial reward for 4 main reasons.

  • Short term financial gains undermines the gyms long term reputation. While many new people are brought into Jiu-Jitsu that otherwise would not have been interested, the turn over rate increases dramatically. This changes the culture within the gym and the whole martial arts experience tends to be catered to new white belts. It is our view that this works to undermine the gyms long term reputation for short term gains.
  • Embarrassment to current students. For many students who progress past a certain level, Jiu-Jitsu becomes deeply ingrained of who they are as people. A gyms name and symbol reflect this aspect of a student’s life and how a gym portrays itself is a reflection of all those who train under its banner. Most gyms that have adopted this marketing method have done so after they have established strong competition teams with solid reputations. Most of the time, members tolerate it, but are ashamed at its own gyms methods of getting new people in the door.
  • Attempts to be all things to everybody.  This marketing strategy attempts to market to everybody – from those who are only mildly interested in the martial art to those who want to be UFC or IBJJF champions.

    Advertising taken from a school that leaves a misleading impression

    They will do anything to get you in the door and sign a contract. At Brea Jiu-Jitsu we understand we can not be everything to everybody. Sometimes this means that perspective members are best suited at another gym.


  • Disingenuous. A new student to a gym that subscribes to this method probably has their guard slightly up when it comes to recommendations that require additional finances. Things such as recommended seminars to attend,  additional equipment, webinars and private lessons will have the student questioning if they are recommending them to increase revenues or because it is truly in their best interest. For example, this system it prescribes a method of teaching called “shotgunning” enrolled students. Essentially, you zero in on a student who is having trouble, pay him a compliment, correct any mistakes and say that with private lessons he could improve the technique. This  method is used to help recruit better teachers to the school by providing additional financial incentives in the form of private lessons.


Every gym has a distinct personality and focus – despite what the schedule or website may say. Gyms actual instruction might be centered on Jiu-Jitsu for self defense, Jiu-Jitsu for sportive competition, Jiu-Jitsu for MMA or Jiu-Jitsu for hobby. Whatever area the gym chooses to emphasize will also be done at different intensity levels during class depending on what demographics they are catering to.

Some of the best coaches and martial artists have adopted this system. Since many of these coaches know Jiu-Jitsu well but have poor marketing skills, this loud campaign is viewed as the only alternative to minimal marketing because of its ease of access within our community. Many of these practitioners make good amounts of money promoting themselves in this style because they are some of the best Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in the world. They would make money if they promoted a product within any marketing system!

Click here to see the hype behind one marketing event covered by GracieMag.
Click here to see this issue discussed by Jiu-Jitsu practitioners on Sherdogs Grappling Forum.

Here is a very talented and active no gi competitor explaining part of the marketing process:

At Brea Jiu-Jitsu we refuse to accept the premise that marketing must be done in this manner to run a successful team and business. We market with a number of different modalities that are consistent with our philosophies.

13. Team Politics 

At many academies training at other gyms is frowned upon. Some go as far as making it a rule that you must not train at other academies and that you must remain loyal to your team. Some tolerate training at other academies, but tell you to “remember where you came from.” This mentality comes from an old school train of thought where each gym had specific techniques or training methods that were not available to other schools.

We feel that with the internet and ease of access to instructional materials there are no secrets to getting better or performing well in competition. It is hard work combined with careful guidance. The knowledge of Jiu-Jitsu is not contained in one person and multiple sources must be sought after for the most rapid development. At Brea Jiu-Jitsu, our students are encouraged to train at other gyms and we welcome visitors into our academy as well.

14. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu vs “Sport” Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

This is a loaded topic and we will do our best to clarify our stance on this.

The first academy of note in the United States was in southern California by son of Helio Gracie, Rorion Gracie. The Gracie Academy (USA) was and is the official US branch of the original Gracie Academy in Brazil. This is a major contributing factor as to why southern California is the main hot spot for Jiu-Jitsu in America and its influence and contributions to Jiu-Jitsu and MMA are undeniable. The Gracie Academy helped spread the art of Jiu-Jitsu in the United States and unintentionally developed the sport of Mixed Martial Arts in the process.

To understand a bit more about Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and what it means, some understanding of the Gracie family needs to take place. To new practitioners who mention “The Gracies,” is often spoke of as a unified family of Jiu-Jitsu representatives. For the experienced practitioner, the Gracies are spoken of not as a collective unit, but as individuals who all have a different skill set, interpretations of what Jiu-Jitsu is/should be and motives. The Gracie family is huge and most do Jiu-Jitsu on some level.

View a slightly out of date family tree for some perspective:

It is important to know who is behind the “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu” banner as unsuspecting potential newcomers could be lured into thinking that there is a huge Gracie Jiu-Jitsu movement. Today this is exclusively the domain of Rorion Gracie’s sons Ryron, Rener and Ralek at the Gracie Academy. When you hear the term “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu” It is specifically referring to one very narrow sect of Helios lineage.

Rorion, who had his degree in law in Brazil, engaged in litigation with family members over using the trademarked term “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu” in their academy name or describing their Jiu-Jitsu. In an interesting twist, the court ruled that other Gracie family members could not use the term “Gracie Jiu-Jitsu,” when they describe what they do, but could use their full names. This is why you currently see “Rickson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu”, “Clark Gracie Jiu-Jitsu,” “Royce Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.”, “Gracie Barra” ect.

Here is the case of Carley Gracie vs Gracie USA(Rorion):

Early on, particularly Helios descendants, used the Gracie Academy as a point of first contact when coming to the United States. Over time, various disagreements caused splits from the Gracie Academy both in Brazil and USA. In addition to the lawsuit, Rorion manipulated the story and history of Jiu-Jitsu to be a more Helio friendly and self serving version of events. This was very off-putting to most of the family as it undermined the great contributions of other Gracie family members.

Carlson Gracie recounts a story of Rorion twisting a narrative of Jiu-Jitsu in his favor taking advantage of his inability to speak english:

Reila Gracie, angered by the distortion of events, wrote a book about it detailing a much more balanced version of events.

With the increasing falling out with other family members, the Gracie Academy also grew marginalized in competitive Jiu-Jitsu competitions. Their strict adherence of not modifying any of the techniques and strategies of Helio, brought a closed mind to the innovations from Rolls Gracie – the family champion through the 70’s.

Rolls Gracie, a child of Carlos but raised by Helio, was a huge innovator who traveled around the world bringing different techniques from Judo, Wrestling and Sambo into Jiu-Jitsu. He also adopted a more aggressive style and propelled the next generation Gracies to stay as leaders in Jiu-Jitsu into the future. Rickson, though officially a black belt from his father, was taught by Rolls and carried his legacy after Rolls untimely death in a hang gliding accident.

Rolls sparring with Rickson shortly before his death:

Helio had counted on Rorion to continue to represent his philosophies and techniques on a high level and it came to his extreme disappointment that Rorion was continually bested by those that had incorporated other strategies and techniques. Rorion doubled down on a strict adherence to Helio, likely in an attempt to win his fathers approval.

Learn more about Rolls here and a little bit more about the Rolls and Rorion friction:

Pushed by Rolls, the art continued to evolve and various students and family members split from the Gracie Academy (Brazil), many academies with talented competitors began to appear everywhere.

Unable to prove their claimed superiority in a wide variety of tournaments with many high profile losses, the response was that Jiu-Jitsu competitions were straying too far from self defense roots. The reason they lost was the Gracie Academies emphasis on fighting and self defense rather than on techniques of “sport jiu-jitsu.” They turned this sport Jiu-Jitsu pejorative term they use for almost all other academies.

Wallid Ismail (Carlson Gracie) choking out Royce Gracie.

Having a falling out with Rickson over financial matters relating to Rickson teaching out of his garage and not at the Gracie Academy, Rorion was unable to get the family champion to participate in UFC 1. Rickson, who concluded his brother was all about money and bitterly demanded 1 million dollars from his brothers finances to participate in UFC 1. Effectively pricing himself out of competition, Royce was the only other choice.

Royce’s success in the early UFC’s, the entire world saw the potential in Jiu-Jitsu and in Mixed Martial Arts in general. While what Royce did was amazing, his opponents were not knowledgeable in submission grappling. Rorion was given an additional platform to boost his version of Jiu-Jitsu as Royce was aligned with the Gracie Academy at this time.

Royce split with the Gracie Academy shortly after UFC 1 and remains highly critical
of the Gracie Acadmey. Ironically, he shares a strict adherence to Helio Gracie, but strongly disagrees with the Gracie Academy approach.

Royce on Gracie Academy’s Gracie University:

While the rest of the world outside of Brazil was forced play catch up with their submission grappling skills and when they did, Gracie Academies fighting emphasis became increasingly marginalized in that domain as well as in sportive competitions.
Their strict adherence to not cross training within even other grappling arts, much less striking and wrestling, was their downfall in MMA. Royce attempted to learn from mistakes and cross train, but was criticized by his half brother Relson Gracie. He felt that Royce for not following Helios methods as the reason he was losing.

Relson Gracie(son of Helio) on Royce Gracie (Son of Helio)

History demonstrated time and time again, you must be highly skilled in all aspects of the fight to be successful in MMA. While Royce attempted to evolve and still test himself in MMA, the Gracie Academy distanced themself from MMA rationalization was that the rules of Mixed Martial Arts did not allow their fighting style to become effective as rules, time limits and weight categories limited the effectiveness of their pure self defense art which has no rules.

As a result, there was a re-branding of sorts. Their Jiu-Jitsu was not only not for competitions, but Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was ideally suited for untrained attackers of any size. This was the justification both implied and stated for not participating in MMA or Jiu-Jitsu tournaments.

The logic is that untrained attackers react differently than trained attackers. Emphasis on sparring was reduced to reach out to additional demographics who were intimated by sparring and choreographed fighting movements was emphasized.

They started an online school, Gracie University, where no sparring was required to earn up until a brown belt. Additionally, they started a network of Certified Training Centers to all who are willing to attend a expensive seminar and memorize the movements, but not demonstrate an ability to do them against fully resisting opponents.

Here a Certified Training Center is run by a 16 year old blue belt:

Some discussion on Reddit about the issue:

Some shadyness going on at Certified Training Centers:

The current thought among many high level MMA practitioners (with some permutations) is do Jiu-Jitsu in all is to perfect the sport of wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai for exactly what they are. We subscribe to the view that Jiu-Jitsu is a very effective form of self defense, but cross training is necessary for high level fighting. Among elite MMA fighters, they might laugh that this is even still debated.

This article is very good about being well rounded and specifically addresses BJJ in part one:

There are many positions and techniques which will not apply in a fighting context that you will learn at a BJJ academy, but learning them increases your movement IQ. Having an open mind and learning everything is exactly what makes you highly skilled. One highly criticized “sport” position was the 50/50 guard which turned out to be highly effective and useful in MMA fights. When you know something, you can always choose not to use it if the circumstance allows but if you don’t know something, then you don’t know it!

50/50 is cutting edge in MMA, but everywhere in sport Jiu-Jitsu:

Innovations from competitive Jiu-Jitsu are not limited to this example.

Eddie Cummings is a Jiu Jitsu competitor whos understanding of heel hooks develop this technique to a high level:

All time “Sport” great Marcelo Garcia has completely reinvented Guillotine choke from its traditional method. Ironically, this is MMA competitor Jake Shields signature technique which he learned after losing to Marcelo Garcia via guillotine at ADCC! Also learning from Marcelo, top UFC competitor Cole Miller studied with and often finishes with the “Marcelotine”

Aside from MMA, the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has evolved tremendously in the last 20 years. The above Marcelotine is now regularly taught by progressive academies and is but a small example of the progression in this time period. There are tough competitors of all generations, but current champions competing against past champions would be roughly equivalent to the modern NFL player vs the NFL player of the 1950’s.

In response to the rapid evolution, many of the adaptable 2nd generation Gracie family members have attempted to select a focus. Carlson Gracie went on to have a huge impact on MMA with his legacy at Brazilian Top Team, American Top Team and Nova Uniao while others such as Carlos Gracie Jr. have gone on to be leaders in competitive Jiu-Jitsu. Those who have evolved became continued leaders in their fields. Those that have not were left behind.

Demonstrated time and time again, having a high level “sportive” background in any of MMA’s disciplines, can prove to be an effective platform from which to move to high level MMA. “Sport” Jiu-Jitsu should not be used as a pejorative. Fabricio Werdum, the UFC Heavyweight Champion, is one of the most decorated “sport” Jiu-Jitsu competitors of all time! Rafael Dos Anjos, current UFC lightweight champion, is also had his base in competitive Jiu-Jitsu. Jose Aldo, Demian Maia, Jacare Sousa and Beniel Darush are all sport Jiu-Jitsu competitors and represent at the upper elite of the sport!

Clearly, at very minimum practicing in the sport of Jiu-jitsu allows you access to the top competitors, training partners and instructors. If transitioning to MMA, certainly modifications to their Jiu-jitsu game needed to be done. What doesnt change is their understanding of the body, resistance, distance, base ect which made this a relatively seamless transition.

It is roughly equivalent to saying elite rock climber Isaac Caldiero wont do well on American Ninja Warrior because his discipline was rock climbing and not the specialized obstetrical course of the competition. He made special a training routine for the competition, but the bulk of his skills were acquired from a love rock climbing!

If you were to watch one video about the subject, watch this interview with Renzo Gracie on the subject which sums up most of the communities feelings, including ours, on the subject.