Master Fernando “Pinduka” was one of BJJ’s most important fighters in the 1980’s golden era of Jiu Jitsu. A black belt under the late Carlson Gracie, he defended the Gracie Jiu Jitsu name and honor for many years against those who challenged the martial art. He was also one of the people responsible for BJJ’s development at the Gama Filho University, where he lectured, that later became GF Team. Pinduka received his coral belt from the hands of Master Robson Gracie, being widely considered one of the most important figures in the history of the sport.
Mestre Fernando Pinduka Jiu Jitsu
Full Name: Fernando de Mello Guimarães
Nickname: In his own words – “I got that nickname when I was eight years old. Because of a comic book character, his name was Pinduka. He was very active, and always doing sports and was always doing something he shouldn’t be doing. For that I was nicknamed Pinkuda”.
- Drew against MMA legend Marco Ruas in the Jiu Jitsu vs Martial Arts Challenge (1984 – no holds barred);
- Remained unbeaten in competition from 1968 to 1985.
Favourite Submission: Armlock
Team/ Association: Fernando Pinduka Jiu Jitsu
Fernando Pinduka Biography
Fernando was born in 1953 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He first got in contact with Jiu Jitsu when he was 12 as a way to defend himself. Pinduka had run into trouble with an older kid who stole his marble balls. Fernando couldn’t challenge the much bigger thief into a fight, so he threw a rock at his head which knocked the older kid out. Hearing about the ordeal, Fernando’s father was fearful for his son’s integrity and enlisted him in a jiu jitsu school, where he started being taught by the late Helio Vígio.
Pinduka loved training and started competing in 1968, right at the start of the new Rio de Janeiro BJJ federation. He became it’s first champion in the junior division at 14 years of age in that same year and remained unbeaten until 1985, training with three legends, Helio Vígio, Rolls Gracie and mainly Carlson Gracie. Pinduka’s name grew in the area and he was also known as the “King of Copacabana” for the weight he carried in the area.
He was also close to another BJJ legend, Rolls Gracie, in an era that many call the golden days of Jiu Jitsu (the 1980’s), the same days when all the feud between Jiu Jitsu and Luta Livre (a form of catch wrestling common in Brazil) began. The reason it all started, according to Pinduka, was because of a fight that occurred between Charles Gracie and Mario Duma, the brother in law of Molina (who trained luta livre). When Rolls found out what the Duma had done to his brother he invaded Molina’s academy (where Duma also trained) with his students and all hell broke loose. From that moment on, the bad blood was established and it would take several years before peace was restored.
In 1978 Fernando Pinduka managed to achieve what he had been working for so long, his black belt in Jiu Jitsu from the hands of his master, and his degree in Physical Education (aka Gymnastics). His academic monograph was about the insertion of Jiu Jitsu in the University’s Curriculum, a request vehemently denied at the time.
In 1984 Fernando Pinduka was chosen by the Gran Master Helio Gracie himself to defend the Gracie Jiu Jitsu name against the Luta Livre challengers. The event was called “JJ vs MA – Jiu-Jitsu vs Martial Arts”, and it took place in a super packed Maracana, the historic arena in Rio de Janeiro that has hosted several famous fights throughout the years. The fight had very little rules and there were no judges, so after a gruelling 20 minutes of war, the fight was stopped and declared a draw.
After completing 3 Masters Degrees in different subjects, Pinduka recharged batteries and applied once again for BJJ in the Univertisy. The request was denied in 1988, 1990 and 1992, the project was refused mainly by the Judo board who held strong influence with “the powers that be” and who believed one grapping art was sufficient in the course. But showing true perseverance, Fernando did not give up and continued pushing his bill. Until in 1993 light shinned upon the people in charge of the University and finally the bill was accepted.
Jiu Jitsu stayed in the curriculum of the University from their on, until in 1997 the sport had evolved in such a manner that there was a need to form a team. And so the (now) famous Gama Filho Team was born (today called GFT). The group was handed to Mestre Julio Cesar who transformed that unit into one of the greatest forces of BJJ in Rio de Janeiro.
Another episode in Master Pinduka’s life, was when he cut his foot and the wound got infected. He went to the doctors, and they told him he would probably lose his foot because they could not kill the bacteria that had entered his blood stream. Carlson Gracie then took Pinduka to his father, Gran Master Carlos Gracie, who was very wise to traditional medicine. Gran Master made a mix of herbs that he applied into the wound and in a few weeks he was fully recovered.
Today Master Pinduka still teaches Jiu Jitsu and Gymnastics in Rio de Janeiro.
Pinduka vs Marco Ruas Pt 1
Pinduka vs Marco Ruas Pt 2