Art of Jiu-Jitsu Schools Legacy And History

Art of Jiu-Jitsu Schools Legacy And History

For over a decade, the Art of Jiu-Jitsu has been a prominent figure in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, developing world-class instructors and producing some of the sport's most outstanding champions. But what is the story behind this legendary institution, and what sets it apart from other BJJ affiliations?

Join us as we take a journey through the history and legacy of AOJ, exploring the dedication, devotion, and powerful spirit that helped shape this iconic academy. We'll also delve into the key personalities and defining moments that contributed to the rise of AOJ, and uncover what it means for the future of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

AOJ has quickly established itself as a beacon of excellence in the BJJ community and attracting students from across the globe, emphasizing personal development and growth, and demonstrating a humble commitment to greatness. Discover what makes AOJ a force to be reckoned with, and how it continues to shape the landscape of BJJ today.

1. Art of Jiu-Jitsu History

1.1. Where It All Began

It all started with sincere efforts of Mendes Brothers and their cousin, Thiago. Guilherme (Gui) and Rafael Mendes (Rafa) had never imagined that their lives would take such an amazing turn toward martial arts. However, their cousin's persistence urged the Mendes brothers to begin training under the watchful eye of Leonardo Santos and Ramon Lemos.

The brothers took to combat sports like fish to water, dedicating themselves to training full-time and putting in countless hours on the mats. Their natural talent and dedicated work ethic helped them emerge as distinguished blue belts. 

Ramon Lemos saw the potential in the Mendes brothers and took them under his wing, guiding them through the intricacies of grappling and helping them to hone their technical skills.

As they progressed through the ranks:

“Rafa and Gui proved themselves as formidable competitors, dominating their opponents and racking up championship titles from blue belt to brown belt.”

1.2. Mendes Brothers Started Training at Atos

After getting brown belts, the Mendes brothers joined the newly established Atos academy and quickly rose to fame by demonstrating their groundbreaking 50/50 guard techniques. Their exceptional skills and outstanding passion for Jiu-Jitsu played a significant role in highlighting Atos on the map.

However, after a few years of training at Atos, the Mendes brothers were eager to explore new opportunities and establish their own academy. They collaborate with PM Tenore, the founder of RVCA for the creation of their own Jiu-Jitsu academy.

This new venture marked the beginning of an exciting chapter in the career of the Mendes brothers and the BJJ community at large.

1.3. Foundation of AOJ

In 2012, Rafael and Guilherme Mendes, known throughout the BJJ world for their unmatched grappling skill and dedication, founded Art of Jiu-Jitsu as an affiliate of Atos Jiu-Jitsu.

1.4. Purpose Behind the Creation of AOJ

For the Mendes brothers, starting their academy was a natural progression in their journey as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. After years of training and mastering the art, they were ready to share their knowledge and skills with the world. Their aim was not just to create a school, but to build an institution that would embody their passion for BJJ and make a positive impact on the rest of the BJJ community.

The extensive experience and a deep understanding of the sport helped the Mendes brothers to create an academy that would be unrivaled in its techniques and would be the epitome of excellence. They wanted to spread the art of Jiu-Jitsu and help others achieve their full potential through their teachings.

However, despite all the passion and dedication, the decision to start their academy was not an easy one, but the Mendes brothers were driven by their passion for Jiu-Jitsu and their desire to make a difference.

1.5. Where AOJ is Located?/Headquarters of Art of Jiu-Jitsu

Art of Jiu-Jitsu is located in Costa Mesa, California with state-of-the-art facilities and world-class instructors.

1.6. The Unique Style of AOJ Academy

The Art of Jiu-Jitsu Academy has a unique style that is not just limited to its coaching methods. From the moment you step inside the academy, you are immersed in a world of pristine white. The attention to detail is apparent in every aspect, from the mats to the walls, creating a serene and focused atmosphere.

The academy's attention to detail is also reflected in its uniform policy - students are required to train in white Jiu-Jitsu Gis, adding to the overall aesthetic and creating a uniform look among the practitioners. This not only enhances the training experience but also cultivates a sense of discipline and unity among the students.

In essence, the Art of Jiu-Jitsu Academy's unique style encompasses not only its coaching methods but also its dedication to creating an environment that promotes focus, discipline, and unity.

1.7. “Believe and Achieve Grappling”  Scholarship

The AOJ's successful inauguration prompted the Mendes brothers to introduce the Believe and Achieve scholarship for grapplers.

“The Mendes brothers' decision to initiate the Believe and Achieve scholarship was a significant step towards promoting and supporting the growth of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.”

However, the primary aim of offering the scholarship is to provide financial assistance for event registration and travel to the young grapplers, the scholarship also offers young grapplers a chance to train with one of the world's top competitive teams.

The Believe and Achieve Grappling Scholarship initiative helped talented young grapplers to gain invaluable experience and exposure to the world of competitive Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

1.8. The First Scholarship Winner of the AOJ

The Mendes brothers' Believe and Achieve scholarship program has received an overwhelmingly positive response, with the sheer hard work of young grapplers that were waiting for any opportunity and won a prestigious award. However, Johnatha Alves from Sao Paulo and Caio Antonini from Minas Gerais were the primary recipients of this scholarship, which covers event registration and travel expenses while offering a unique opportunity to train with one of the world's top competitive teams at AOJ.

Although Antonini and Alves had already shown great promise and dedication toward Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, this scholarship undoubtedly helped them hone their skills and achieve even greater success in the future. Another talented grappler, Tainan Dalpra, was also awarded the Believe and Achieve scholarship, further highlighting the Mendes brothers' commitment to promoting and supporting young athletes worldwide.

1.9. Mendes Brothers Retirement

The Mendes brothers; Rafael and Guilherme, had an illustrious grappling career spanning over a decade. They announced their retirement in 2015 and 2016, respectively, leaving a void in the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that will undoubtedly be difficult to fill.

During their career, the Mendes brothers cemented their legacy as two of the greatest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitors of all time. They won a total of 10 world titles and two ADCC titles, showcasing their remarkable passion and unparalleled skill on the mat.

Furthermore, Rafael and Guilherme's grappling journey was nothing short of exceptional endeavors. Their techniques were innovative, and their matches were always exciting to watch. They took retirement for serving AOJ Academy wholeheartedly and making it an emerging brand in the grappling world. However, their impact on the combat sport extends far beyond their impressive record of achievements.

1.10. Separation from Atos (2020)

After years of being a part of Atos' competitive team, the Mendes brothers decided to split from the organization in 2020 and forge their own path with AOJ. This move was a necessary step towards independence, allowing them to create a training environment and team culture that aligned with their vision for the sport.

Despite the challenges that come with starting a new chapter, the Mendes brothers' decision to break away from Atos was validated when the AOJ team emerged victorious at the 2020 IBJJF European Championship. The win proved the hard work, dedication, and talent of the team, as well as the vision and leadership of the Mendes brothers.

Since the split from Atos, AOJ has continued to grow and thrive, attracting some of the most promising young talents in the grappling sport and building a team culture that is grounded in discipline, respect, and enthusiasm for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

2. Won 2022 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship

The 2022 IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu Championship held at California State University, Long Beach, from 2 to 5 June 2022, saw a remarkable display of talent and skill from some of the world's best Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. Among the participants was the AOJ men's team, who put on a dominant performance in the rooster weight division, earning them a well-deserved gold medal.

Led by their experienced coaches, the AOJ team showed impressive teamwork and determination, securing an impressive 35 points and establishing their dominance on the mat. Their performance not only earned them the coveted gold medal but also showcased their talent and potential to become the next generation of Jiu-Jitsu champions.

The team's victory at the 2022 IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu Championship will undoubtedly inspire and motivate other aspiring BJJ enthusiasts worldwide, highlighting the sport's growing popularity and global reach.

3. A Platform for Future Champions

When the Mendes brothers founded AOJ, they were determined to create a space where young grapplers could thrive and excel in their grappling skills. Today, their academy has become known for its strong children and adult program, which has produced some of the most talented young athletes in the sport including Tainan Dalpra and many other big names.

Among their first students were twin brothers Tye Ruotolo and Kade Ruotolo, who began training at AOJ at the age of 10. The Ruotolo brothers quickly showed immense talent and dedication, and their skills flourished under the guidance of the Mendes brothers. However, during their time at AOJ, Tye, and Kade won numerous championships and became two of the most promising young grapplers in the sport. In 2017, they transferred to Atos’ adult program, but their time at AOJ undoubtedly played a significant role in their development and success.

The Mendes brothers' commitment to their training program is proof of their belief in the potential of young grapplers. They understand that the future of the sport lies in the hands of these young athletes and have created a platform where they can thrive and achieve their career goals.

Furthermore, many young grapplers have been able to realize their dreams and become champions of BJJ. The Ruotolo brothers are just one example of the many talented athletes who have come through the academy and gone on to achieve great things.

4. Legacy of the Art of Jiu-Jitsu

The Mendes brother's dedication to combat sports left an indelible mark on the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that inspired countless to follow in their footsteps and push the boundaries.

Today, the Mendes brothers continue to inspire and mentor the next generation of grapplers through their academy, AOJ, and the Believe and Achieve scholarship program. They have devoted their lives to the sport they love. Although they are no longer competing, their legacy and influence continue to shape the sport and its community for years to come.

5. AOJ Ranking from 2021 to the 2023

Year Championship Position Division Points
2023 Pan IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2nd Juvenile 9
2023 Los Angeles Kids International Open IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship 1st Overall 27
2023 European IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2nd Juvenile 9
2021 World IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2nd Juvenile 6
2021 Jiu-Jitsu CON International 1st Overall 9
2021 Pan IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship 2nd Juvenile 3

6. Famous Certified Black Belt of AOJ

Champions of AOJ Belt Rank
Guilherme Mendes 3rd-Degree Black Belt
Rafael Mendes 3rd-Degree Black Belt
Said Khatib 1st-Degree Black Belt
Xavier Jermel Mills Black Belt
Thalison Vitorino Soares Black Belt
Johnatha Barbosa Alves Black Belt
Gustavo Luchetti Caram Black Belt

7. Iconic Figures of AOJ

Under the guidance of Rafael and Guilherme, the Art of Jiu-Jitsu has continued to grow and thrive. At Art of Jiu-Jitsu, it's not just about winning championships, but about personal development and growth. Here, world-class instructors come together to form an inspired system that helps to elevate the skills, mindset, and spirit of every practitioner. AOJ offers a supportive and nurturing environment that encourages grapplers to push themselves to new heights. Some of the big names of AOJ are:

AOJ Champions Black Belt Degree
Guilherme Mendes 3rd-Degree Black Belt
Rafael Mendes 3rd-Degree Black Belt
Said Khatib 1st-Degree Black Belt
Xavier Jermel Mills Black Belt
Thalison Vitorino Soares Black Belt
Johnatha Barbosa Alves Black Belt
Gustavo Luchetti Cara Black Belt
Thalison Soares  Black Belt
Kade Ruotolo Black Belt
Tye Ruotolo Black Belt
Mikey Musumeci Black Belt
Tammi Musumeci Black Belt
Mateus Rodrigues Black Belt
Tainan Dalpra Black Belt
Sophia Dalpra Black Belt
Margot Ciccarelli Black Belt
Lucas Carvalho Black Belt

8. Conclusion

In the world of martial arts, the Art of Jiu-Jitsu is among the institutions that swiftly achieved a level of excellence in the grappling world. At the Art of Jiu-Jitsu Academy, students are not just taught how to grapple, rather they are instilled with a sense of honor, dedication, discipline,  and respect. The number of accolades associated with the AOJ team or grapplers is evidence of the academy's commitment to excellence.  

However, what truly sets the Art of Jiu-Jitsu Academy apart is its ability to evolve and adapt to the times and also dedicated approach to its mentors. Despite its decade-long history, the academy has remained at the forefront of Jiu-Jitsu innovation. For those who seek to become a part of this legacy, the Art of Jiu-Jitsu Academy offers a unique opportunity to learn from some of the best instructors including Rafael Mendes, Gui Mendes, and Tainan Dalpra.

Photo Credit: @sensobjj, @canvsbottega

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