Alliance is one of the most successful teams in both competitions and in the number of affiliations worldwide. Alliance is known for winning the World Championship team trophy for 8 consecutive years from 2008 to 2015 and on top of that, they also had two World Championship team titles in the 1990s from 1998 to 1999.
Alliance is known for its internal conflicts that sidelined Alliance in the World IBJJF podium but after reorganization and changes adapted by its leadership, Alliance was able to come back and set a high standard in today’s BJJ scene. Alliance is also known for giving birth to teams such as TT, Brasa, Checkmat, Zenith, and Atos.
Beginning of Alliance Jiu-Jitsu
Romero Cavalcanti or better known as Jacare trained with Rolls Gracie during the 1980s getting his black belt from Rolls. After Rolls Gracie died, Jacare for a time trained with Rickson Gracie before he left the Gracie Academy to have his own team.
He formed Jacare Jiu-Jitsu which he proved to be an elite instructor. There, he was able to produce good black belts who eventually formed their respective teams. But with his intention to dominate the world of Jiu-Jitsu competitions, Jacare formed a partnership with his former students to form Alliance Jiu-Jitsu.
During this time, Carlson Gracie Team was the team to beat. With founders of Alliance Jiu-Jitsu Romero Jacare, Fabio Gurgel, Fernando Gurgel, they were able to raise the bar in terms of competition.
Moving to the US
It’s a trend to see Jiu-Jitsu teams transfer to the US for greener pastures. Alliance is no different. Jacare, who has dual citizenship, moved to the US initially planning to build an Alliance team headquarters in Florida. However, he ended up building the Alliance headquarters not in Miami but in Atlanta where the team grew.
Black Belts Leaving Alliance
In 2002, Confederacao Brasileira de Jiu Jitsu(CBJJO) tried to rival the International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF). What made CBJJO tournaments unique is the big prize money for the winners of their tournaments. And this doesn’t just include black belts. They were awarded prize money for all belts.
Since money in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu wasn’t common in those days, CBJJO was able to attract competitors. Nova Uniao’s competitors stopped competing under IBJJF supporting CBJJO instead. This also affected Alliance Jiu-Jitsu. For undisclosed reasons, Fabio Gurgel wanted to train support IBJJF. In May 2002, Fernando Terere, Eduardo Telles, and Demian Maia competed at the CBJJO tournament instead of the Brazilian Team Nationals of IBJJF/CBJJ. The competitions were held on the same weekend but a different day.
Fabio Gurgel sanctioned a 3-month ban to Terere, Telles, and Maia who all preferred to compete under the new organization offering prize money. The suspended athletes were due to come back just in time for the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship. However, tensions between CBJJO and IBJJF continued and the newer organization also held a tournament on the same day. However, it was agreed that Alliance is going to participate in the IBJJF event if the tournaments happened on the same day.
CBJJO, in a last-minute decision, changed the World Tournament’s (Copa do Mundo) schedule. The reason for this change in schedule is due to Alliance’s internal agreement that they are going to support the IBJJF if it is held on the same day. With the CBJJO tournament moved to another day, it allowed Alliance black belts to support the new organization. But for undisclosed reasons, Fabio Gurgel still banned the Alliance competitors to join the CBJJO tournament.
Demian Maia among other competitors supported CBJJO’s Copa do Mundo instead of the IBJJF tournament. Though no one was kicked out of Alliance Academy but simply expelled from Fabio’s academy, this created tension within Alliance’s ranks. Gurgel’s action was unpopular to its elder black belts including Otavio Couto.
Jacare, on the other hand, decided to stay neutral in this conflict. And this is one of the reasons why students decided to leave Alliance.
Black belts left Alliance and formed what was called Master Team. This was the name of Calvancanti’s team before Alliance was formed. It’s their way of showing respect to Jacare even to the point of using the Alligator as their logo.
The Master Team lasted for around a year and even Jacare showed support for them after the 2003 World Championship. The problem started when some students started using Alliance and Master Team Patches on their gis which made people think that are still on the same team. With leaders of the Master Team feeling that this undermines their struggles, they decided to cut ties from the old Alliance team and build a separate team.
Giving Birth to Other Super Teams
That’s when Brasa, Checkmat, and Atos were formed. Brasa was formed in 2004. Among its founders included Felipe Costa, Demian Maia. Rodrigo Comprido and the Viera brothers. Eventually, Brasa gave birth to Atos and Checkmat in 2008. Ricardo and Leo Vieira formed Checkmat while Andre Galvao and Ramon Lemos formed Atos.
Alliance Coming Back Stronger
The breakup led to smaller representatives in major tournaments. Apart from the Master Team, TT or the team of Eduardo Telles and Fernando Terrere was also formed after the 2002 breakup.
In 2004, Fernando Terere already had some problems. He was arrested in the US for allegedly shouting at a flight attendant. Terere also had a massive depression and turned out to become drug dependent. With all his problems, he left the sport and moved to Natal in 2006 to escape the environment that has been causing him stress. Unfortunately, it was also the same year when TT closed its doors. It left many of its competitors with no team. This was important to the resurgence of Alliance as a competitive team.
TT had a great number of competitors who then became Alliance members including Cobrinha, Michael Langhi, and Lucas Lepri. Bruno Malfacine also left GFTeam when he moved from Rio de Janeiro to Sau Paulo.
With an influx of strong black belts heading towards the Sao Paulo HQ, Alliance was able to make a comeback in the competition scene. They were able to dominate the world’s biggest tournaments again.