Mauricio Villardo received his black belt in 1997 from Royler Gracie, one of the most skillful and adept members of the Gracie clan and one of the most sought after instructors in the martial arts world. Mauricio has since progressed to earn his fifth degree black belt, solidifying his position as one of the top-ranked Jiu-Jitsu practitioners globally.
Mauricio began training in Rio de Janeiro long before the pattern of the Gracie style of fighting was imprinted: take the fight quickly to the ground, gain control, and finish the opponent. The ease with which Mauricio incorporates this strategy against opponents of all sizes, weights, and styles won him the World Championship in 1996. As part of the famous Gracie Competition Team, he also won two state championships, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship, and took second place in the Pan American.
In 1996, Mauricio began his teaching career as an assistant to Royler Gracie and Rolker Gracie at the Gracie Humaita Academy in Rio de Janeiro. He was responsible for helping Royler conduct classes for children and teenagers. Over the next three years he continued to assist his master at the Humaita Academy and also began teaching his own classes.
In 1999, Mauricio started teaching in Southern Brazil at Gracie Florianopolis in a partnership with Rilion Gracie and helped develop and improve current Jiu-Jitsu techniques. He remained there as a full-time instructor until 2001, when he moved to the United States and started teaching in several major areas in South Florida, including West Palm Beach, Wellington, and Boca Raton. In these locations Mauricio teaches the techniques on which he has been improving for the past thirty years on a daily basis.
Mauricio is recognized by his students as the technician par excellence. He has trained numerous students who have gone on to be champions in major mixed martial arts tournaments, as well as law enforcement officials, and he helps teach children to overcome issues with bullying and increasing self-confidence. He teaching style emphasizes precision, technical ability, and a relaxed approach – always looking to employ superior technique and strategy over size and strength.
Eric Monahan is a life long martial artist and black belt instructor under professor Villardo. Eric started training in taeknowdo like a lot of kids do and eventually made his way to boxing & kickboxing in his late teens before transitioning briefly to train in MMA in his early twenties. It is during this time that he was introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and was instantly hooked. Training Jiu-Jitsu gave Eric a new perspective on what it meant to be a true martial artist. The focus on superior technique, leverage and timing that enabled a much smaller man to control and submit a much larger, aggressive man seemed like magic. In addition to the many physical benefits, Eric is passionate believer of the mental and emotional benefits that The Gentile Art brings to the table. “For me, it’s like meditation in motion. There’s an intense narrowing of focus and clarity during live training where you’re not thinking about what happened at work today or what bills are due, or that argument you had with your spouse. All that stuff melts away and you’re truly living in the moment.” Eric also believes this type of training is especially beneficial for kids. Kids need something difficult to do that challenges them. Jiu-Jitsu creates opportunities for kids to learn to solve problems and adapt to stress with a calm, steady mind, instead of reacting impulsively and emotionally. A calm, clear mind is developed by learning skills to solve problems. This is what Jiu-Jitsu does.