International experts share their skills with local fighters – just another lockdown day at Gracie Barra Hastings

Three world champion martial artists have been helping members of Gracie Barra Hastings Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy – despite the coronavirus lockdown writes Rob Griffin.

Braulio Estima, Lucio Rodrigues and Carlos Lemos Jr – all legendary names in the sport – have each taken part in separate Q&A chats with students over Zoom.

And their ‘virtual’ presence has been a welcome addition to the packed timetable of online classes that the Earl Street academy has run since its enforced closure due to Covid-19.

Paul Bridges, head instructor at GB Hastings, said it was a fantastic coup to have such well-respected competitors sharing the secrets of their success.

“It was incredible to have people at the very top of our sport willing to spend so long chatting with students and giving them hints and tips,” he said.

The Zoom sessions saw students from GB Hastings and sister club, GB Hailsham, asking questions on a wide variety of BJJ training and competition topics.

These included everything from how to prepare for tournaments to the best ways of staying in shape when it wasn’t possible to take part in live sparring sessions.

Braulio Estima.

The three professors have each enjoyed remarkable achievements in the sport, boasting numerous championship titles between them. They have also overcome adversity.

Lucio Rodrigues was told by doctors he’d never compete again after being struck down with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in his 20s. However, he returned to training just weeks after starting his chemotherapy treatment and the following year won the Rio de Janeiro State Championship.

Braulio Estima is another highly respected competitor who made history by submitting seven people in just five minutes and 24 seconds at the 2003 Pan-American Championships.

However, he has fought through dark days, having been temporarily paralysed in a freak training accident that required surgery on his neck. He also defied doctors’ warnings that his career was over to mount a comeback and beat arch rival Ronaldo Jacare in a superfight just months later.

Carlos Lemos Jr, meanwhile, was one of the main instructors of the legendary Gracie Barra headquarters in Barra da Tijuca Brazil.

As well as an impressive list of successes on the competition circuit, he has also built several Gracie Barra franchises across Europe, as well as establishing a base in Chicago, United States.

Access to such high-level personalities in the sport has been a benefit of being part of the international Gracie Barra organisation, which boasts 800 schools across the world. Gracie Barra, which was established more than 30 years ago, is run by Carlos Gracie Jnr – the son of Carlos Gracie, one of the founders of BJJ.

Zoom has helped Gracie Barra Hastings club members keep on training.

The Gracie Barra Hastings academy should be back in business at the end of this month after gyms were given the go-ahead to re-open their doors.

However, students haven’t missed out over the past four months as the school has been hosting online classes over Zoom six-days-a-week.

These have included classes for Gi, Nogi, street self-defence, kids, and catch wrestling, as well as concept tutorials to help students understand particular moves.

The academy caters for all ages – members range in age from three to 78-years-old – and focuses on both sport and self-defence techniques.

If you are interested in finding out more information then ring Bridges on: 07967 659867 or visit

Main picture: Braulio Estima – on a previous visit to Hastings – demonstrating with GB Hastings head instructor Paul Bridges. Photos: John Rose

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