Jackson Nagai is a Brazilian grappler, raised in Japan, and a black belt in jiu-jitsu under Lucas Leite who represents the Checkmat team in the sport’s international circuit. A late bloomer, Nagai broke out as one of the top prospects in the game as a brown belt, after he started competing in the United States with stellar performances at the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) global league and the Royal Invitational. Jackson is the older brother of Samuel Nagai, another well-known athlete with international accolades.
Jackson Nagai Jiu-Jitsu
Full Name: Jackson Nagai Hatchwell Junior
- 1st Place UAEJJF Grand Slam, LA (2015 blue)
- 1st Place FJJAM Amazonense (2017 / 2018 purple)
- 2nd Place IBJJF World Championship (2019 brown)
- 2nd Place UAEJJF Grand Slam, LA (2017 brown)
- 2nd Place IBJJF Manaus Open (2016 purple)
- 3rd Place Royal Invitational (2018)
Favorite Position/Technique: Distance Passing
Weight Division: Peso Médio (82,30 kg / 181.5 lbs)
Jackson Nagai Biography
Jackson Nagai was born on March 25, 1994, in Manés a small town neighboring Manaus – Brazil, famous for its production of the famous acaí berry.
Although born in the Amazon, Nagai moved with his family to Japan at the age of 10. There, his first sporting interest was basketball, an activity he had started back in Brazil and carried on competing in the Japanese national school-team circuit for a few years, touring through the Asian country with his team.
Unfortunately, during his teens, Nagai’s life took a turn for the worst with his father abandoning Jackson, younger brother Samuel and their mother after a life-long of physical abuse to the matriarch. With this ordeal came the desire to learn martial arts as a way to “protect his family”, a sentiment Jackson shared with BJJ Heroes in an interview undertaken in 2020.
Nagai’s first steps inside a martial arts dojo were taken in Japan, at a karate school. He was a dedicated student for 1 year while also adding kickboxing to his weekly activities.
Although born in South America, Nagai did not have the typical emigrant life in Japan. Fluent in Japanese, his circle of friends was exclusively Nipponic, with no Brazilian contacts outside of his family. As such, jiu-jitsu was a very distant thought while growing up. That would change when a Brazilian friend of his mother’s explained to young Jackson the effectiveness of this martial art in the real world. That talk won Nagai’s curiosity and shortly after he looked for an academy to train at. He was 17 years old at the time
The first grappling gym visited by Nagai was Evox BJJ of coach Nori Toda in Hamamatsu, with who Nagai first fell in love with grappling, a sentiment that led him to bring his younger brother Samuel to class. The two brothers became fairly popular in the competition scene early on and ended up switching to a more competitive gym, shortly after Jackson earned his blue belt.
A time with coach Junior Handa at the Jaws was followed by a return to Manaus where Jackson trained first with Marcio Pontes of Nova União, earning his brown belt from the prestigious instructor, and later with Carlos Holanda. It was during this period that both Jackson and his brother Samuel started truly being recognized as big talents in the sport, competing in the highly competitive Amazonas colored belt circuit.
While in Manaus, Jackson and his brother were greatly incentivized to try an international career. At the time Jackson was reluctant to do so, as he worked outside the sport to help provide for his family, but as soon as former IBJJF World Champion Gabriel Moraes intervened with the state’s governor, to help get the Nagai brothers to the World Championship in California, USA, Jackson became fully committed to his sporting dream.
Once in the United States, the Nagai joined the Checkmat network, being helped by important faces of jiu-jitsu such as Sean Roberts and Lucas Leite. It was Leite who graded Jackson to black belt in January 2020.
Jackson Nagai vs Roy Dagan