Craig Kukuk was the first US native to achieve the rank of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt (1992) by the hands of Royler Gracie. Kukuk is also the co-author of one of the very first Jiu-Jitsu instructionals sold to the American audience, the “Renzo Gracie – Craig Kukuk Brazilian Jiu Jitsu”, a historical piece of footage that helped advertise jiu-jitsu in the Northern Hemisphere at a time when this sport/martial art was not yet spread worldwide.
Craig Kukuk Jiu-Jitsu
Full Name: Craig Kukuk
Weight Division: Super Heavyweight (100kg/221lbs)
Team/Association: no affiliation.
Craig Kukuk Biography
Craig Kukuk was raised in California, United States, becoming a high school wrestler before joining the Gracie Academy in the 1980’s. Craig got very involved with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, learning from Rorion Gracie for many years, earning all his belts up to brown belt from Helio Gracie’s son.
By the time Kukuk was ready for his black belt, Rorion advised Craig to visit Brazil and train there to gain more experience. It was in Brazil, training at the original Gracie Academy in Rio de Janeiro, a place where great champions such as Rickson & Royler Gracie learned much of their fighting knowledge, that Craig received his black belt from the hands of Royler Gracie becoming the very first American black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Upon his return to the US, and after a short spell being an assistant instructor of Rorion Gracie, Craig decided to move to the East Coast, opening a few pioneering gyms in the area. The success of his academies led Craig to bring Renzo Gracie to the US and partner up with him for a New York gym. The two formed a strong partnership and both launched one of the most successful jiu jitsu instructional at the time, the aforementioned “Renzo Gracie – Craig Kukuk Brazilian Jiu Jitsu”. It was rumored on internet forums at the time that the instructional and the fees involving this video effort were at the root of the break-up between the two instructors, though this was never clarified publicly and reasons behind this bitter separation are still somewhat of a taboo subject within the BJJ community.
Craig Kukuk continued teaching in his gyms while also starting his own on-line coaching program.