Shawn Williams (Renzo Gracie)

Shawn Williams BJJ

Shawn Williams

One of the most talented Jiu Jitsu competitors to have come out of the American East Coast, Shawn Williams is also a Renzo Gracie black belt (having become at the time of the accomplishment only the fifth American to graduate in BJJ in history) after a lifelong time of training under the Gracie master and alongside fighters such as Matt Serra, John Danaher, Ricardo Almeida and Rodrigo Gracie. Shawn Williams also became famous for his unique use of the guard a variation he created which is called the “Williams Guard“.

Shawn Williams Jiu Jitsu

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Carlos Gracie Jr > Renzo Gracie > Shawn Williams

Main Achievements:

  • Ohio Pro Am Champion (2004);
  • FILA Regional Qualifier (2008);
  • ADCC Qualifier Bronze Medallist (2003);
  • 2x Pan American Bronze Medallist (2000 blue belt, 2003 black belt)

Weight Division: Peso Leve (Lightweight) 76kg-167lbs

Team Association: Renzo Gracie

Shawn Williams Biography

Shawn Williams was born on the 7th of April, 1975 in Bluffton, Indiana – United State of America. Shawn was always a very active person, even as a child, practicing sports since he was 6 years old – baseball, soccer, hockey and swimming. He saw Jiu Jitsu in action for the first time around 1993 or 1994 by watching Royce Gracie win UFC II. Shawn was already involved with martial arts, namely Karate, and had been a fan of most action heroes growing up (Bruce Lee, Sho Kosugi, and Jean-Claude Van Damme) though this style was something different and intriguing, he kept it in the back of his mind as he wasn’t completely sold to the Brazilian martial art. It wasn’t until he saw Renzo Gracie compete a few years later that he really saw the potential of this fighting system. Renzo’s style was much more “well rounded” and aggressive then his cousin’s and it was after witnessing this that Shawn decided to seek instruction on the subject. He thought that the best way to get around BJJ would be to drink its wisdom straight from the fountain, and so he moved from Indiana to New York City to train under Renzo Gracie, his first training session being on September 1996.

Around 1998/1999, and by mistake, Shawn Williams discovered what would become his trademark position, the “Williams Guard”, a version of the High Guard/Rubber Guard in which the fighter makes a framed grip underneath his own leg (between his knee and opponents shoulder). It is based on angles rather then flexibility and keeps the fighter out to the side, not directly under his opponent. He continued to work on this guard for many years, putting it to the test in many competitions, including the ADCC trials, Pan Ams and even the World Championships on 4 separate occasions to which Shawn travelled to Brazil only to fall short of a medal.

On April 2nd, 2002 Shawn Williams received his black belt from the hands of Renzo Gracie together with his training partner and fellow Renzo Gracie Academy Assistant Instructor, John Danaher. In 2004 Shawn moved to Los Angeles to open an academy – with his master Renzo Gracie’s blessing – He always comes back to the old gym in New York to keep in touch with the new positions created by his old master.

Shawn Williams teaches at:

Five Star Martial Arts/ Renzo Gracie Los Angeles
4201 Wilshire Blvd. #236
Los Angeles, CA 90010

The website:

Comments (1)

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  1. Steven says:

    I had the opportunity to meet Professor Williams when I went out to compete in L.A. for the Pan Am's this last March. He is very humble, down-to-earth, and his technical prowess is clearly translated into each of his students. I was very impressed.

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