Wrestling Legend Mark Schultz Promoted to BJJ Black Belt by Pedro Sauer

Wrestling Legend Mark Schultz Promoted to BJJ Black Belt by Pedro Sauer



Olympic and 2-time World champion freestyle wrestler, Mark Schultz, whose life story was featured in the movie ‘Foxcatcher’ has just been promoted to Jiu-Jitsu black belt by Pedro Sauer.

Schultz studied Jiu-Jitsu under Pedro Sauer. In various interviews from the past Schultz has talked about his experience rolling with BJJ legend Rickson Gracie.

Schultz confirmed the promotion on his Facebook page:

Today Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Professor Pedro Sauer proclaimed these simple yet monumental words to me “You are my black belt”. I couldn’t have asked for a better Pedigree. Grand Master Helio Gracie to Rickson Gracie to Pedro Sauer to me. I am humbled.


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He and his older brother Dave Schultz, also a wrestler, were noted for both winning gold medals in wrestling in the same Olympics (1984). The Schultzes were the only brother pair, with Buvaisar and Adam Saitiev, and Sergei and Anatoli Beloglazov, to win both World and Olympic championships. The Schultz brothers won more NCAA, U.S. Open, World, and Olympic titles than any American brother combination in history.




Schultz started training Jiu-Jitsu under Pedro Sauer in the early 90’s. Art Davie (Ufc cofounder) in an interview mentions watching the tape of Schultz and Rickson Gracie rolling:

“I had seen a 30 minute tape that Rorion had of Rickson rolling with Mark Schultz, the Olympic gold medalist over at Pedro Sauer’s academy in Salt Lake City. It took Rickson Gracie 30 minutes to get Mark’s arm. Schultz weighed 182 lbs, about the same as Rickson.”


From Schultz’s interview with ONTHEMAT about how he got into Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu:

Gumby: When did you get into Submissions?

Mark Schultz: I was the head coach of BYU [Brigham Young University] and I got a call from a guy who a student of Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He was responsible for bringing Pedro Sauer to Utah. He gives me a call and says that the greatest Jiu Jitsu Fighter in the world is in town and do you want to fight him? I had heard of Jiu Jitsu but I didn’t know what it was. I asked him what were the rules and he said, “there are no rules!” (Which was a lie of course). I thought that if there were no rules than basically we were talking about committing a homicide. So I said, “Okay, I’ll meet him,” what am I going to do, back down? A week from Thursday I show up and there’s Rickson Gracie in the room and he’s scooting on his butt, trying to hook the head coach’s ankles. His head was shaved all the way back and he had this ponytail like they had in that movie “Kumite”. He had these big thick ears and I was like “this is a tough guy”. He goes “are you the guy?” and I replied, “yeah, I’m the guy” and then I asked “are you the guy?” and he’s like “yeah, I’m the guy.” He goes “what I do is elbow and knee and head-butt and kick, but we’re not going to do that today we’re going to do submission grappling until one of us taps out.” So I’m like oh good, there’s no homicide, that’s good, so I was pretty happy about that. He just stood there and said, “Come on”. No stance or anything like that. So I took him down and I had him in a cradle for maybe twenty minutes. I didn’t know any submissions so I was making stuff up. I was trying to keep my chine down and elbows in which I learned from judo, but that’s about all I knew because it was all against wrestling rules. He got me in a triangle so I tapped out and I asked if we could again. So went for about another twenty minutes and I held him in a cradle for another twenty minutes and finally grip just gave out and I was so frustrated I was on top of him for so long and nothing was happening so I though I’ll let him get on top of me. I let him reverse me but as a wrestler I brainwashed myself to go belly down so I wouldn’t get pinned so he just immediately pulled my chin up and did a rear naked choke and tapped me out again.

I really like Rickson a lot. He’s a really good guy. He was really complimentary towards me and said I was the toughest guy he had ever gone against and if I was to learn Jiu Jitsu. I was really surprised that I had spent all these years training and wrestling and had never learned the submission holds that he knew and I wanted to learn everything that he knew. So I became a student of his student, Pedro Sauer, he was one of two Gracie Black Belts not a member of the Gracie family. Pedro was under Rickson’s association and Pedro now has one of the biggest associations in the world. Pedro was really cool to me; he let me work out with him for three years, and was really a great technician and a great coach. He was really smart and really fluid and his technique he was the perfect coach for me.

Gumby: Coming in from a wrestling background what felt natural coming into Jiu Jitsu and what did you have to retrain your brain for?

Mark Schultz: I had to retrain to stay off my stomach. In wrestling you brainwash yourself that as soon as someone takes you down you go belly down and I had to break that habit and go belly up. Of course I didn’t spend that much time on my back because I’m so good at takedowns compared to everyone in Jiu Jitsu that I was pretty much on top all the time. Of course you start rolling around on the ground you’re going to end up on the bottom you just don’t want to end up belly down. That was the biggest thing I had to learn. The other thing is that in wrestling at the collegiate level you can’t lock your hands –you can in freestyle- but in Jiu Jitsu of course you can lock your hands any time you want.

Other than that getting used to that gi was a real pain, I’m still not that great at it. I know how to do it, I know the moves they do but I would much rather be without a gi. That was the biggest bad habit I had though was going belly down. I think that was the only thing I had to change, other than that all of the techniques you learn in Jiu Jitsu, they’re just the same as the techniques you learn in wrestling, it’s just that this technique happens to choke you out or armlock you or ankle lock you as opposed to a switch or a standup which allows you to escape or get a reversal or a takedown or something. Learning technique is all the same. The biggest advantage that wrestlers had is their conditioning, they could just go and go and go. I was always more of an anaerobic guy than an aerobic guy so the shorter the match was the better it was for me because I was a sprinter, not a long distance runner. At least in MMA there is no ref calling you for stalling and giving points to the other guy just haphazardly or arbitrarily, which was really frustrating in wrestling.”

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