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Master Francisco Sá

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Master Francisco Sá is a jiu jitsu red belt and one of the main instigators for jiu jitsu in the region of Ceará, Brazil. Francisco Sá, who was graded as an instructor by Takeo Iano, established his academy in Fortaleza in the 1960’s, an academy that flourished with the combined effort of himself and his son Carlos Pinto Sá (also known as “Sazinho”) becoming a beacon of excellence in that Northern Brazilian state.

Master Francisco Sá Jiu Jitsu

Full Name: Francisco Carlos Pinto Sá

Nickname: N/A

Lineage: Takeo Iano > Francisco Sá

Main Achievements:

  • Cearense Champion (1958)
  • Cearense Luta Livre Champion (1960)

Favourite Position/Technique: N/A

Weight Division: Peso Medio

Team/Association: SAS (Sá Team)

Master Francisco Sá Biography

Francisco Sá was born on the remote town of Senador Pompeu, around 200km from the main city of Fortaleza, on the 17 of December, 1935. His first contact with jiu jitsu occurred when the Gracies moved to the state of Ceará in the 1940’s. He also spent some time training with one of George Gracie’s students, Mr Nilo Veloso.

In his late teens, Master Francisco Sá decided to move to Recife in the state of Pernambuco to follow a career in the Brazilian Air Force. When in Recife, Francisco Sá discovered that a jiu jitsu master named Takeo Iano was teaching in the area. He immediately sought out the Japanese, and started learning from the former Kodokan academy standout. In Recife, Francisco Sá dedicated all his time and effort to jiu jitsu, and in 6 years he made it from white belt to the rank of instructor under Takeo Iano.

After years of training in Recife, Master Sá decided to return to his home state to be closer to his family. There he opened his first academy, which was called “Central Ringue Club” later to be renamed as “Academia Professor Sá”. From this academy he developed several important fighters, including his own son “Sazinho”, who became one of the most popular coaches in the region. The family of fighters continues to deliver high class fighters such as Gybson Sá & Robson Sá, also his sons and Daniel Beleza.

The “Academia Professor Sá” was an affiliate of another big jiu jitsu team, the 2x world champions, Nova União, for many years. In 2009 their academy broke the bond with the Rio de Janeiro juggernauts, forming the new “Equipe SAS” together with Coach Guilherme Santos.

On the morning of September the 10th, 2013, Master Francisco Sá passed away due to cardiac arrest. He was 77 years old.

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  • SAS TEAM says:

    Gybson Sa and Robson Sa are not Sazinho's sons they are Master Sa's sons. So they are still 2nd generation of champions.

  • bjj DL says:

    one amazing jiu jitsu master who recieved his redbelt from Sa is Master Darcio Lira


    great article, love that more and more information is coming out. Jiu Jitsu was not privilege to just one family. Osss.

    • cb3 says:

      You are right but the family you are referring to(Gracies) took it from the Japanese lineage, changed/altered it and produced the BJJ that it is today, especially in the U.S. By the way, they(Gracies) NEVER claimed Jiu Jitsu came from or was "privileged" to them. In fact, they fully acknowledge it's Japanese history. So if you want to study Japanese Jiu Jitsu, go ahead, it's out there to be found. Just don't challenge a BJJ person of same rank and experience because you will see the difference and may not like it.

  • Henrique Holanda says:


    Unfortunately, he passed away early this morning (10th of September 2013).

  • James says:

    If Takeo Iano was a Kodokan “standout” then he was clearly a Kodokan JUDO practitioner rather than Jiu Jitsu no?

    • bjjheroes says:

      James, Kudokan was a branch of Jiu Jitsu before it was given a different name (Judo). Much like a Jiu Jitsu academy who's style was named something different to re-vamp a "decaying" martial art. Maeda also trained at the Kodokan. All BJJ derives from the Kodokan academy as does all Judo. Two apples from a very prosperous tree.

    • Nathan says:

      Kodokan Judo back then wasn’t like the watered down version of Kodokan Judo we have today.

  • BJJnJudoBB says:

    Without the dedication and competitive nature of Brazilian masters such as the Sa family, original judo – nowhere in modern-day Japan except at BJJ schools – would have been lost forever as today's judo taught around the world has turned essentially into a childhood game of tripping your friend and has branched a great distance away from its original roots in martial arts. 100 years of unique development and growth in Brazil by world class athletes such as Professor Sa has made BJJ into the dominant grappling martial art it is today. Rest in peace Professor Sa and thank you and your generation for allowing the world the opportunity to learn such a brilliant and beautiful art – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

  • Jason says:

    I zoomed in on Grandmaster Sa's belt and saw 10 stripes instead of 9 on his belt. Was he recognized as a 10th degree red belt? I ask because 2 of the main BJJ organizations (run by Carlos Robson Gracie and Carlos Gracie, Jr.) only recognize the original 5 Gracie brothers as 10th Dan, and not other pioneers like Luiz Franca for instance.

  • Mirco says:

    I read about that Takeo Yano taught Jiu Jitsu in the 70s and 80s in Belo Horizonte in Minas Gerais, too and was co founder of the federacao mineira de Jiu Jitsu (FMJJ) .

    • Francisco says:

      You are right. Both Takeo Yano and Geo Omori were in taught in Minas Gerais. FMJJ is basicaly a non Gracie line of Jiu Jitsu.

  • LEO says:

    I am honored to be able to train with Profs Jorge Gurgel & David “Fluffy” Reeves at JGMMA/ SAS Team in West Chester (Cincinnati Metro) Ohio. Raise the Diamond!

  • Carlos Andre Sousa Matos says:

    Mestre Sa. Tive a honra de conhece-lo. Sempre sereno e humilde. Fui aluno do meu mestre Sazinho. Deus o abençoe e meus sentimentos a familia.

  • Pedrin says:

    It says his lineage is Takeo Iano > Francisco Sa. However, isn’t it true that Master Sa received in 1959 his black belt from Nilo Veloso, who in turn was a George Gracie Black Belt? Yes, Takeo Iano trained Sa first… but he received his BB from a Gracie Lineage black belt… thus making him directly aligned with a Gracie Lineage. George Gracie > Nilo Veloso > Francisco Sa…. it’s like if your instructor trains you up to Brown Belt and then Pedro Sauer swoops in and awards you your Black Belt… you’re a Pedro Sauer Black Belt. No disrespect, just trying to make sense of it! Thank you!

    • BJJ Heroes says:

      Pedrin, there weren’t black belts at the time. You were an instructor or a student, the current belt system only arrived in the early 1970s. Therefore, although he did train with more than one person, the lineage is a mere formality here.

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