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“The Jaguar of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu” Mestre Sylvio Behring

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He is considered one of the young guns of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Mestre Behring is undoubtedly the “Jaguar of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu”. His technique is very fast and clean. Once you’re caught by him there is no getting away. It is over as he has so many counters for every type of possible escape. It is futile to even consider escaping- like a Jaguar, he is strong powerful and experienced. His innovative Progressive System of teaching BJJ is amazing and so easy to follow that anyone can learn the moves and how to apply them either in the street or in competition or even as a complementary system to your present martial arts your teaching.

Born into one of Brazil’s first families of Jiu Jitsu, his father was one of the original students of Master Helio Gracie. In fact, you can see his father in Master Gracie’s early books, as he is the 'uke' or partner in all the photos. His father never wanted to teach professionally until 1992 when he took over his second son’s school in Sao Paolo. Sylvio’s brother, Marcelo was one of the most talented and gifted fighters in Gracie Jiu Jitsu ever. But his father not being interested in his own ego, took his son to many other teachers including Master João Alberto and Master Rickson Gracie to learn more details and the fine points of Jiu Jitsu. In 1980 he became a student of Master Alvaro who he considers his Master or Sensei. Later in 1987 he became his partner in running the school as his teaching skills were so high along with his technical knowledge he was a natural teacher.

Sylvio started his training in 1966 at the age of 4 but even before that he was rolling around with his father. In 1966 he put on his first Jiu Jitsu gi and started his formal training in the art that has taken the world by a storm. 

We asked “The Jaguar” what the main difference is between Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. “They are both the same in many ways the techniques are the same and the goal is submission in both arts but where we differ is in the way we train. Our training is a little more realistic when it comes to the self-defence part. Our ground fighting is very good and very strong.”

Then we asked him “what is the difference between Gracie Jiu Jitsu and your Progressive jiu Jitsu?” “Well there is nothing new in my system except the way in which I teach it. I found that there is a way of teaching jiu jitsu which I learned from my master that is logical and progressive from one technique to another but it has all the same techniques of Gracie Jiu Jitsu its just in the way it is taught to the students that is different.”

We then went to meet Hickson Gracie who is one of the people that taught Sylvio. It was like old home week for them as Sylvio stood beside Master Hickson at the beginning of the class and it was very evident the mutual admiration they had for each other at Master Hickson’s seminar.

When I was in Brazil, Sylvio took me to many of his branch locations. One which was on an island and it felt like a scene out of ‘Enter The Dragon’. We travelled by boat to this island where he taught. Then the next day we went to a Favela dojo where there were 150 students waiting to train with him. When we arrived at the location, in one of the most dangerous parts of Rio de Janeiro, the students ran to him at least 50 or 60 as if he was the savior and they all had these amazing beautiful smiles on their faces that lit up the school as all the parents watched. During the class, not one or two, but four juniors collapsed. This wasn’t from the heat or hard training but from the lack of food. Sylvio explained he does not charge these students because they have nothing and to many their most valuable possession is not their worn out pants or shirt but their hand- me down Jiu Jitsu uniforms they wore. The mats they practiced on did not fit together and were all kinds of colors and sizes - anything at all was used to fall on. It was an eye opener for me for sure. At the end it became apparent what the kids really came for. Mestre Behring not only came out to teach and inspire these young people through Jiu Jitsu, he brought them food as well. It was simple food but it was food to feed all who trained. Wow, is all I could say Wow! This was the first time I ever seen anything like this. The one thing that became quite clear as we developed our friendship, is that I had developed a deep respect for this man that I have dubbed the “Jaguar of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu” Mestre Sylvio Behring- a man’s man and martial artist. He is a quality human being whom I am proud to call my friend and martial arts brother.

By Don Warrener 

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