Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh 2010 Recap
The new year is here! Looking back on our first year I am surprised at how well it has gone. First of all we have grown in membership from zero to the point where some of our classes are full! From my experience with other academies once the the membership numbers that we have now are reached academies only grow exponentially. This means new workout partners, new friends, and a solid business base. The later should allow us to do more fun extra events such as our trip to NYC and the main Renzo Gracie Academy last July. We had a few other members who where not along for the July trip, individually take advantage of the training at the main school. At Renzo Gracie NYC world champions including two current ufc champions (Edgar and St. Pierre), two of the best jiu jitsu competitors of all times (Roger Gracie and Braulio Estima) as well as many other world level competitors train regularly. While in NYC we had some belt promotions. Logan Stout, Noah Nieman, and Mike Wilkins where awarded blue belts. All of them had at least a year of training in jiu jitsu before starting at RGA Pittsburgh academy, lots of talent, and where long overdue promotions (sandbaggers!!!). Lance Thompson was awarded his purple after only about two and a half years of training including his first year and a half at Steel City (another BJJ academy located South of RGA Pittsburgh). I had the great honor of getting my Black Belt from Renzo Gracie himself with many other of my teachers, friends, and mentors including Shawn Williams, John Danaher, Daniel Gracie, and the Brothers Rolles, Igor, and Gregor Gracie there supporting me. Rolles, it has been a lot of living passing since Cuiaba, Brazil, for me (probably for both of us) but Jiu jitsu has been a constant. Thank you Renzo and thank you to my students and training partners including past and present in Brazil, Costa Rica, California, State College, and now Pittsburgh for helping me past this milestone. We had two other belt promotions including Anthony Previte (officially the second person to join RGA Pittsburgh). Anthony was my first belt promotion. Earlier Daniel Gracie awarded talented Lucas Burdette his Blue Belt as well.
We had two seminars last year. The first was with Gregor Gracie. Gregor is a young competitor and I think embodies the “Battle of Life” quote we have on the wall of the academy. He is “in the arena”. Gregor won his last mma fight against a seasoned opponent. At the seminar he showed us some great stuff and trained with everyone. For our official opening we had Daniel Gracie in August. His personality as well as his obvious passion for teaching inspired me and other members to a greater level of appreciation for jiu jitsu. We look forward to having both of these guys again in 2011. Thank you to members of other academies who attended and gave us the chance to train with you during the seminars. Special thanks to Dan Hyman, Rory, and Gary Smith for coming all the way from California for our opening and for Daniel’s seminar. You guys showed some great stuff as well. Also, hopefully Kristel makes another cake for us sometime. The logo cake as nice and tasty too.
Some of our members competed in jiu jitsu, wrestling, and mixed martial arts. As with most competitions it was not always winning but the experiences enriched our learning process on many levels. We did have some good success. Scott Rendos who, has since relocated to Florida, had two amature MMA wins while training at our academy. I was able to win my amature MMA debute at Yankee lake, up a wt to 185lbs against a tough opponent who was slated to fight for that organization’s tile fight. I also won the WKA amature/novice mma tournament at 170lbs in Virgina posting 3 wins including one by submission in the quarterfinals. Mike Wilkins fought to defend his “Cage of Chaos” title at 155lbs. He fought the fight of the night against a skilled and tough opponent. He was on the wrong end of maybe the worst decisions I have seen in my years of watching MMA. That said both he and his opponent Josh Baker fought great fights.
To sum up the year I will say that we have a great base including technique, business, and, most of all because of the quality of dedicated members that we have attracted, in order to have a great 2011! Check the class schedule. Join our facebook page Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh. Look for more blogs coming soon. See you at the academy.