A shark: a complete animal that not only brings its prey to submission but to ultimate defeat.
The shark moniker brands Gracie Jiu-Jitsu after Relson Gracie, a Brazilian fighter whose style of fighting is taught at a Jacksonville jiu-jitsu school.
Remo Kousins, a UNF marketing senior, and Sam Kanadilo, a UNF civil engineering senior, not only practice their skills at the school but are leaders in planning the North Florida Regional Gracie Tournament.
Kousins and Kanadilo are the president and vice president of the UNF Grappling Club, respectively. Grappling is a type of submission jiu-jitsu artists perform in order to get an opponent to tap out, Kanadilo said.
Both Kousins and Kanadilo said they want jiu-jitsu to become a collegiate sport, and that’s why they are hosting such a large tournament. Because Gracie will referee the tournament, and Daniel Moraes, a five-time jiu-jitsu champion, and Phil Cardella, a World Extreme Cagefighter, will be in attendance.
“The people we’re bringing in are pretty much a big deal,” Kousins said.
Kousins said because of all the work the Grappling Club has put into hosting this tournament, the club has worked harder than the UNF athletic teams have.
He said the upcoming tournament is the largest at the university level. And not only are college-aged Gracie jiu-jitsu artists from the Florida universities competing, but many schools such as Ludus Martial Arts in Jacksonville to jiu-jitsu schools all over the Southeast will compete, as well.
With achievements such as placing first in the men’s No-GI — or, no uniform — intermediate feather weight and second in the No-GI intermediate welter-weight competition at the North American Grappling Association U.S. Nationals Feb. 12, Kousins and Kanadilo will also compete in the tournament in their respective classes.
The recognition comes from the time the two put into the sport. Kanadilo said he and Kousins train at Relson Gracie Jacksonville four times a week under Moraes, and in the past, the Grappling Club met three times week, but now it only meets on Fridays.
The club mainly focuses on Gracie jiu-jitsu, and about 29 students make up its membership, which is a perfect club size, Kanadilo said.
Seeing friends train in jiu-jitsu inspired the pair to start it themselves. Kousins said his friend trained at a Gracie school and decided he wanted to do it, too. He said he practiced martial arts for all of his life, and he’s a fan of Mixed Martial Arts and Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Kanadilo said he originally started out with taekwondo, practiced it for eight years and even went to nationals, but he moved to jiu-jitsu four years after one of his friends put him in weird submissions.
He said jiu-jitsu helps build muscles and makes use of every muscle.
Regardless of how they place in the tournament, Kousins and Kanadilo will move on to a world’s event in Long Beach, Calif., with fellow club member David Daniels in July.
While he didn’t want to brag, Kousins is confident in his future in jiu-jitsu.
“I will become a world champion,” Kousins said.
The North Florida Regional Gracie Tournament goes down Saturday, April 2, at 9 a.m. in the UNF Arena. There will be a weigh-in scheduled for April 1 at Pulse Fitness April 1. Anyone interested in Gracie jiu-jitsu can check out the UNF Grappling Club in the UNF Arena, room 1062 on Fridays at 7:30 p.m.