The legendary Carlson Gracie academy (302) in Copacabana is one of oldest BJJ gyms in the world still running. Opened 40 years ago, Grand Master Carlson taught and trained there himself for many years, producing some of the sport’s greatest grapplers and MMA fighters.
The gym is in the middle of the busy neighborhood of Copacabana and only two and a half blocks from the beach, but it is difficult to locate and many people walk past it without knowing such a historically significant place exists right in front of them.
Many modern BJJ teams were formed via Carlson’s students and the CGJJ network spreads far and wide, so they’re used to receiving visitors. The gym is almost a pilgrimage site for many jiu-jitsu lovers from around the world. If you come to train BJJ in Rio, you should definitely visit and partake in a class at the Carlson Gracie Academy.
The facilities in the gym are simple: a single mat, a changing room, some lockers. This is a no frills academy where the focus on purely on jiu-jitsu. You may well meet Carlson’s widow, taking payments and looking after the books in the little office that doubles as a reception.
The instructors speak passable English and you won’t have any trouble with communication. They receive visitors warmly and are used to hosting guests from around the world.
A Typical Class
Warm-ups are your standard fair: jogging, callisthenics, bodyweight exercises, static stretching.
Most people consider the Carlson Gracie style to be tough and top-game orientated, and this was true of some of their notable athletes from a certain generation. But the truth is there were also many lightweight technical jiu-jitsu fighters from Carlson’s gym, and this manifests itself in the techniques offered. We’ve witnessed detailed instruction on butterfly and X-guard as well as top game, so you will experience a thoroughly modern approach to jiu-jitsu.
Rolling is, as expected, competitive. Though their days as a strong competition team are over in the face of giant teams with hundreds (if not thousands) of members, CGJJ still develops a tough breed. The ‘gameness’ that Carlson so valued in his fighters is always encouraged, yet not everybody on the mat is a competitor in training. There are many part-timers there to enjoy getting physical, and you may find yourself rolling with an old veteran or a competitive young 17-year-old.
The Carlson Gracie Academy in Copacabana is a place every jiu-jitsu practitioner should at least visit. Carlson’s spirit lives on in his students and teachers and it is here you will really get a feel of what they great man accomplished in his life.
Professors: Ari Galo / Alan Moraes / Marcelo Saporito
Price: R$165 / month (updated May 2015)
Facilities: Matt, matted walls, punch bag.
Average numbers of BB’s at training: 5+
Av number of people per class: 25
Speak English?: Passable.
Location: Central Copacabana
Suggested transport: Bus / Subway both within few seconds walk
MMA / no-gi: No
Other martial arts: No
Years open: 40
Titles / champions / championships: Many
Notable students: Ricardo Liborio, Amauri Bitetti, Paulo Filho, Murilo Bustamante, Ze Mario Sperry, Walid Ismail, De La Riva, Ricardo Arona, Ari Galo, Sergio Bolão.
Av Figueiredo Magalhaes #414, 3rd floor
Rio de Janeiro
The entrance is a few metres down the side alley off Ave Figueiredo Magalhaes. Go up the stairs to the 3rd floor (past the church group) and the gym can be found in room 302. The gym is not sign posted from outside but if you look up from the main street you can see the gym through the open windows just above street level. It is somewhat difficult to find at first.
None for the gym, but some of the instructors have individual sites: