Yamasaki Academy – Headquarters
5609 Fishers Ln. Suite 6A and 7A
Rockville, MD 20852
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Fernando Yamasaki was born is Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1967.
In 1970, Fernando started to follow his father, Grand Master Yamasaki’s footsteps onto the mat.
Grand master Yamasaki has some funny stories about Fernando’s passion for martial arts.
Once, Grand Master Yamasaki said, “One day, I was teaching a class and suddenly Fernando showed up to train. I asked Fernando how he got at the gym, because it was very far away from our house. Fernando told to his father that he was hid in the car’s back seat, just to get some training!”
A year later, Fernando started compete in a small tournaments in a division called “Little firecrackers”. That was the begging of a victorious career of Fernando.
In 1979, Fernando won his first state championship in Judo.
In 1983, he was approved to a black belt.
In 1985, he joined the Sao Paulo State wrestling team and won his first National title after which he was invited to join the Brazilian National wrestling team, on free style and Greco-roman.
Starting in 1985, Fernando won every national title as a junior and adult until he retires from the national team in 1997.
His success at the National level in Brazil allowed Fernando to qualify for three Olympic games.
In 1985, Marcelo Behring came to Sao Paulo and met his brother, Mario Yamasaki. Mario trained with Marcelo and he was amazed with his Jiu-Jitsu skills and insisted to Fernando to start to training to improve Fernando’s ground game.
Fernando was taken by his friend Cassio Marcelo, student of Master Otavio de Almeida Sr. to try Jiu-Jitsu.
In 1986, Fernando was invited by Master Roberto Lage, to participate in his first Jiu-Jitsu tournament and at the same tournament, he met Marcelo Behring. Fernando had a chance to spar with Marcelo and he could see the whole new level of Marcelo’s technique!
The next day Fernando started his training under Marcelo. In those days, Jiu-Jitsu only offered very small tournaments and one official State tournament. Regardless of the size of the event, Fernando won many tournaments in Jiu-Jitsu.
In 1989, Fernando received his black belt and moved to USA. In that time no one knew BJJ in US so he went to train judo at Georgetown University, with Master Takemori and Master Nalls.
Continuing his dominance from Brazil, Fernando won every tournament he participate in including many local tournaments and the Tri-State Championships.
After nine months in the US, Fernando was invited by the Brazilian head coach to participate in the Pan American Wrestling Championship and in the World Championship in Japan. Fernando decided to move back to Brazil. Back in Brazil, Fernando went back to his intensive training of judo, wrestling and jiu-jitsu.
Fernando’s time back in Brazil wasn’t all easy. On his first week back on Marcelo Behring’s school, Marcelo decided to take his black belt away! That gave Fernando more motivation and less responsibility. If it was another student that had been demoted from being a black belt, that person would leave the school in humiliation. Fernando said, “That created a stronger bond between me and Marcelo, made me pursue my goals harder, I proved my loyalty and friendship and I was NOT there for the black belt. I was there to learn jiu-jitsu!”
In 1991 Fernando received his (second) Black Belt form Marcelo.
Fernando is one of the first to come from a traditional Judo background and one of the first Brazilian Judokas to cross over into Jiu-Jitsu.
Fernando was Marcelo’s assistant and in 1990, he started to teach Jiu-Jitsu at his family dojo in Sao Paulo.
In the early 1990’s it had been years in Brazil without any Vale Tudo events, except for underground fights. In 1991, a promoter called Carlinhos Docellar decided to promote an event between the worst Martial Arts enemies of the time, Jiu-Jitsu vs. Luta – Livre. Big names on the Jiu-Jitsu side as Wallid Ismail, Murilo Bustamante and Marcelo Behring as #1 Jiu-Jitsu representative, and on the Luta Livre side names as Eugenio Tadeu, Marcelo Mendes, and Hugo Duarte.
Marcelo moved temporarily to Rio and left the school in Fernando’s guidance in Sao Paulo.
In 1991, Fernando participated on the creation of the Federacao Paulista de Jiu-Jitsu.
In 1992, Fernando was invited to participate in a JJIFI ( International Jui-Jitsu Federation), seminar in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the seminar, Fernando contact for the first time with a “different” type of Jiu-Jitsu! A Jiu-Jitsu that starts with strikes, based on karate, throws and take downs and a ground fight mixed between judo and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Fernando saw the opportunity and decided it was time to bring the new sport to Brazil.
In 1993, Fernando took the Brazilian team to compete on the 1st World Cup in Copenhagen, Denmark and Fernando took 2nd place in that tournament.
Working as an athlete and organizer, Fernando was elected president of the South American Jiu-Jitsu Union and IIJF Technical Director for four years.
In 1994, a tragedy struck the Jiu-Jitsu community when Master Marcelo Behring was killed in Rio de Janeiro.
In 1994, Fernando received a letter from CBJJ signed by Master Nahum Rabay and Carlos Gracie Junior. In the letter Fernando was called the “traitor of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu”. On the same year, his dutch friend Remco Pardoel called to inform Fernando he was going to fight Royce Gracie on UFC!
Months later Remco came to Sao Paulo for a visit. Fernando and Remco got invited for an interview in Sao Paulo, on the same time they schedule an interview of Gracie!
Fernando said in the interview, “When the Gracie saw the guy who fought his cousin, he charged right away! We almost had a UFC on the street!”
In 1995, Fernando was invited by Master Carlos Gracie Junior to be part of the First Pan American Championship. The Tournament that year was hosted by Master Joe Moreira.
In, 1996, he was named the “outstanding wrestler” in Brazil by CBLLA.
After the Olympic Qualifying in Cali, Colombia, Fernando decided it was time to retire from the Wrestling National Team.
1996, Fernando and Mario started to bring fighters from USA and Canada to a Vale Tudo event in Rio de Janeiro called Universal Vale Tudo Fighting. Fighters included Geza Calmann, Dan Bobish, Dave Beneteau, Mark Coleman, and Kevin Randleman.
In 1996, Fernando had the honor to compete at the Pierre de Coubertain Stadium. Fernando has great memories from that day, “After his first match, the crowd at the venue stood up and applauded my fight, it was a great felling!” Fernando ended in 3rd. place.
In 1996, Fernando was invited by Master Carlos Gracie Junior to organize the First World Championship. Fernando brought three people from overseas. Hiroki Baba from Japan, Eugenio Fuestes Estrada from Cuba, and Remco Pardoel from Holland.
In 1997, Fernando and Mario had the idea to bring UFC to Brazil. They brought Bob Meyrowitz, UFC CEO to Brazil. After visiting Sao Paulo a couple times, Meyrowitz decided to bright UFC to Brazil in October 1998 to the Ginasio da Portuguesa de Desportos together with Mario and Fernando.
In 1999, Fernando was hired by the Brazilian Federal Police to be an Instructor.
Presently, Master Fernando Yamasaki is the head instructor for the Yamasaki Academy in Rockville, MD.