Earlier today the jiu jitsu world got a bit of a shock as back-to-back Middleweight World Champion Otavio Sousa announced on his Facebook page that he had been fired without warning from his coaching position at the Gracie Barra Headquarters Academy in Irvine, California.
According to Sousa he was fired because of the fact that he is often on the road teaching seminars or competing, which Sousa claims is his primary way of making a living.
Here is the full statement from Sousa:
Hi Guys, Last night I just received an email from professor Chris saying that I was fired from Gracie Barra Headquarters, without any warning from before. When I was in Irvine teaching, the responsible guys from GB Headquarters Chris and Derek didn't say anything that they were planing to do that. No communication at all. I got really shocked when I got to know about that, it wasn't even from them that I get to know, I was the last to know about it. I was even telling the students here in Costa Rica to Come visit Gracie Barra Irvine in CA to train with, without knowing what was going on. like I always did, representing the Flag and doing the marketing of our academy (GB IRVINE). They are saying that I am never there in Irvine which is not true because I am always traveling to teach seminars and they complaint that my reluctance to adhere to GB curriculum and standards have no choice for them to make that decision. But nobody came to me and said nothing before. I just want to let everyone know because they didn't even leave me the chance for me to say good buy to you guys. I am sure everyone understands about the times the I have to leave to make seminars, thats my way of making money and be able to live out of my country and make a living of jiu jitsu because what they promises me they never did it, always passing the responsibility to the other one because they never took responsibility with what they promise, or say. I didn't liked at all they way things happened, this is not a very good atitude. It was going to be more nice if they have come to me, to my face and say: we don't want you here because of this or that, instead of letting everyone know and let me know while I am traveling and by email.
But thats fine, everything happens for a reason in life. I will keep fighting and overcome like I am used to do. I just want to say that I love you all (students) and its a chame to leave like that. I will stop by to say hi to you guys when I get back from Costa Rica.
Regarding the training competition, that we were doing in the mornings, the 9 am class, since I don't have a place to train anymore and they cancelled those classes that was my only time to prepare my self for tournaments I will talk to you guys when I get there. hope everyone have a great weekend and I will see you all soon. I didn't want to say all that over the internet but the way I got this news wasn't good at all. But that's what my heart is making me do it, even thought I am exposing my self that way but I couldn't even sleep last night. See you all soon.
It is currently unclear is Sousa will be leaving just Gracie Barra Irvine or the team all together.
Gracie Barra, formerly one of the powerhouse competition academies, has fallen on hard times as many of their top competitors have drifted away, it seems odd that they would make a move that would so alienate one of their best stars.
Gracie Barra is the largest academy association in BJJ and the firing of Sousa fits a trend of the GB leadership attempting to exert a tighter control over their product as they have a highly standardize curriculum and uniform requirements. These increasing demands placed on academies have caused many to leave the GB association in recent years, and while this process seems to be turning the Gracie Barra network into a cash cow, it also appears to be negatively impacting their ability to retain top talent.
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