Coral Belt Fabio Santos Has Strict Criteria to What Qualifies as a REAL Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy

Coral Belt Fabio Santos Has Strict Criteria to What Qualifies as a REAL Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy

Fabio Santos is a 7th degree (7º grau) jiu jitsu coral belt (black & red) awarded by Relson Gracie, having graduated as a black belt under Rickson Gracie. A former student of the legendary Rolls Gracie, Fabio Santos was also one of the first BJJ black belts to come to the United States of America, in the 1980’s, after travelling around the US, he settled in San Diego – California where established one of the most respected BJJ academies in the country. Master Fabio Santos is also a veteran competitor with several important titles under his belt, who was still actively competing when in his 50’s. (Bio from BJJ Heroes).

Tired of the recent direction that Jiu-Jitsu he wrote this open letter to the BJJ community:

To All Jiu Jitsu Enthusiasts:

My responsibility as a 7th Degree Red and Black Belt (now red belt) is to protect the integrity of the real Gracie Jiu Jitsu and to warn you about imitators. If you are just starting out in Jiu Jitsu or have been practicing awhile, I recommend reading or learning about our history and what makes Gracie Jiu Jitsu an effective martial art. When you choose a Jiu Jitsu school, there are certain criteria that the school must meet:

1. There needs to be a full time certified black belt as head instructor.

2. The only person that may promote anyone is a recognized Black belt.

3. Beware of McDojos, too many of these schools are creating chaos with gimmicks. Gracie Jiu Jitsu does not have tests for belts or allow payment for stripes.

4. Grand Master Carlos and Hélio Gracie created the belt system for children and adults. Each stripe and belt has unique value. There should not be any deviations, additions or subtractions. Belts are not guaranteed; they are a representation of ones competence both mentally and physically. They are not a representation of the students’ monetary wealth.

5. Brown and Purple belts can be good assistants but should be actively working and focusing on earning their Black belt.

6. Self defense is the corner stone of martial arts. Purely focusing on Sport Jiu Jitsu is a mistake. Self-defense needs to be an integral part of every school teaching Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

7. Schools should be actively involved in certified tournaments and competitions. Competition like live sparring allows your technique to evolve. Both are an important component of Jiu Jitsu and should not be overlooked.

8. Training with a GI is imperative. Every world champion spends significant time training in the GI. This is not by chance. The GI forces you to sharpen your technique and be aware of the details that will make you successful.

Now looking at Jiu Jitsu in general. Grand Master Carlos and Hélio Gracie (the founders of the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu) created the rules for competition. They were simple: two points for a take down or sweep, three points for passing the guard and four points for mounting or taking the back. The current rules leave room for confusion and creates difficult positions for referees and forces them to make needlessly controversial decisions.

The current rules need to be evaluated and simplified. This should only be done by high ranking members of the Gracie family who have twenty to thirty years of experience in conducting the instruction and competitions.

Others are degrading the efficiency of the Jiu Jitsu technique. They enter fighting events claiming to be Jiu Jitsu practitioners, after training only a little or not training enough. Win, lose or draw their technique, or lack of it, makes Jiu Jitsu look ineffective. This form of incompetence only weakens our art.

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. This destroys the students’ loyalty, and abrogates the responsibility and commitment that owning a truly qualified Jiu Jitsu school demands.

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!


Professor Fabio Santos
7th Degree Red and Black Belt
Student of Rolls and Rickson Gracie