The Roots lineage of instructors is proudly traced back to the father of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Mitsuyo Maeda. The pioneers of Jiu Jitsu taught the gentle art as a practice for life; training people to be ready in all situations of self defence. They sought to share the effectiveness of Jiu Jitsu with everyone, and the fact that it has journeyed from Tokyo, to the legendary Belem do Para where Maeda taught his first Brazilian students, to Sydney, shows how their vision landed on our shores.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu started a century ago when Grand Master Carlos Gracie learned the essential secrets of traditional Jiu Jitsu from Maeda, a Japanese champion living in Brazil. Realising the significance of the martial art, Carlos in turn trained his four younger brothers, and in 1925, they opened the first Jiu Jitsu academy in Brazil. But it was the youngest brother, by the name of Helio, who took a special interest in the use of Jiu Jitsu.
Helio Gracie was not a large man by any means. Due to his physical size, he was motivated to adapt the basic rules of Jiu Jitsu to suit smaller opponents. He was able to optimise the force he was releasing from his body, by applying the law of leverage to each technique. This meant that as a smaller challenger, Helio could contest the brute force of a larger opponent, and win. Such was the proficiency of Jiu Jitsu, that Helio Gracie taught the martial art to each of his nine children.
The most skillful of these children was Rickson Gracie. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Rickson competed professionally as a mixed martial artist. With undefeated records in mixed martial arts and tournament Jiu Jitsu, Rickson stands out as the champion of the Gracie family; so his natural evolution to being a prominent instructor of Jiu Jitsu in his homeland is no surprise.
One of Rickson’s most famous students was Jorge Pereira, three-time Open MMA Brazilian Champion in 1996, 1997 and 1998. A passionate advocate of the martial art, Jorge was highly motivated by the knowledge he gained from his instructor. “Rickson is my master and a great inspiration”, said Jorge in an interview in 2012, “with him I developed the warrior spirit that I instill in all of my students”. And the proof is in meeting some of Jorge’s students.
In a historical move that marked the formal start of Jiu Jitsu in Australia in the year 2000, one of Jorge’s top students, Paulo Guimaraes, relocated to Sydney. Also a competitive surfer and professional pilot, Paulo became the first Brazilian BJJ black belt to teach and live in Australia, opening the first Roots BJJ dojo in Bondi at the end of 2001. In 2003, Paulo led a team of three of his students to the World BJJ Championships in Brazil. In an incredible feat that gave Australia its first international Jiu Jitsu champions, each of those four Aussies brought home the gold.
Head instructor of Roots St George, Robert Naumoski, received his black belt from Paulo and Jorge Pereira in 2010. The same year that he received his black belt, the opportunity arose to establish the first Roots club on European soil: thus the birth of Roots Macedonia. As the first ever black belt of Macedonian ancestry, Robert is also head instructor at Roots Macedonia; and holds the belief that the Roots team will train more world-class Jiu Jitsu champions, and pass on this martial arts knowledge to as many people as possible.