Santa Cruz

Claudio França Pires

Claudio França Pires

Claudio França pioneered the teaching of BJJ in Santa Cruz, California – coming to us from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1995. He has studied BJJ since the age of seven and holds a 5th degree Black Belt from Master Francisco Mansor, who is a 9th degree red belt certified by the Confederation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Rio de Janeiro. Professor França also holds a black belt in Judo from Gama Filho University in Rio de Janeiro.

Professor França has more than 30 years experience teaching and competing in BJJ. He took a Silver Medal in the 2001 Mundials (World Championships), in Rio de Janeiro, and was a two-time Pan-American Middleweight Champion (’97, ’98), four-time Lightweight Brazilian Champion, and three-time Lightweight State Champion.

Claudio has coached several students who have won in the Mundials and Pan Americas. Since 1995, Master França has hosted one of the most lauded international Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments in the country, held right here in Santa Cruz: the U.S. Open Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament.

Mike Weaver

Mike Weaver is a Black Belt 1st degree. Some of his titles include: 2009 Pan Bronze Medalist, US Open XIII Champion, 2008 Pan Bronze Medalist, 2005 Pan Bronze Medalist, 2005 Copa Pacifica Champion, US Open IX Silver Medalist, 2004 Pan Silver Medalist & 2004 IGJJF Champion.

Joey Thomas

Joey Thomas, already a local legend in the professional surf scene, earned his Black belt from Master França in 2005. He is also a Brown Belt in Korean Kuk Sul Won under Master Jin, a Black Belt in Okinawan Karate under Sensei Kerry Dunfey, and a certified Crossfit Trainer.

Carlos Melo

Carlos Melo earned his Black Belt from Master França in 2009. Some of his titles include: 2009 Mundial Champion, 2009 Pan Champion, US Open XIII Champion, 2008 Mundial Bronze Medalist, 2008 Pan Silver Medalist, US Open XII Champion, 2007 Mundial Silver Medalist, US Open XI Champion & 2006 Pan Bronze Medalist. He is an 8x US Open Medalist and 7x US Open Champion. He is also a veteran of a local police department.

Caren Camblin

Caren Camblin is the first woman to earn her Black belt from Master França. Her titles include 1999 U.S. Open Champion and 2002 U.S. Open Silver Medallist.

Scott Savage

Scott Savage received his Black belt from Master Françain 2010. His accomplishments include 2004 U.S. Open Champion, as well as 2005 and 2006 U.S. Open Silver Medalist. He assists with the kids and adults classes at the San Jose Dojo.

Nathan Mendelsohn

Nathan Mendelsohn earned his Brown Belt in 2009. Some of his titles include: 2009 Pan Bronze Medalist, US Open XIII Champion, 1st American Cup Silver Medalist, US Open XII Silver Medalist, 2008 Rio Open Silver Medalist, US Open XI Champion, 2006 Pan Bronze Medalist & US Open X Champion.

Raul Quintero

Raul Quintero earned his Purple Belt in 2010. He assists with the kids classes at the Santa Cruz Dojo.