2012 Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh Jiu Jitsu Recap

2012 Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh Jiu Jitsu Recap

This one was harder for me to write than the recaps for our first two years.  This is not because 2012 was a bad year.  It was our best so far.   The reason, I think, is that I’m so focused on looking ahead.  In my mind are all the plans for Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh Academy’s new space in The Strip.  Along with the building we have new instructors and new programs being initiated.  It has been three years since we opened the first class during the 2010 snowstorm.  Although going forward is our focus let’s take a couple of minutes to look at what we have built focusing on last year.  2012 should give us confidence that we have a strong foundation that will keep getting better this year.


One of the things that really stand out in my memory and shows in my jiu-jitsu game is that Daniel Gracie visited us and stayed with us several times in 2012.    He shared his years of knowledge and competitive experience for two weeks teaching classes in March.  He visited two more times and did three special seminars for us.  The nogi guard-passing seminar was amazing for the advanced guys.  We learned twelve battle-tested techniques and some strategies for making them work.   Marcio “Macarrao” Stambowsky, the highest belt-ranking instructor teaching in the Northeast, did a great seminar for us as well.  He focused on wristlocks as a strategy to stop guard passing and attack. He also showed us a great “Gymnastica Natural” based warm-up.  He showed us some self defense based techniques as well.  Right at the end of 2012, Garry Tonon (voted one of the worlds best brown belts at any weight) did a seminar for us.  Garry showed us new cutting edge techniques all to benefit the Red Cross’s Charity for Hurricane Sandy relief.  I also did a charity seminar this year in San Jose, Costa Rica benefiting disadvantaged children in the country that gave me so much in the way of great jiu-jitsu training.


Some of our competitive highlights include, in chronological order:

  • Lance Thompson 2nd place purple belt adult in IBJJF NY Open.  This is a great tournament finish! Purple belt is so tough.  No one from other schools in the area can claim a finish in purple belt at such a top-level event.
  • Mike Wilkins got his second pro MMA win this summer.
  • Jonas Rubiano and Dino Juklo both got there first amateur MMA wins.
  • Mike Flor won his divisions at the Kumite Klassic
  • RJ Sache and Bob Demmler got blue belt wins at Steel City’s martial arts tournament
  • Dean Lewis won IBJJF Pan Nogi!  This is a top tier tournament.  Dean showed that he is the best blue belt around.  Look for him in some tournaments coming soon.  Mike Flor also won his weight at the Pans in the masters division.
  • Logan Stout won the absolute at Pitt’s grappling tournament.


That’s a nice list!  For those of you who enjoy competing, let’s get out and compete more this year.  No one remembers the ones you lose.  They only teach you how to be better.  The more we compete, the more we learn.  We have a great team to support us including the other teachers in the Renzo Gracie Association in NYC, Brazil and other places.  We have great training partners to keep us getting better.


We also had many promotions to blue belt this year as well as two youth members earning their orange belts.  Check out our academy facebook page to see photos of all of our belt promotions.


We had some fun social events.  Everyone who stayed until the end of the summer barbecue remember Douggie P’s antics.  Anthony, thank you for hosting us, and the keg, after the barbecue to watch the Strikeforce fights where Roger Gracie dominated Jardine. Bowling night was fun also.  We established that I’m the worst bowler of the academy.  The end of the year party was really fun.  We had over 50 people there this year, up from about 30 in 2011.  The location was more fun also.  We had lots of other informal get-togethers to watch fights and jiu-jitsu tournaments.  It is so important that we enjoy doing things as a group outside of the Academy.  As people get more and more fragmented, isolated and specialized it becomes more important to have something universal to share.  Jiu-jitsu is that thing for many of our members and for me.  Our membership almost doubled from the year before.


Let’s get ready for even more growth and good things this year.