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 Helio Gracie. Pedro Valente Sr. started learning judo at the age of nine. Pedro’s dad Syllo Valente, was an admirer of Helio Gracie and took Pedro, who was 12 at the time, to watch the world title fight between Helio 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 Helio’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 Grand Master Helio’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 Helio 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 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 Helio Gracie. Growing up, the Valente brothers trained daily at the original Gracie Academy in Rio de Janeiro under Helio, 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 Helio’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 Helio 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 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 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. 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 youngest of the Valente Brothers, Joaquim, moved to Miami in 2007 to study criminology at Barry University. He quickly impressed everyone through his unique technique, outstanding teaching skills and remarkable charisma. Joaquim, like his brothers, had Grand Master Helio 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 Grand Master Helio 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 Helio 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. In 2007 Joaquim recieved the Professors' Diploma by Grand Master Helio Gracie. This was a great accomplishment and honor in light of the fact that in 75 years only 27 people received this diploma from Grand Master Helio Gracie.
The Valente Brothers specialize in the genuine Helio 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 holds a degree in criminology from Barry University.