- 1. Rio Jiu-Jitsu
- 2. Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
- 3. Serafin Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
- 4. Redzovic Jiu-Jitsu
- 5. Valko Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy
- 6. 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu
- 7. Copa Jiu-Jitsu
- 8. Brazil 021 Chicago
- 9. Andre Maneco BJJ
- 10. Comprido Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy
- 11. Vianna Brothers Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or BJJ, is taking the world by storm with the popularity of promotions like the UFC or Bellator. It all go backs to watching Royce Gracie in that first UFC fight giant men that weight a lot more than him. Royce became the first UFC champion and won three of the first four UFC championships. The first UFC happened in 1993 and that was the point where people started to recognize BJJ as a martial art that would be effective against most people.
Fast forward to today, many more people are practicing the “gentle art” and creating new techniques every day. Not only does BJJ help you to defend yourself but it gives you an outlet to use all that extra energy and get in shape. With the popularity of Jiu Jitsu today, schools are opening up all over the Chicagoland area. This makes it tough to make a decision on where to go but our list should help that a little bit. We’ve compiled some of the top BJJ schools in the Chicago area for you to see.
Rio Jiu-Jitsu – 3 Classes for $19.99
3948 N Monticello Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
Rio Jiu Jitsu is one of the premier BJJ schools in the Chicagoland area and it focuses on some of the most relevant and helpful techniques in the sport. From new practitioners to old, from adults to kids, Rio Jiu Jitsu offers a friendly environment that is set up to make it easy for beginners to learn and people that have been training for a while to be much better. Learn to channel your energy into a martial art that will help you to become a more disciplined and confident person while doing so in a friendly environment.
Pete “The Greek” Letsos is the founder and head instructor of Rio Jiu Jitsu. Pete is a black belt under the tutelage of Carlson Gracie Junior. Pete was one of the early American Jiu Jitsu black belts and hasn’t stopped since. He has competed all over the world and most notably the legendary Brazilian Teams Nationals, Gracie Invitational, the Pan Americans, and the Copa Atlantica.
Pete earned his nickname back when he spent his early Jiu Jitsu days in Brazil. The local Brazilians weren’t able to say his name and knew he was of Greek descent. Therefore, Pete was dubbed with the nickname “The Greek” from then going forward.
Letsos traveled to Brazil in 2002 when he decided he wanted to train with the best in the world. This trip would lead him to start training with some of the best in the world. He ended up getting there during one of the craziest times in Jiu Jitsu when black belts were forming Brazilian Top Team (BTT) and leaving Carlson Gracie’s school. Pete trained with Carlson Gracie and throughout his time in Brazil, he trained with some of the most legendary Jiu Jitsu practitioners of all time like Andre Galvão, Osvaldo Alves, Terere, to name a few.
If you are looking for a place to learn how to defend yourself from some of the best instruction in Chicago, check out Rio Jiu Jitsu.
Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Headquarters
2778 N. Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
The team at Carlson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Headquarters is there to help you develop into the best version of yourself. The Carlson Gracie team will help to push you past your physical and mental boundaries so that you can accomplish whatever goals you are aiming for. This school is about eternal memories, lifetime bonds and growth by self-motivation.
The legacy of Carlson Gracie Sr. is carried on by his son, Carlson Gracie Jr. Junior has affiliate schools all over the world and the headquarters and home base is right here in Chicago. Carlson Gracie Jr was born in 1969 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He has a 5th degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in addition to a Judo black belt under Georges Mehdi. Junior was also a Greco-Roman wrestler in which he was nationally ranked and made the Brazilian national team. He won 6 titles in Greco-Roman wrestling. Junior has also fought MMA so if you decide to check out the school, you are going to get instruction from one of the best.
However, Junior is in and out making visits to his other affiliates so in the meantime, he has five other black belts in BJJ that will be there to help guide you to your self-defense and fitness goals. Stop in to check them out!
Serafin Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
2306 Main St
Evanston, IL 60202
Serafin Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the top BJJ academy in the North Shore. This academy offers training in MMA, Boxing, self-defense and of course, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The coaching staff at Serafin Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is there to ensure that you meet the goals you have set out for yourself in a professional and friendly environment.
In terms of coaching, you get the owner of the school, Jeff Serafin, there for you at all times teaching the basics and advanced techniques for your BJJ journey. Jeff is a BJJ 1st degree black belt under Megaton Dias black belt, Jack McVicker. Serafin has over 18 years of experience in terms of practicing the martial arts.
Jeff has been a competitor his whole career and has won hundreds of matches in submission grappling and BJJ. In addition to being an outstanding BJJ competitor, Serafin also has a 5 – 1 MMA record. Some of the titles Serafin has earned include being a multiple time Fight To Win champion, Total Fight Challenge 200lbs Grappling Champion, Five Grappling Black Belt Heavyweight Bronze medalist, Grappling Industries No-Gi Super Absolute Champion, US Grappling Black Belt Open Class Silver medal winner and the Wanderlust Grappling Superfight Champion to name a few. This is in addition to all the awards won at lower belts.
On top of Jeff teaching, he has other well qualified black belts that will show you the way including Brandon Batchelor, IIya Bodnya and Jennifer Zanotti.
4900 N Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625
Redzovic Jiu-Jitsu is one of Chicago’s most trusted and largest academies for Gracie BJJ. The founders are Adem, Idriz and Eddie Redzovic and these men have been certified to teach the art of BJJ by Master Carlos Gracie Jr. as well as being certified IBJJF black belts.
Students end up choosing Redzovic Jiu-Jitsu because of their quality instructors, convenient locations, passionate community, their commitment to building bonds and offering an environment where you will not only grow as a person but you will learn some great Jiu-Jitsu while you’re at it.
The Redzovic brothers have three academies throughout the Chicagoland area with their headquarters residing in Lincoln Square. The other locations are in Lincoln Park and the Loop in Chicago. The head instructors for Redzovic Jiu-Jitsu are Eddie Redzovic (3rd degree black belt), Adem Redzovic (2nd degree black belt) and Idriz Redzovic (1st degree black belt). They have been teaching the art of Gracie BJJ in Chicago for over 15 years and have become one of the staples in the community. They have traveled the world learning new techniques and gaining a deeper understanding of the are of BJJ by being around some of the best coaches and practitioners in the world.
Valko Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy
820 N Orleans St.
Chicago, IL 60610
Valko Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is another well-known academy in the Chicagoland area. Led by Eduardo De Lima black belt, Jay Valko, Valko Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has some of the best instruction in the area and that is because of the experience of Jay Valko and his team of qualified instructors.
In order to understand the high standards and quality BJJ you will be learning, you need to know a little about the founder, Jay Valko. Valko first started experimenting with the martial artist as a kid, trying traditional martial arts like Tae Kwon Do and Aikido. This was the case for many years and then the grappling arts were discovered and he never turned back. It started with wrestling in high school and morphed into one of the top Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts in the Midwest.
At the age of 19, Valko started training in Tampa, Florida under the tutelage of Eduardo de Lima for team Gracie Barra. When he turned 21, Valko moved to the city of Chicago and joined the Carlson Gracie team where he trained under the one and only Carlson Gracie and his son, Carlson Gracie Jr. Shortly after that, Valko was teaching classes and in March of 2007, went on to open his own school.
10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu Chicago
6154 W Higgins Ave.
Chicago, IL 60630
If you are looking for a Jiu-Jitsu school that focuses more on the MMA part of BJJ, then 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu in Chicago is the spot for you. 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu was originally founded by Jean-Jacques Machado black belt, Eddie Bravo. Bravo took the art of BJJ that was mostly trained in the gi and transformed into something that would specifically focus on MMA grappling. It still has all the fundamentals of traditional BJJ but with a twist.
Fast forward, Eddie Bravo black belt, Josh Passini is now the head instructor at 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu in Chicago and they’ve been churning out quality people and BJJ practitioners ever since Josh opened the school up.
Josh Passini was first introduced to MMA the way many people were, by seeing the first UFC and his father, who was a Greco-Roman wrestler, taught Josh the importance of grappling in self-defense. Josh trained in wrestling for many years and then eventually moved on to MMA in 2006 where he discovered 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu. From there, Josh realized the benefits of the system and decided to open a training facility in the Chicago suburbs. After a few years, the team decided they needed to open up shop in the city of Chicago and since 2013, 10th Planet Chicago has been a staple of the BJJ community in the city.
3727 N Broadway St.
Chicago, IL 60657
Copa Jiu-Jitsu is led by Carlson Gracie Jr. black belt, Mark “Mack the Knife” Daley. Daley has over 30 years of martial arts experience that has translated into a successful academy where you are pushed to be a better person physically and within. Daley’s main focus is to offer effective and practical forms of martial arts and self-defense no matter if that is BJJ or other martial arts.
Mack the Knife holds black belts in BJJ, Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu so you will have the opportunity to learn from someone that has been around the block in terms of the martial arts.
In addition to acquiring the knowledge of BJJ and other martial arts, his passion is to make sure you become a better person by teaching you how to persevere when times are tough as well as learning how to defend yourself.
You will also be instructed by BJJ black belt Stephen Rachal. Rachal has made a living in the martial arts where he is proficient in Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Hapkido, Kickboxing, Karate and Tae Kwon Do. Rachal is also a Carlson Gracie Jr. black belt and also has a 4th degree black belt in Hapkido.
Brazil 021 Chicago
1911 W Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
Brazil-021 School of Jiu-Jitsu was started by Hannette Staack and Andre “Negao” Terencio. Both are black belts in BJJ and had a vision to get a great staff of instructors together to create not only create champions and make a solid team, but to also help those wanting to train become good family members and citizens.
This isn’t only a gym for the rough and tough, women, children and people who need to work on their confidence are all welcome at this school. The name, Brazil-021 School of Jiu-Jitsu and the logo come were inspired the state of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The number 021 is the area code for Rio de Janeiro as Rio was the hub of Jiu Jitsu for many years and still is one of the most popular places to train. Now Jiu-Jitsu is worldwide and the folks at Brazil-021 School of Jiu-Jitsu want to welcome you into their academy.
The goals instilled in the students at Brazil-021 School of Jiu-Jitsu aren’t just to win medals and be champions on the mat, on the contrary, they want you to be a champion off the mat as well. Whether you are a BJJ veteran that is looking for a higher level of instruction, or you are looking to get in shape and build confidence, you can do it here.
Both Professor Andre Terencio and Professor Hannette Staack are 4th degree black belts in BJJ. Professor Terencio has been involved in BJJ for over 20 years and has been teaching for over 15 years. He is known as one of the best coaches in the area and teaches police officers as well as military. Professor Staack is a pioneer in women’s BJJ and is one of the most decorated practitioners around. She loves teaching men, women and kids and you will be able to tell by the passion she exudes on the mats.
Andre Maneco BJJ
1531 W Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60642
Andre Maneco BJJ is run by the one and only Andre Maneco. This highly decorated black belt is the Soul Fighters representative in the Chicagoland area and runs a great school with quality instructors and students.
Soul Fighters is a BJJ network of schools all around the world that connects students, fighters and instructors. Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes and Rafael “Formiga” Barbosa founded the group in 2008 in Brazil. This team has grown by leaps and bounds since the forming and they are still moving forward. They have a foundation of good citizenship, hard work and dedication and these characteristics have spilled over into Andre “Maneco” Leite’s Soul Fighter’s Chicago team.
Andre Maneco has won multiple titles in BJJ including being a multiple time European, World National and Pan-American Champion. In all, Maneco has over 20 years of experience in BJJ and is very active both locally and nationally in BJJ. Maneco is one of the best instructors in BJJ and got his black belt from the legendary Carlson Gracie Sr. He continued to hone his skills fighting and grappling with some of the world’s elite while training on the Carlson Gracie team. Maneco is an expert in competition training and self-defense so you when you go to the school, you know you are getting taught by one of the best around.
Comprido Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy
Stratford Square Mall
152 Stratford Dr #22B
Bloomingdale, IL 60108
When you step foot into Comprido BJJ, you will start the journey of learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu along with keeping it safe and learning respect and honor. The goal at Comprido BJJ is to create an atmosphere that is distraction free and safe at the same time so you and your family can have a great experience and learn as much as possible. Outside of the techniques, Comprido BJJ tries to teach you to gain confidence and get a mindset that allows you to move through life feeling better about yourself and the people around you. The best thing about training at Comprido BJJ is that you get to train with the man himself.
Rodrigo “Comprido” Medeiros is a well-known and successful BJJ black belt under Romero Cavalcanti. He is a two time world champion the division of open weight and for over 10 years, was one of the most feared competitors in the world. Even after his semi-retirement, he still came back and competed well against some of the current greats. As a Jiu-Jitsu coach in American, Comprido coached some of the top fighters and Jiu-Jitsu competitors of all time like Dean Lister, Brock Lesnar and Mike Russow.
Comprido’s reputation as a coach has continued to rise in past years in both MMA and sport BJJ. He competed from the early 90’s all the way until 2009 and still takes a superfight once in a while. One thing to know for sure is that you will be in great hands when you train with Comprido. You will also be in a fun a safe environment if you want to take the family.
Vianna Brothers Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy
2128 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
Three worlds that would describe the style of Jiu-Jitsu taught by the Vianna brothers would be exceptional, detailed and technical. The Vianna Brothers are both Carlson Gracie Jr. black belts. Both Daniel and Pedro have spent almost 30 years of their lives practicing ground fighting and it shows with they kind of attention to detail that is exhibited in their academy. Their teaching style is about becoming physically fit and emphasizing the details.
Daniel is a 4th degree BJJ black belt and head instructor while Pedro is a 4th degree black belt in BJJ as well as being a 3rd degree black belt in Judo. He is also one of the instructors. They both believe that sharing their Jiu-Jitsu knowledge and their passion for physical fitness with the world is what they were meant to do. The academy has been around since 2013 and they have been training successful BJJ competitors and people trying to improve themselves ever since.
The goals for their students not only include becoming a great BJJ practitioner, but to lose weight, reduce stress, increase your muscle tone, gain more core strength, increase your flexibility, improve your cardiovascular health and above all feel better about who you are. Know that when you enter their school, you are learning from men who have a storied history in the sport and have trained with some of the best Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in the world. This alone should be enough to get you stop in.