It was on the 14th of August, 2003, when I first arrived in Europe to teach, that I decided to open the RGC. First I was doing seminars in north of England and Holland, but in October I moved down to London and started to give grappling classes inside SOAS University of London.
As a requirement to keep the slots in the University’s gym, I registered the RGC as a student society and soon after my first students came from diferent parts of Europe, things picked up but in the beginning it was only me and my guys in that small basement gym.
Then my friend and black belt Mauro Chueng moved to Portugal and I invited him to be part of our network, which he promptly accepted. Mauro is a great grappler and teacher and that motivated me even more.
Soon afterwards he was followed by another of my friends, Alex Britto, that teaches in West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA. So what started as a good idea but was basically only me and my students, was already growing fast.
One of my best students in London, Krys Kwiecien, moved back to Poland and asked to be part of our club. At that time I was already working together with Steve Haydock from Surrey, as well as visiting Scotland on a regular base. There I met Peter Richardson, a black belt in Judo from Aberdeen and very fond of ground work that joined our association.
So things started to look good, we were 3 good black belts in 3 countries and a few schools that were working with me in Poland, England and Scotland, but London was crowded with too many BJJ schools and I was fed up with the weather and living costs.
I decided to move to another country and chose Holland. There I met my friend and ex-rival in the purple belt divisions long time ago, Marcos Flexa. He was teaching once a week in a place in Amsterdam and invited me to teach along with him. We then started the RGC in Holland but I kept visiting England, Scotland and Poland to keep my guys motivated. After a few months in Holland, I believed the market was not enough and decided to let Flexa run the classes and started traveling to make our network grow and be able to reach more and more people in as many countries as possible, in and outside the association.
Three years later, I was in Canada, and the Rio Grappling Club was in its third anniversary growing in quantity and quality.
We now have 5 clubs in 8 diferent cities in Poland, 3 clubs in Scotland, 3 in the USA, 2 in England, 3 in Brasil, 1 in Italy, 1 in Portugal, 1 in Holland, 1 in Canada and we are 6 black belts [2 in Brasil (Marcos Chuck and Rob Machado), 1 in US (Alex Britto), 2 in Europe (Mauro Chueng and Marcos Flexa) and myself on the road], as well as many good guys under our guidance, totalling more than 250 students sharing the same goal.
I gotta be optimistic as I did not expect to see what started as my dream to be growing so fast, we are still far behind the big BJJ clubs, but we will not stop until we are the best grappling association in the world.
We are currently spreading across Europe, North and South Americas, but we hope to reach Africa, Oceania and Asia someday. It might take us a while to get there, but we will keep working very hard to achieve that and much more.
Our goal is to keep the BJJ roots, without watering down the quality unlike many associations that only focus in growing to make more money. For us, BJJ is more than a business, its our way of life, our philosophy, and we aim not to be the biggest, but to be the best.