Instructors – 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.

Nathan Mendelsohn

Nathan Mendelsohn earned his Black Belt in 2012. Some of his Brown Belt 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.

Brian Guzman

Brian Guzman earned his Black Belt in 2012! More info to follow.

Caren Camblin

Caren is Claudio França’s first female black belt and has been training under Claudio since 1996. She is interested in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as self-defense, martial art, and way of life. She holds an MA in philosophy from Stanford University and is a lecturer at UCSC. Her jiu-jitsu classes offer practical drills, core-strength conditioning, and instruction tailored to students’ needs.