“Best Martial Arts School”



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Ages 3 and up!

Gracie Charlottesville is Central Virginia’s premier Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu self-defense academy located on the corner of Rt. 29 and Rio Rd at 1646 Seminole Trail (across from Fashion Sq. Mall). We offer traditional Gracie Jiu-Jitsu instruction with a heavy emphasis on self-defense, grappling, and ground submissions.  We also offer high level Muay Thai instruction, as well as Western Boxing, Judo, Sambo, JKD/FMA weapons defense classes, and Yoga.  All memberships are all-inclusive of all programs and students may come to as many or as few classes as they wish.  Our state-of-the-art academy is friendly and accepting of all people who want to learn in a safe and comfortable environment.

We have 5 Black Belt Jiu-Jitsu instructors who teach regularly (Brent Lillard, Adam Deane, Shaun Kennedy, Kristen DeBruycker, and John McCune) Together we have almost 70 years of grappling, Muay Thai, and MMA experience and we are eager to share our knowledge with everyone who walks in the door.  All styles/affiliations/patches are welcome at any time.

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  • Everyone receives a FREE WEEK to try out classes before signing up
  • Owned and operated by 4 Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Instructors directly under Pedro Sauer
  • Our ownership team has almost 60 combined years of grappling and MMA experience
  • Traditional Muay Thai taught by KRU Kristen DeBruycker
  • Vinyasa Yoga with Jessie Carpenter
  • Safest and highest quality mat area in town with premier 2” Fuji tatami mats and a raised foam-block-spring/plywood judo-style sub-floor to prevent injuries
  • Custom mobile app with class schedule, hundreds of curriculum videos, step-by-step technique instruction, attendance information, payment history, etc.
  • Parking right in front of the gym
  • Free in-house full-spectrum infrared dry Sauna for all members
  • Free large ceramic showers with free Defense Soap dispensers (sponsored by Defense)
  • Free use of lockers for members
  • 100% handicap accessible facility with compliant shower
  • Over-the-top ambiance with custom under-water themed lighting
  • Professional grade sound system from VIP Customs
  • Laundry machine and professional cleaning equipment in-house (backed by Defense cleaning products)
  • Best-in-class cleaning by professional staff (not the students responsibility to maintain a clean/safe training environment)
  • Plush, adjustable spectator seating
  • After-school program for kids
  • Free training for all law enforcement officers and discounts for first responders and military!
  • Free Sunday Open Mat (All gyms, affiliations, and patches are welcome!)
  • Our Association is directly under Pedro Sauer, an 8th degree coral belt and former student of the legendary Helio and Rickson Gracie from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Pedro Sauer is revered as one of the early pioneers of the gentle art in the United States, having moved here from Brazil to teach in the early 1990’s. He is widely considered to be one of the most knowledgeable and respectable members of the Jiu-Jitsu community.




Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (traditionally known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu) is a highly effective and comprehensive system of standing and ground defense techniques utilizing rules of leverage. Many real-life examples show that street attacks will usually end up on the ground, which renders most other martial arts ineffective. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu focuses on training in more realistic situations, emphasizing leverage techniques that can help smaller/weaker individuals defend against and defeat larger opponents. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques were refined and innovated by the late Grand Master Helio Gracie who weighed no more than 145 pounds. Master Gracie focused on using techniques that did not rely on strength but emphasized leverage and position of the body to defend attacks and control harmful situations. In addition to its self-defense potential, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu offers a tremendous and enjoyable workout for women, men, and children regardless of athletic ability. It physically and mentally toughens its practitioners while building confidence and humility in them at the same time. Everyone is missing something until they find Jiu-Jitsu. There are countless benefits.




Gracie Jiu-Jitsu can be practiced by almost anyone age 3 years or older, regardless of athletic ability or past martial arts experience.  Adult practitioners can sometimes train into their 80’s and 90’s, although the style of training considerably changes with age.  Sparring and training competitively is always completely optional.