AOJ : Mendes Bros

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Imagine being able to get boxing lessons from champion Manny Pacquiao or passing tips from Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, even one-on-one instruction on basketball with NBA great
LeBron James.

While the Mendes brothers, Guilherme and Rafael, haven’t quite reached the lofty status of those superstars, they are stars in their own right in their profession, Brazilian jiu jitsu, with almost 40 world and national championship titles under their belts. And they’re still young, 26 and 24, respectively.

Now practitioners of jiu jitsu can get personalized, hands-on training from the Brazilian brothers from São Paulo at their stylish, white-on-white facility in Costa Mesa, The Art of Jiu Jitsu Academy. The brothers opened the academy in July 2012 with sponsor and patron Pat Tenore, co-founder of the sports clothing line RVCA.

The Mendes brothers, who started in jiu jitsu when they were just 11 and 12 years old, have made it their mission to spread the benefits and lifestyle of jiu jitsu through their academy.

“We want to make an impact on this area, share jiu jitsu and the lifestyle that comes with jiu jitsu,” says Rafael, a six-time world champion. “Because once you start training you want to eat healthy, you want to be in shape, it’s so good for you, good for your family. That’s why we want people to come here, to live as a better person, that’s most important for us.”

Guilherme and Rafael are professors at the academy, with assistance from five accomplished coaches, all of whom compete in jiu jitsu on the national and world levels. But the two are also working on their burgeoning careers in the sport of Brazilian jiiu jitsu, which is an offshoot of the ages-old Japanese style and features grappling and more of a ground fighting style.

“Our goal now is to keep competing, training at a high level, and at the same time, for us, the most important, is to keep growing the academy and being able to share jiu jitsu with the community,” says Guilherme, a seven-time world champ himself. “We have the academy to influence everyone’s life here.”

And since jiu jitsu was a motivating and inspiring force for them early in their life in Brazil, they wanted the academy to focus on kids and families too, offering classes from kids and beginners to those who want to compete at a higher level.

“It’s not like a fight club, we have kids as young as 3 years old,” says Guilherme. “We have a lot of families where the mom and the dad train in jiu jitsu, and with all the kids. It makes the familiy stronger.”

The brothers, who were trained and mentored by the renowed Brazilian jiu jitsu coach Ramon Lemos, came to the U.S. in their late-teens to compete in world championships. Here they met Tenore, who took a shine to the youths and offered to pay their expenses to live here and train in exchange for them training him in the art.

“Pat Tenore, he was person who made everything possible for us,” says Rafael. “It was really cool. A dream come true.”

And the dream continues for the brothers with
The Art of Jiu Jitsu Academy and their new additions to the family.

411 E 17th St,
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Ph. 949.645.1679
inst: @aojacademy



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