THE BEGINNING – From Grandfather to Father to Sons
In a span of 67 years, three generations of the Valente family practiced jūjutsu under the direct tutelage of legendary grandmaster Hélio Gracie. Dr. Syllo Valente and his brother, General Eliezer Valente, were the first in the family to discover jūjutsu. A Japanese friend taught the brothers some basic principles of self defense in the 1920’s. When Carlos and Hélio Gracie opened their famed Academia Gracie in downtown Rio de Janeiro in 1952, it didn’t take long for the Valentes to enroll. On April 27, 1953, Dr. Syllo registered his son Pedro Sr., who was 14 at the time, and had already been practicing Kōdōkan Judō under Sensei Cordeiro for a few years. Dr. Syllo was a naturalist and homeopathic doctor. He saw jūjutsu as a great physical activity and the perfect complement to the education of his son. For the next 57 years Pedro Sr. not only became a great jūjutsu practitioner but also a trusted friend, medical doctor and advisor of Grandmasters Carlos and Helio Gracie.
Grandmasters Hélio Gracie and Pedro Valente in the 1970s.
Valente means brave in Portuguese and during a good part of his youth, Pedro Sr. was often forced to prove the name he carried. The practice of jūjutsu not only provided a powerful tool to cope with bullies but also a source of confidence that gradually taught him alternatives to physical confrontation.
In his teenage years Pedro Sr. became one of the Academia Gracie’s top students and went on to participate in challenge matches including a fight in Maracanãzinho stadium in front of 20 thousand people.
The original Academia Gracie de Jiu-Jitsu where Grandmaster Pedro Valente Sr. ( bottom row 2nd from right to left) trained in the 1950s. Until 1967, students did not receive any belt promotions. Instructors wore light blue belts and Professors earned the coveted Navy Belt.
As a medical student, in the early 60’s, Pedro Sr. met one of Brazil’s most prominent plastic surgeons at the Academia Gracie. Training partners on the mat both developed a great friendship. This connection contributed greatly to the rapid success he achieved as a surgeon. In the early 80’s the New York Times recognized him as one of the world’s top 5 plastic surgeons. An accomplished physician, Dr. Valente became in two occasions Rio de Janeiro’s Secretary of Health and in one other opportunity Secretary of Transportation. Sports are also an important part of his life, in particular, equestrian show jumping and football (soccer). He was Vasco da Gama’s Vice President and Chief Doctor. Vasco is one of the world’s most recognized soccer teams.
After fifty-five years of training directly under Grandmaster Hélio Gracie, Dr. Pedro Valente Sr. was awarded the highest degree in the art (Red Belt) and the title of Grand Master.
The Valente brothers were born into the jūjutsu tradition. Pedro, Gui and Joaquim began learning jūjutsu from their father before they could walk. At the tender age of two, Pedro, Gui and Joaquim were already taking private lessons from Grandmaster Hélio Gracie. Growing up, the Valente brothers trained daily at the Gracie Academy in Rio de Janeiro under Hélio, Royler, and Rolker Gracie. Pedro Sr. always wanted his sons to learn jūjutsu as a complete fighting system. He realized that training methods had changed from the time he learned in the 50’s. In order to prepare students for tournaments, group classes almost exclusively focused on ground grappling techniques. To mitigate this issue, in addition to taking regular private classes from Grandmaster Helio, which focused on the complete jūjutsu system, the Valente brothers also, from a young age, practiced striking and throwing techniques with high level experts in jūdō and boxing.
PEDRO VALENTE ESTABLISHES JŪJUTSU IN MIAMI
The Valente family is the only family other than the Gracie family to have four black belts and professor diplomas awarded directly by Grandmaster Hélio Gracie.
At the age of 18, Pedro Jr. decided to move to the United States in order to attend the University of Miami School of Business Administration. In order to prepare for the challenges of moving to a foreign country and living alone, Dr. Valente sent Pedro to spend one month at Grandmaster Hélio’s ranch in Itaipava. During this time Pedro was carefully prepared not only to live alone in America, but also to introduce the art of jūjutsu In Miami. In 1993, Pedro received his Instructor Certification from the Gracie Academy, and started teaching classes in Miami. Although many years would pass before the name Valente Brothers would be used, this is now regarded as the founding of Valente Brothers in Miami, exactly 40 years after the Valente family was first introduced to Jiu-Jitsu at the Gracie Academy in Rio de Janeiro. During his college years, Pedro continued his training by constantly traveling to Rio de Janeiro to train with Grandmaster Helio. In 1995, with the instrumental assistance of Rorion and Royce Gracie, Pedro founded a jujutsu club at the University of Miami where he taught several students and faculty members.
In 1997, Grandmaster Hélio visited Miami for the first time to teach classes and supervise the training. Grand Master Helio continued to come to Miami every year until his last international trip in 2007.
During this time, Pedro continued to teach private and group classes through out the state of Florida and counted with the valuable contributions of fellow University of Miami classmate Humberto Lopez. In 1998, with the help of long time friend and student James Robertson, Pedro inaugurated his first full time academy in Sunny Isles, Florida.
In 1999, Gui Valente also moved to South Florida to attend Barry University and help his brother with the Academy. The addition of Gui Valente to the school was instrumental in the massive growth that the academy would experience in the years to come. This was due to the fact that he spent countless hours on and off the mat with Grandmaster Helio. Most of his vacations were spent at Grandmaster Helio’s ranch in the mountains of Rio as he was being groomed to assist Pedro in Miami. At this point Valente Brothers was internationally recognized as the home of the genuine jūjutsu of Hélio Gracie in Florida.
The youngest of the Valente brothers, Joaquim, moved to Miami in 2007 to study criminology at Barry University. He quickly impressed everyone with his unique technique, outstanding teaching skills and remarkable charisma. Joaquim, like his brothers, had Grandmaster Hélio as his main teacher and trained weekly with the Grand Master. Joaquim was also very fortunate to spend many vacations and long weekends living with Grand Master Helio in his ranch. Joaquim played a pivotal role in the development of our curriculums as he was still living in Brazil and could work with Grandmaster Hélio directly and provide Pedro and Gui with valuable information.
The Valente Brothers excellent instruction skills, technical fighting styles and moral and ethical qualities, allowed them to receive their Black belts and Professors’ Diplomas directly from Grandmaster Hélio Gracie.
In 1999, Pedro successfully completed the jūjutsu Professor’s course and received his diploma and title of Professor. In 2001 Gui was also awarded the coveted Professor’s Diploma. In 2007 Joaquim recieved the Professors’ Diploma by Grandmaster Hélio Gracie. This was a great accomplishment and honor in light of the fact that in 75 years only 27 people received this diploma from Grandmaster Hélio Gracie.
Professor Pedro training the United States Army.
The Valente Brothers specialize in jūjutsu as a dynamic self-defense system, which has been proven to be extremely effective not only for the general public, but also for police and military officials.
The Valente brothers have taught jūjutsu to several law enforcement officers from agencies such as the FBI, U.S. Customs, U.S. Secret Service U.S. Southern Command, Miami Dade Special Response Teams, Miami Police Department, and many others.
In addition to their jūjutsu skills, Pedro holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Miami and Gui holds a Master of Science in Sport Management from Barry University’s School of Human Performance and Leisure Sciences. Joaquim Valente holds a degree in criminology from Barry University.
Valente Brothers is proud to support the United States Military.