Professor Fabio Leopoldo started giving Jiu Jitsu classes in 1996 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Originally Fabio began teaching as a part time job to support his training and competition. In 1999 while finishing his last year at the University his main focus was Jiu Jitsu training and competing in tournaments around Brazil. Unfortunately fighting was not providing money and Fabio didn’t see a career in Jiu Jitsu championships and titles. Even teaching part time was not enough to earn a living. It was during this time that he had the idea to get together with his best friend a Ryan Gracie team member, Marcelo Marques to open an academy. They needed to find a good location and they realized that there was a great area, which didn’t have a Jiu Jitsu academy yet.
The neighborhood was Morumbi. A growing neighborhood, which had many schools and where a lot of families lived but which was still lacking a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy. On the main street in Morumbi there was a local gym that had recently gone out of business. There was already a mat space and an area with weights, treadmills etc. It was a perfect location to put the new academy! Soon 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 as a Marketing Director and left the academy for Fabio to continue. Fabio 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 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 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 Gracie Morumbi as Fabio looked to expand his Jiu Jitsu family.
In 2006 Professor Fabio Leopoldo already had 4 black belts that he had graduated who were helping with the teaching duties at Gracie Morumbi. At this time Ryan and Renzo Gracie were encouraging Fabio to try his hand in MMA after many successful years in Jiu Jitsu championships, including 3 world titles! In order to completely dedicate himself to Jiu Jitsu Fabio moved to New York to train at the Renzo Gracie Academy in Manhattan. While training with many MMA champions and coaches including Matt Serra, Ricardo Almeida, and Martin Rooney among others, Fabio learned and grew his Martial Arts knowledge. After competing successfully as a professional fighter in Pancrase in Japan and the IFL in the U.S., Fabio decided to come back to his original passion, Jiu Jitsu.
Professor Fabio Leopoldo decided that he would open his second Jiu Jitsu 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 bring him closer to surfing, his favorite hobby and quiet passion.
After speaking to his good friend from Gracie Barra, Professor Fabio decided to open a Gracie Barra affiliate school. Both his masters 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 was introduced to Professor Raul Montolfo over the phone and decided to head to California to meet up with Professor Raul and look at different cities to open a school. Professor Raul became very important in Fabio’s decision to start building a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu family in Ventura County.
Professor Fabio called Erik Klinger (“gringo” as he was known at Gracie Morumbi in Brazil), his student and friend who was still in Brazil training, teaching, and working at Gracie Morumbi in Sao Paulo, to invite him to come back to the states and help teach and build the new academy. Erik was ready! He moved back within a few months to start helping Professor Fabio with the new academy. Gracie Barra Ventura became a huge success and after one year, Professor Fabio decided to open his third academy, Gracie Barra Thousand Oaks.
For professional reasons, in 2010 Professor Fabio Leopoldo decided to change the name of the Ventura and Thousand Oaks academies back to the original name he had used in Brazil, Gracie Morumbi. Now all three academies are known as Gracie Morumbi. All three follow the original teachings of Master Ryan and Renzo Gracie and of the Gracie Jiu Jitsu lineage.
Professor Fabio Leopoldo leads Gracie Morumbi from his home in Southern California where he teaches daily in Thousand Oaks and Ventura continuing the legacy of Master Ryan Gracie’s teachings that he has brought from Brazil.