The 5 Most Famous Associations in BJJ
Belonging to a team has become one of the most exciting aspects of training BJJ. Everyone enjoys being part of an academy, and more than that, many academies belong to a larger association, which makes people feel like they are part of something huge and international – depending on the team and association. Here are some of the biggest associations in BJJ for those of you who are new to the sport. It’s impossible to really know which one is the largest, but this list is mainly based on how many academies, affiliates and top competitors these teams have abroad.
5. Checkmat & Atos (Tie)
It is far too difficult to decide which one of these teams should be placed before the other. Although Atos does not have as many affiliates worldwide as Checkmat, and Checkmat does have its fair share of champions, including world absolute champion, Almeida “Buchecha”, Atos has an all-star cast of BJJ monsters including Andre Galvao, the Mendes Brothers, Claudio Calasans, Bruno Frazatto, Ary Farias and many others. Both teams also have legendary beginnings; Checkmat has the Vieira brothers at the helm while Atos has Andre Galvao and Ramon Lemos. It wouldn’t be fair to bump either of these from the top five. They both also started around the same time in 2008 making them relatively young teams in comparison to the others on this list.
4. Nova Uniao
Although today’s biggest Nova Uniao stars are focusing on MMA, they are still an association that has massively spread across the globe. Originally started as a team-up between Andre Pederneiras’ and Wendell Alexander’s academies, Nova Uniao has managed to produce legends and stars like BJ Penn, Shaolin Ribeiro, Robson Moura, Leo Santos, Jose Aldo…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. All of their top athletes are in different parts of the world working actively to spread their team’s legacy both in BJJ and MMA. Some other teams have branched from the Nova Uniao lineage such as Atos, partly run by Ramon Lemos, a student of Andre Pederneiras.
3. Gracie Humaita
One of the organizations stemmed from Helio Gracie’s original school in Humaita, Rio de Janeiro. Now, the association is lead by his sons Royler Gracie and Rolker Gracie. The Academy has produced many champions over the years, most notably Saulo Ribeiro, Xande Ribeiro, Leticia Ribeiro, Megaton and many more. The school has a rich history and represents Helio’s side of the Gracie family tree.
Alliance is easily one of the most popular teams and associations in the world. Originally started by Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti, Fabio Gurgel, Alexandre Paiva and Fernando Gurgel, Alliance is now mainly lead by Fabio and Jacare out of Atlanta and Sao Paulo. The team has dominated the competition scene for several years, producing world champions like Marcelo Garcia, “Cobrinha” Charles, Michael Langhi and many other household BJJ names. Alliance continues to collect medals and the scene has become very competitive between Alliance, Checkmat, Atos and Gracie Barra, creating some very interesting matches and rivalries.
1. Gracie Barra
Lead by the illustrious Carlos Gracie Jr., Gracie Barra is easily one of the biggest BJJ associations in the world. Barra is an area in the west end of Rio de Janeiro. Not only has the academy produced high level athletes and legends like Renzo Gracie, Kyra Gracie, Romulo Barral, Roger Gracie and many others, they are also excellent at franchising schools around the globe. All the academies have a set curriculum and are very organized. Gracie Barra is the main school that represents Carlos Gracie Sr.’s side of the family.