Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu for Everyone
– A Report from Texas-
By Prof. Flavio Almeida
Houston, TX – April 24th, 2012
I’m coming back from a 10 days trip to Texas. In many ways, Professor Marcio Feitosa and I were working on the implementation of Master Carlos Gracie Jr.’s vision in the area.
Over the past 4 years, Some of GB’s greatest leaders have settled in Texas. The state presents incredible opportunities. Its economic strength and a culture that seems to be tuned with the Jiu-Jitsu Lifestyle make the environment very fertile for GBs efforts. It very inspiring and rewarding to contemplate the focus and determined of our leaders. They measure no efforts in promoting the art of Jiu-Jitsu on their communities.
The trip started in Austin, an amazing place by the way.
Back in 2010, professor Feitosa came up with this crazy plan to start a new cluster of GB schools there. I have to admit I was doubtful for a while but Marcio proved one more time that impossible is nothing. He partnered up with the right people and we now have 5 schools and over 500 students in the area.
The GB Austin seminar was full with highly motivated Jiu-Jitsu students. The dream came true. I could see on Marcio’s eyes excitement and appreciation. Austin is a important case study on the Jiu-Jitsu for Everyone project. It proves is possible to replicate the cluster of schools GB established in Calfornia.
We took time to visit most of our locations in the area. It was amazing To see how much Gracie Barra’s systems and methods deliver when combined with a hard working leader of strong character.
The drive from Austin to Houston was a remarkable moment of our trip. Behind us were all gracie barra’s accomplishments in the capital of the state and ahead of us the I GB Regional Conference.
The event was scheduled for friday the Hyatt in Downtown Houston and we were obviously anxious for the historical moment. It was going to be the 1st official business meeting GB ever hosted and that was throwing us totally outside if our comfort zone.
On the road, Marcio and I talked a lot about the legacy the Gracie Family handed down to us and the challenges in making Carlos Gracie Sr. Original dream of teaching BJJ to all people come true.
Knowing we were so tightly connected with the dream of the father of Jiu-Jitsu gave us the confidence we needed to get things done leading up to the conference.
We arrived in Houston a couple hours before a seminar at GB Westchase. A quick pause for a nap and we were ready to teach and train after the 4 hours drive.
Our westchase school is awesome! Professor Ulpiano Malachias and his team are a prime example of dedication, discipline, loyalty and focus. All that probably explains why they have accomplished the amazing 250 students mark in less then 1 year.
Next day, we went to see Dracu at GB Texas, our Regional Headquarters. I have always enjoyed my times with Professor Vinicius Dracolino Magalhães. He represents so much of our tradition and, needless to say, he is a very strong leader with words of wisdom to be listened.
His love support for our people here have made Gracie Barra the strongest JJ Team in Texas in many different ways.
Dracu is also a product of his consistent routine. It is inspiring to observe how he built a balanced lifestyle managing to be our regional director, family man, instructor, school owner, and fighter. Moreover, The man is in great shape and…yes he took me to the same exact sushi place we went 2 years ago when I came in for a seminar. He eats there pretty much everyday.
Back at the hotel, Marcio and I spent the next 18 hours preparing the conference with a few hours of sleep. We were on that pre-tournament mental state when the adrenaline keeps you focused and paying attention to all details.
With exception of me destroying the agenda by talking too much, the conference went really well. We put a lot of time discussing what we call ” The Jiu-Jitsu for Everyone Project”. I dedicated most of the presentation to explaining the WIIFM ( what is in it for me) for the most important agent in the process: the GB Instructor. We ended the meeting with a better understanding of how the work done by Gracie Barra supports the work of the instructors and other staff from our schools.
I concluded the 2 hours presentation by demonstrating Gracie Barra’s plan to build thousands of GB schools worldwide.
This is going to require group effort never seen in the history of martial arts. It will demand discipline and self sacrifice but it will also uncover unprecedented opportunities for JJ instructors, investors, managers, and business people to contribute to a great cause while having a very interesting return for their efforts.
Jiu-Jitsu for everyone is not only GB’s new motto, it is a cause. It originates on Carlos Gracie Sr.’s dream and belongs to all people who dedicate their lives to the gentle art. Gracie Barra is not the “owner” of this movement but we are certainly leading the way in promoting it. Our organizational infra-structure is paving the road for now hundreds and in the future thousands of BJJ professionals to achieve personal success by teaching Jiu-Jitsu on cities across the globe.
The conference achieved its goal. It brought our team together in a way that we could never do over emails, webinars and phone calls.
For me, the highlight of the event was during Professor Dracolino’s speech. I saw one of the bravest men I know with tears on his eyes when analyzing how far Gracie Barra has come and remembering his relationship with his instructor, GB’s founder, Master Carlos Gracie Jr.
That moment was emotional for all people in the room and reminded me of Master Renzo Gracie that had the same exact reaction on a belt ceremony when recalling his relationship with Carlinhos.
The Texas trip went on with more seminars on some of our schools in the Houston area. Saturday we went to GB Katy where a great friend, Professor Ted Stickel, is a head is instructor and co-owner.
There we found again another evidence of the power of GBs brand, systems and methods combined with a team of hardworking people. I saw his monthly stats and they had over 40 new members joining in march. 80% of those came for JJ and the rest was a split between fitness and other martial arts programs offered at that location.
On Sunday, we went to the last stop on our trip: GB the woodlands. The seminar was awesome and even better was the great training with Professor Todd Moore and all students at the end.
I found it really interesting to see how fast the GB north Houston team applied some of the key social media concepts discussed a few days earlier at the conference. Tweets and YouTube videos were popping up like crazy and still are.
I go back to Cali enjoying the feeling of mission accomplished but challenged by the shortcomings pointed by our Texas team members. The GB Association needs to do a better job communicating with our leaders and getting them more involvement on the implementation of the new tools we are developing all the time.
I’m also dedicating a portion of my mental energy in figuring out how we can take a more regionalized approach to marketing and promotions on the school level.
Looking forward to get things done and to learn more on the upcoming conferences in orlando and Orange County.
See you on the mats.
P.s here are some cool videos we shot while in Texas.