Having recently become one of the top Brazilian Jiu Jitsu teams in the world, Grappling Fight Team (GFT) formerly known as Universidade Gama Filho (UGF) has had great success in Brazil since the 1990’s, with the turn of the 2010’s decade, GFT was propelled to world wide success through a series of excellent results at an international level and the continuous production of high level fighters such as Rodolfo Vieira, Vitor Oliveira, Ricardo Evangelista, Denilson Pimenta, Italo Lins and many others.
HOW GF TEAM STARTED
It all began at the Universidade Gama Filho, a University in Rio de Janeiro famous for its Physical Education course and its sporting teams. One of the post graduate students of the University, who was also a physical education coach, Fernando Guimarães, made his monograph about the insertion of Jiu Jitsu into the University curriculum in 1978. Guimarães (also known as “Pinduka”) was a Carlson Gracie black belt and a believer in the academic benefits that BJJ tuition would bring to the school, unfortunately the request was denied by a board strongly dominated by a Judo lobby. The request was handed 3 more times (1988, 1990 and 1992) until the director of the school (Pedro Gama Filho, who was a Judo and BJJ black belt himself), helped push Jiu Jitsu into the University program (1993).
After the necessary logistics, in 1996 the academy was finally up and running at the Taquara Campus in the Northern area of Rio de Janeiro. Pedro Gama Filho and Paulo Jardim coached at the University for a short while before handing the job in the capable hands of Master Júlio César, Marcus Bello and Alexandre Baraúna who took the project from there on, Gama Filho and Jardim stayed behind the team giving financial support.
The team’s growth was immense from the get-go and soon the camp had to be shifted to a better facility at Campus Piedade, another UGF address. Other branches of the team also started opening in places like Bairro Vila da Penha and Aracaju (capital of the state of Sergipe) with Coach Marcus Bello.
With the passing of the instrumental Pedro Gama Filho in 2004, the team lost the sponsorship of the University having to move their Head Quarters from the famous Campus Piedade to Bairro do Méier, though keeping the Gama Filho name. In 2007, however, due to some of their competitors having transitioned to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), UGF had to change their name since the University did not want to be in any way connected with the sport of MMA, thus giving birth to the name Grappling Fight Team (GF Team).