Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Team History, Fighter Stats, Biographies and News

Polaris Jiu Jitsu Event

South Africa’s very first jiu jitsu black belt World champion, Penny Thomas has become one of the most feared competitors in Jiu Jitsu’s women’s division. The black belt under Luis Herédia has won against the ‘who-is-who’ of the elite fighters in her division, having achieved gold medals at most important tournaments such as the ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club), World No Gi, Pan American and many others.

Penny Thomas Jiu Jitsu

Full Name: Penny Thomas

Nickname: n/a

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Rickson Gracie > Luis Herédia > Penny Thomas

Main Achievements/Record:

  • World Champion (2009, 2007, 2005 purple, 2004 blue)
  • Pan American Champion (2007, 2006 purple)
  • ADCC Champion (2007)
  • World No Gi Champion (2007)
  • Grapplers Quest Superfight Champion (2010 Las Vegas, 2010 Boston)
  • Grapplers Quest No-Gi Champion (2009 Del Mar & LV – open weight, 2008 LV & NJ)
  • World Cup Champion (2006 purple)
  • South African Grappling Champion (2005)
  • ADCC Silver Medallist (2009)
  • 3x World BJJ Silver Medallist (2010, 2008, 2003 blue)
  • World No Gi Silver Medallist (2008)
  • Triple Crown Silver Medallist, Men’s Division (2007 brown)

Weight Division: Meio Pesado (69kg-163lbs)

Team/Association: Gracie Humaita, Rickson Gracie, Maui Jiu Jitsu

Penny Thomas Biography

Penny Thomas was born on the 2nd of July in Durban – South Africa. She got involved with sports from a very early age (5 years old) namely in gymnastics. Penny was a natural athlete and by the age of 12 she became part of the South African junior Olympic team, unfortunately she had to give up her olympic dream due to an injury to her spine for which she had to have surgery.

Penny Thomas did not give up sports, and competed continuously throughout her life in a variety of activities. She came to Jiu Jitsu as a way to learn self defence but soon understood that she had found another sport that could provide her a different sort of challenge. She became so infatuated with BJJ that she started travelling regularly to Brazil in order to compete and train, eventually opening her own grappling academy which operated from her garage. Soon this love for Jiu Jitsu led Penny to quit her job as a software developer to pursue a career as a competitor. After many hours spent on the mats, Penny Thomas was graduated as a black belt by Luis Herédia in 2008.

Her close contact with Xande Ribeiro and Saulo Ribeiro led her to move definitely to San Diego, California to be able to train regularly with the legendary brothers. Penny Thomas is also a gifted mathematician having won an advanced mathematics tournament. Her outstanding attributes do not end with mathematics and sports, she has also won different awards as an artist according to her website


Penny Thomas World No Gi 2010


One Comment

  • hobey nextdoor says:


    Is your neighbor friend again just wanting to comment “Wow!” My twin sister looked you up after I told her about meeting you (she is ALWAYS protecting me), and told me how to do the same.

    On your extraordinary life. Looks, brains, braun, compassion, moderation, manners, and artistic success. Wow!I’m SO IMPRESSED WITH YOU!!!

    That’s all. Have fun…

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