A very well-respected and long-running academy with a proud tradition of teaching children, Escola de Jiu-Jitsu is headed by 6th degree black belt Jose Henrique ‘Leão’ Teixeira, also know as ‘Ze Beleza’.
Teixeira started jiu-jitsu as a student of the legendary Rolls Gracie in the late 70s. He would later go on to become one of the co-founders of Gracie Barra, helping open the famous academy as a brown belt in 1984. A former teacher of physical education to children, he opened his own academy in 1992. Carlos Gracie Jr gave him permission to use the Gracie Barra name, but after 10 years of partnership Teixeira felt that it was the right time for him to name his own academy, preferring to call it Escola de Jiu-Jitsu Leāo Teixeira (School of Jiu-Jitsu).
He is widely regarded as the best teacher of jiu-jitsu to children in Rio and many black belts from other teams send their children there to train. Ze also runs courses where he trains jiu-jitsu practitioners to become teachers of BJJ to children.
The Escola da Jiu-Jitsu association has representatives throughout Brazil and the UK (headed by Felipe Souza, the team is called BJJ School). Teixeira also serves as a technical director for the IBJJF.
A well-presented space that shares a building with a ballet school, the gym is modestly sized yet class numbers are such that the mat is never crowded. The blue and white matted room is air-conditioned and contain many historic photos on the walls.
The children’s classes are closely supervised with lots of hands-on instruction but the adult classes are much more informal. You warm up by yourself, allowing you to address any individual needs.
The technical instruction is very detailed and the emphasis is on fundamental concepts of control, pressure and leverage. Teixeira teaches in Portuguese but speaks some English so will translate if needed. There are almost always English speakers present.
Sparring is technical. Teixeira’s status and time in the sport mean he has close friendships with many other masters his age, so it’s not unusual to see 4th and 5th degree black belts on the mat, and even a couple of 7th degree red and black belts, including Mauricio Gomes (better known as Roger Gracie’s father).
Though you will encounter veteran grapplers here, there are plenty of competitive youngsters also, including teenage blue and purple belts who are a product of Teixeira’s kids program.
Though he isn’t particularly well-known outside of Brazil, Jose Henrique ‘Leão’ Teixeira is a true master and an excellent instructor respected by all. He is a teacher’s teacher and training at his academy could benefit any aspiring jiu-jitsu coach.
Main instructor: Jose Henrique Leão Teixeira.
Price: Class fee: R$60 / lesson. Pay for 5 lessons and you can train the whole month for free (updated May 2015)
Matspace: Approx 70sqm
Facilities: A plain matted room with matted walls, changing rooms with shower.
Average number of BB’s at training: Around 5-6.
Av number of people per class: 6-12.
Speak English?: Yes
Suggested transport: Bus stop within 3 minutes walk.
MMA / no-gi: No-gi
Other martial arts: No.
Years open: 20+
Rua dos Oitis, 20
Rio de Janeiro
Situated on a residential street in the upscale neighbourhood of Gavea, specifically in the area known as ‘Baixo Gavea’, the gym is only a short walk from a main road that runs from Leblon toward Jardim Botanico and Humaita. Thanks to the large circular sign on the outside wall, it is easy to find. Many buses pass along this route. Less than a block away are many bars and restaurants, walk a few minutes further and you will find a mall, supermarket, and many other stores.
Jose Henrique ‘Leão’ Teixeira BJJ Heroes profile