Mount Dora Citizens compete in Police and Firefighter First Responder Games

Mount Dora Citizen
2015 First Responder Games
2015 First Responder Games

Recently the Mount Dora Citizen recognized Professor Brian Ruscio of Grappling Mastery and his team for their participation in the upcoming 2015 First Responder Games in Brevard County.  First responders always receive the Hero Discount at Grappling Mastery.

You can find the full article here.

Brian Ruscio appears unassuming and quietly confident.  A youthful-looking 36, he says he has been at his craft – Grappling – for over 30 years.  He recently sat down with Mount Dora Citizen editor, Melissa DeMarco, to talk about his passion for teaching and competing.

Grappling Mastery: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA Academy is Brian Ruscio’s  career, his passion, his hobby – and his life’s calling.  Ruscio says that when he was only 5-years old, his mother encouraged him to take up wrestling.  “When she first took me, she tried to warn me that it wasn’t TV wrestling, you know, like WWE?  Well, I said I understood that, but I was still a little disappointed at first.  Anyway, I started wrestling – and I fell in love with the sport.”

Ruscio says his first organized sporting activity as a young child was soccer. But somehow, he knew it just wasn’t quite the right fit for him.  After he transitioned to wrestling, he never looked back.  As a young adult, Ruscio went from wrestling, to coaching, and then refereeing wrestling matches. He realized he wanted to be involved in wresting and grappling in some way, but knew he could not make a living by working with wrestling clubs and organizations.

That’s when he discovered Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or BJJ. Says Ruscio,  “When I started BJJ, I was immediately interested in the sport.  What first interested me the most, was that being pinned doesn’t end a match.  When you’re pinned you find a way to work your way out of that situation…that opened up a whole new world to me.  I fell in love with how creative you could be in the sport, the flexibility to try new moves, to work to find a new solution.”

The attainment of fitness is one aspect of BJJ to which participants aspire.  But there is so much more, according to Ruscio.  “If you’re stressed, having a bad day, overwhelmed with something – this sport can take you away from that.  It gives people a place that’s a relief from school, and work and things like that.  When you’re on a mat, when there’s a guy trying to get you in a choke hold – well, all that other stuff doesn’t matter any longer.  You are thinking and reacting to those things happening on that mat, in that moment.  You focus on the moment, on your next move and you let the other things in your life go for a little while.”

Professor-Brian-Ruscio-with-the-Kids-BJJ-Academy-in-Mount-Dora-of-Lake-County-Florida-Best-Kids-InstructorGrappling Mastery hosts students of BJJ from age 4 to 64.  Ruscio says physical limitations in the sport are fewer than many people may believe.  “There are many people who practice jiu jitsu with some kind of physical disadvantage,” he says.  “That’s one of the amazing things about this sport – there is room to be creative, to adapt to circumstances and evolve.”  He says he works with children who have autism and adults who have physical limitations.  All of them, he says, gain from the experience.

“I can watch how a person first approaches grappling and see what kind of person they probably are out in their day-to-day activities,” he says.  “How people roll here is how they generally do things in life.  People who are aggressive here, always restless, on the move, going for a take-down, that’s how they live.  People who are reserved, shy, don’t like to learn new things in here – well, that’s how they probably operate in the rest of their lives.  But through BJJ, when my more aggressive students work with the more reserved ones, they all gain something.  They all learn from each other.”

Coach Rita with Tracie, Justin, Brian and Jason at Central Florida BJJ Regionals

Ruscio is pleased to be working with a strong team who are considering participating in a 2015 First Responders Tournament in Cocoa Beach.  Tony Tindell, Firefighter Lieutenant; Ryan Swinford, Army Captain; Alec Ritter, Florida State Trooper; Anthony Biasella, Groveland Police Captain; and Justin Blake, Orange County Corrections are training with an eye to compete in the tournament.  First Responders Games are open to firefighters, military, paramedics, police, EMTs and federal agents only.  Competition is tough.  The areas of competition include running, cycling, paintball, grappling, hockey and much more.  “These guys train hard and work hard in here and out there,” he says, motioning toward the door.

Most weeks Ruscio is in his facility all seven days.  His classes and training styles vary depending upon the clientele at any given class.  Within a day he may go from teaching basic skills to 4-year-olds, to working with mixed martial arts “No-Gi” competitors preparing for Pan-American NAGA (North American Grappling Association) tournaments. He teaches classes and has open mat sessions almost every day, except Sunday, when he gives private lessons at the academy.

Competitions are key to improving in the art of BJJ.  Ruscio says attending, and participating in competitions are probably the best ways to stay abreast of changes in the sport and learning new moves.  Small competitions may include 50-100 entrants, but the larger tournaments may have several hundred competitors vying for titles.  Ruscio, who has a long list of competitive achievements (some of which are displayed at the academy) is modest about his many wins.  One of the most impressive looking trophies he displays is the large belt he won in December as an Expert Champion in the NAGA Pan-American Championships.

But it’s not only Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that is practiced at Ruscio’s Grappling Mastery Academy.  “We also combine BJJ with wrestling and Judo.  In addition, we have a striking martial art called Muay Thai, or kickboxing that we offer here,” Ruscio explains.  Although students work towards belts earning “belts” (there are different colored belts in BJJ that demarcate levels of proficiency), they are secondary achievements. “I try to keep the integrity, the guys who work here with me understand that.  Of course, they still want the belt, they know what it means.  But they’re not chasing the belt, they’re chasing the knowledge. The knowledge is so much more than the belt.”

Melissa DeMarco, Editor

Which is the Best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Team?

Recently the Top 10 Competitive BJJ Teams were ranked by Jiu Jitsu Times and we are not surprised by the results.  Our Lineage, Gracie Barra Jiu Jitsu was ranked #1, as the top BJJ Team!  Here are the official results for the best BJJ Schools.

As found on

There are many high level teams competing in the IBJJF tournaments. Here are the Top 10 teams in the IBJJF based on their team performances in IBJJF events from January 2014 to February 2015. The rankings were determined by Top 3 team finishes at IBJJF tournaments which includes Adult Men, Adult Women, Kids, Juvenile, Novice, and Masters divisions. Placing in the Men’s and Women’s Adult Divisions was weighted heavier than the other divisions. The Grand Slam Tournaments (Worlds, Pans, European Open, and Brazilian Nationals) in Both Gi and NoGi were also weighted heavier than other regional tournaments on the IBJJF circuit. You can view the spreadsheet with the data by clicking here.

Here are the Top 10 BJJ Teams in the IBJJF.

1. Gracie Barra: Won numerous divisions at Worlds, NoGi Worlds, European Open, and Brazilian Nationals to clinch the top spot in the rankings. The team also won the overall titles including American Nationals Gi and NoGi, Floripa Open, Houston Open, Las Vegas Spring Open,  London Open Gi and NoGi, Long Beach Pro, Munich Fall and Winter Opens, Paris Open, Rome Open, and Seattle Open.

2. Alliance: Won Men’s Adult Divisions Worlds, Brazilian Nationals, and European Open. The Women’s Adult team took home first place at Worlds, Pans, and Brazilian Nationals. Also won Adult Men’s division at NoGi Pans and Adult Women’s division at NoGi Worlds.

3. CheckMat: Took first place Adult Female and Novice divisions at the European Open. Won overall titles at Copenhagen Gi and NoGi Opens, Paris NoGi Open, and Zadar Open.

4. Atos: Captured first placed Men’s Adult title at Pans and NoGi Worlds. Also took home the gold at the Pan Kids event in both 2014 and 2015. Finished second in the Men’s Adult  division at Worlds. Also captured the overall team titles at American Nationals Kids, IBJJF Kids International Open, and the San Francisco Open.

5. Nova Uniao: Won the Masters, Novice and Kid’s Divisions at Brazilian Nationals. Also took home the overall team championships at the Boston Spring Open, Las Vegas Summer Open, Masters International Open, and Rio International Open.

6. GF Team: Took home the overall team titles at the Brazilian Team Title and Rio Pro events. The Men’s and Women’s Adult teams both finished in third place at Brazilian Nationals.

7. PSLPB Cicero Costha: Women’s Adult team finished in first place at NoGi Pans and third at NoGi Worlds. The team also finished first in the Men’s Adult division at the South America Open and second at the European Open.

8. Brasa: Won first place overall at the Chicago Spring NoGi Open and the Chicago Summer Gi and NoGi Open. Finished 2nd in the Men’s Adult division at NoGi Worlds and 3rd in the Men’s Adult division at the European Open.

9. Carlson Gracie: Finished first overall in the Chicago Spring Open in the Gi and in third place in the NoGi division. At the Chicago Summer Open, the team finished second overall in both the Gi and NoGi divisions.

10. Gracie Elite Team: At Worlds, Gracie Elite finished in first place in the Novice division and second place in the Juvenile. Finished third at Pans in the Juvenile and Masters divisions.

Honorable mentions:

Ribeiro, Bruno Bastos Association, Impacto Japan, Renzo Gracie, Roger Gracie, Gracie Humaita, Icon, Brazilian Top Team, Roberto Traven, and Team Lloyd Irvin

BJJ Tour 2015 in Kissimmee, Florida

BJJ Tour will be coming to Kissimmee, Florida on March 28

This is a well run tournament.  Last year our very own Chris Swift was chosen by Furia Jiu Jitsu to be sponsored into the tournament!!

General Information

Be part of the inaugural installment of the highly anticipated BJJ Tour Tournament Series in beautiful Kissimmee, Florida. Brought to you by the promoters of the US Open.

The BJJ Tour – Florida Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament will be Saturday, March 28. The tournament will be held at the Kissimmee Civic Center.

The tournament has easy access from airports in Orlando and Tampa.

All Age Divisions from Kids – Masters, and all belt ranks are welcome to compete.

Medals will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in each division. Every registered competitor will receive a complimentary tournament t-shirt. Also, all registered kids competitors will receive a medal.


Satisfaction Orlando Resort
1500 North Thacker Ave., Kissimmee, FL, 34741
Reservations taken via phone: (407) 483-4901
Toll free: 1 (855) 446-2302

Mention BJJ TOUR to book!


Competitors check-in at Kissimmee Civic Center, the location of the BJJ Tour Florida Tournament on Saturday, March 28 from 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM.

Bring valid identification such as a driver’s license or passport.

Kids checking in will need a BIRTH CERTIFICATE or PASSPORT.

All Kid Competitors are required to show their valid identification in the form of Birth Certificate, Passport or IBJJF card to compete. Any Kid Competitor without valid identification will be disqualified and will not compete. No refunds.

All Adult, Master & Juvenile Competitors are required to show their valid identification in the form of Drivers License, Passport, State Identification or IBJJF card to compete. Any Adult, Master or Juvenile Competitor without valid identification will be disqualified and will not compete. No refunds.

2014 NAGA Pan American Championships Gallery

Congratulations to everyone that competed!  Everybody displayed their hard work over the last few months to prepare for this tournament!

Video of Professor Brian Ruscio winning the NAGA Pan-American No Gi Expert Masters Championship.



Undefeated, Brian Ruscio claims Championship at 2014 NAGA Pan-American

Brian Ruscio claims NAGA Pan Am No Gi Expert Masters

Grappling Mastery Professor, Brian Ruscio recently put it all on the line at the 2014 NAGA Pan-American Championships to showcase his skills and set an example for the team.  It was a great time overall and the competition was tough.  Whispers about his opponents like, “I’ve never seen that guy taken down before!”, and “That guy rarely loses!” are some of the comments heard during and after his matches.  To that he only stated, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know that.”

Brian says:  “I don’t really pay attention to who my opponents are going to be.  If I see them in a match that day, I may think of a hypothetical strategy, but my only real plan is to go in there and have fun.  I only plan to find a way to grapple my way and get them to play my game.  I don’t get myself excited by all the hype around someone’s name and I never underestimate anybody.  Anybody can be beaten by anybody else.  For me it’s not about winning or losing, only doing my best and gaining something of value from my opponent that will help me improve myself.”

Below are the Semi Finals and Finals Matches from the NAGA Pan-American No GI Expert Masters Championships vs. American MMA Fighter, William Swift and Brazilian MMA Fighter, Wanderley Camilo.

Brian Ruscio defeats Brazilian MMA Fighter Wanderley Camilo (BTT) for the NAGA No GI Expert Championship
Brian Ruscio defeats Brazilian MMA Fighter, Wanderley Camilo (Brazilian Top Team) for the NAGA No GI Expert Championship

More Pics of Grappling Mastery at 2014 NAGA Pan-American

To learn more from Brian Ruscio, try out Grappling Mastery for 30 Days FREE!

AJ Agazarm Seminar Review

BJJ Black Belts, Brian Ruscio and World Champion, AJ Agazarm
BJJ Black Belts, Brian Ruscio and World Champion, AJ Agazarm

AJ Agazarm is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt and World Champion.  He is currently one of the most active competitors in BJJ.  Fighting out of Gracie Barra Clearwater, and formerly a wrestler with Ohio State, AJ has a nice blend of solid BJJ and Wrestling.  His journey started when he took an mma fight and won by Rear Naked Choke, not even knowing what one was or applying it properly!  BJJ Black Belt, Brian Ruscio took a recent opportunity to attend AJ Agazarm’s Seminar hosted by our friends at Gracie Barra in Oviedo.

AJ Agazarm’s Competition Titles include:

  • IBJJF World No Gi Champion
  • IBJJF World Gi Champion
  • Brazilian National Champion
  • 3X European Champion
  • 4X Pan Am Champion
  • 5X American National Champion

AJ is a humble guy coming from humble beginnings.  His secrets to success are simply hard work and getting in a flow.  He recommends keeping busy and using Franklin Covey Planners.  He looks at each competition as a journey.  It isn’t just the competition day, it’s everything.  The training, the travel, the injuries, the weighins, the event, and the ride home.  He breaks his year into seasons.  Gi season, No Gi season, Seminar Season, and “Chill” Season.  Like business has ups and downs, so does our training.  I would describe this as “undulations”, describing the motion he used with his hands.
Save 15% On Your Entire Order AJ showed a lot of detail in his techniques and these details affected all the techniques in his series.  From hand position, foot position, posture, head position, when to drive into the opponent, and when to let them drive into you…  He also talked about competition strategies and how to capitalize on the way points are scored.  How to score a quick and easy 11 point lead.  We talked about how to mentally beat your opponent.  It was a 2 hour seminar, though time seemed to go extremely fast.  This is a seminar you did not want to miss.  Great details and strategies that change the way you look at common positions!  Thanks AJ!

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Coach Ruscio will be reviewing the techniques from the seminar this coming week at Grappling Mastery!  Make sure to get in and experience these techniques and details from a Multiple Time World Champion and improve your Jiu Jitsu.  Non-members are Welcome to attend the week for FREE!