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About Us 2017-04-06T15:30:22+00:00

OUR HISTORY

Since our humble beginning in 1995, we have lived the same principles we teach our students. We do our best to “Walk our Talk” and see that all our Instructors and Staff members are highly trained role model examples of our own training systems. We’ve always strived to be a World Class Team of Black Belt Leaders who share their passion and knowledge with their students.

Our Chief Instructor, Ivan Kravitz began his life long quest for excellence in the Martial Arts at a very young age. Like many of the Masters that came before him, he began his training as a child, 11 years old.  By the time he was eighteen, he attained his Black Belt from his teacher, Grandmaster Frank Yee.  In his early years, he spent nearly every waking moment training, traveling, and remaining an avid student of the Martial Arts.

In the late 80’s he was introduced to the world of Kickboxing by his good friend Master Jameel Mohammed. During his introduction to Kickboxing and Muay Thai. Ivan had the privilege to train with some of the Elite Fighters of their time such as Benny “The Jet” Urquidez, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Jean–Ives Theriault, Curtis Bush, Mike Bell, and others.

In the mid 90’s, staying hungry for knowledge, he had the privilege to train at the World Famous Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy, and met the Ultimate Fighter Royce Gracie. This relationship has lasted over 20 years. Ivan earned his Black Belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in 2010 under Royce Gracie directly.

Also in the mid 90’s he realized his true passion was teaching and training. He also began to study more about the psychological side of Peak Performance and added proven success principles. That concept has lead to an entire Life Skills Curriculum that is designed to influence a students Attitude, Behavior and Character. Instantly, students were enjoying the benefits of this new format and were training with greater intensity, while gaining a deeper level of personal growth and expertise.

ABOUT THE GRACIE FAMILY

ROYCE GRACIE

Royce Gracie was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is one of nine children, seven of whom are boys. His training in Jiu-Jitsu began at a very early age as a game with his father Helio Gracie. Helio never pushed any of the children to take formal classes until they wanted to do so, however they often went to the Academy in Rio after school and on weekends.

Royce began competing in tournaments at age eight He received his blue belt at age 16 and was promoted to black belt in less than two years. Royce moved to the United States at age 18 to live with his brother, Rorion Gracie. They began teaching private classes out of their garage, sometimes for more than ten hours a day. Rorion and Royce opened the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy over twenty five years ago in Torrance, California. Today it is one of the largest martial arts schools in the country.

Royce’s reputable career as a fighter began in 1993 after defeating three opponents in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship. His brother Rorion came up with this innovative challenge as a way to show Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to the world.  Discipline after discipline was defeated by the slight 6’1”, 180 pound Royce Gracie.

His opponents consistently outweighed him by more than 50 pounds. He went on to win 3 UFC titles and today is the only man in the history of no holds barred matches to successfully defeat four opponents in one night.  Royce is still very active in the fight world with the longer MMA match in history 90 min against Japanese Superstar Kazushi Sakuraba in PRIDE Grand PRIX 2000, and total domination of the Olympic Judo Gold Medalist Hidehiko Yoshida in PRIDE Shockwave 2003.

His largest opponent yet was Sumo Grand Champion Akebono, 6′ 8″ 486lbs. Royce vs. Akebono was the main event of K-1 Premium Dynamite New Years Eve show on 12/31/2004. Royce defeated the giant in just 2min and 13sec with a shoulder lock.  Royce’s success has opened the eyes of many disbelievers to the importance of leverage and technique in grappling.

In November of 2003, Royce Gracie was the first fighter to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame along with fellow UFC veteran Ken Shamrock.

The legend of the Gracie family began in Brazil with Royce’s father, Helio Gracie.

Today Royce is privileged to spread the techniques perfected by his father all over the world. Throughout his busy fighting career Royce has maintained a rigorous travel schedule of seminars and classes.

His list of students is enormous. Royce has taught many of the big screen greats like Chuck Norris, Ed O’Neal, Guy Ritchie and Nicholas Cage. He has also been very active with the CIA, FBI, DEA, Secret Service, Army Rangers, Army Special Forces, Navy Seals and many sheriff and police departments.

Royce makes his home in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. He maintains an impressive training regimen, which includes running, weight training, cardiovascular activity, meditation and countless hours of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. He is always up to the challenge and eagerly awaits his next challenge.

GRANDMASTER HELIO GRACIE

In the early 1900’s, a Japanese jiu-jitsu instructor by the name of Esai Maeda went to the state of Para in Northern Brazil. There he befriended Gastao Gracie, a influential businessman, who helped the Japanese get established. To show his gratitude, Maeda, also known as “Count Koma,” offered to teach the traditional Japanese jiu-jitsu to Gastao’s oldest son, Carlos.

The youngest son of Gastao and Cesalina Gracie’s eight children, Helio was always a very physically frail child. He would run up a flight of stairs and have fainting spells. Nobody could figure out why. So, after completing second grade, he convinced his mother that he shouldn’t go to school any more.

When the family experienced some financial hardships following their move to Rio, some of the children were scattered to live with other relatives. Helio was sent to live with some aunts and through these family contacts, he found work as a coxman for a popular local rowing team, eventually moving into the team dorms. His indomitable spirit, great sense of humor and tireless aptitude to drive people nuts, earned him the nickname of “Caxinguele,” which means “squirrel.” He raised hell!

After a couple of years, when he was about 14, he moved in with his older brothers who lived and taught jiu-jitsu in a house in Botafogo, a borough of Rio de Janeiro. He would spend the next few years limited to only watching his brothers teach, especially Carlos, since doctors had recommended that they keep Helio away from any physical activity.

One day when he was 16 years old, a student showed up for class and Carlos was not around. Helio, who had memorized all the moves and words of his older brother, offered to start the class. When the class was over, Carlos showed up very apologetic for his delay. The student answered, “No problem. I enjoyed the class with Helio very much and, if you don’t mind, I’d like to continue with him.” Carlos agreed and Helio became an instructor.

He soon realized that some of the techniques he had memorized from watching Carlos teach were not very easy for him to execute. He then started to adapt those moves to his frail body’s abilities, improving the leverage in the execution of some of those techniques. He dared to break away from the traditional jiu-jitsu his brothers had learned and were teaching, and through trial and error, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was born.

Helio eventually fought 17 fights including matches against the world wrestling champion, Wladek Zbyszko. and a qualifying fight against the #2 jiu-jitsu fighter in the world, Kato, who Helio choked unconscious in 6 minutes. This victory enabled him to enter the ring with the world champion, Masahiko Kimura, who outweighed Helio by over 80 pounds. Helio Gracie holds the record for the longest match in history for a battle against his former student, Waldemar Santana, which lasted an amazing 3 hours and 40 minutes!

Helio, the first sports hero in Brazilian history, also challenged boxing icons Primo Carnera, Joe Louis and Ezzard Charles. They all declined.

Outside of the ring, always looking for a challenge, he enjoyed breaking wild horses and bulls. In an event worthy of a Hollywood movie, he once jumped into shark infested waters in the Atlantic Ocean to save a man’s life which earned him a medal of honor.

Helio’s relentless contribution to the perfection of jiu-jitsu techniques, his philosophy on life and his unique teaching methodology have been an example for his children and his students worldwide. These are the pillars on which the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was built.

Martial Arts For All

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TRAIN ALONGSIDE THE BEST

Through extensive testing, and certification our staff has attained mastery in various martial arts and now enjoy sharing their skills and passing these on to their students. Here are a few of U.S. Blackbelt Academy’s instructors and staff members, beginning with USBA’s owner, Ivan Kravitz.

Ivan Kravitz
Ivan KravitzOwner/Chief Instructor

1st Degree Black Belt, Gracie Jiu Jitsu
6th Degree Black Belt, TaeKwonDo
Black Belt, Hung Ga Kung Fu

Ivan has enjoyed over 35 years as a martial artist, athlete and teacher. When asked about his passion for the martial arts, Ivan comments, “I fell in love with the Martial Arts when I was only 8 years of age and that love keeps getting stronger everyday.” As a Martial Arts athlete, Ivan trains daily, oversees our dojo operations, and personally selects and trains all of our growing force of Black Belt Instructors.

  • 2005 International Martial Arts Association “Hero” Award for Leadership.
  • 2004 International Martial Arts Association Award for “Fastest Growing School”
  • 2003 International Martial Arts Association Award for “Best Student Service”

Mr. Kravitz is a former Advisory Board Member for the Educational Funding Company (EFC), the industry’s leading Martial Arts Tuition and Consulting Company. He has also been an active participant in civic minded programs such as Child Safety and Awareness seminars, Crime Prevention programs, and has spearheaded initiatives with law enforcement and community service representatives across the country to promote safer and better informed children and parents.

Ivan resides in sunny Southern California with his beautiful wife, Rachel Kravitz, who is also a highly skilled athlete and dedicated teacher. Together, they lead a very active lifestyle that continues to have a very positive impact and influence on the lives of many of their students in Orange County.

Rachel Kravitz
Rachel KravitzGeneral Manager

3rd Degree Black Belt and Blue Belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and is the General Manager of day to day operations.

Mrs. Kravitz is a Graduate of University of Montana where she earned her MBA. She had worked in the corporate world for over 10 years, before deciding to pursue her dream of living the Black Belt lifestyle.

GUEST INSTRUCTORS

Royce Gracie
Royce Gracie

USBA is Orange County’s only Royce Gracie Academy. The legend of the Gracie family began in Brazil with Royce’s father, Helio Gracie. Today Royce Gracie is privileged to spread the techniques perfected by his father all over the world. Throughout his busy fighting career, Royce has maintained a rigorous travel schedule of seminars and classes, including frequent visits to USBA to the delight of our students.

Phicheat 'Ganyao' Arunleung
Phicheat 'Ganyao' Arunleung

USBA is fortunate to have Ganyao Arunleung as its Muay Thai Kickboxing mentor and frequent guest instructor.

Ganyao is the trainer of three Lumphini Stadium Champions, over ten World Champions, and numerous top fighters. Among them: Bunkerd Faphimai, Alex Gong, Jongsanan “Woodenman”, Royce Gracie, Enn Fairtex, George Tsutsui, Chuck Liddell, Scott Smith, Jean Claude Leuyer, James Irvin, Amanda Lucas, Tim McKenzie, and Eduardo Maiorino.

He was the expert coach for 16 athletes from across North America on “The Ultimate Fighter”, a reality-based television series on Spike TV in 2005.

Royler Gracie
Royler Gracie

USBA is proud to host seminars taught by the most prominent members of the Gracie family, including Royler Gracie.

Royler Gracie was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the fifth son of Grandmaster Helio Gracie. He started Jiu-Jitsu at the age of three and has been competing as a Black Belt for more than twenty years. During his career, he has had more than 300 matches and has won the World Championship four years running along with several national and regional titles. He has been one of the most active Jiu-Jitsu competitors in history, always ready to test himself against people of all sizes holding many different titles.

Martial Arts For All

Try a class on us to see if US Blackbelt Academy would be a good fit for you.

FREE TRIAL