A former student of Soishiro Satake and Mitsuyo Maeda, Luiz França was the founder of the most successful non Gracie lineage in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a lineage that was carried on especially through the work performed by França’s most prominent and skilled student, Master Oswaldo Fadda, who would later form his own talented breed of students. Luiz França’s influence in BJJ can still be seen in the main competitions of Jiu Jitsu and MMA through teams such as Nova União and GF Team.
Luiz França Jiu Jitsu
Full Name: Luiz França Filho
Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Luis Franca
Main Achievements: N/A
Favourite Technique/Position: N/A
Weight Division: N/A
Team/Association: França Jiu Jitsu
Luiz França Biography
Before we mention Luiz França Filho, we will describe one of França’s instructors who many Brazilian Jiu Jitsu enthusiasts might not of heard, Mr Soshihiro Satake. Satake much like the famous Mitsuyo Maeda (also known as Count Coma), was one of the most apt students from the Kodokan dojo, an academy that stands as the starting point to both Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Soshihiro Satake started fighting as a Sumo wrestler, though he also joined the Kudokan academy in his youth and competed in Judo/Jiu Jitsu for Jigoro Kano and the Kudokan institute.
There have been many researchers who state that Satake and Mitsuyo Maeda both left Japan to teach the Kodokan style to the Americans together, in 1904, others historians state that Satake only went to the US in 1907. Regardless of which year he moved from Japan, the two travelled extensively throughout the world, being joined by other Japanese fighters along the way and landing in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on 1914, with the intention of showcasing Japan’s fighting style.
This group of Japanese men (Maeda, Satake, Okura, Shimitsu, and Laku) traveled through Brazil for a year before they reached Manaus in the state of Amazonas. There Satake settled for a while, opening his own academy in 1916, at the Atlético Clube Rio Negro, becoming the first Japanese to open a Judo/Jiu Jitsu academy in Brazil. This gym became the place where Luiz França started his life as a martial artist. Satake would also become a Brazilian citizen years later, and change his name to Antônio Soshihiro Satake.
This same gym where Luiz França picked up this new Japanese style of fighting, was the same place where Satake taught Vinicios Ruas (the uncle of former Vale Tudo/MMA champion Marco Ruas), who became years later the president of the Rio de Janeiro’s Judo Federation. Satake would do great things in the state developing the Kodokan style of grappling, with França and Ruas becoming two of his most revered students. Luiz França remained in Manaus for around one year, training very hard, before he moved to Belem do Pará where he Mitsuyo Maeda was stationed. Maeda became França’s grappling instructor, at the same premises where Maeda taught Donato Pires, Jacinto Ferro, Carlos Gracie and a few others.
After his time spent with Mitsuyo Maeda, Luiz França moved to São Paulo, where he trained with another Japanese Judo/Jiu Jitsu man, Geo Omori. After his stay in São Paulo, França settled in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, where he taught the techniques learned with the Japanese to many army men, including a young Marine named Oswaldo Fadda. Oswaldo would become França’s standout student, carrying the França Jiu Jitsu torch alive for many years to come.
Not much is known of Luiz França’s coaching style, what is often mentioned is that he opened the doors of his gym to the impoverished population, contrasting with the Gracie approach in Rio de Janeiro’s wealthy city centre. It is also often mentioned that França based his teaching approach on the self defense aspect of Jiu Jitsu, and that he passed away in his old age.