Capital MMA & Elite Fitness:™ Academy
HISTORY OF CAPITAL MIXED MARTIAL ARTS & ELITE FITNESS™
Capital Mixed Martial Arts & Elite Fitness™ began as a small Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu club in Alexandria, Virginia in 2001. Then an elementary school teacher, Jeremy Lafreniere moved to the Northern Virginia area in 1997 as a blue belt under Royce Gracie. Jeremy founded a Royce Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Network Chapter and started teaching friends inside the Alexandria Public School where he worked. As the club slowly grew, Jeremy decided to move the training into its own facility, and in 2003, opened the doors to Capital Jiu-Jitsu Team inside the Old Town Alexandria Jungle's Gym.
Soon, the club grew large enough for Jeremy to leave his job as a Virginia State Educator and run Capital full-time. Around the same time, the sport of MMA began to take off in the US and students were becoming more and more interested in cross training. This prompted Jeremy to expand beyond Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, eventually adding Wrestling, Muay Thai and even CrossFit classes. By 2005, Capital had grown enough to double its sqare footage inside Jungles Gym.
In January 2008, Capital underwent its most significant expansion to date, opening a second, stand-alone mixed martial arts and elite fitness facility in Sterling Virgina (Loudoun County). The Loudoun County VA school is a 10,000 square foot training facility with a dedicated CrossFit area, large mat space, Octagon, Boxing Ring, Yoga room and locker rooms — a far cry from Capital's beginnings inside an elementary school less than a decade earlier.
Today, with dozens of full and part-time staff and hundreds of members, Capital Mixed Martial Arts & Elite Fitness™ features three academies in the Washington DC metro area that offer well-rounded training in Mixed Martial Arts and Fitness. In addition to its long-standing relationship with Royce Gracie, Capital is also a CrossFit affiliate and base camp for Capital Muay Thai. Capital has also added programs in Kids MMA, She'Safe™ Women's Self-Defense, and Yoga offering a complete training experiene for adults and children in martial arts and fitness.
HISTORY OF GRACIE JIU-JITSU
Gracie Jiu-Jitsu originated in the 1910's when Japanese JuJitsu (also spelled "JuJutsu") and Judo master Mitsuyo "Count Koma" Maeda visited Brazil. He befriended Gastão Gracie, an influential Brazilian businessman of Scottish decent. Maeda agreed to teach traditional Japanese JuJitsu to Gastão's eldest son, Carlos Gracie. Maeda soon left Brazil, but the Gracie brothers continued practicing Jiu-Jitsu.
Although all of Gastão's sons trained JuJitsu, Helio Gracie made the refinements that created the most efficient martial arts system in the world. Helio noticed that many of the traditional techniques were not practical for his 135-pound physique, so he began experimenting to find ways for a smaller person execute the moves. Through a lifetime of trial and error, Helio Gracie modified the techniques Maeda had taught Carlos, invented new ones and developed a system of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu that would enable him to be defeat larger, stronger opponents and forever change the landscape of the traditional martial arts world.
Helio knew that merely practicing moves against a willing partner would not ensure the effectiveness of his style. As such, he tested his techniques in numerous no-holds-barred, Vale Tudo and challenge matches, throwing out or modifying the techniques he found to require too much athleticism or strength. Helio gained notoriety in Brazil as the country's top fighter, despite his small physical stature. Now approaching age 100, Helio Gracie still teaches his art in Brazil and around the world. Carlos and Helio had many sons who carried on the techniques and traditions of Jiu-Jitsu, but Helio's son Royce (pronounced "Hoyce") ushered in a revolution in the world of traditional martial arts in the early 1990's, competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
The early UFC's asked a single question: "which style of martial arts is most effective in a real fight?" The events were no-holds-barred ("NHB"), with no weight classes and no time limits. Fighters were allowed to use any strikes, take downs or submissions they pleased, and the only way to win a fight was by knockout or submission. The 175-pound Royce Gracie was able to quickly defeat much heavier and stronger fighters from all styles of martial arts, such as Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Wrestling, Boxing, Shootfighting and Kung Fu. Royce's success was convincing proof of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu's superiority over other martial arts, making him an internationally recognized martial arts icon.
After his UFC victories, Royce Gracie has continued his illustrious career as a fighter and teacher. He has competed in Japan, dominating Japanese Judo Olympic gold medalist Hidehiko Yoshida and submitting 486-pound, 6’8” Sumo yokozuna Akebono in less than 3 minutes. Royce also founded the Royce Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Network, consisting of numerous academies all over the world.
Royce spends most of his time teaching Jiu-Jitsu throughout the Network, including Capital MMA & Elite Fitness:™ in Alexandria/Arlington VA and Loudoun County/Dulles. He is known for being a patient, thorough and down-to-earth instructor, and through his lifestyle and demeanor, sets an exceptional example for all his students.
History of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Competition
No Holds Barred Competitions date back to the Olympic Games in 648 B.C. when Greek Pankration became part of the event. But, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was the catalyst for the sport's current popularity. In mid-20th century Brazil, Carlos and Helio Gracie issued the "Gracie Challenge" to prove that their style of Jiu-Jitsu was superior to other popular Brazilian martial arts, such as Capoeira, Judo, Boxing and Karate. The Gracies offered to fight anyone in Vale Tudo ("anything goes") matches. These fights were truly no-holds-barred because competitors did not wear gloves or protective gear and there were no time limits or weight classes. The Gracies took the challenge with them to the United States, which culminated when Royce Gracie won the first Ultimate Fighting Championship, ushering in new era and putting MMA on the international stage.
Today, MMA promoters implement a variety of rules to protect fighters and make the sport more widely accepted. The UFC and other MMA organizations hold regular competitions in which fighters are allowed to utilize striking and grappling techniques. These organizations are becoming more and more popular in Japan, the United States and throughout the world, and professional MMA fighters are gaining increasing respect for their technical and athletic ability. Today's top fighters must learn all ranges of combat and are proficient in wrestling, striking and grappling, making the sport of MMA more about the preparation and expertise of each individual fighter rather than a contest of one martial arts style against another.