top of page

What is Jiu Jitsu?

Gracie (Brazillian) Jiu Jitsu is a self defense martial art and combat sport based on grappling, ground fighting and submission holds.

It focuses on the skill of controlling one's opponent, gaining a dominant position and using a number of techniques to force them into submission via joint locks or chokeholds,  teaches that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger, heavier opponent by using leverage and weight distribution to take the fight to the ground and then using submissions to defeat them.

Brief History 

A modern martial art rooted in ancient times, the earliest forms of Jiu Jitsu were originally from Japan.
Japanese Jiu Jitsu started off as a way for warriors in battle to effectively combat heavily armored opponents in close quarters. Striking proved to be ineffective against an armored opponent and large, heavy swords would also prove to be useless in close combat, therefore, practitioners learned that the most efficient methods for neutralizing the enemy came in the form of throws, joint locks and chokes.
There are many derivatives and branches of Jiu Jitsu, with the most popular one being the Brazilian adaptation.

The Gracie Family
The Gracie family is probably the most important family in the history of martial arts. They are responsible for developing and popularizing the Brazilian or Gracie Jiu Jitsu we know and see in UFC fights today.
Gracie Jiu Jitsu was created when Mitsuyo Maeda taught Carlos Gracie Japanese Jiu Jitsu in the early 1900s. Carlos then taught his brother Helio, who had a smaller frame and struggled with some of the techniques, forcing him to adapt.
Through practice and adaptation, Carlos and Helio developed Gracie Jiu Jitsu where leverage and technique took priority over strength.
Helio Gracie challenged wrestlers, boxers, and other martial artists throughout the years, and established his name in the martial arts world. The Gracies had many children and most were trained in Helio's style of Gracie Jiu Jitsu from a young age.
These next generation of Gracie fighters took Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to a whole new level by moving to the US and promoting it on a worldwide scale.

Recent History
Rorion Gracie moved to California in the late 70s and started teaching Jiu Jitsu there. The connections he made in California led him to become the co founder of the UFC in the 90s and his brother Royce Gracie put Jiu Jitsu on the map by winning UFC 1, 2, and 4 against much bigger and stronger opponents. Jiu Jitsu spread like wildfire and it is currently the most sought after martial arts in the world by pro fighters, as well as anyone who wants to learn effective self defense. 


Why Train Jiu Jitsu?

  • It is one of the most effective, real life fighting systems on the planet. Most fights end up on the ground and training Jiu Jitsu focuses on getting your opponent down to the ground where you can effectively control them. The techniques you learn in class are 100 percent applicable in real life self defense situations. 

  • Anyone can train Jiu Jitsu. Women, men, and even young children of any age, any size and fitness level can train jiu jitsu due to the fact that it is a martial art designed for smaller and weaker people to be able to control and submit larger and stronger opponents. 

  • It's a great way to work out and get in shape. One of the great benefits of Jiu Jitsu is that it's a fun and effective way to get in shape. Constant drilling and rolling (rolling=sparring) sessions will have a positive impact on your body. A lot of people think they need to get in shape before trying out Jiu Jitsu, but the fact is, you can start Jiu Jitsu at any fitness level and with consistent training you will start noticing positive changes such weight loss, increase in flexibility, and an increase in strength to name a few.

  • Jiu Jitsu sharpens the mind and improves mental health. Aside from physical health benefits, Jiu Jitsu is also a great mental workout. Often called "a game of human chess",  Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that requires the use of strategizing and technique to beat your opponent. There are also mental health benefits that come with training Jiu Jitsu. The release of dopamine and endorphins that come from physical activity is responsible for improved mental well-being and can combat feelings of depression. Rolling in class, often times with larger and stronger opponents, forces the Jiu Jitsu practitioner to stop and focus on the moment, deal with fears and anxieties and learn to deal with situations effectively even under pressure. 

  • It is the most important base if you want to fight MMA. Most top MMA fighters have one thing in common and that is a strong Jiu Jitsu base. If you want to fight MMA, Jiu Jitsu will give you an instant advantage on the ground. It's a necessity and the best way to defend yourself against wrestlers and strikers and effectively finish the fight.

  • Jiu Jitsu builds character and promotes self improvement. It makes you stronger physically, mentally and emotionally. It teaches humility, the ability to learn from mistakes and improve on them. Jiu Jitsu is a life-long journey, whether you are a brand new white belt or a seasoned black belt, you can always learn something new and better yourself every single day. 

  • The skills you learn training Jiu Jitsu can be applied to daily life. Jiu Jitsu is a martial art that regularly puts many practitioners in situations outside of their comfort zone. Learning to use your mindset and skillset in uncomfortable situations improves confidence and helps you deal with challenges and struggles off the mats in real life. It teaches you to persevere in the face of hardship and helps you take control over your life. It also teaches you to seize opportunities, teaches you to stay focused and calm, teaches patience, helps you realize your strengths and weaknesses while providing a safe, non judgmental place to work on your weaknesses. Not only that, but you will make lifelong friends from all walks of life that help you get better every day. 


Sean Cerveny- Co-Owner & Head Instructor


Sean Cerveny is a Cesar Gracie black belt as well as a currently undefeated pro MMA fighter and professional boxer. 

His grappling career began when he started wrestling as a young kid. He soon discovered Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; and in hopes of becoming a pro MMA fighter, he started training under Cesar Gracie with Darin Cooley, Nick and Nate Diaz as well as many other notable fighters in Stockton, CA where he is originally from. 

He has been training Jiu Jitsu for over a decade and other forms of grappling for longer and received his black belt in early 2021 from black belt Darin Cooley of Graciefighter Manteca in California. He has competed in many Jiu Jitsu and wrestling tournaments since he was 10 years old. 

He is currently undefeated as a professional mixed martial artist and hopes to continue his MMA career. He has fought internationally as well as on the regional level on shows such as Fury Fighting Championship and Legacy Fighting Alliance to name a couple. His fights have been televised on UFC Fight Pass and ESPN+. Having finished all his fights in the first round with unorthodox finishes, Cerveny is widely recognized as a leg lock specialist.

Never turning down a challenge and an opportunity to test himself, he's also fought as a professional boxer, including a bout on Top Rank boxing. 

Before moving to Maine with his wife to pursue their dreams of opening a gym, Sean has lived in California and Texas where he's taught both adults and kids classes and has over 10 years of teaching experience. 


Grace Cerveny- Co-Owner & Coach


Grace Cerveny started Jiu-Jitsu in 2015 at Graciefighter Manteca, in California for the purpose of learning practical self defense. She quickly developed a love for the art and now trains daily and competes in Jiu Jitsu tournaments.

She is currently a purple belt under Cesar Gracie and received her purple belt from her husband and instructor Sean Cerveny in May 2022.

She teaches adult and beginners Jiu Jitsu classes, our intro classes, kids classes as well as our Kettlebell and conditioning classes at Graciefighter Caribou.


Our Lineage 


Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie Sr.  > Robson Gracie > Cesar Gracie > Darin Cooley  > Sean Cerveny


Cesar Gracie 


Cesar Gracie is known worldwide as a legend in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA instruction. Born in 1966, he is related to  Carlos Gracie Senior (the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu founder) by way of his mother, Sonja Gracie-Gronning. His parents separated when Cesar was still a toddler and Cesar was raised solely by the Gracie side of the family with grappling being a natural part of his upbringing.

Cesar Gracie is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Carlos Gracie Senior's son Robson Gracie. After receiving his black belt in 1992, Cesar moved to Northern California where he opened his own academy, becoming the 3rd Gracie in North America to open a Jiu Jitsu gym. His gym became one of the most successful Jiu Jitsu and MMA gyms in the world, producing top fighters including Jake Shields, Yancy Medeiros, Gilbert Melendez, David Terrell and most notably, Nick and Nate Diaz among many others. 

Darin Cooley

Darin Cooley holds a Black Belt under the prestigious Cesar Gracie , who is universally known for having some of the strictest standards in Jiu-Jitsu. He has been training and teaching Jiu Jitsu for almost 20 years, a long time training partner to well- known fighters such as Nick and Nate Diaz. Cooley is also an accomplished professional MMA Fighter, Jiu-Jitsu competitor and college wrestler. He has since turned his focus to teaching full time and runs his own Jiu Jitsu gym in Manteca, CA.

bottom of page