Marcelo Ribeiro 3rd Degree Black Belt Talks With had an amazing opportunity to catch up with now recently promoted 3rd degree black belt and School Director for Gracie Barra Nashville and Gracie Barra Carlisle respectively, Marcelo Ribeiro.

Marcelo Ribeiro is on a small list of elite Jiu Jitsu Professors with direct lineage to the original founders of modern day Jiu Jitsu , the Gracies and more specifically Carlos Gracie Sr. With the history of greatness that comes with the Gracie name, it is no wonder that same work ethic has transitioned to their students of the art.

As a direct descendent of Carlos Gracie Sr. , Carlos Gracie Jr. needs no introduction as a 7th degree Coral belt and being the founding father of one of the biggest names in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Gracie Barra.

Marcelo Ribeiro , black belt under Carlos Gracie Jr., with years and years of Jiu Jitsu training it can be said he is also a ” Who’s who ” of the Jiu Jitsu world. He took time out of his busy schedule to talk with us about his history , his projects with the Gracie Barra Fight Team, and his devotion to the gentle art.

Hi Professor Ribeiro, it is a pleasure to have this opportunity to have this interview with you, with such an impressive Jiu Jitsu lineage that involves Carlos Gracie Sr. and Carlos Gracie Jr. i can’t imagine the amount of Jiu Jitsu knowledge you must have in your repertoire.

Marcelo Ribeiro:

Thank you, i appreciate it .

You are very welcome Professor, the honor is ours for the opportunity for the interview . We understand you have been teaching since becoming a blue belt in the sport back in Brazil?  

Marcelo Ribeiro:

Yes, i’ve focused my life on teaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and teaching referees clinics. I have competed when i was a very young blue and purple belt. I won a couple of tournaments in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, but unfortunately i had a severe problem on my spine that i was almost in a wheelchair.

Wow! I never would have known that given your impressive grappling and coaching pedigree!

Marcelo Ribeiro:

Not a lot of people know how serious it was because i usually dont talk about that, i like to live in the present! Everyday is a gift for me!

Well, i can certainly appreciate the gift of being able to roll, i myself have suffered a few injuries due to Jiu Jitsu, but the addiction is what keeps me coming back. For those who are new to the sport or are just getting into Jiu Jitsu, who are you a black belt under?  

Marcelo Ribeiro:

I’m a black belt under Master Carlos Gracie Jr. By the way , i was yesterday ( July 7th, 2011) , promoted to a 3rd degree Black Belt by my Master Carlos Gracie Jr. in Irvine CA.

Congratulations on your accomplishment of earning a 3rd degree black belt Professor, becoming a 3rd degree is a great achievement in our sport, we understand you are affiliated with the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation?  

Marcelo Ribeiro:

I’m the Referee Director for IBJJF . I work with IBJJF since 2000 . In 2006 i was invited by the Federation Director, Professor Andre Fernandes, to be the Referee Director in the U.S. So i’m the one who trains all the referees for the most important tournaments in USA.

Outstanding! You stay so busy with everything from teaching referees to running your own academy, where do you reside now?  

Marcelo Ribeiro:

Right now i’m in the newest Gracie Barra Project. It will be a second time experence for Gracie Barra. We are opening 3 schools in Nashville, TN. I’m the school director for 4 Gracie Barra Schools.

Fantastic Professor, How did you get to the United States of America to teach Jiu Jitsu?

Marcelo Ribeiro:

I came first from Brazil to Florida, i was invited by Master Carlos Gracie Jr and Marcio Feitosa to start with them the Gracie Barra Franchise system in USA.

After 200 Gracie Barra Students in West Palm Breach FL , Professor Marcio Feitosa and Master Carlos Gracie Jr. invited me for the first time experience for Gracie Barra open 4 schools at the same time in Austin, Tx. In seven months we had 180 students under only one location in Austin. After all the success of the Gracie Barra schools i was once again invited to run the newest Gracie Barra Project: Gracie Barra Nashville , that will open in a couple of weeks, 3 new Gracie Barra schools on the franchise system.

You have a full plate my friend, but it’s all for a good cause, the bigger thing that we must understand about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the family life of it. We enjoy learning new techniques and keeping those techniques sharp, but the other thing we enjoy is the strong family bonds that Jiu Jitsu brings to us. How do you keep such a strong family atmosphere in Gracie Barra schools?  

Marcelo Ribeiro:

The focus in my life is my family. Our schools are family based schools, we have classes for families, we like to keep families together .

In my family everyone is involved in Jiu Jitsu. Since my 3 year old, my wife and my older son. My older son , only 8 years old is a Pan American Champion and 24 times gold medalist in local tournaments. My wife does Jiu Jitsu for self defense and my little 3 year old is always on the mats. We have classes starting at 3 years old.
Well, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has no age limit, so it’s nice to hear you have involved your young ones in the sport. Also a  family bond is a strong bond and we feel that is part of the reason why our sport has been growing over the past decades, growth is much needed for advancing our sport, taking it to the next level.

There has been talk about bringing Jiu Jitsu to the Olympics ,since Jiu Jitsu is now a globally practiced sport and more and more world champs being produced in countries overseas, do you agree that we should have Jiu Jitsu in the Olympics?

Marcelo Ribeiro:
Sure do. Jiu Jitsu it is one of the biggest sports and it is our goal to be in the Olympics.
Fascinating! With organizations like the IBJJF making Brazilian Jiu Jitsu a legitimate sport, we hope Jiu Jitsu becomes a mainstream sport complete with sponsors and big attendance. Speaking of the IBJJF, Professor, How do you feel about the recent developments the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federations decision to now require memberships to compete in IBJJF sanctioned events? In other words the IBJJF now requires participants to register for a membership to compete, and do you feel this is an important step?

Marcelo Ribeiro:
It is a huge and important step. Being organized like that is what makes our sport grow. Since the competitors to the Professors and coaches.
Very true! Just another way to help our community grow and with the recognition of legit Jiu Jitsu fighters we can move forward with more IBJJF sanctioned competitions.We hope our sport can grow as big and as fast as mixed martial arts has grown over the past few years, do you feel Jiu Jitsu can be an expanding industry that can grow the same way?

Marcelo Ribeiro:
Yes. I definitely believe in Jiu Jitsu as an expanding industry. That’s my focus!
It would be nice to bring Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to mass media, with more celebrities training in our sport and rubbing shoulders with every day people who also train, do you feel Jiu Jitsu is a bigger sport than any one academy? Is loyalty important for growth?

Marcelo Ribeiro:
As i always say, my family is the number one in my life, they are with me in all my schools, and i believe if we have Jiu Jitsu this way, not only focus on the competition part but as a family aspect that can grow in your life.
Yes, the loyalty it is very important. We can just be good leaders if we have good loyal people with you.
Loyalty, respect, humility and family bonds are all part of what makes Brazilian Jiu Jitsu so special. In the past we have seen rivalries between academies , but the focus has now shifted to making our community tighter and stronger. I thank you for the opportunity to interview you Professor, it is such a great honor for me to be able to get a glimpse into one of the greatest Jiu Jitsu lineages of all time!

Marcelo Ribeiro:
I would like to Thank You VERY MUCH, for this great opportunity to talk a little bit about my life, learn with you, and share about the little i know. Thank you. would like to thank Professor Marcelo Ribeiro for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk with us, he can be seen teaching at Gracie Barra Nashville respectively and teaching referees for IBJJF sanctioned events. If you would like more information on Professor Marcelo Ribeiro please visit