Arguably the most successful Jiu Jitsu team in recent history, the “Academia Alliance” has a brilliant list of achievements with 6 successive World team titles (from 2008 to 2013) to add to two previous World trophies achieved in the 1990’s (98 & 99). The academy suffered from internal problems at the turn of the century, seeing most of it’s black belt team leaving to form rival organizations, which caused Alliance to spent a few years in the sidelines, but being the colossus it proved to be, the team managed to come back to life with the “General” Fabio Gurgel in charge of the competition team and the wise Romero Cavalcanti as the leader of the group. Since it’s rebirth as a force in the sport, Alliance Jiu Jitsu has set the standard within the new age of professionalized BJJ through talent, hard work and logistics.
Alliance BJJ History
Romero Cavalcanti, famously known by his war name: Jacaré, trained for may years with Rolls Gracie, earning his black belt from this BJJ legend. After his master’s death Jacaré spent some time training alongside Rickson Gracie, before leaving the Gracie Academy in the 1980′s to form his own team. This team, named Jacare Jiu Jitsu, formed tremendous talent proving that Romero Cavalcanti was an elite coach. As time went by, a few of Jacare’s top black belts left the club to progress as coaches themselves, a natural path for most BJJ black belts.
The competitions at the time were dominated mainly by the Carlson Gracie team and the Gracie Team. As Cavalcanti had few chances to rival against big academies such as the aforementioned, he decided to join forces with his former students and this way pose a threat to the podium steps at the bigger tournaments. It was then that Alliance Jiu Jitsu was formed, having has its founders: Romero Jacare, Fabio Gurgel, Fernando Gurgel and Alexandre Paiva.
|Team Lineage||Academia Gracie > Rolls Gracie > Alliance Jiu Jitsu|
|Founder||Romero Cavalcanti, Alexandre Paiva, Fernando & Fabio Gurgel|
|First Black Belt(s)||n/a|
|HQ Address||4630 North Shallowford Rd, Dunwoody Ga 30338|
|Prominent Fighters||Gabi Garcia, Michael Langhi, Lucas Lepri, Sergio Moraes, Bernardo Faria|
|Main Team Achievements||6x World Jiu Jitsu Champion (1998, 1999, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)|
|List of Black Belts||Alliance black belts listed on BJJ Heroes|
Alliance BJJ Opens to the US
In trying to expand Alliance to the US market, Romero Cavalcanti decided to shift gears and head to Miami. Jacaré left one of his top students in charge of his gyms and moved to sunny Florida, however, Jacaré did not settle in Miami and soon changed to Altlanta where the academy truly grew. Atlanta then became the Head Quarters of the Alliance Team.
Alliance 2002 Break Up
In 2002 a new Jiu Jitsu federation was launched to rival the long standing IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation), this new federation was named Confederação Brasileira de Jiu Jitsu Olimpico (CBJJO) and it intended to battle the well established IBJJF by awarding big money prizes to the winners of their tournaments (in all belts). This “war” between federations could have been very beneficial for Jiu Jitsu’s growth, but instead it ended up bruising the sport as Nova União‘s star lined lightweight team stopped competing in IBJJF tournaments during their support of CBJJO. This tension between the opposite sides also caused a split within the core of the Alliance BJJ team.
The problems started on May 2002 when Fernando Tererê, Eduardo Telles and Demian Maia disobeyed Fabio Gurgel’s instructions to compete at the Brazilian Team Nationals of CBJJ/IBJJF and instead competed at the new CBJJO’s tournament. Both competitions were held on the same weekend, but not on the same days and Gurgel did not want to show support to the new federation, giving preference to the establishment’s schedule. Tererê, Telles and Maia preferred to compete for a cash prize and they were sanctioned with a 3 month ban from the team by Master Gurgel.
The fighters were due to come back to the team in time for the World Jiu Jitsu Championship (the famous Mundial). The two federations persisted in “locking horns” and scheduled their most important tournaments for the same weekend. It was agreed that the Alliance team would compete at IBJJF’s event. In a last minute change of heart, CBJJO anticipated their World Tournament (Copa do Mundo), making it possible to compete in both events. Demian Maia was quick to subscribe to the Copa do Mundo (CBJJO) and as a result was taken off the team for IBJJF’s World Championship. This caused many of the Alliance team “elders” to publicly show their discontent towards Gurgel’s actions. Many, like Otavio Couto, believed that Fabio did not have the right or the power to expel the teams most experienced black belts. He (Couto) said to Tatame Magazine at the time:
“Ninguém foi expulso da Alliance. Eles foram expulsos apenas da academia do Fábio, mas ainda são atletas da equipe.”
Translation: “No one was kicked off the Alliance academy. They were just expelled from Fabio [Gurgel] academy, but they are still athletes of this team.”
Tererê, one of the stars of this team also spoke (for Tatame Magazine):
“Sempre gostei do Fábio, mas o clima ficou muito ruim dentro da Alliance. É importante esclarecer que ninguém foi expulso.”
Translation: “I always liked Fabio, but the atmosphere within the team at the moment is awful. It is important to clarify that no one has been kicked out”.
Even though many didn’t believe it would happen, Jacaré (the team leader) did not support Gurgel or the competition team, and instead decided to sit on the fence, this caused the students to leave the team. With them several others followed in show of support, leaving the team naked of black belt world Champions.
List of some of the Most Important Fighters that left the team:
- Fernando “Tererê”
- Demian Maia
- Eduardo Telles
- Leo Vieira
- Ricardo Vieira
- Rodrigo “Comprido”
- Otavio “Ratinho”
- Roberto Traven
- Eduardo “Jamelão”
- Leo Castello Branco
- Felipe Costa
- Reinaldo Ribeiro
The Alliance BJJ Comeback
For years, after the “Alliance Gate” (mentioned above), the group lacked a big team of representatives at the major league of Jiu Jitsu (the adult black belt division) like they had done in previous years. In the mean time, the former BB’s that left the Alliance team continued displaying their strength in tournaments and also forming new talent in teams such as Brasa, TT, Master Team and others.
In 2006, one of the strongest teams in the BJJ landscape at the time closed its doors; this team was “TT” which had been formed by Alliance dissidents Eduardo Telles and Fernando Tererê. TT had a tremendous amount of talent coming through their ranks: “Cobrinha”, Leandro Martins, Michael Langhi, Lucas Lepri, André Galvão, Gabriel Goulart, Sergio Moraes, and many others who were left without a master as their coach “Terere” left the sport due to personal reasons (see his biography page on this website).
Most of these competitors were from São Paulo and they ended seeking Fabio Gurgel’s academy to prepare for competitions, this was a blessing for a team in need of some talent in the higher ranks. Alliance also benefited from a team shift of Bruno Malfacine, who left GFTeam in Rio de Janeiro to come to Sao Paulo where he joined Alliance, also Gabriel Vella (from Ryan Gracie) and Luana Alzuguir (From Barbosa Jiu Jitsu), all 3 in 2008. With the help of these strong competitors now in training everyday at the Sao Paulo HQ, in just a few years,Alliance was back stronger then ever dominating the world’s biggest tournaments. It has since grown even further producing fresh talent every year in both the women’s and the men’s divisions.
Alliance Team Video
This post is also available in: Portuguese (Brazil)