Meet Professor Sebastien Garnier GB Marseille – France

Meet Professor Sebastien Garnier who is growing the sport and art of Jiu-Jitsu in France and representing the Red Shield.
Jiu-Jitsu helps a lot of students to build resilience, to regulate their ego, and step by step showing them how to reach their best potential inside and outside the mats.
GB Online caught up with Prof. Sebastien to talk about his start with GB, the challenges of growing Jiu-Jitsu in France, and the positive effect of jiu-jitsu on his students.
GB: Let’s start by introducing you to the GB Online readers. How did you start training Jiu-Jitsu and where is your home Gracie Barra school?
Prof. Sebastien:  Hello Team, I am Professor Sebastien Garnier, Project Manager of Gracie Barra Europe and school owner of GB Marseille, France. I’m pleased to share a little bit of my story with you all. I started Jiu-Jitsu with Professor Helio Pereira at Gracie Barra Luanda, Angola (Africa). My Professor, who got his black belt from Roger Gracie, has always had a strong connection with the most iconic GB Professors and Master Carlos Gracie Jr. himself. I believe this helped me to have a deep understanding of the amazing purpose of Gracie Barra, and it encouraged me to follow the path and to open a Gracie Barra school while giving my contribution to the development of Gracie Barra. After spending 10 years in Angola, I decided, after I got my black belt in 2016, to move back to France and open a Gracie Barra school in Marseille where I was born. This was a huge step in my life, a new start for me and my family.
Before I flew back to France, I remember my professor telling me “Wherever you’ll go, it will be a successful school. Just apply the methodology and respect the purpose of Gracie Barra.”
3 months after I opened my school, we already had 130 students. GB Marseille has today more than 280 students, and more schools are soon coming in 2021 Marseille. In 2017, I joined the Gracie Barra Europe team as Project Manager, working hand in hand with Professor Victor Estima to promote the development of Gracie Barra in Europe.
GB: You are the head instructor for Gracie Barra in Marseille, France. What are the experience level and state of growth of BJJ in France? Are there many French black belts? Do many people in France understand what Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu is?
Prof. Sebastien: Opening a GB school in France was a true challenge. In fact, most the people always thought it was impossible to run a successful GB school in France and live from it. Sports in France have always been non-profit-organizations based, which represents a true challenge to live from Jiu-Jitsu school. I remember that when I get there, there were few GB schools, maybe 5 or 6, but almost no one was living from their schools and fully applying the GB methodology. Professors used to run their schools more as a hobby in a non-profit organization way. So we decided to organize a Gracie Barra Regional Conference with Professor Victor Estima in order to gather all the Professors and to try to reinforce that when applying the GB methodology at 100% and focusing on the « Jiu-Jitsu for Everyone ».
Professor Julien Cazier, the school owner of GB Paris, was actually the only one to stay in Gracie Barra. Professor was the only one already applying the methodology and embracing the mission of Gracie Barra. Today he is running a successful school in Paris, and just opened his second school. This is a strong example, that when we use the Gracie Barra intelligent networks, work as a team to promote the vision of Master Carlos Gracie Jr., it leads to success. I believe Gracie Barra has never been so strong and united in France as today.
GB: Can you talk about how Jiu-Jitsu has a positive effect on the lives of your students? Is there a student success story that you can share with us?
Prof. Sebastien: I always use to share with my students that Jiu-Jitsu is true therapy for all of us. It helps you to develop a strong but flexible mindset because it reproduces a metaphorical representation of the all struggles you can go through in life and show you how to better face them, analyze them, embrace them to better fix them. Whenever you are having struggles in life, remember this time you are in this bad spot in the fight. Will you give up before the time is over? We usually don’t. We like to fight until the end, even if we are under the mount, the pressure, even if the choke is on, we don’t give up and we try to stay calm to find the better way to escape and revert the situation.
What if the time is over? Are we willing to try again? Will we come back tomorrow to give a new try? I think it helps a lot of students to build resilience, to regulate their ego, and step by step showing them how to reach their best potential inside and outside the mats. They get better at embracing the problems, nurturing their fighting spirit in a no-quitting attitude, and be healthier. I believe the Gracie Barra environment helps all of us to develop strong values, cooperation, family spirit, and naturally, we start sharing with others what Jiu-Jitsu and Gracie Barra has brought in our life.
Every time a parent comes to me to tell me that his kid is more focused, that his kid is not acceptable to be bullied, that his kid is showing more confidence, this is a success story. Every time a student overcome his struggles thanks to a better resilience, every time a student comes back to the mats happy to embrace the Jiu-Jitsu mindset, every time a student comes to me saying he wants to live from Jiu-Jitsu and open a Gracie Barra school, in all those occasions this is a success story. It actually happens every day.
See also: Gracie Barra Kids Jiu-jitsu with Prof. Bryan Waltz
Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Asia