Marcelo Garcia

“The more you attack, the more your opponent will make mistakes” – Marcelo Garcia

Highlight by SportsFenom

Welcome to Marcelo Garcia Week here at The Jiu Jitsu Laboratory.

Over the next few days we’ll be making a detailed study of one of the greatest jiu jitsu fighters out there. Known for his relaxed, friendly demeanour off the mat, and his laser focus on the mat, Marcelo Garcia shows how through rigorous training and constant progression a smaller fighter can often defeat much larger opponents. Marcelo plays a highly specialized yet constantly evolving style of jiu jitsu. We’ve already covered some of Marcelo’s Jiu Jitsu philosophy in the form of his discussion with Ryan Hall. In this post we’ll get acquainted with the Alliance middle weight and see some of his greatest hits; in future posts we’ll break down some of his well known techniques.

Rolling at Alliance Sao Paulo from Arte Suave vol. 1

Marcelo Garcia is from a small town in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. Since Jiu Jitsu was still pretty rare outside of Rio when Marcelo was young, he took up Karate and Judo for several years. He first found his love of competition in Judo, eventually seeking out a BJJ black belt in the next city to help improve his Newaza. He first made the trip with his Judo instructor, eventually making the long journey by himself a few times a week.

Marcelo continued to pursue the best Jiu Jitsu he could find, eventually ending up at Paulo Rezende’s school in Poco de Caldas, where he slept at the gym and did chores to earn his tuition. He was only 16 at the time and was literally living on the mats.

As Marcelo continued to grow as a Jiu Jitsu competitor, he started to develop his famous guard, although he was initially lacking in this area due to the position’s unimportance in Judo. He competed as much as he could, eventually meeting his wife in Rio de Janeiro, who out ranked him at the time (she was a purple belt).

His relentless drive to seek out the best training led him to the gym of Fernando “Terere” Augusto, who was with Alliance at the time. Having great training at Alliance but still being in a difficult financial position, he decided to accept an offer to instruct at the Alliance headquarters under Fabio Gurgel, where he spent the majority of his career.

Garcia’s big break came when, despite not qualifying for the 2003 ADCC tournament, he was invited anyway after another competitor pulled out. His coach, Gurgel, with the wisdom that comes with experience, knew that last minute opening are fairly common had his student make weight regardless. Garcia went on to beat legendary grapplers Renzo Gracie and Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro with a style of Jiu Jitsu that was revolutionary at the time.

Marcelo Garcia vs. Renzo Gracie 2003

Marcelo Garcia vs. Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro 2003

The Renzo match caught everyone off guard because Gracie was one of the favourites to win, and yet had no answer for Marcelo’s X-guard and relentless back attacks. The Shaolin match is famous for a different reason, showing the lighting-fast armdrag to the back that left the Nova Uniao black-belt unconscious on the mat.

Marcelo went on to win three ADCC championships (2003, 2005, 2007). He is a four time World Jiu Jitsu champion (2004, 2006, 2009, 2010), among other numerous titles. In 2009 he opened his own academy in New York City, where he teaches daily, with an online training system ( providing an unheard-of openness to Jiu Jitsu students all over the world. In 2009 Marcelo also competed in ADCC, submitting all opponents before losing a controversial match to middleweight rival, Pablo Popovitch. His match with the young Kron Gracie was voted as “most technical” fight of the tournament, highlights of which are posted below.

Marcelo vs. Kron Gracie 2009

Marcelo continues to inspire with his amicable personality and cutting-edge Jiu Jitsu. While examining the biography of Marcelo Garcia, three lessons stand out. One is that hard work and sacrifice are the only paths to success – even someone as talented as Garcia had to give up everything to train day-in, day-out to be the best. Second is that luck comes from effort – the old saying that luck is preparation meets opportunity has never been more true. And third, constant evolution and development is necessary, not just in Jiu Jitsu but in all aspects of our lives.

Marcelo’s game has evolved continuously: triangles, omoplatas, monoplatas; rear-naked chokes, guillotines, north-south chokes; armdrags, butterfly guard, X-guard, one-legged X-guard. While you’re studying what Marcelo did, he’s developing something new and sharing it with anyone who cares enough to ask. For the next the week we will be studying these techniques and the man who developed them.

Marcelo Garcia highlight video

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