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IBJJF Under Attack: Accusations Of Corruption, Fraud, Initially Being Funded By Drug Traffickers etc…


The website Bullshido.net which is famous for uncovering frauds and false claims in martial arts, has now focused on the leading federation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the IBJJF which is run by Carlos Gracie Jr. In a long set of accusations and research, bullshido accuses the federation of the following:

(1) is a US corporation, virtually indistinguishable from the corporation that constitutes Gracie Barra.
(2) is not the legitimate international governing body for the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
(3) was originally founded by people heavily involved in drug trafficking (Silveira brothers), and eventually co-opted by Carlos Gracie, Jr.

The main facts about the IBJJF that bothers many BJJ practitioners are the following according to Matt Philips:

*They give the impression of being a Brazilian organization, sharing the same government endorsement as the CBJJ, when in fact they are a US for-profit corporation that happens to be owned by the CBJJ president.

*They give the impression of being the World Governing Body for the sport of Jiu-Jitsu that sits over the National Governing Body of Brazil (CBJJ), when in fact they are a private venture that does not conform to the standards for WBGs governing other international amateur sports (IJF, FIAS, FILA, etc).

*The IBJJF and USBJJF are private corporations owned by the people running one of the sports dominant teams. FIFA, for example, is not owned by the captain of Manchester United (or anyone at all for that matter), and holy hell would break out if such a thing were to happen.

*Despite cultivating an appearence of being the National Governing Body for the US, the USBJJF is privately owned and run by Gracie Barra’s Andre Fernandes, and is not comparable to the NGBs for other US grappling sports, or Brazil’s CBJJ in any meaningful way. There is, for example, no US national team, or motive for having one.

*Both the IBJJF and the USBJJF collect very substantial amounts of money from just the two big tournaments alone, but show no evidence of a program of reinvestment in the growth or practice of the sport, as is uniformly the norm for sport world and national governing bodies.

**The public record indicates that the USBJJF has no board of directors, no officers, no physical address, no by-laws, no charter, and no telephone.

**The public record indicates that the IBJJF has no board of directors, no officers, no physical address, no by-laws, no charter, and no telephone.

BJJ red and black Fabio Santos went on the record to denounce instances of corruption and tax evasion from some instructors in the US. He also questioned the financial motives of the IBJJF in their ranking scheme. He also mentioned financial improprieties including tax evasion. 

Fabio Santos

Fabio Santos

From red and black belt Fabio Santos, on February 28, 2013:

Some instructors are ruining the reputation of the art, by viewing the student only as a fountain of money. They come to the United States to teach. After recruiting students and taking their money they proceed to move back and forth between Brazil and United States, ongoing, without respecting their obligations as a business owner or even paying taxes, and in some cases they even abandon their students.

Even the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation) is contributing to the diminishment of the integrity of the art by elevating its financial interest over the quality of instruction by accepting changes to the original belt system established by the founders of the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and altering the traditional form of Jiu Jitsu instruction. This is done out of greed, pressure from parents and impatient students that think the process required to get a belt promotion is taking too long!

The attitude of the IBJJF is self-serving and not helpful to students or schools, in that it undermines a reputation that has taken decades to create. Furthermore, while it exerts a force of authority and governance to the sport here, it rarely contributes to the support, when needed, by its members. That is why tradition and integrity are important. Tradition strengthens the real martial art where all is earned. The Professor must take the time to know the students character to award them a Black Belt. Some will never have the character to earn this however; it can motivate others to change both mentally and physically to become a better person. If we lose our tradition we lose everything. Greed, complication, inefficiency and breaking tradition is weakening the REAL JIU JITSU! SAY NO TO THE CORRUPTION OF JIU JITSU!! Professor Fabio Santos 7th Degree Red and Black Belt Student of Rolls and Rickson Gracie.

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21 thoughts on “IBJJF Under Attack: Accusations Of Corruption, Fraud, Initially Being Funded By Drug Traffickers etc…

  1. remco pardoel

    This article is not that great.. For a lot of people the surpise was big indeed about the brothers. About the level of teachers. Some idiots which where students of mine think they re invented the wheel. This is a common problem in every sport which is growing fast. It is a challange to control every aspect of all the divisions. The thing IBJJF need to do is that they need to have a board which could be re elected, and organise their Europeans / worlds every year in a different country to get into to the Olympic Committee. IBJJF is doing a awesome job! The brought our sport to this level!

  2. Holly Reusing

    I do not have the time to address the rest of this article (although I will say in it’s entirety, it gives off the tone of personal resentment and therefore, comes off as lacking objectivity) but I want to take the time to look at the 3rd to last quote: *Both the IBJJF and the USBJJF collect very substantial amounts of money from just the two big tournaments alone, but show no evidence of a program of reinvestment in the growth or practice of the sport, as is uniformly the norm for sport world and national governing bodies. For anyone that is not aware, the organization is now hosting 50 yearly events, half of which are international. The travel budget alone for 25 international events would of course be a staggering figure. Tournaments do not make a profit in their early years. i.e. If running tournaments or owning a martial arts school was a get rich quick scheme, everyone would do it. Just ask anyone who does either for a living! How many events existed in 2006, 2008, 2010? The growth rate of the number of very expensive and risky endeavors to new areas where people have never attended IBJJF events is phenomenal. I challenge anyone to create the budget necessary to conceptualize, plan, and implement these projects and conclude such a statement as the above. It is a ludicrous thing to say.

  3. tom knox

    i could go on a big rant here. i have entered many different events in brazilian jiu jitsu and judo from the local level to international. a couple of questions first. what tournament organizers are not in it to make money? are there free, expertly organized tournaments happening that i dont know about? why do all the high level athletes and academies almost exclusively compete at IBJJF events? have you compared the production value of an IBJJF event to others? do you think it costs the same amount of money to run an event for 5 days at a major california university as it does a local high school for one day? do you like entering tournaments where age,weight and ranks are routinely combined? really ,drug trafficking? the fact that carlos owns and operates gracie barra and is the president of the IBJJF does not bother me, bud selig was both owner and MLB commissioner. last i checked MLB was way more money making than BJJ. a lot of people are mad and or jealous at the success of the IBJJF. some people are mad that they have qualification guidelines for rank. this is to stop garage promotions, any legitimate academy owner should be applauding this. prove who you got your belt from and its not a problem. and the easiest way of all to protest the IBJJF is to stop entering, instead of complaining.there was a tournament this weekend that called itself worlds, even though more than 90% of the competition was from socal. if we compare the number of adult/master/senior blue to black belts at that event, which was less than 300 to the number of competitors at the IBJJF 2013 masters and seniors which is blue to black but excludes adults ,the IBJJF had 1800 at their event. they had nearly 3000 for adult worlds and nearly 5000 for pans.yes a lot of money is generated, and they have tournaments all over the world year round. sounds like a succesfull company with a good business plan.

  4. Holly Reusing

    Sup, I am affiliated with Gracie Barra, indeed. I am also in the final stages of completing my Doctorate and have been researching BJJ for a good many years and in that environment, I have not demonstrated a great deal of objectivity. My comment here is unrelated ro any personal relationships or feelings and simply takes into consideration the economics and common sense of this statement. Holly Reusing

  5. Holly Reusing

    Sup, I am affiliated with Gracie Barra, indeed. I am also in the final stages of completing my Doctorate and have been researching BJJ for a good many years and in that environment, I have demonstrated a great deal of objectivity. My comment here is unrelated to any personal relationships or feelings and simply takes into consideration the economics and common sense of this statement. Holly Reusing

  6. Holly Reusing

    Sorry for the typo and duplicate comment. My intention, and I believe I succeeded, was and is to show objectivity. It isn’t too complicated. Just get out a pen and paper and do some of the numbers.

  7. Combatzone Brazilian Jiujitsu Chicago

    Im the only African American owned BJJ school in Chicago it’s already hard to keep a school open and to hear crap like this its hard to promote because students have this notion it takes over 10years to get to black belt but with a strong heart and mind anything is possible. Yes this sounds a little suspect but oh well all those things about no phone number that’s true I have to renew my membership via the computer but that’s ok they do need to get a board of directors etc… And help smaller tournaments and change some other things to make it better get people outside of the Gracie Clan. There are other jiujitsu families and organizations. That’s my 2cents! Combatzone jiujitsu4life!

  8. Matt Phillips

    Holly, I am the lead investigator on the Bullshido article referenced. I am also a trained researcher with several articles in world class peer-review journals. Please have a look at my casual writing on BJJ history and let me know if my objectivity seems suspect. Feel free to contact me at mixedmartialartshistory@yahoo.com if you wish to discuss the issue you raised further. Regards, Matt Phillips MixedMartialArtsHistoryProject Bullshido.net

  9. Matt Phillips

    Sorry, the writing I referred is at http://mixedmartialartshistory.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/in-search-of-the-ibjjf-part-1/ and more at http://mixedmartialartshistory.wordpress.com

  10. Holly Reusing

    Hi Matt, Thanks for the link. This looks like a great read for me, not something I have come across before! It is obviously well written and thoroughly researched. I am on a deadline and cannot digest the full content but am looking forward to reading it later on. For the above article, my comment regarding objectivity was related to the presentation I suppose. The way it read, with the list following: “The main facts about the IBJJF that bothers many BJJ practitioners are the following according to Matt Philips”, seemed odd to me since most practitioners would not be focused on these details. I also couldn’t link to the full article until just now, so I see that at bullshido and will read it later. In my comment, I was merely addressing the one point about economics at this time. I believe when people work hard for something they believe in and help to foster the growth, that matters. If we get specific about numbers you could wonder about it this way perhaps: Say the IBJJF Pans and Worlds takes in 8000 competitors x $125 and somehow manages to make a whopping 100% profit! That would be 1 mil. If you divided 50 events into a million dollars then you would have $20,000 to spend on each event. I don’t think this will cover most of the international events, let alone a full time office and yearly staff. If they made 50%profit, then 10k per tournament, a traditional 30%profit, 6k per tournament. To say they haven’t grown the sport or ever given back is a a bit unfair, in my humble opinion. Regards. Holly

  11. Daniel Rodriguez

    I’m going to echo Matt’s article with my own experience. I received my black black 3 years ago from Renato Magno. I had to pay $400 for the IBJJF to recognize my black belt, $60 for the referee course, and $90 for the first aid course. Each additional degree is an extra $150 in addition to having to take the referee course and first aid again. What do i get for my money? A certificate and the “privilege” for my students to participate in IBJJF tournaments. I wanted to get more involved in the organization because I disagreed with how some of the rules for the tournaments. I was given the runaround. As a black belt recognized by the organization, I feel as though I should have a vote at least on who represents my district, the ability to have a vote on rules, etc for the amount of money that I spent. The IBJJF posts no board members, no contact info, no nothing. I don’t even know who’s running this organization. Any legit organization lists their board members on the website with contact information for the national office. As for the tournaments, I no longer compete in any of them because they are extremely overpriced. The number of people competing has gone up and the price hasn’t. Judo is an olympic sport and at national level tournaments cost $25 for pre registration as compared to the $115 for IBJJF pre-registration. The Pans and the Worlds do not fund all the other tournaments either. Each tournaments gets a good share of competitors. If all other amateur sports can make their costs affordable for competitors i don’t see why the same can’t be done for the IBJJF.

  12. Bob SantAna

    I dont know who is responsable for this fake article. Carlos Gracie Jr has noting to do with IBJJF. The responsable are Silveira Brothers and Carlson Gracie Jr.

  13. George M

    Prof. Daniel: I 100% get what you are saying. My guess is that you were meaning to say that tournament attendance has gone up yet the cost to compete has not come down? I apologize if I misunderstood. I guess what frustrates me is that there always seems to be finacial gain for the Ibjjf. We work years getting to black belt, which is many years of financial commitment in itself, only to run into a whole other list of monetary obligations if we are to be “recognized” as a black belt, or a school. Why does one need to pass a referee course, which costs money of course, if they never intend to ref at events; or to pay for a cpr course, ($90.00) Daniel mentioned, when I can get one locally for say $25.00. If we were to spend $400.00 to get “processed and recognized”, I’m curious as to why. Do they need to make a few calls to validate your experience and to feasibly investigate its applicants?, sure, I can understand that and welcome it, but we’re talking about an hours worth of leg work. If someone is wanting to be recognized, that means they are suggesting their illegitimacy, which in turn suggests that their own instructor is recognized, so you pull up the names, down a reasonable background check, and charge a reasonable fee. Due to the IBJJF seemingly being financially motivated vs nonprofit governed, we will always be cash cows to the sport vs genuine representatives to the art. This is of course my humble – respectful opinion.

  14. Chris

    Holly Reusing, 30 seconds of Googling shows you to be very tightly affiliated with Gracie Barra. It is not possible to be objective while having strong personal and financial ties to the organization in question. Holly Reusing, PhD Candidate’s Overview Current Owner at Gracie Barra Corona Owner at Direct Recruiting Services, Inc. Connections 500+ connections Websites Gracie Barra Corona-Riverside Gracie Barra Corporate Pacifica Alumni Association

  15. Holly Reusing

    Guys, It is obvious I am affiliated with Gracie Barra. It is obvious that Carlos Gracie Jr is affiliated with the IBJJF (read last month’s Graciemag where the story is on the cover) I have had my own issues with the IBJJF, monetary and otherwise, which I will spare you the laundry list of all that here. Frankly, after being around the BJJ tournaments since 1996 and the judo events and currently wrestling (high school and FILA), I am impressed with how the IBJJF operates and their events are the easiest to be involved in out of all these, by far. My reference to objectivity had to do with the tone and accusations and is the way it resonated upon reading the above portion of the article. No one needs to agree. The one point I felt I had a little time to address was the accusation that the organization has not contributed to the growth of the sport. To me, this is an outlandish thing for anyone to say. All it takes is a pen and paper to do some of the math on how expensive it is to grow a grassroots sport and that is what we still are. I wish I had more time to look at the whole history that Matt has investigated. I am always interested in anything that has to do with the development of BJJ, but for now, I appreciate the work that the IBJJF has done for the sport. It has been good for me, my family, friends, students, etc., etc.

  16. j

    I guess people think that having referees that come from brazil, across the united states and even Europe cost nothing to have them fly to a different location every few weeks, stay in a hotel, give them money for food and pay them for their services. the IBJJF has on hand at least 2 referees that come per ring, so take all those expenses and multiply it by 2, and thats just for the referees. then we have ring coordinators, table judges, people that work the weigh ins.. its very very expensive running a tournament, especially something like the worlds or the pan ams that takes up 4-5 days with even more people needed to staff an event. Everyone thinks they are just raking in the cash but it takes a lot of man power from all over the world, flying these people around the world to the events just for them to run properly.

  17. DJ1Z

    Facts: 1. IBJJF is a company. 2. It runs tournaments to make money. 3. It is -not- an organization that oversees BJJ in any fashion 4. It has rules to register athletes with their rank and affiliation 4a. Yes this is done at a charge to the athelete (see point 2) 4b. Yes this is probably quite more expensive than it needs to be (see point 2) 5. Not registering with IBJJF does not affect your actual rank. 6. Registering your school/black belt does not give it up to the IBJJF in any fashion 7. Registering as an athlete with IBJJF does nothing other than keep your record current in their own corporate system Who cares if the business is connected to Gracie Barra (see point 1) The IBJJF does a lot of stuff many consumers/athletes dont agree with, and they are allowed to (see points 1 and 2) Luckily for us, we have many organizations being formed to provide alternatives (such as Five Grappling among others). It will be a matter of time where we as athletes will truly be able to support / select tournaments we believe in.

  18. Robert Smith

    IBJJF pays referee $100.00 per day and a free registration if they still compete. Carlos Gracie Jr is an Emperor , he runs IBJJF, USBJJF , Gracie Magazine and Barra Gracie. It is all about making money. This federation is a huge BS, it is an enterprise where make money and being profitable is what matters. I always questioned How the call it as federation is does not do anything for the members. It is time to get over this.

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