Claudio França Pires
Claudio França pioneered the teaching of BJJ in Santa Cruz, California – coming to us from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1995. He has studied BJJ since the age of seven and holds a 5th degree Black Belt from Master Francisco Mansor, who is a 9th degree red belt certified by the Confederation of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Rio de Janeiro. Professor França also holds a black belt in Judo from Gama Filho University in Rio de Janeiro.
Professor França has more than 30 years experience teaching and competing in BJJ. He took a Silver Medal in the 2001 Mundials (World Championships), in Rio de Janeiro, and was a two-time Pan-American Middleweight Champion (’97, ’98), four-time Lightweight Brazilian Champion, and three-time Lightweight State Champion.
Claudio has coached several students who have won in the Mundials and Pan Americas. Since 1995, Master França has h osted one of the most lauded international Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournaments in the country, held right here in Santa Cruz: the U.S. Open Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament.
Erik Benaquisto is originally from Santa Cruz and currently resides in San Jose. He began practicing BJJ at the Claudio Franca Academy in Santa Cruz in 1999, and is now a black belt and co-owner of the Claudio Franca San Jose Academy. He makes every attempt to train daily and compete at local tournaments; and, when he is not training, watching or thinking about Jiu Jitsu, he enjoys spending time with his wife and children.
Tyson Kamp earned his Black Belt from Master França in 2010. Tyson has trained on and off since February of 1995, taught since 2002, has completed the IBJJF referee course 5 times as of Nov 2011, and makes trips to Rio de Janeiro to train with the Grappling Fight Team (GF Team) and compete. From 2009-2011 Tyson medaled 17 times in competition as a brown and black belt.