Your Gracie Jiu-Jitsu reboot with us!

In order to help our numerous martial arts and Jiu-Jitsu friends who live entirely or partially from teaching and whose existence depends on it, I have decided to open my training programs to them. Starting this autumn (2020), I will again be giving various training seminars in authentic Gracie Jiu-Jitsu throughout Europe, open to all styles and associations, which will be free of charge for them (as head-teachers).

Anyone who runs a martial arts school, and who, after training with me, decides to join us in the Carley Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Network Europe (CGJJNE, formerly Gracie Concepts HQ) with their Jiu-Jitsu students, will benefit fully from my years of knowledge and professional teaching experience to implement our years of proven Gracie Jiu-Jitsu teaching concept in your school.

There are three important points to remember and rules to follow if you wish to take this step:

  • once you become a certified Gracie Instructor, you will get an Annual Student License for each of your GJJ student;
  • as a certified Gracie Instructor, you will be required to adhere to the official CGJJNE Teaching Program and Teaching Guidelines;
  • even after the Basic CGJJNE Training (formerly Gracie Concepts-Fundamentals), you will continue to participate in our (free-of-charge but mandatory) advanced education courses as a Gracie Instructor.

Who are the future Gracie instructors?

I hope that they are the same people who are already active as Gracie Instructors with us today! Some of them have been training with us since 1995, such as my long-time friends and students, Professor André Stock and Full Instructor Jan Köthe of the BJJ Dino Team in Magdeburg, or Full Instructor Thomas Mehnert, Head of the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Team Berlin, as well as my two Greek representatives, Gracie Instructor Vasilis Spanidis and Gracie Trainer Nikos Spanidis. They are excellent role models, which in my opinion, embody professionalism, commitment, and leadership.

I can well imagine that many of the new instructor candidates already have a lot of experience in one or more martial arts, and even do or have try BJJ and/or Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, although this is not necessary. Our teaching program is designed so that anyone, regardless of their existing knowledge, can learn and master authentic Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, as well as Grandmaster Carlos and Hélio Gracie’s master student Pedro Hemetério, who passed it on to me.

I am also honored today to tell you that Grandmaster Carley Gracie, who learned from his father Carlos Senior, uncle Hélio Gracie, and from Grandmaster Pedro Hemetério, because at that time Master Pedro was the assistant of Grandmaster Hélio in Rio de Janeiro. So today I can guarantee you one hundred percent that our teaching program comes from the direct source of the Grandmasters and is not some homemade system. You also benefit from our know-how, which is certainly unique in Europe, and no other BJJ organization in Europe can show as much as we can. But let it be said again: with us you will learn authentic Gracie Jiu-Jitsu for self-defense and not MMA or sports BJJ!

Creating a solid foundation – the way to the Blue belt!

In the beginning you will attend the “Gracie Fundamentals”, which contain 23 lessons. After you have attended these first 23 lessons, you will receive a stripe on your white belt. Our students who complete this rotation at least three times in a row and master the basic CGJJNE techniques perfectly qualify for the White-blue belt. As a White-blue belt, you now begin the Intermediate program. Experience shows that the full Blue belt is achieved in about two to three years.

If you train in a CGJJNE partner school where no Black belt is yet a regular instructor, the Blue belt coach (or Purple or Brown belt trainer) will have to wait for some time before he can graduate his first Blue belt candidates. But do not panic, your training to become a certified Gracie Instructor is progressive and will accompany your class teaching. While you are teaching, you are also learning and practicing! How many training seminars you have to attend depends, of course, on how much time you will also invest back home, because at each reunion I will personally review you and together we will define the next steps and your next training period with me.

Not easy, but possible for everyone!

The first six months of a Gracie Jiu-Jitsuka are probably the most intense. Our Jiu-Jitsu is close to the body and practically from the first lesson on, it requires you to get involved with your training partners and start “measuring”. This friendly “measuring up” takes place in a safe place, which also leaves room to try out techniques without pressure.

Respectful interaction and collegiality are top priority and are a matter of course for every Jiu-Jitsuka. As a lone fighter you have no business here, because without a training partner you cannot practice! We do not have any katas or forms as you might know them from other martial arts, but we do have clearly defined practice drills.

It should always, and in the first months even more so, be trained with a lot of care and attention. For a technique to be performed correctly, it is important to execute it in a controlled and slow manner. No Jiu-Jitsu beginner can avoid the experience that it does not work otherwise, no matter how strong and athletic you are.

Over time, you will achieve both a better body awareness and a better sense of how to react and adapt to your training partner. This is also linked to another learning process, namely the correct use of strength and endurance, so that you do not run out of breath after one minute.

In the course of time you also learn to relax in your “Jiu-Jitsu game”. You develop your own strategy, which often resembles a chess master. Those who have already gained a good feeling for technique and tactics, go one step further and start to deceive their training partners with feints.

We are not an MMA school, but “Striking” is part of it!

Many people who come from a different martial art and come to us for the first time often want to know when the first punching and kicking techniques are trained. While authentic Gracie Jiu-Jitsu has a strong focus on grappling techniques, it may well be that a training session will be without striking techniques, giving the impression that they will be ignored in our system. But this impression would be completely wrong! We train punching and kicking techniques from the very beginning, both the active execution and the defenses.

During the training you are invited as a White belt (with at least two stripes) to put theory into practice. It will not always work the same way, because there is still a lack of experience. But nobody demands that it works one hundred percent immediately. After the first trainings you go home with the feeling as if you had been run over by a bulldozer. Beginners with a big ego tend to go home frustrated!

It does not matter if you have won or lost in “Randori” (Japanese for free practice). However, the experience gained during training will determine whether you continue the Gracie Way. So, the challenge is not least to have fun and enjoyment. Walking out of the training with your head held high and being aware that you have learned something new – that is what it is all about! Even if it is only small movements, small steps that you have learned.

How water flows – The first step to the advanced…

As a Blue-belt, you have now gained a solid foundation in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and gained important initial experience. Now it is important to understand when and how to apply the techniques to an opponent who has similar skills. We want to use combination exercises to deepen the basic techniques on the one hand, and on the other, to establish the connection to outwit an opponent who is equally strong or better.

At this higher level it is required that you develop a certain finesse and play your own “Jiu-Jitsu game”. If new techniques are learned – which of course will be the case – the basic techniques must not simply be pushed into the background, but must continue to be integrated, practiced, and improved regularly.

The name Gracie is more than just a brand!

The name Gracie has become an important brand not only in the martial arts scene today because it was made famous by the UFC and other MMA events. The Gracie Jiu-Jitsu that we (Vacirca Brothers) brought to Europe in early 90s is something to be proud of and we will continue to work extremely hard to keep it that way in the years to come. Thanks to our CGJJNE partner schools, which help us to maintain this vision and serve as excellent references around the world, we will certainly be able to expand and train more excellent Gracie instructors and open additional partner schools.

Closing words and my contact!

Let me just mention that even a certified Gracie Instructor is not an unapproachable guru and all-knowing! Problems or difficulties are there to be discussed with the instructor and training colleagues – and to find solutions together! The origin, skin color, political views, religious affiliation, etc. of everyone is not important to us, because the Tatame is all about sharing with others, learning, and having a good time together.

If today, through this article, I can encourage you to visit us soon, please send me an e-mail to the following address vacircabrothersjiujitsu@gmail.com and feel free to visit our network homepage at www.graciejiujitsu.eu. There you will find the upcoming seminar dates and lots of useful information. Of course, my seminars remain open to all interested parties, no matter if you are a beginner or a professional, and independent if you are a headteacher or a student! I look forward to getting to know you soon.

Stay strong and healthy!
~Franco Vacirca

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