There was never a specific aim to start UK BJJ, i just wanted to teach people as well as id been taught- Mauricie 'Motta' Gomes
If ever there was a model for the Jiu Jitsu lifestyle then Rolls Gracie was it, son of the founder, Carlos Gracie, and an instructor at the Gracie Academy, his passion for life and Jiu Jitsu was unquestionable - inspiring people on and off the mat everywhere he travelled. Rolls is widely credited with introducing many new aspects to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu including wrestling and open guard techniques. Before his untimely death on the 6th June 1982 he had promoted just 6 black belts (commonly referred to as the famous five) these were:
Mauricio 'Motta' Gomes, Ronaldo 'Jacare' Calvacanti, Marcio 'Maccarao' Stambowsky, Nicin Azulay, Paulo Conde and Talarico.
After Rolls died the Bjj world mourned with some students never returning to training altogether. For Mauricio Gomes it changed his training from a serious endeavour to a recreational pass time, it remained this until he received a phone call in 1997 from Carlos Gracie jr. 'Carlinhos', the son of the founder of Bjj and head of the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF), Carlinhos wanted Mauricio to help with a project in Japan teaching Bjj in Tokyo as they needed people who spoke good English.
Mauricio began teaching in Japan in early '98 for 3 months; Marcio Feitosa then took over for just short of 3 months while Mauricio went to Hawaii to compete in his last competition The Pan Ams masters and seniors where he won Gold. Mauricio returned to Japan to continue teaching for a further 3 months when an English student training out there invited him to start teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the U.K. With no language barriers and also no Bjj to speak of the U.K offered a good opportunity.
Mauricio arrived in Birmingham towards the end of 1998; he worked tirelessly teaching in Birmingham and also Every weekend travelling around the country teaching seminars from north to south to introduce Bjj to the U.K. This continued until 2000 by which time Gracie Barra UK had been established. As affiliations to Gracie Barra grew Mauricio decided he wanted to teach rather than run the administration that comes with so many affiliates and closed down Gracie Barra UK and handed back Gracie Barra affiliation issues to Carlinhos' control.
Mauricio returned to Brazil to arrange some visa issues then travelled back to the UK and began teaching in London at the Queen Victoria Leisure Centre which didn't have ideal facilities and thus moved to Club Kensington in High St. Kensington and also set up a class at Seymour Leisure Centre near Marylebone Station. In 2001 The Third Space Gym in Piccadilly offered the opportunity for Mauricio to teach in a purpose built facility. Seymour Leisure Centre classes were passed to Roger Brooking, an Alliance team Black Belt who had British parents but had grown up in Brazil (these classes have since been discontinued as Roger Brooking gave up teaching Bjj).
Through 2001 classes continued at Third Space and Club Kensington until Mauricio stopped classes at the Third Space in 2002 because the location and costs of the gym to members would limit the growth of Bjj in the UK. Also in 2001 Mauricio met Marc Walder at Club Kensington during a training session. Marc had been training for a while in Bjj and had spent some time out in Torrance on a number of occasions at the Gracie Academy learning from Rorion Gracie and other instructors at the academy. Marc was a blue belt at the time with his training being overseen by Royce Gracie but as Royce was making a return to professional fighting and all the way over in the U.S.A it was a lot more practical to continue his training under the guidance of Mauricio, the two became friends and Mauricio still has input on Marc's training to this day, and Marc organised a competition in honour of Mauricio known as the Mestre Gomes Cup.
Throughout 2002 Bjj classes at Club Kensington continued on a daily basis, Mauricio returned to Brazil on family business but in his absence many top Bjj players and coaches made the journey to the UK to keep his classes running, a testament to the respect felt for Mauricio (among these players was Mauricio's son Roger Gomes Gracie). Roger, now world famous for his grappling abilities, was a brown belt at the time, but not long after he began to teach in the UK he received his Black Belt from his cousin Renzo Gracie whilst in New York in 2003. In the same year classes expanded to the Budokwai the oldest Judo dojo in the UK and famous in its own right, producing many British Olympians over the years and credited with a forward thinking approach to its sport - the introduction of Bjj classes there are a testament to this. There had previously been some Bjj classes at the Budokwai at the tail end of the 90's but many who trained at these classes all seem to agree that they weren't of the same high standard of the ones introduced there by Mauricio and his group of high calibre training staff and was probably the reason for them being previously discontinued.
Roger Gracie made the UK his permanent residence and was soon offered an opportunity by a student of his fathers - Steve Finan - to start a full time Bjj Academy in a disused building in Ladbroke Grove. Roger worked tirelessly to transform the empty shell of a building into a full time purpose built Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy. Roger Gracie
February 2004 The Roger Gracie Academy (RGA) opened its doors and a new era for UK Bjj began, classes at Club Kensington ceased but the Budokwai classes remain to this day being taught by RGA instructors.
1st October 2005 the first UK Black Belts were promoted at the Roger Gracie Academy by Mauricio with Roger in attendance, these were: Jude Samuel, Marc Walder and Rick Young.
RGA is now the biggest and busiest Bjj school in Europe and now with affiliation programs in progress and RGA2 just opening at time of writing (Jan 2009) the future of UK Bjj is looking brighter by the day - Mauricio Gomes, one of the famous 5, lit the fire and now it is spreading at a rate that maybe even he did not foresee -
Uk BJJ Time Line
|1998||Mauricio Moves to the U.K (Birmingham)|
|2000||Gracie Barra U.K Established|
|2001||3rd Space discontinued|
|2004||The Roger Gracie Academy Opens|
|2005||First UK Black Belts Promoted|
|2005||Roger wins double gold at ADCC|
|2007||Roger wins Double Gold IBJJF Worlds|
|2009||Roger wins Double Gold IBJJF Worlds|
|2010||Roger wins Double Gold IBJJF Worlds|
|2009||First Bjj British Championships held|
|2011||First Ibjjf tournament held in UK The London Open|