Memorial Day: Remembering Pedrinho

Today is Memorial Day; a day set apart to remember fallen American heroes and appreciate their service and sacrifice. We at Gracie Barra would like to remember one of our own, a warrior and friend.

Pedro Pedrinho Lacerda Brandao was born in Rio de Janeiro on August 11, 1979. He began training jiujitsu there under Master Carlos Gracie. As an adult he moved to Tennessee and worked under Bruce Corrigan at a martial arts school. During his time in Tennessee, he built out three martial arts academies. But Brandao, being the gracious man he was, always remembered the help Corrigan had given to him

“Bruce was like my family in the States. When I had nothing, he gave me a hand. He gave me the chance to teach in his school. He always supported me and gave me a life here.”

In Knoxville in November 2005, Brandao enlisted for the army. His dedication to his work in the army led to many additional qualifications including U.S. Army Ranger Training, Warrior Leader Training, Army Combatives (Levels 1-3), Member of elite US Army Rangers, and a posthumous Army Meritorious Service Medal. Some have said he was “recognized by the Rangers as the most deadly unarmed soldier in the U.S. Army.” He made three tours of duty in the Middle East: two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

Brandao eventually became an instructor with the Army Rangers and in 2010 led the first Army Rangers Brazilian JiuJitsu Team to Pan American Championship. Brandao himself was a successful BJJ champion, winning Brazilian Nationals twice, the Pan Am at blue, purple, and brown belt, and winning 3rd place at Worlds at brown and purple belt. His wins include some over jiujistu greats such as BJ Penn, Baret Yoshida, Danial Moraes, Rodrigo Damm and Ramon Lemos. Like his military career, Brandao sought great success in all he did.

The surprise and dismay of many, Brandao died of a brain aneurism while leading an army squadron through training in May 29, 2010.

Brandao’s passing cannot erase the legacy he left for his family, fellow soldiers, students, and teammates. Through his military service and teaching jiujitsu, Brandao touched the lives of many. Those closest to him call him “mentor/counselor,” “leader,” “teammate,” “friend,” and “brother.” He was a passionate teacher of jiujistu who motivated his students and teammates with loyalty and vitality. As a ranger he demonstrated leadership, ruggedness, courage, integrity, and honor. As a husband and father, he was gracious, kind, and exemplified unwavering character. Those who knew him best remember his ever-present smile and his charismatic personality.

At Gracie Barra, we remember him as a warrior having the heart of a lion, both as a soldier and a brother in the Gracie Barra family. May we all strive to live life to the fullest as we remember those who have gone before us this Memorial Day.

“He had Gracie Barra in his heart and the philosophy of a warrior in his mind” ~Piu Piu

To read more about his service:

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