Today I have some important news to tell you. However, I need to look back through my time here in São Paulo and to what I believe Jiu Jitsu should be, and particularly what Alliance should be. I arrived in São Paulo at the end of 1993, 26 years ago. I came here because I didn’t see much future for the sport in Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately, I was right and the Jiu Jitsu there has only worsened since, ceasing to be the largest worldwide hub, to
becoming a place where very few gyms still survive.
I was unsure if I should come to São Paulo, or if I should leave Brazil, but once again I think I made the right decision. I came here and it’s where I made my best friends and I could build the best team in the world at the best academy, which consequently provided me with a great quality of life; all of which I had done through Jiu Jitsu, which has always been my dream.
Along this path, there have been innumerable obstacles. It was a very difficult time. I remember when I was close to retiring from competitions and my academy had only 80 students, I had to give 12 classes per day at that time. This pace of teaching lasted for many years, and along with that came the recovery from the Alliance rift, and the necessity to live under the same roof with so many stars. It was definitely a difficult mission. The same team that filled me with pride and initiated the process of becoming the best team ever, brought one more responsibility – creating the opportunity for those who also wanted to live the same dream as me. Perhaps that was the dark reason for the Alliance split, that the people involved thought there would be no room for them, and decided to make their own way.
I think they made a bad mistake, but I don’t blame myself for not seeing this or for not being able to provide for it at that time. This somehow became an objective that merged with the expansion of our team around the world. The question became how to create an opportunity for people who were by my side, and it has become critical to Alliance’s success. The process started with Marcelinho (Marcelo Garcia) going to our New York branch, which felt like taking an arm off. Losing Marcelo was very difficult, but I knew it was the best way. This was followed by so many other examples like Cobrinha to Atlanta, Lucas to New York (replacing Marcelo who had gone to Florida) Malfacine to Orlando, Bernardo to New York, Leo to Atlanta, Tarsis to San Diego, Thominhas to Vancouver. This was not even counting the many others who went to Abu Dhabi.
It would be impossible to have so many stars for so long within the same space, but it is possible to have them all on our team happy and proud to be part of our family. Since the split, there have been very few people who left our team because most people understand that there is no better place to be, and who dedicates themselves to that opportunity.
We recently had some moves in this direction. Gui moved to Arkansas and is in charge of our academy over there, and Caio Quilombola received a proposal to run the Calgary school and participate in an ambitious project with the aim of expanding our schools in Canada. This process will be intensified once our affiliates feel the need to bring more quality to their academies, and when the seal of quality that our teachers put on their work is valued – sometimes it’s more than we can evaluate.
I wanted to tell you this introduction, so you can put it into context and understand how I think about the renewal and expansion of our team. I think things need to be rebuilt and sometimes moving an important piece like Caio, for example, brings a challenge to everyone involved and makes us move in order to be better. I don’t think we can get used to the lows. They have happened often in my life – the first one I remember was the decision to stop competing. I thought that my performance was no longer satisfactory. My body could no longer keep up with my mind, so I felt it was time to dedicate myself and succeed in something else. I focused my energy on having the best team in the world, and therefore trained and led my athletes to win 9 consecutive world titles, but I knew I wouldn’t have that energy forever.
Of course, these things are mixed in together. There’s an overlap, it’s not like you stop one thing and instantly start another but doing too many things at the same time, pulls your energy in too many places. I dedicated myself to study the management of my business and to digital marketing, and we reached our target of over 500 students. We set up a team of dedicated and professional teachers who allowed me to do that, even when I’m not as present on the mat as I was in the old days. But this also follows a natural order, and next month I will have been a black bet for 30 years, entirely dedicated to our beloved Jiu Jitsu.
Parallel to the growth of the academy I was already looking ahead and seeing the need to organize Alliance in a better way, not only as a team but as a company. I have defended my ideas with Alliance since it was founded in 1993 with huge frustrations. It was always very hard to convince the people of Jiu Jitsu that we could do something bigger but I had some victories too and in 2014 Alliance became a real company. Today Alliance has 312 schools in 22 countries and has a plan to expand to 600 schools in 3 years. We just received an international investment which will offer even more opportunities in the near future. This, of course, brings me greater responsibility and the need for the same dedication that I have done everything in my life. But it also brings me great satisfaction, because this move opened yet another door.
I just sold 50% of Alliance SP to a very special guy who was chosen to have this opportunity, because of his competence, character, and commitment to our cause, which is to provide the best Jiu Jitsu in the world for as many people as possible. Other percentages will likely be distributed in the near future. I understand that my legacy needs to be renewed, and this academy needs to always be a reference within the world of Jiu Jitsu. And today I need help making this happen so you can accompany me in challenging and trying to make Jiu Jitsu the best it can be. I hope this opportunity, perhaps the biggest I have ever created is just one more to come along, serving one day as an example for people to replicate, and to keep our story alive.
My dear students, I ask all of you to give warm applause to the new CEO of Alliance SP – Michael Langhi