The Mendes Brothers have been on a roll. For the last few years Rafael and Guilherme Mendes (Rafa and Gui) the brothers have won the Worlds (last 2 years as Black Belts), ADCC (Rafa U65KG) and World Pro (Rafa). They've captured the imagination of young and old fans of Jiu-Jitsu. More recently things got even more exciting as they've moved from Brazil to Costa Mesa, California, opened their new Academy and launched their online training course.
But while everything seems to come easy for the Bros, things are and weren't always what they seem. Their family struggled and those trying times forged their character. The Brothers are super dedicated, hard working and focused individuals that are determined to keep the lessons of their youth alive and spread their knowledge and their experiences to everyone that wants to listen. Kid is one of them so we contacted them and asked them about their past, present and future:
KP- How’s the new academy?
MB- It is great, we are super stoked and fired up! The academy is beautiful, it is the academy of our dreams and we are fully engaged and determined to do our best to teach the best Jiu-Jitsu classes. When you are an athlete you developed a strong ability to focus and you can concentrate on becoming the best and unbeatable. We want to remain the best and on top of the competition but we now have two missions and two focuses, we also want to become the best teachers in the World, we want to build the best competition team and be a model for other schools to look up to. We want our students to reach all other goals, whatever they may be and to show them how Jiu-Jitsu can change their lives for the better
KP- What surprised you the most in your school?
MB- When we started we wanted to make an academy that was very different from the new style of academies, something that had nothing to do with an MMA academy, those tend to have strong and dark colors on the walls and mats etc. We wanted to have what we a traditional Jiu-Jitsu academy with lighter colors, an ambient that was clean and transmitted peace and the purity of the art. We wanted an atmosphere that families felt comfortable and that parents, spouses and friends could come over and not feel intimidated being here, and they can actually enjoy watching the class and the training and we believe we've been able to accomplish that completely. We want our academy to be well organized, with rules and respect, this is important since we are teaching a martial art and rules and respect are fundamentally important in any martial art. What surprised us the most is how much we've evolved in the last month, we teach all the classes on our academy, we spend all day on the mat and we're studying and progressing in Jiu-Jitsu like never before
KP- You stated in an conversation during the Grand Opening that you wanted to focus on teaching children, how is that going and what is the best part about teaching kids?
MB- teaching kids in wonderful, they are the future of the sport, they are the future of our communities and the future of our academy, we want to take them from their first step on the mats until they reach their Black Belt. We started Jiu-Jitsu when we were 11 and 12 years old, our parents had just separated and it was a very difficult time in our lives, we had no money, our mom worked all day every day to put food on our table, we would go to school in the mornings and we'd spent the rest of the day at the Academy. We had a scholarship at the academy so we didn't have to pay anything to train and we saw in Jiu-Jitsu our chance to grow and make something of our lives and to control our future and direct our history. We've always been very dedicated to anything we did but our Professor Ramos Lemos was like a father to us, he taught us a lot inside and outside of the mats and we are very thankful to him and we consider him as a father to us.
The sport kept us around people that had a healthy attitude and lifestyle it also kept us away from drugs and bad things, our friends were our training partners, our travels were to compete, so Jiu-Jitsu practically directed and molded our lives, everything we that we did was focused on evolving and progressing in Jiu-Jitsu and those actions had an immediate benefit. Hard work is always rewarded and little by little we started to win tournaments and that gave us even more motivation to train and continue. In short, Jiu-Jitsu gave us a path and a way of turning our lives around, especially that fact that you are around good people with a healthy lifestyle, that eat well ad stay away from drugs, and that is what we want to transmit to our kid students, the healthy lifestyle and the life benefits that the sport can provide you with. We are not really concerned if they want to compete or not, it is up to them but for us what we want and feel great about is to watch them have this sport as a way of
KP- You've recently moved from Brazil to Orange County, California, what was the biggest difference for you?
MB- We love living here in Costa Mesa, Ca. We have our wives with us and we have our Academy, where we put our energies and our focus. The area is fantastic, we love the beach, we are learning how to surf and we make new friends every day. The only thing we miss is our family that is in Brazil. We are a very tightly knit family, we get together on Christmas and we gather again for the new year celebration. Our plan is to go back to Brazil for Christmas and spend a week there with our family. But they are always behind us 110% and they are also planning to come visit us and our Academy here too.
KP- You have just launched your online training, what should a student expect when he tries that?
MB- Our site www.mendesbros.com is a project that we've had for a some time and now it has become a reality. We videoed our classes and we put that online so that anyone, no matter how far away they are can still learn directly from us. We thank the Lord as the project has been a great success. Everyday we add a new technique where we show all the technical details and our views on that specific technique. We have a very different teaching system and the student feedback has been tremendous. OF course we invite all that have to opportunity to stop by and visit us in Costa Mesa. Our doors are open to anyone and everyone is welcome here. Our address is: 411 E. 17th Street in Costa Mesa, CA 92627
"Art of Jiu Jitsu Academy" www.aojacademy.com -
We want to send a big hug and wish great training to everyone. For those on facebook you can follow our careers at www.mendesbrosfans.com.
Now go train Jiu-Jitsu,
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