In case you haven’t been sleeping under a rock for the past few days, you may know one of Gracie Barra‘s main figures was assaulted last weekend – the team’s North America Executive Director, Mr. Flávio Almeida, in an event that took place at the IBJJF 2018 World No-Gi Championship. The aggression coming from Ralph Gracie, brother of Renzo Gracie and one jiu-jitsu’s pioneers in the Northern California area.
Although we do not have all the details regarding the “why” of this altercation – particularly from the Gracie vantage point, one thing seems to be common ground. There was an assault BY a member of our community TO another, and that is unacceptable. It is unacceptable in modern day society, let alone in a martial art that is said to be grounded on the beliefs of respect and honor. There is nothing honorable in a blindsided punch, regardless of how many spins one can give the build-up to the altercation.
As per the accounts of various eyewitnesses, the aggression occurred while Almeida was near the coaches barriers, cornering one of his students. He was approached by Ralph and elbowed from the blindside as Flavio was looking away. The blow knocked Almeida to the ground, where a few more strikes ensued and the damaged equated to, at least, 3 broken teeth.
The reason why, however, is dense and missing elements are yet to be revealed. So far, what we know is that Ralph Gracie and his legendary San Francisco South Bay academy have been going through some turmoil. Earlier this year, Ralph added longtime Gracie Barra team member João “Jerry” Oliveira to his coaching staff. Oliveira was a personal friend of Ralph who was forced to relocate to the Bay Area for family reasons, leaving GB to join RGA.
The reasons for Oliveira, a deeply rooted member of GB joining RGA had to do with another piece of this kerfuffle’s puzzle. An old unspoken rule in which San Francisco’s Bay Area was regarded as Ralph Gracie territory, a neighborhood not to be populated by Gracie Barra franchises. However, who was involved in making this deal, and the canons in which this rule was founded have not been made public.
The process of including Jerry in Ralph Gracie’s Academy meant an excess of coaches and for that reason, instructor Jake Scovel was removed from the team. Scovel was a beloved member of the academy, close to the students and to the “face” of the academy at the time, the illustrious Kurt Osiander. This tense circumstance ended with Osiader stepping aside to open his own gym and several students leaving with him.
Dealing with a strenuous situation inside his own academy, the thought of Gracie Barra franchises knocking at his doorstep was not ideal, and the news of this seems to have, according to our sources, been the catalyst for Ralph’s egregious reaction. The fact that Flávio Almeida oversees any expansion made by the Red Shield in North America made him a target for Gracie, whose bad relationship with Almeida seems to go further back.
Adding to the severity of the attack are the consequences that may arise from it. To understand who Almeida is, take into account that Flávio is one of the 3 figureheads of the Gracie Barra association, alongside Marcio Feitosa and Marco Joca. GB is the largest and most well-spread team in our sport by a long shot. Flávio is also the brother of Ricardo Almeida, a senior member of the Renzo Gracie Academy.
Although many relate to John Danaher as the head coach at Renzo’s, the reality is Ricardo is one of the Brazilian’s oldest and most loyal students, one who coaches some of the team’s top mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters, including Corey Anderson and Frankie Edgar. He is also coach to guys such as Tom deBlass, Garry Tonon and his importance inside the Renzo Gracie Academy is just as big as Flávio’s is at GB.
Almeida with Frankie Edgar Marlon Moraes and Magomedov Magomed
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Ralph’s actions have not only placed him in dire straits with the law, but they have also maligned his brother’s own bonds with his team. Renzo’s decisions on who to support in this situation may very well dictate the dynamics of his workgroup, including that of Ricardo Almeida and the Danaher Death Squad inside the famous Blue Basement.