In the center of the Northern Territory in Central Australia is Alice Springs, a town of 30,000 and home to the newest addition of the worldwide phenomenon of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It’s called Gracie Barra Alice Springs (gbalicesprings.com). The academy itself is the brainchild of Simon Dew, a 37 year-old Australian and sports supplement manufacturer who has spent the last 18 years living in both Australia and Japan.
It was during one of his stays in Japan that Dew was introduced to bjj through a co-worker. Simon and his daughter both fell in love immediately with the art.Alice Springs is a City in Central Australia, Northern Territory. Surrounded by dessert it is hard to access by car.
“I thought and knew that this was the most realistic self-defense martial art I had ever come across,” he recounts. Soon after, Simon and his family returned to Alice Springs and felt the absence of BJJ in their lives.
With no opportunity to train, Simon took action and contacted Marcelo Rezende, the head of Syndey-based gracie barra Australia, and began discussing options to open a sister school. Simon used his business expertise to help the school take off. “I knew and understood that in order to have a successful school, you need to look at it and run it as a business,” he says.
“I can see Australia doing very well in the future,” states Dew. “However, it is up to people like myself to give Australians this chance, the chance to learn the most effective martial art. I take this responsibility seriously.”
Only seven months after opening their doors, gracie Barra Alice Springs has over 100 students, boasts a 200 square meter mat, and is proud to have a wide range of students, from police and tradesmen to housewives and children. With only a handful of black belts in the country, finding a high-ranked instructor was a challenge. But Gracie Barra soon found purple belt Davide Perna, the 2009 Pan Pacific No-Gi Champion from Melbourne to be the school’s instructor. Dew is also working with an immigration lawyer to help them recruit a black belt instructor from Brazil, and expect to have him in late August.
Although grappling in general is not well-known in Australia, Simon sees a very bright future. His goal? To continue working with Marcelo to spread jiu jitsu to the Australian people. “I can see Australia doing very well in the future,” states Dew. “However, it is up to people like myself to give Australians this chance, the chance to learn the most effective martial art. I take this responsibility seriously.”
Last Saturday, August 7th, a team of students went up to the coast city of Darwin for the 2010 Northern Territory JJ Championship, organized by the Australian BJJ federation, filiated with IBJJF.
Dew says, “Just got an email from Mark Nixon regarding the results in Darwin. All did very well. Our first competition! Good on you boys!! Here are the results: Daniel 1 Gold and 2 Silver; Jarrod 2 Bronze; Darren 1 Silver; Jesse 2 Gold and 2 Silver; Domenic 1 Gold; Josh 1 Gold. Pretty good for a school that has only been open for half a year. Just goes to show what dedicated people we have!!”
As pioneers like Simon move forward with these goals, Australia will become a force to be reckoned with in the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.