In 2007, was a highlight year for Brasa Jiu Jitsu. Robert Drysdale, Demian Maia and Andre Galvao all had excellent showings in competitions and the team was being mentioned in the same breath as Alliance and Nova Uniao. But this year marked the end of Brasa’s amazing run. Maia’s focus shifted to Mixed Martial Arts and Drysdale left to become a coach at Xtreme Couture.
Ramon Lemos was a black belt with Brasa when the team began to come apart. Raised in Rio de Janeiro, Lemos trained under Andre Pederneiras at the Nova Uniao academy near his home. While Lemos was ferocious on the mats, his goals were never in competition but rather in teaching.
Lemos opened a Nova Uniao school in Sao Paulo and developed his own curriculum with heavy moral and religious overtones because on his own evangelical beliefs. Over time Lemos drifted away from the Nova Uniao association and became part of Brasa. When Brasa began to come apart, Lemos saw an oppurntity to create not just one school based on his beliefs, but a whole team.
(Ramon Lemos in the blue gi)
Gustavo Campos was a Brazilian who had his first experience in Jiu Jitsu after watching a tape of Royce Gracie in the UFC. Campos went directly to a near by academy and began training under Carlos Aveline, but faced strong resistance from his family. He became so addicted he started training twice a day, splitting his time between Aveline’s school and one run by a childhood friend, Mario Reis. He progressed quickly and earned his black belt in 2004 awarded to him by Walter Matos.
Campos traveled to California to train with his idol Rickson Gracie, and sharpen his skills. Rickson’s son Kron became fast friends with Campos as they trained together. Campos traveled back to opened an academy, starting out by spreading some pads in his mother’s living room and using teaching methods he had learned from Rickson Gracie. Campos traveled in Mach of 2008 to the Pan Ams to compete under the Rickson banner and won his weightclass.
At that very same Pan Ams, Andre Galvao won the Medium Heavy weightclass and the Absolutes under the Brasa umbrella. Galvo would compete in June with Brasa at Worlds and won his second world championship as a black belt. Feeling a new challenge awaited him, Galvo turned his sights to MMA and not two months later in August, Galvo fought his first MMA fight in Santa Monica.
Ramon Lemos looking to start a new team, Gustavo Campos with a academy growing too large for his mother’s drawing room and Andre Galvo looking to shift his focus all came together in October of 2008 to form a new Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy.
Galvo and Campos shared Lemos religious devotion and together they took a name inspired from the New Testimate’s Book of Acts: "Atos".
In December of that year Galvao won his second MMA match in Ontario, Canada, notching Atos’ first victory. Galvo was then signed to the Japanese promotion of Dream FC to fight in their Welterweight Grand Prix. Galvao would get a win in the opening round; Galvao would lose a split decision against Jason High and leave both the Grand Prix and the promotion. He would travel back to the United States and enter in the Strikeforce Challenger series in early 2010.
The Brazilian would defeat Luke Stewart by split decision and then finished Jorge Patino at Strikeforce – Houston in his first two Strikeforce fights. Then labeled a top welterweight prospect, Galvao was matched with Tyron Woodley, another fast rising 170 lb fighter in October of 2010. Woodley clearly outmatched Galvao and that defeat marked the end of Galvao’s MMA career.
Galvao’s attentions returned fully to competitive grappling and to Atos, the landscape had changed a great deal. Atos had gone from small upstart team to exploding into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s elite teams. In January of 2010 at the European Championships, Atos started the year with a bang.
In the Middleweight division Atos took three out of the four podium spots and Atos founder Gustavo Campos won the gold and then would win the Absolutes with a quick submission of Checkmat’s Rodrigo Cavaca.
And in the Feather and Light Feather weigtht divisons two of Atos’ fastest rising stars also won gold. Brothers Rafael and Guilherme Mendes started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in a kids program at Ramon Lemos’ academy. Together the brothers won major tournaments as blue, purple and brown belts. The brothers received their black belts right as Lemos left Brasa to form Atos.
In 2009, their first years as black belts, the Mendes brothers would quickly rise to the top of the sport. Rafael won the Featherweight BJJ World Cup, won the Rickson Cup, and the ADCC Submission Grappling Championships. Guilherme won Bronze at the Pan Ams and won the 2009 IBJJF Light Featherweight World Championship.
The Mendes brothers contiue to dominate to this day, and between the two of them have won 14 major touraments since 2009.
In 2011, Atos had one of the most amazing showings at World Championship in the history of sport jiu Jitsu. Despite being a much smaller team than the tradiontal powerhouses of Gracie Humaita, Gracie Barra, and Nova Uniao; Atos was able to finished third overall in the Adult team standings. Gold medals by the Mendes brothers and Gilbert Burns and strong performances by Campos and Ary Farias in the black belt divisions played a huge role in that third place finish.
Atos contiues to turn out highly talented and skilled grapplers and is one of the most respected programs in the BJJ community. Its most recent star is the young Davi Ramos who cut a path through the 2011 West Coast Grapplers Quest.
"Results." International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation
"Who Is Atos Jiu-Jitsu?" The FightWorks Podcast | Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) Radio and News.
"#172 Andre Galvao & Atos Jiu-Jitsu" The FightWorks Podcast | Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) Radio and News.
"Andre Galvão | Inside BJJ." Inside BJJ.
Other Articles in History of Jiu-Jitsu Series:
1. Birth on the Battlefield
2. The Meiji Era and the Evolution of Judo
3. Judo Travels the World and Maeda Meets Gracie
4. Baptism By Fire and Luta Livre
5. The Tragedy of Rolls Gracie
6. Coming to America and the Birth of the Ultimate Fighting Championship
7. The Gracies Leave the UFC and Bring Jiu Jitsu Back to Japan
8. Carlson Gracie, The Grandfather of Jiu Jitsu in MMA
9. The Rise of Sport Jiu Jitsu
10. Twist and Shout