Top Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu School opens near NCC

NORWALK – Gracie Sports USA will be celebrating its opening at their new location at 770 Connecticut Avenue on Saturday, May 26th at 2:30 p.m. to about 100 or more of the members and their friends.

Before the opening celebration there will be a two hours seminar from noon to 2 p.m. with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) Master Jose Henrique Leao Teixeira. The seminar fee is $50 (pre-register) and $60 (at the door). Master Teixeira holds a 6th degree black belt and is one of the creators of Gracie Barra – well known BJJ academy/team in Brazil – also one of the creators of the BJJ Confederation and currently President of the South American BJJ Association and Vice-President of CBJJ (BJJ Confederation). Master Teixeira taught many names such as: Master Renzo Gracie, Ralph Gracie, Marcio Feitosa, Roger Gracie, Igor Gracie, Neiman Gracie and many more.

Gracie Sports USA is owned by Master Marcio “Macarrao” Stambowsk, who is one of the “famous five” after being promoted to the rank of black belt in 1981 by the legendary Master Rolls Gracie.

Master Stambowsky began studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at the Gracie Academy in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1975, at the urging of his childhood best friend Mauricio Gomes – father of world champion Roger Gracie and another of Rolls’ “famous five.”

“From the moment I set my foot in the academy at age 15 and met my life-long mentor and teacher Master Rolls Gracie, the energy and friendliness of the place was contagious, it was truly the golden age of the art; with the entire Gracie family and many of their top students all teaching and training under one roof,” said Master Stambowsky.

Master Stambowsky learned from Helio, Ricson, Carlson, Carlos Jr. and many other members of the Gracie family alongside Rolls Gracie. To this day, he credits the entire Gracie family with helping his BJJ; however, “it was Rolls’ influence that truly shaped the teacher, fighter and the man that I’ve become,” said Master Stambowsky.

Over the next 25 years, Master Stambowsky became an active and decorated teacher and competitor in BJJ, judo and wrestling – winning many titles and traveling as all over the world to compete and share his knowledge.

In 2007, Master Stambowsky – along with his wife Mrs. Carla Gracie, his son Mr. Neiman Gracie Stambowsky, also a world-class competitor and champion black belt and his daughter Ms. Deborah Gracie Stambowsky a skilled purple belt – decided to come to the United Stated to start a new BJJ family in Connecticut.

Ms. Deborah Gracie Stambowsky teaching the kids class at Gracie Sports’ new gym.

Ms. Stambowsky, who is also an ESL student at Norwalk Community College said that she is excited about the new gym and plans to start a BJJ club at the school. “I’ve heard that we – students – can start a club here at NCC and to me would be very interesting to promote BJJ to other people. It’s just not a martial art is also good exercise and a healthy life style,” said Mrs. Stambowsky.

Mr. Michael “Mike Everyday” Mancinelli – a former Architectural Engineering Technology student at NCC and currently purple belt under Master Stambowsky – said that he wishes the gym was near the school during the time he attended NCC. “I’m very pleased with the new location, It’s near NCC which is good for some of my team-mates who still takes classes there. I didn’t know we could have a BJJ club back then but I hope Deb can start it next fall,” said Mr. Mancinelli.

Mr. Michael Mancinelli – Known as Mike “Everyday” – and Master Marcio “Macarrao” Stambowsky at the old gym near Main Street in Norwalk.

Black-and-red belt “coral belt”

Current International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) regulation places the time it takes to progress from a 6th degree black belt to a 7th degree black and red belt at 7 years. When a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt reaches the 7th and 8th degree, the practitioner is awarded an alternating red-and-black belt. This belt is also referres to as the “coral belt”. Black-and-red belt holders are very experienced practitioners, most of whom have made a large impact on the overall art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Master Marcio “Macarrao” Stambowsky earned his Coral Belt in 2010.