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#36 Gustavo Dantas

Updated: Feb 25, 2021

As a kid, Gustavo Dantas was a Judo player when his older brother introduced him to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Gustavo fell in love with the sport and began training as often as he could. Unfortunately at his first academy, the instruction wasn't great as Gustavo soon found out when he began competing in tournaments.

Gustavo was losing and losing bad in the early stages of his competition career. But he was determined to overcome his struggles. So he left his first gym to find a higher caliber of instruction. Gustavo kept striving, pushing, and training, all with the goal of winning at least one match. All his hard work and determination paid off. Gustavo was still losing, just not as bad, and eventually, he won his first match, then more matches, and then he was winning tournaments.

Gustavo changed academies again and began training under Andre Pederneiras, the co-founder of the team Nova Uniao. There he trained among future world champions, Vitor “Shaolin”, Robson Moura, Renato “Charuto” Verissimo, Leo Santos, and Rodrigo “Feijao”. This group would eventually be considered one of the top lightweight teams in BJJ history.

All throughout his teens and early adulthood, Gustavo had a dream of moving to the United States and opening his own academy. In 1999 with a meager amount of cash and few belongings, he made the move and settled in Las Vegas. There he began teaching at John Lewis’s School, and the following year he moved to Arizona where he taught at Arizona Combat sports for 12 years.

In 2012, Gustavo's dream of owning his own academy became a reality when Gustavo Dantas Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy was opened. Along with his academy and running tournaments in Arizona, Gustavo established himself as one of, if not the biggest promoters of BJJ in Arizona, and is now the President of the Arizona Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation.

To achieve all of this success, and make all of these huge life changing decisions, one would think Gustavo had amazing self confidence. However, for most of his life the opposite was true. So Gustavo began a journey into mental development, becoming a certified mental coach. Now he helps others overcome confidence issues that had once been an obstacle for much of his own life. One of the ways he does this is with The BJJ Mental Coach, a program dedicated to help BJJ competitors deal with the anxiety and mental blocks that often prevent them from obtaining their goal both on and off the mats. Along with this program, Gustavo also hosts The BJJ Mental Coach Podcast where he and his guests discuss what is necessary to take your mindset to a higher level in Jiu Jitsu and in life.

Gustavo is also the co-founder of the nonprofit Jiu Jitsu Tribe. Jiu- Jitsu Tribe supports social projects that offer free Jiu Jitsu classes to underprivileged children and young adults in impoverished communities. Jiu Jitsu Tribe also, with donations, helps academies pay monthly expenses so they can continue having a positive impact on their communities through Jiu Jitsu.

As a BJJ academy owner, mental coach, entrepreneur, podcast host, and philanthropist, Gustavo has come a long way from the kid whose goal was to win just one BJJ match.


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