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Taka Watanabe began his BJJ training at age 13 in Brazil, moving to Japan at age 20. Starting a federation in Japan not once, but twice was his way of breaking away against a new set of rules and dramatic changes that could stifle Japanese Jiu-Jitsu. Taka (and Rickson Gracie) with the JJFJ, break from the pack.
BJJ Legends: I’ve got a couple of questions here about Rickson Gracie’s Federation in Japan but first I’d like to find out more about you. Did you train with Rickson here in the States or in Brazil?
Takamasa Watanabe: No. I started with his student Marcelo Behring. He died when he was 33 or so. I am his purple belt. That’s in Brazil. I started when I was 13 years old. I came to Japan when I was 20. Until then I trained all the time in Brazil. Then I continued teaching here in Japan. Now our academy is called Axis but it was called Gracie Japan. I only started teaching straight from Rickson Gracie after I came to Japan.
Two of the greatest Jiu-Jitsu players donate their gis and fight shorts. Xande Ribeiro & Rubens "Cobrinha" Charles have donated their gis and shorts to help Japan recover from the earthquake and resultant combo tsunami/nuclear meltdown. 100% Proceeds are going towards Japan relief aid. eBay autions are going on now. Lets bid it up people!
The Disaster Relief Fundraiser at Gracie Barra Corona was a huge success. We raised $3,000, which our fundraising experts tell us is “very good for our first time.” Participants donated just $25 to attend the powerhouse seminar and instructors all graciously donated their time.
We were fortunate to have great sponsorship from so many vendors in the BJJ/MMA business, namely The US gracie Nationals/Gracie Kids World’s and GBWear. We were met with enthusiasm from everyone we approached for help.
We were very excited to host two of the greatest bjj players around, including UFC Contender, Javier Vazquez and BJJ giant, Andre Galvao. We were very proud to have some top judo players and wrestlers, including Isreal Hernandez, US Olympic Judo coach and 2-time Olympic medalist. One of the highlights of the day was watching Galvao participate in Isreal’s class.
Planted outside was Sinister Radio’s hilarious crew. Favi Chulo snagged interviews with coaches and instructors. The kids played in the bounce house, and kids and adults played in the blow-up boxing ring. HDNet TV interviewed many in attendance for a piece they aired on MMAWeekly this past week. A raffle was held for swag donated by our sponsors. We ate pizza and Chronic Tacos!
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Daryl Urbanski, Founder of TravelTrainJapan.com sincerely believes every serious martial artist needs to have the Japan experience.
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