Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh 2011 Recap

Two thousand twelve is here! The past year went really fast for me so writing this was a nice way to reflect on all the good memories. Challenges overcome are always good memories so I’ll start with those. The toughest challenges were thrown at guys most of us respect. First, Lance Thompson had a very serious injury last December. I’ve heard that the number one reason purple belts don’t move up the ranks is due to injuries. This is understandable having had one myself. It is amazing how such an obstacle can change your mental state. Injuries give some people a powerful reason to quit something, even when it is positive for them. Lance underwent surgery and came back even better than when he left! Mike Wilkins faced a different kind of challenge. After establishing himself as one of the areas best amateur MMA fighters, he decided to step up a level and go professional against the advice of the armchair critics and other people involved in mixed martial arts. He finally got a fight in Costa Rica. He lost at the very end of the first round (which he dominated) to a submission. It was a difficult way to lose after spending almost a year on improving his grappling. The critics and naysayers were vindicated, right? Wrong. Mike came back and had a dominating win in his first official pro fight right here in Pennsylvania. Heather Wiederstein also came back from injuries and losses. Read More

New to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? What to expect Q & A

Q: What should I do if I would like to try a Jiu-Jitsu classes, fitness, and/or a private class? A: Fill out the simple contact form found on our webpage. Someone will get in touch with you soon. You can write to us on the contact form  with any questions that you may have. You will  find  our instructors and members are happy to answer any questions. Most importantly, just take the first step and contact us. It has the potential to start a very rewarding journey and there is no risk or pressure. Q: What should I do once I arrive? A: Introduce yourself to the instructor, fill out the participation waiver completely, tell the instructor a little about yourself and your background in athletics and martial arts, if any, and ask questions. Read More

Watching a Cagefight

I first met Mike Wilkins at Mad Dog Gym a few years ago. It’s a little gym in the back corner of a tattoo parlor. Inside, you’ll find mats, punching bags, and screaming death metal. I was new to the world of MMA, and in between getting slammed, spraining my neck, and being caught in bicep slicers on a nightly basis I met Mike. He was a friendly guy with an oddly likeable alpha-male persona. These days, we train together at the Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh Academy in Lawrenceville. Read More

A Quick Insight Into BJJ Competition

Competition plays a huge role in every sport, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is no exception. On October 15, 2011, several members of RGA Pittsburgh put their skills to the test at the 5th Annual Western PA Grappling Championships. Afterwards, I got the chance to interview one of our white belt competitors, Jonas Rubiano, and pick his brain about the experience. Read More

Shawn Williams Seminar (Aug. 19-20 2011)

This past weekend members of Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh were treated to not one, but two days of instruction from one of the greatest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu teachers in the world, Shawn Williams. A second degree black belt, Shawn has been studying the art since September 1996. Being only the fifth American in history to obtain a black belt, he graduated under the tutelage of Renzo Gracie himself. Shawn’s long list of accomplishments include medalling in prestigious competitions such as the ADCC trials and Grappler’s Quest. He even created his own variation of the high/rubber guard, dubbed the “Williams Guard.” Read More

Igor Gracie Seminar (07-09-2011)

Today was a very special day at Renzo Gracie Pittsburgh. This morning around 11:30 a.m., twenty two jiu-jitsu students assembled at the academy in Lawrenceville and eagerly awaited the arrival of Igor Gracie; a member of the legendary family who pioneered the sport and art we happily devote so much of our time to. The moment he walked through the door, an empowering aura washed over the room. It instantly felt as though all of us there had realized we were part of something much greater than ourselves. Right away I knew the students attending, including myself, were in for an enlightening experience that would forever impact the way we practice jiu-jitsu. Read More

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. Read More