THE BEGINNING - From Grandfather to Father to Sons
Over the last 50 years, three generations of the Valente family have learned Jiu-Jitsu directly from Grand Master Hélio Gracie. Pedro Valente Sr. started learning judo at the age of nine. Pedro's dad Syllo Valente, was an admirer of Hélio Gracie and took Pedro, who was 12 at the time, to watch the world title fight between Hélio and Kimura. The challenge took place at Maracana Stadium that seats over 100,000 spectators. Even though the heavier Kimura won, they were very impressed with Hélio's amazing technique and decided to enroll at the original Gracie Academy in Rio de Janeiro.
In 1953, father and son went to the academy in downtown Rio and started learning Jiu-Jitsu.
The late Dr. Syllo Valente was a naturalist and a homeopathic doctor. Like many Brazilians, he was impressed with Grandmaster Hélio's great feats and found in Jiu-Jitsu an ideal complement to his life and the education of his son, Pedro.
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 Jiu-Jitsu not only provided a powerful tool to cope with bullies but also a source of confidence that gradually taught him alternatives to physical confrontation. Pedro Sr. became one of the Gracie Academy's top students and went on to participate in several high profile challenge matches including a fight in Maracanãzinho stadium in front of 20 thousand people.
As a medical student, in the early 60's, Pedro Sr. met one of Brazil's most prominent plastic surgeons at the Gracie Academy. 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. holds the highest degree in the art (Red Belt) and the title of Grand Master.
The Valente Brothers were born into the Jiu-Jitsu tradition. Pedro, Gui and Joaquim began learning Jiu-Jitsu from their father as soon as they learned how to 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 original Gracie Academy in Rio de Janeiro under Hélio, Royler, and Rolker Gracie. Throughout their training they had the privilege to learn from all the Gracie Brothers: Rorion, Relson, Rickson, Rolker, Royler, Royce, and Robin.
PEDRO VALENTE ESTABLISHES GRACIE JIU-JITSU IN MIAMI
At the age of 18, Pedro 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 Jiu-Jitsu 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 the Gracie Academy in Rio de Janeiro. In 1995, with the instrumental assistance of Rorion and Royce Gracie, Pedro founded a Jiu-Jitsu club at the University of Miami where he taught several students and faculty members. In 1997, Grand Master Hélio visited Miami for the first time to teach classes and supervise the training. Grand Master Hélio 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 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 our 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 Hélio. Most of his vacations were spent at Grandmaster Hélio's ranch in the mountains of Rio as he was being groomed to assist Pedro in Miami. By this time Gracie Miami, now known as Valente Brothers was internationally recognized as the home of the genuine Jiu-Jitsu of Hélio Gracie in Florida.
The Valente Brothers excellent instruction skills combined with their technical fighting styles allowed them to receive their Black belts directly from grandmaster Hélio Gracie. In 1999, Pedro successfully completed the Jiu-Jitsu Professor's course and received his diploma and title of Jiu-Jitsu Professor. In 2001 Gui was also awarded the coveted Professor's Diploma. 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. The youngest of the Valente Brothers, Joaquim, who is also a recipient of the black belt and professor's diploma by Grand Master Hélio Gracie, also moved to Miami in 2007 to study criminology at Barry University. He is currently assisting his brothers at the academy by continuously sharing his impressive technique, outstanding teaching skills and remarkable charisma. The Valente Brothers specialize in the genuine Hélio Gracie 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 Jiu-Jitsu 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 Jiu-Jitsu 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 is on his way to earning a degree in criminology from Barry University.
With the rapid growth of the academy, Pedro quickly realized, the necessity of producing a future instructor. James Robertson, a long time family friend, accepted the invitation and joined the family.
James Robertson started learning Jiu-Jitsu from professor Pedro Valente in 1993. Jimmy and Pedro's friendship dates back to their high school days at the American School of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where Valente Brothers Black Belt Carlos Villares was also a classmate. In 1993 both decided to enroll at the University of Miami where they became roommates. Influenced by Pedro's love for Jiu-Jitsu and Royce's amazing victories in the Ultimate Fighting Championship Jimmy was attracted by the Jiu-Jitsu philosophy. Soon Jimmy became one of Pedro's most technical students. Jimmy's loyalty, moral attributes and years of dedication combined with his technical abilities allowed him the opportunity to take a Jiu-Jitsu instructors course. In December of 2003 Professor Pedro Valente awarded Jimmy his Black Belt and instructor's certification. Moreover, in 2007, Jimmy was awarded a Professor's Diploma by Valente Brothers. Jimmy also holds a Master's Degree in Computer Information Systems and Management of Information Systems.