Carlos Ramirez had never heard of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu when his friend asked him to join a class taught at the Gracie Academy in Coral Gables. It has been 10 years since the Miami Lakes native had his first class and now he is opening his own Gracie Academy in the Cypress Village Shopping Center in Miami Lakes.
Classes have already begun but an official grand opening will take place on Saturday, December 6 at 2 p.m. with a live demonstration by Master Rilion Gracie and the opportunity to win a free six month membership.
Since his first encounter with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Ramirez has grown to have deep appreciation and respect for the art, enough so to start his own studio with Rilion Gracie's blessing, son of Carlos Gracie, one of the founders of the Brazilian style Jiu Jitsu. Ramirez wanted to bring the studio to his hometown.
“It’s not anybody who can open a Gracie school to represent the name and open the door to receive students, but Carlos, he has great potential. He assimilated one hundred percent into the philosophy, the technique, and he’s ready to have a school and represent the Gracie name,” said Rilion, a comment that Ramirez noted was “a huge honor.”
Jiu Jitsu, which originated in Japan, was the art of the samurai for fighting opponents without weapons. The points of weakness were the neck and limbs since the rest of the body was armored, so Jiu Jitsu closes the distance between the fighter and the opponent, taking the person to the ground and finishing the fight using submission. It is an art that leverages skill over size.
Rilion Gracie's father and uncle, Carlos and Helio Gracie, changed the style of Japanese Jiu Jitsu, a result of their small stature and advanced skill in taking down much larger opponents, which brought attention to the style which was later dubbed Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
“It’s not really a striking martial art, instead Jiu Jitsu focuses on controlling the opponent and finishing the fight on the ground,” said Ramirez. “The thing about Jiu Jitsu is that you can practice it at a high level without going to work the next day with your face bruised up.”
Gracie and other instructors at Gracie's studios have trained students as young as four and as young-at-heart as 60.
“His approach is that anyone can begin at any age, there are no limitations as long as your joints articulate,” said Ramirez. “We even have some disabled students who train under Rilion Gracie as well.”
Gracie is a famous name in the martial arts world, one that Rilion represents with his long career in the art, beginning at a young age and going strong today with his presence at his Coral Gables studio. Gracie also plans to make appearances at the Miami Lakes location to lead classes.
“Our system is a complete form of self-defense. But our focus is on submission. And anyone has the potential to take down the opponent of any size,” said Gracie.
“He is a point of reference,” said Ramirez about Gracie. “The fact that we have this opportunity, to learn from him, is unique.”
Competing is not pushed on members, instructors tend to take a more relaxed approach to competing, but those who do compete win.
Classes from the Coral Gables location, in addition to the regularly scheduled classes, will be shown via satellite at the new Miami Lakes location.
One introductory class is free for all who are interested in joining. Class times are varied but can be found online, along with more information, at www.riliongraciemiamilakes.com. Classes are available for adults and children as well as private one-on-one sessions.