The Complete History of TheMorumbi Academy
Originally, Professor Fabio Leopoldo started giving jiu jitsu classes in 1996 in Sao Paulo, Brazil when he began teaching to support his personal training and competition. In 1999, while finishing his final year at the University, his main focus was jiu jitsu training, and competing in tournaments around Brazil, and around the world. It was during this time that Fabio had the idea to get together with his best friend (a Ryan Gracie team member), Marcelo Marques to open an academy. First, they needed to find a good location, and then they realized that they knew of a great area, one which didn’t have a jiu jitsu academy, yet.
The neighborhood was called Morumbi, a growing neighborhood, which had many schools, and where a lot of families lived, but which still lacked a Brazilian jiu jitsu academy. On the main street in Morumbi there was a local gym that had recently gone out of business. In the gym, there was already a mat space and an area with weights, treadmills, and other equipment; so, it was a perfect location to establish the new academy! Soon after, Fabio opened the academy with Marcelo and named it “Gracie Morumbi.” Gracie Morumbi was a complete academy with boxing, weights, and world class Brazilian jiu jitsu training under two of Ryan Gracie’s best students. At that time, both Fabio and Marcelo were brown belts under Ryan Gracie. Two years after opening Gracie Morumbi, Marcelo decided to go back to his original passion and livelihood in business, leaving the academy. to Fabio, who continued to build the academy slowly but steadily, always dividing his time between teaching and training. Always involved in championships around Brazil and internationally, Fabio began to build his reputation as a fierce competitor, and one of the top BJJ fighters in the world. It was during this time that he focused on developing his top students who would one day help him to run the Morumbi Academies, as professor Fabio worked to expand his BJJ family.
In 2006, Professor Fabio had already promoted four black belts, who were helping with the teaching duties at Gracie Morumbi. About this time, Fabio also decided to try his hand at MMA, after many successful years in BJJ championships, including three (now, four) world titles! In order to completely dedicate himself to BJJ, Fabio moved to New York to train at the Renzo Gracie Academy in Manhattan. While training with many MMA champions and coaches, including John Danaher, Matt Serra, Ricardo Almeida, and Martin Rooney, among others, Fabio significantly developed and grew his martial arts knowledge, taking his skills to the “next level.” After competing successfully as a professional fighter in Pancrase in Japan, and in the IFL in the U.S., Fabio ultimately decided to come back to his original passion, BJJ.
Professor Fabio decided that he would open his second academy in the U.S., and that he would head west to do so. Southern California was a perfect spot to continue what he had started in Brazil. Fabio’s dream was to live near the water and be close to good waves which, for Fabio, would also bring him closer to surfing, his favorite hobby and quiet passion. After discussing his dream with his wife, Dini, they both resolved to build their lives, their business, and their family in California! Since both his instructors, Ryan and Renzo Gracie were originally from Gracie Barra in Rio, and he himself had fought for and trained with the Gracie Barra team his entire life, Fabio decided to open a Gracie Barra affiliate school. Fabio was then introduced to professor Raul Montolfo, and decided to head to California to meet up with professor Raul, and conduct site checks in anticipation of opening a new school. By visiting practically all of the cities in Southern California, professor Fabio finally decided to build his new academy in Ventura, famous for its beautiful scenery, friendly people, and beach lifestyle; finally, Fabio and Dini both agreed that Ventura would be a perfect place to raise their family.
Fabio was fortunate to meet with success and soon added a Thousand Oaks location to the headquarters academy. Now with three schools, including the original Morumbi Academy in Sao Paulo, Brazil, professor Fabio leads the Morumbi BJJ family from his home in Ventura, California. For professional and sentimental reasons, in 2010, Fabio decided to change the name of the academies back to the original name he had used in Brazil, “Gracie Morumbi.” Years later we now refer to the family as the Morumbi Academy. All academies follow the original teachings of masters Ryan and Renzo Gracie, and of the Gracie Jiu Jitsu lineage.
Professor Fabio now supervises all the Morumbi academies from his home in the U.S., while his sister Priscila, professor Leo Rehmycius, and his first black belt, professor Alexandre Henrique-Souza oversee the Morumbi Academy in Brazil.