Drysdale on Fadda/Franca Lineage: ‘No Evidence That They Learned From Maeda’

Drysdale on Fadda/Franca Lineage: ‘No Evidence That They Learned From Maeda’

Robert Drysdale is currently filming a documentary about the true history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that isn’t necessarily the known history that we have all learned. His Documentary is called ‘Closed Guard the Movie’ and is financed by the people behind ACB Jiu-Jitsu. Drysdale has spent a lot of time in Brazil and Japan researching newspaper articles, archives and talking to red belts.

Drysdale was on the best BJJ podcast The Grappling central podcast, where he talked a lot of his project.

He was asked what he thought about the Fadda/Franca lineage which is a Non-Gracie lineage.

The person that led this non Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was Oswaldo Fadda. He was born on Jan. 15, 1921 in an area known as Bento Ribiero (suburban area of Rio de Janerio), Brazil. He didn’t begin studying BJJ until he met Luis França who was a black belt under the famous Mitsuyo Maeda (a black belt master in Judo).

As time went on Fadda consistently trained with França and earned his black belt. GF Team (Rodolfo Vieira etc..) come from the Fadda lineage.

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Drysdale stated that there is no evidence of Fadda’s teacher, Luiz Franca having ever learned from Maeda. He thinks Franca was self taught, which puts into question the whole Fadda lineage:

A lot of people are curious about the Fadda lineage right now and Oswaldo Fadda is a very relevant character in the history of jiujitsu. We wanted to bring his story back to life. He was one of the first ones to start teaching in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. He taught the disabled, he taught you know poor kids, he would manufacture gis like himself to give to these poor kids. He’s a very relevant character and I thought his story was interesting.

A lot of people are curious about this lineage because it’s a non-Gracie lineage right? It’s jiu-jitsu in Brazil but it’s a non Gracie one and but it’s problematic. I’ll tell you why. Luiz Franca was his teacher. If you go on the internet and you start looking who taught Luiz Franca jiu-jitsu you’re going to find Mitsuyo Maeda and you’re going to find Geo Mori and you might find someone else, but there’s no evidence for any of that in the Fadda lineage… It’s problematic because we can’t trace back where Luiz Fadda learned jiu-jitsu from but if you go on the internet you’re going to find plenty of people saying he learned it from Maeda. Where’s the evidence for that? There’s absolutely nothing like that. Researchers in Brazil have been looking for this for a long time and they have yet to find anything.

My suspicion is that he was self-taught. He was winging it very much like many Americans who were watching VHS tapes in the 90s because they didn’t have a black belt around you know. In their whole state right they had nothing other than training with by these VHS tapes. They go in the garage they train with their buddy and they know a key lock, an arm bar and a rear naked choke which makes them the instructor. Now they’re white belts but it makes them the instructor because he knows more than his buddy. My suspicion is that at that time in Brazil, a lot of these guys were doing the same thing. They were winging it. They’re just kind of you know, I know three moves how many do you know?

We asked Andre Borges, the editor of BJJHeroes.com, the most respected website in terms of BJJ history, to comment on what Drysdale said.

Andre stated:

“I am sure Drysdale has plenty of resources to support his claim, but I haven’t heard the interview yet. Although there are books referencing Luiz França as both a Maeda and a Satake student (Jiu Jitsu’s Forbidden Book Vol.3 springs to mind), it is hard to ascertain how deep their investigations went. It is worth noticing that back in the early 1900’s not everyone had a blog or social media app to document their training sessions, so they could have trained without there being newspaper clippings of the lessons. To believe that an instructor was self taught without any guidance whatsoever seems a bit far fetched to me, but the idea that these Brazilian Masters didn’t train for as long as they say they did with their Japanese sources, that makes a lot of sense to me. Looking forward to seeing the full extent of Robert’s findings.”

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