Mixed Martial Arts fighter Crosley Gracie, a member of the famed Gracie family known for founding Brazilian jiu-jitsu, was able to open his 7,000-square-foot academy at 3291 Walnut Blvd. in Brentwood in 2008 after subleasing a nearby space for a few years. Opening an academy where he could teach his family’s methods to others had been a longtime goal for the Rio de Janeiro native.
Since its inception, the Crosley Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy has taken root and grown.
The academy trains athletes of all ages and body types in jiu-jitsu as well as muay Thai kickboxing. Adults and kids who train at the academy have gone on to fight for the gold at tournaments throughout the state. Brazilian jiu-jitsu, an art largely started by Crosley’s grandfather, the late Carlos Gracie, teaches how smaller fighters can gain leverage over larger opponents, even when fighting from a vulnerable position.
“We wanted to start small, according to what we could afford, and grow into what we have now and still keep the excellent service,” Crosley said. “Our main thing here is to be able to provide our students a lot of different options at a larger facility but keep the maximum quality of service.”
But Gracie, along with his wife, Stephanie, maintain that the academy is about more than hand-to-hand combat. Crosley, a second-degree black belt, conveys how troubled teenagers have come through the program, learning a way to translate anger or negativity into something healthy and positive. A handful of students have also lost significant amounts of weight through the programs. Some have become healthy enough to reduce or eliminate medication as a result of their work at the academy.
The academy offers Brazilian jiu-jitsu programs for 4-year-olds through adults. Muay Thai kickboxing is also taught to participants ranging from teenagers through grandparents. Students can sign up for group classes or individual lessons, and scholarships are available for those who can’t afford the training.
Crosley’s academy also teaches rape-prevention classes for women, as learning how to overcome a stronger opponent is key to Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Instructors teach women strategic grips, leverage and proper timing.
In addition to its many programs, one of the major missions of Crosley’s academy is to promote a healthy lifestyle, physically and mentally. “We’re able to change peoples’ lives for the better,” Crosley said, “to help them not just become fitter, but to provide a temple where they can come in and relieve all their stress and pretty much renew their spirit after a hard day’s work.”
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