The History of GFTeam

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You probably already know the history of some of the world’s top BJJ affiliations like Gracie Barra and Alliance. But there is one affiliation that has quietly grown into quite a formidable BJJ team and that is GFTeam.

The Rio de Janeiro based team came into their own in 2007 and have been making waves in the BJJ world. Here is the history of GFTeam and how they became one of the biggest growing Jiu Jitsu affiliations in the world.

The Early History of GFTeam

To tell the full story of GFTeam, you have to go nearly thirty years prior to when the name was conceived. The team ‘s story begins in 1978 at the Universidade Gama Filho in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Fernando “Pinduka” Guimarães was the head of the physical education department at the university. He was also a Carlson Gracie black belt that tried to add BJJ to the school’s curriculum.

Pinduka’s request was unfortunately denied and again 3 more times due to the school board being headed by Judo practitioners. 

It took him 15 years to get BJJ approved by the school board. It was finally passed in 1993 by head director Pedro Gama Filho, who was a black belt in BJJ and Judo.

After three years of organizing and receiving financial backing, Gama Filho Jiu Jitsu was up and running.

Filho Passes The Torch

After creating the Gama Filho Jiu Jitsu program, Filho himself would run the team at the beginning. He would then turn control over to three BJJ black belts named Júlio César, Marcus Bello, and Alexandre Baraúna.

Filho himself would continue to give financial support to keep the team going into the new millennium.

During this time César, Bello, and Baraúna were growing the next batch of black belts that would become GFTeam.

Gama Filho Becomes GFTeam

After 7 years since Gama Filho Jiu Jitsu was formed, they had grown into quite a formidable team within Rio. The leaders would open different affiliate schools within different campuses of Gama Filho Universidade.

Unfortunately the team’s creator Pedro Gama Filho passed away in 2003. This would lead to the Jiu Jitsu team losing sponsorship from the university.

But one positive was that the majority of the team would stay together despite losing funding. They were forced to move from the main campus in Campus Piedade to the neighborhood Méier.

For three years, the team would keep the name Gama Filho until 2007. That was until members of the team began fighting in MMA. The university did not want the school connected to fighting, so they forced the team to change their name.

The team would change their name to what is known now as Grappling Fight Team.(GFTeam)

GFTeam rules Rio de Janeiro

Even though GFTeam was born in 2007, the team was actually over a decade old. They had already grown into a large group of affiliate schools within the state of Rio de Janeiro.

GFTeam gyms were known for training hard and always going at a high pace without stopping. From that point on, there is rarely a tournament with Rio de Janeiro that the team does not win.

They have been running roughshod over most BJJ tournaments in Rio for the last 14 years. Cementing them as one of the city’s top teams along with Gracie Barra and Carlson Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

The heads of GFTeam

Masters Júlio César, Marcus Bello, and Alexandre Baraúna are still the leaders of GFTeam and have overseen the team’s growth. Here are quick bios on the three masters.

Júlio César Pereira

Master Júlio César is the head of GFTeam and referred to as “The General” by GFTeam members. He is a 7th degree coral belt and a 2x World champion that has overseen the growth of the team.

Pereira has coached some of the best from the team including Rodolfo Veira, Ricardo Evangelista, and Igor Silva. Under Master Júlio’s leadership, GFTeam has become the internationally known affiliation it is today.

Alexandre Barauna

Alexandre Barauna has been the second in charge of the team since it was Gama Filho Jiu Jitsu. Barauna is a mountain of a man, who is considered one of the best instructors within the affiliation.

He has a Masters in physical education and has run GFTeam Centro de Treinamento VA for four decades. Considered one of the top GFTeam schools in the world.

Marcus Bello

Marcus Bello is responsible for bringing GFTeam outside of the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro. Originally opening a Gama Filho school in the state of Sergipe that would later become a GFTeam school.

Bello would also be one of the first GFTeam members to take the affiliation international. He would move to Houston, Texas and open a GFTeam affiliate school in the early 2010s.

Today, Bello still lives in Houston and oversees the growth of the affiliation in the US.

Notable GFTeam athletes

Rodolfo Vieira

The fighter synonymous with GFTeam is the best in the history of the affiliation is the great Rodolfo Vieira.

A 5 time IBJJF world champion and a 1 time ADCC champion. Vieira has done it all in the sport of Jiu Jitsu and is considered one of the all time greats.

Now having transitioned to MMA, Rodolfo Vieira is 8-1 and currently fights in the UFC middleweight division and has shown the world the effectiveness of BJJ in MMA.

Mayssa Bastos

Mayssa Bastos is currently one of the best female grapplers on the planet. The Niteroi native is a black belt under GFTeam head Master Júlio César.

Bastos has been one of the top ranked female black belt competitors since 2018. In that time she has become a 4x world champion having won 2 world championships in the Gi and 2 No-Gi.

Pequena Notável is only 24 and is just getting started building her legacy.

The growth of GFTeam

From being reborn as GFTeam in 2007, the affiliation has had exponential growth in that time. They went from being a powerhouse in Rio de Janeiro to becoming a team with gyms all over the world.

GFTeam now has schools throughout South America, North America, Europe, and even the Middle East.

The team also had an incredible showing at this year’s IBJJF Worlds event in California. They took home the team female championship and had numerous lower rank competitors win world titles.

As GFTeam members say “GFTeam não pare!(don’t stop)” and it doesn’t look like they’ll stop growing and improving anytime soon.


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