TOTI JORDAN “PITOCO”
Professor / Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Professor Toti Jordan “Pitoco”, began practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 1971 with Gastao Gracie, brother of Carlos and Helio Gracie, spending much of his childhood and adolescence, along with members of the Gracie family. Sportily grown and matured alongside his great friend Renzo Gracie. He received his black belt in 1991 by Professor Renan Pitanguy, receiving his first diploma signed and recognized by the creator of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Master Carlos Gracie. Founder of the Academy Infight.
He was the teacher of the greats of modern Jiu-Jitsu, and large state champions, national, Pan American and world. Today has the sixth grade graduation in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It formed almost 90 black belts. He practiced and trained Judo with major names of the Brazilian team of this sport.
RAFAEL LIMA “GORDINHO”
WORLD CHAMPION – Professor / Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
Due to his strong identity and closeness with his brother Roberto ‘Gordo’ Correa de Lima, who started in the art of Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 10, Professor Rafael started training and grew up with other great icons of martial arts in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Professor Rafael lived in Rio and trained with the Gracies for over 18 years. In 2004, he started working as the Program Director of Renzo Gracie BJJ Academy in New York City and until today it is the largest BJJ school in the world with over 1200 students in a single location.
Professor Rafael ‘Gordinho’ is currently responsible for the Renzo Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Program curriculum at Evolve Mixed Martial Arts in Singapore, Asia, where he is also a co-leader of the official Evolve Fight Team. Professor Rafael ‘Gordinho’ has also trained, assisted and coached many professional MMA fighters in the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and the IFL (International Fight League) such as Renzo Gracie, Georges St Pierre, Roger Gracie, Rolles Gracie, Igor Gracie, Gregor Gracie, Renato Babalu Sobral, Andre Gusmao, Ricardo Almeida, Matt Serra, and many others. Professor Rafael holds a 5th degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Carlos Gracie Jr. and he is widely regarded as one of the most technical Black Belts from Gracie Barra Academy (the largest BJJ camp in the world, with 4 thousand members).
Professor / Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & Muay Thai
ALEXANDRE VERGA “ALE”
Program Director – Professor / Capoeira & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Alexandre Verga was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, son of a Capoeira Master, and involved in the art since an early age. When Alex moved to NYC in 2001, to pursue a modeling career, he became a student of Capoeira Nago Group, under Mestre Andre Gusmao.
Currently a Professor – Purple Cord – from Group Capoeira Nago, Alex is known by his nickname “Professor Ale Bahia”. Over 15 years of experience, teaching Capoeira to all levels.
While teaching Capoeira at the Renzo Gracie Academy in NYC, Alex got involved in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Alex won many tournaments, including IBJJF World Championship at Middle Weight division twice, as a White Belt and as a Brown Belt. Currently a Black belt, supervised by Professor Rafael ”Gordinho“ Lima, at Start Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy, Alex continues to compete and to sharpen his martial arts skills. As a lifelong athlete, an experienced competitor, and a certified CrossFit (CF-L1) and Olympic Weightlifting trainer, Alex brings a high energy, great Capoeira and Functional training classes that are a complete body workout for all levels.
MICHAEL DAHER “MIKE”
Professor / Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
If life begins at 40, it truly coincides with Michael Daher’s entrance to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Coach Mike’s journey started back in 1997, when he walked into Pablo Popovitch’s school and signed up that very day. Since then Coach Mike has had the good fortune of training with legends in the Jiu Jitsu Community. He has trained as a student under Carlos Rollyson, Edson Diniz, and Marcelo Garcia to name a few. He cherishes the friendships and experiences he has made in the BJJ community.
His journey continues with START where he came to train with the legends, Rafael “Gordinho” Lima, and Toti “Pitoco” Jordan. He came to START 3 years ago looking for a home where he could focus on his skills, and help newer students improve their Jiu Jitsu. He received his Black Belt in July of 2016 from Professor’s Rafael and Toti. He believes that it is one’s duty to pass along the knowledge and enthusiasm of Jiu Jitsu to the younger students. Coach Mike’s greatest joy is teaching and seeing the students grasp the knowledge and grow as Jiu Jitsu practitioners. He is honored and proud to be a part of the START Team.
Brazilian Champion – Professor / Judo
Accomplished professor and coach with extensive experience in the Sport Psychology field, continuing to significantly impact the sports platform. Knowledgeable in multiple disciplines with a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Leadership & Human Behavior, a Master’s in Arts in Psychology, as well as an Academic Specialization in Sports. Proven success coaching athletes to achieve optimal fitness and performance. Dedicated educator with a strong background delivering university-level instruction in sports psychology and physical education.
24 times Reginal Championship (Mogiana, São Paulo BR)
5 times State Championship
3 times National Championship