Josh’s Principle Teachers

About Luiz Palhares

7th Degree Red and Black belt under Rickson Gracie. Master Luiz Palhares began training in 1976 with the legendary Rolls Gracie. He received his purple belt under Rolls and then trained with Carlos Gracie for a period. He has been under Rickson Gracie since 1982 and received his brown and black belt from Rickson. Master Luiz Palhares received his black belt in 1984.

He has won the Rio de Janeiro championships several times.

  • 2000, 2003, 2004 Pan American Champion super heavy weight senior division and open.
  • 2002, 2003 3rd place in Masters and Seniors International.
  • 1998 Brazilian National Champion in heavy weight senior division and open.

After moving from Rio de Janeiro (Gracie Academy), Master Luiz has been teaching law enforcement and women self-defense (anti-rape) classes and BJJ seminars in America, Canada and Europe (Paris, London and Belfast). He is currently a resident of Florida and teaches classes for civilians, the military and Special Forces (Seals, Green Berets, Rangers.


Full Name: Fernando de Mello Guimarães

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Carlson Gracie > Fernando “Pinduka”

Main Achievements:

  • Drew against MMA legend Marco Ruas in the Jiu Jitsu vs Martial Arts Challenge (1984 – no holds barred);
  • Remained unbeaten in competition from 1968 till 1985.

Favourite Submission: Armlock

Team/ Association: Fernando Pinduka Jiu Jitsu

Fernando Pinduka Biography

Fernando was born in 1954 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He first got in contact with Jiu Jitsu when he was 12 as a way to defend himself. Pinduka had run into trouble with an older kid who stole his marble balls. Fernando couldn’t challenge the much bigger thief into a fight, so he threw a rock at his head which knocked the older kid out. When he heard about this, Fernando’s father was fearful for his son’s integrity and enlisted him in a jiu jitsu school, Carlson Gracie’s gym.

Pinduka loved training and started competing in 1968, right at the start of the new Rio de Janeiro BJJ federation. He became it’s first champion in the junior division at 14 years of age in that same year and remained unbeaten until 1985, making him the very first successful fighter to come out of Carlson Gracie’s gym. Pinduka’s name grew in the area and he was also known as the “king of Copacabana” for the weight he carried in the area.

He was also close to another BJJ legend, Rolls Gracie, in an era that many call the golden days of Jiu Jitsu (the 1980’s), the same days when all the animosity between Jiu Jitsu and Luta Livre (a form of wrestling common in Brazil) began. The reason it all started, according to Pinduka, was because of a fight that occurred between Rillion Gracie and a nephew of one of Luta Livre’s coaches, Molina. When Rolls found out what the Luta Livre guys had done to his brother he invaded Molina’s academy with his students and all hell broke lose. From that moment on, the bad blood was established and it would take several years before peace was restored.

In 1978 Fernando Pinduka managed to achieve what he had been working for so long, his black belt in Jiu Jitsu from the hands of his master, and his degree in Physical Education (aka Gymnastics). His academic monograph was about the insertion of Jiu Jitsu in the University’s Curriculum, a request vehemently denied at the time.

In 1984 Fernando Pinduka was chosen by the GranD Master Helio Gracie himself to defend the Gracie Jiu Jitsu name against the Luta Livre challengers. The event was called “JJ vs MA – Jiu-Jitsu vs Martial Arts”, and it took place in a super packed Maracana, the historic arena in Rio de Janeiro that has hosted several famous fights throughout the years. The fight had very little rules and there were no judges, so after a gruelling 20 minutes of war, the fight was stopped and declared a draw.

After completing 3 Masters Degrees in different subjects, Pinduka recharged batteries and applied once again for BJJ in the Univertisy. The request was denied in 1988, 1990 and 1992, the project was refused mainly by the Judo board who held strong influence with “the powers that be” and who believed one grapping art was sufficient in the course. But showing true perseverance, Fernando did not give up and continued pushing his bill. Until in 1993 light shinned upon the people in charge of the University and finally the bill was accepted.

Jiu Jitsu stayed in the curriculum of the University from their on, until in 1997 the sport had evolved in such a manner that there was a need to form a team. And so the (now) famous Gama Filho Team was born (today called GFT). The group was handed to Mestre Julio Cesar who transformed that unit into one of the greatest forces of BJJ in Rio de Janeiro.

Another episode in Master Pinduka’s life, was when he cut his foot and the wound got infected. He went to the doctors, and they told him he would probably lose his foot because they could not kill the bacteria that had entered his blood stream. Carlson Gracie then took Pinduka to his father, Gran Master Carlos Gracie, who was very wise to traditional medicine. Gran Master made a mix of herbs that he applied into the wound and in a few weeks he was fully recovered.

Today Master Pinduka still teaches Jiu Jitsu and Gymnastics in Rio de Janeiro.


Sensei Kieslich has over 35 years of judo experience and has quite a
few accomplishments under his belt. In 1995 and again in 1998 he
took first place in the United States National Masters Championships
. Before his relocation to the United States in 1990, sensei Kieslich
competed in Germany with considerable tournament success: 2 time
Bavarian champion, 1st Place win in International Rank Tournament,
numerous wins in significant team events to name a few.

Not only is Sensei Kieslich a renowned competitor, many of his students
were also able to get their hands on some high-level medals, titles,
and trophies. The club remains closely affiliated with Core of
Louisville and sensei John Wortley, 5th Dan, as well as Josh
Johnson’s Elizabethtown BJJ and Judo. Instructors and students
frequently train together to expand their knowledge in the grappling arts.

The club has also a dear partnership with TSV 1863
Tauberbischofsheim Judo-Abteilung, where sensei
Kieslich’s journey of judo began.

Toshi Dojo of Louisville was founded by Michael Royse,
6th Dan. Mike was the sensei of Toshi Dojo for decades
until his relocation to Florida. He is a most talented judoka
with a long list of accomplishmets dating back to a
2nd place at the All Marine Judo Championships in 1964.

He trained at the Kodokan in Tokyo, Japan and has profound
judo knowledge. He continues to train judo to this day, and his
signature technique Tai Otoshi remains razor sharp.

Toshi Dojo of Brandenburg started out as a satellite club in 1998
, but over the years became well established and is now an
independent judo club operated by sensei Eberhard Kieslich,
6th Dan. # What makes Toshi Dojo unique is that Sensei
Kieslich is not fixated on making money, but rather sharing his passion for Judo

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