Marcio Simas and Clermont Police Chief Charles Broadway

by Chuck Seaver, South Lake Tablet

The fascinating world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) can hardly be mentioned without including Marcio Simas in the conversation. Marcio, who is revered as a Master in the art of Jiu-Jitsu, began his interest of BJJ as a young man living in his native home of Copacabana, Brazil. A friend, that 15-year-old Marcio grew up with, took him to watch the training at the Gracie school in Copacabana, where Rolls Gracie taught. Rolls Gracie was a Brazilian martial artist. He was a prominent member of the Gracie family known for their founding of BJJ and considered by some as the family’s best-ever fighter.

“It was love at first sight when I watched the training. It has been a big part of my life ever since,” says Marcio. It would be nearly three years before Marcio would begin his journey though. Finances, as a young man, would prevent his training experiences until just before his 18th birthday. “I was close to 18 years old when a friend of mine, Tarcision Moreno, invited me to join his school and start training Jitsu with him. Moreno held a black belt, and his school was near my home,” says Marcio.

After Tarcision married and moved away, Marcio joined Rolls Gracie Academy. Under the guidance of legends like Rolls Gracie, Marcio’s passion for Jiu-Jitsu strengthened even further, laying the groundwork for a lifetime passion committed to the art. While at the academy, Marcio met Carlos Gracie Jr. Carlos would become an inspiration and life-long friend to Marcio. “I found more than training with Carlos. I found a true friend that helped me push boundaries, and hone my skills and together we embarked on a journey of growth that would help shape the future of Jiu-Jitsu,” says Marcio.


With a vision to introduce Jiu-Jitsu to another culture and share the art that he loved with others; Marcio moved to the United States in 1994. Marcio settled in the Orlando area and established the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school in Central Florida. His plans grew when he reached out to his longtime friend, Carlos and asked him to bring the Pan American tournament to Florida. “When we wished to expand Jiu-Jitsu in Central Florida, I called Carlos and asked him to bring the tournament here,” says Marcio. Carlos agreed and Florida has hosted the Pan American tournament several times since. The Pan American tournament is the largest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament held in the Americas. The event is held annually by the international Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation.


Since relocating to Central Florida, Marcio has founded or co-founded five schools in Central Florida and has graduated dozens of black belts who have been transformed and shaped on his mats. Marcio states that you can be in good shape physically but no matter how good of shape you are in, there is always room for improvement with Jiu-Jitsu. “Building your mind to conquer pain and fear is as important as your physical health. It’s my job to improve a student’s body and mental health in preparation for the next step. The best way to build both is with repetition in training,” says Marcio. Marcio continues to say that “the art of Jiu-Jitsu is always about defense mode. With 80% of confrontations ending up on the ground, it is much safer to defeat the opponent before the struggle hits the ground. But we prepare students for both.”

Marcio’s lifelong dedication, passion, and commitment to BJJ has landed him the rare promotion of Coral/White belt, the official accomplishment that is earned by few. The coral is a rank in the BJJ ranking system that is depicted by a red and white coral belt. It is also known as the seventh-degree coral belt or the master’s belt. Coral is one of the highest ranks in the BJJ, surpassed only by the red-and-black belt (8th degree) and the red belt (9th and 10th degree).  

The origin of the coral belt can be traced back to the founders of BJJ, Carlos Gracie Sr. and Helio Gracie. They adopted the belt system from Judo but modified it to suit their own style and philosophy. They also added new colors and degrees to distinguish themselves from other martial arts. The coral belt was initially reserved for the Gracie family members who had reached a certain age and experience in BJJ. Later, it was extended to other practitioners who had made significant contributions to the art and had earned the respect and recognition of their peers.  


If you are interested in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu arts, look no further than Clermont for a brand-new location. Marcio opened a gym in Clermont several years ago but has relocated to a new location at 16215 SR-50, Clermont. Programs are available to children and adults for Jiu-Jitsu-inspired fitness classes, including self-defense classes for both men and women.

Visit or call 407-347-0330 for more information.

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