Building a Community with Integrity Through Jiu-Jitsu

Over the past couple of decades, Jiu-Jitsu has grown into a large global community.  For this month’s blog, we talked to Professor Bruno Fernandes about what it means to him to build a community with integrity. Professor Bruno is a 5th-degree black belt and a recent recipient of the Legacy Hall Award for 25 years of commitment to Gracie Barra. He started his Jiu-Jitsu journey at 11 years old. He moved to Barra di Tijuca at age 15 and trained with Master Carlos Gracie Jr. at the original Gracie Barra School.

Professor Bruno wins a gold medal at the 2013 Australian Nationals

Professor Bruno has been a pioneer for the spread of Jiu-Jitsu and an integral part of building the Gracie Barra family in Quebec, Canada, since he opened his school in Montreal in 2010. Professor Bruno has also served as the head of GB Wear Canada and currently is the Director of Gracie Barra Association for Quebec, Canada.


In addition to being a school owner and having executive responsibilities for GB, Profesor Bruno is also a doctor, although he does not see patients anymore. Another exciting fact about Professor Bruno is that the former UFC Champion Georges St-Pierre received his black belt from Professor Bruno in 2008 during the height of St-Pierre’s UFC success.

Bruno Fernandes & Georges St-Pierre

Professor Bruno has an inspiring view of what it means to build a community. He delivered a Ted Talk on the topic, which is eye-opening to the mindset he brings to his students and Gracie Barra. Professor Bruno discusses how being part of a Jiu-Jitsu community brings about a unique situation that plots two individuals against each other in a match and promotes both individuals’ development. He explains how this is unique to Jiu-Jitsu. In most sports in the world, there is a selection process that says, “if you get it, I won’t.” So, there is essentially no motivation to help each other get better.

Collaboration: The new competition | Bruno Fernandes | TEDxHECMontréal

How does fighting a tough opponent, at the risk of loss, make you better, you might ask? The better question might be: how do we improve as Jiu-Jitsu practitioners if we don’t fight challenging opponents? And to further that idea, if we are genuinely interested in self-improvement, shouldn’t we also be invested in improving our opponents?  The only way to continue to develop our technique is to continue to fight opponents that challenge us.

Professor Bruno describes that building a community with integrity requires us to consider what is good for both the individual and the group. He states, “Remember, you are not helping others just because it is the right thing to do, or it feels good. But because it is of benefit to you to be part of a better team.” This thought describes a win-win outcome where everyone benefits when each individual improves.

“There is no point to being the best sailor on a sinking ship.”


To further his conviction on the topic of community, he states, “There is no point to being the best sailor on a sinking ship.” What is the benefit of being in the lead of a failing community? The answer is that there isn’t a benefit other than feeding an individual’s ego. He firmly believes that “There is no reason to put everyone down in order to come in first.” Every person has an important role to play within a community.

This mindset around community building is an asset to Gracie Barra and a source of inspiration for others to learn. It is also foundational to the philosophy that Master Carlos Gracie Jr. teaches and the Jiu-Jitsu for Everyone movement.

Master Carlos Gracie Jr. & Professor Bruno Fernandes

When asked what he is most proud of over the years with GB and his goals for the future, Professor Bruno stated, “Consistency!” He teaches three classes a week and has taught those three same classes for years. He holds that commitment to his students, and himself, as the highest priority.  

He says that teaching and training three times per week are “non-negotiable” for him. He believes that this consistency inspires others to be consistent as well. At whatever level they choose. He feels it is better to be consistent three times a week, then sometimes go five and sometimes none.   


Even as life and increasing responsibilities pull on him, that consistency is key to the three values of Gracie Barra for him. He feels and builds the Brotherhood/Sisterhood with his students during this time. He shows integrity by being accountable, showing up, and being an example of what consistency can do for you, all for his students. Through these GB3 classes he instructs, Professor Bruno continues to develop himself and his student’s Jiu-Jitsu to higher levels.


Professor Bruno is proud of what he has accomplished. He enjoys “having a positive impact on people’s lives and using Jiu-Jitsu as the tool.” He explains that although he teaches consistency as a rule, when life happens, and his students must take a break from training, he strives for his school always to be a place they can come back to without the risk of ridicule.

Gracie Barra World Summit 2019

Thank you, Professor Bruno, for your many years of teaching and dedication to Gracie Barra! We know that we are all the better for it.

Want to learn more about the Gracie Barra Value of Integrity? Read this blog about what integrity means to Professor Marcio Feitosa as a competitive athlete and instructor. 

Blog Written by Dawn Korsen, a Gracie Barra Brown Belt