I found it very interesting and i realised that we have never really documented the history of BJJ in Great Britain.
This is possibly because talking about this has always been likely
to encourage "BJJ Politics".
I think the time has come for some sort of record of events to be written
before history and exact timelines and dates get forgotten.
I also think that the main academies are well enough established for these issues to be discussed openly.
My aim is for this thread to catalogue events as each individual gives his or her version of how they became involved in the sport,at what time and with what team,and who the instructor was.
I am going to tell you what i know as fact i.e. I was there,and then what
i have heard as legend or rumour.
MY MARTIAL ARTS BACKGROUND-
My Martial Arts career started when i was 7 years old.I was taken to a small Judo Club in South West London.The Instructor there was Syd Hoare.He was an inspiring teacher.He loved Japanese Budo culture and so would have us doing Sumo and stuff as well as Judo.By the time i was 11 i had reached Blue Belt.Syd left the club at this point to set up LJS in Stockwell and Tony Sweeney took over.(The club was basically a satelite of The Budokwai).I discovered BMX riding and stopped going to Judo.
The kid who introduced me to BMX riding told me his Dad was a Judo teacher who knew Syd Hoare and Tony Sweeney.He was Dickie Bowen
R.I.P. from The Budokwai.I started turning up at my mates to be taught stuff because Dickie told me he would show me the "Illegal moves" that were forbidden for Juniors in Judo.He gave me books on judo and showed me how to do Juji Gatame (arm bar) and Hadaka Jime (rear choke)..............................
Later on when i was around 14 years old i make a return to Judo training at The Tokei in South London for a while.
I credit Syd and Dickie for my lifelong interest in the arts.
Richard "Dicky" Bowen began judo training in January 1949 at the Budokwai in London. He lived in Japan for four years to deepen his studies and eventually earned a Kodokan 4th Dan grade. He subsequently refused to accept any further non Kodokan grades on return to this country. A former British International, he fought in the first ever World Judo championships in Japan in c1956 and placed in the last eight in this open weight category competition. Mr Bowen was Vice President of the Budokwai before he died. He Co-authored a book on judo in 1962, has written over eighty articles and has been labouring for many years on a comprehensive book detailing the history of judo/jujutsu as it developed in the west.
Dickie Bowen devoted his life to catalogueing Judo History and before he died a couple of years ago,upon learning that i was learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu sent me all of his research on Maeda and the Gracie Family-research that rather than being done by a BJJ guy was done by a Judoka
making it far more likely than the normal "Helio" version of events.
Dickie hadn't researched it because he was interested in BJJ per se,but because he was interested in the cultural effect Judo had on other nations.
MY INTRODUCTION TO BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU-
I decide that Royce Gracie's wins in the UFC were not flukes
as i had originally thought,so encouraged by a close friend i start training with him at The Budokwai in Chelsea on a Friday Night which
was their "Ne Waza" class (Groundwork).We do this because according to my friend there was no "Gracie Jiu Jitsu" in the U.K. and this was
the closest thing.
At the same time i had another friend unconnected to the first who
had also tried to find Gracie Jiu Jitsu in London after watching the UFC.He too had been unsuccessful,but had found a Traditional
Jiu Jitsu Club with a modern approach to training run by a man
called "Lloyd" at Kensington New Pools in Ladbroke Grove.While
training there he attended some seminars with quite well known traditional guys like Wally Jay of "Small Circle Jiu Jitsu" fame.
I never trained with Lloyd but I have since found out that there were other future BJJ students training around this time with Lloyd,one of whom went on to become one of U.K BJJ's first Black Belts.
After about a year of doing Judo Ne waza at The Budokwai i gradually
got a little bored and went back to training in Taekwondo,an art i had begun training in 1993.
The friend i had originally started training with at The Budokwai had
gone travelling and during his travels had mangaged to train at
Renzo's in New York and Rickson's in L.A.
I got a chance to go travelling with him to work on a project.When i
arrived in Malta i met him and was introduced to Todd Fox who was
going to be working with us.He was a Purple Belt under Rodrigo
Vaghi and trained with Rodrigo and Rickson Gracie.We got some mats and started training at Lunchtime and after work every day.He taught me the basics of BJJ and i fell in love with the sport.
I arrived back in the U.K. with an addiction for BJJ and set out to find out if it was being taught yet.I phoned The Budokwai and to my surprise they told me that a Black Belt from Brazil called Chen Moraes had been teaching there every night for some time.
I went to Chens class that same night and began training with him.There were some very tough guys there!
After training with him for 2 weeks i took my childhood friend Dickie Martin with me after telling him if he didn't start training with me now he would regret it forever because i would be able to beat him up.
Every month Chen would run a "Grading" where you paid 50 and
he would grade you.Everyone would sit around the dojo and he
would match up 3 fights for you.You would fight in front of everyone else and if you won 2 out of your 3 fights he would choose an appropriate grade for you.I quickly progressed to being a 3 stripe
While training at Chen's at this time i met these people-
Wilson Junior-a tough brazilian who while travelling in the U.K. had looked for a BJJ academy to continue training in the sport he trained in
where he had grown up in Rio.
Luca Menagacci,Wallid Tadjouri,Rob Lawlor,Jawad Khan,Neil Lawlor,Luis "Manxinha" Ribeiro
My work friend was back in the U.K. and he called me with the exciting news that the legendary Royce Gracie was holding a seminar in Fulham.
I turned up there with Dickie (both of us proudly wearing our yellow belts!).
We met Royce and a friend of his-a young londoner who had been training with Royce for some time-Marc Walder who acted as Royce's assistant instructor.Marc came and really helped me and Dickie with the finer points of what Royce was teaching.Incidentally,the details that Marc gave me that night about the guard pass that Royce was teaching allowed me to understand and use that pass as part of my game to this day.
The seminar was at Simon Yeo's Ninjitsu School.Some of the Ninjitsu guys were wearing camel toe'd Ninjitsu boots and black gi's so when me and Dickie choked them all out at the end of training we were very smug
and thought we must have looked like very decent BJJ Students (little did we know that Royce and Marc were probably giggling at our Yellow Belts).....
Around this time i know that Eder Chagas was also teaching
as part of Chen's Anaconda network.He was teaching at The Tokei at London Bridge and i believe at an address in Royal Oak.When Chen left i
believe Eder's side of the club became Brazilian Top Team,with Ronaldo Campos eventually taking over from Eder (it would be good to get a definate date for this).When Ronaldo eventually left Great Britain Eduardo (Du-Du) took over from him running the U.K. BTT.
Also around this time Chen organised a competition at a hotel in Earls Court that Luca knew the owners of.Dickie and i both fought at that competition,which was mainly Eders club versus Chens club.
Chen tells us all that he is leaving the U.K. to go to Barcelona and teach.
He also tells me that during his time in the U.K. he never missed a class.
Wilson "Junior" and Luca Menagacci open CARLSON GRACIE LONDON TEAM at a hotel in Earls Court-the dojo is in a converted night club in the basement...........the rest of the Carlson Team history can be found here-
UNSUBSTANTIATED RUMOURS AND LEGENDS-Pre September 2001-Exact dates unknown by me.
Chen Moraes had been teaching in London for a while.Mauricio Motta Gomes-one of the few black belts under the legendary Rolls Gracie moved to Birmingham to start teaching BJJ.After some time in Birmingham he came to London and found Chen already teaching.He went to meet Chen and took part in a one of Chen's classes.
Many of Chens student's marvelled at Mauricio's skills and technique and
when they find out at a later date that Mauricio has opened a school in London (was it the "Third Space" or "Club Kensington" first???) they leave and join Mauricio.
At around the same time (date unknown) a young Brazilian arrives in London who has an English name due to an English parent.His name is Roger Brooking.He has a Black Belt in BJJ from Jacare Calvacante (a fellow Rolls Grace Black Belt-like Mauricio)>He has been living in L.A. and training a young kid called Chris Brennan for a couple of years
but has come to the U.K. to teach BJJ.He starts a school in Seymour Leisure Center in the West End of London and some of Chen's student go and start training with him.
*There is a legend that Roger Brooking at one point was teaching for Mauricio at "The Third Space" before starting his own school but this really isn't anything more than a distant memory of an old conversation for me-i really don't know if it's true?*
TO BE CONTINUED...................
Please help and add any dates or facts of your own.
Simon Hayes Carlson Gracie Revolution Team