Rafael was born in Brazil, in the city of Sao Sebastiao! He started training Judo with his father when he was 8 years old. He trained Judo for 10 years and at the age of 18 received his Black Belt in Judo from Professor Harley at the Tebar Praia Club. Rafael began practicing Jiu Jitsu in 1994 with Professor Jorge Pereira (Black belt from Rickson Gracie) while in college studying Psychology at the Mackenzie Presbyterian University in Sao Paulo Brazil. During the time Rafael was in College, Professor Pereira moved away to Miami, Florida and suggested that Rafael continue his Jiu Jitsu training with Master Ryan Gracie. Rafael graduated from the Mackenzie Presbyterian University with his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology in 2000 in Sao Paulo Brazil. He continued his education to complete his Masters of Psychology from Wilfred Laurier Waterloo in Ontario Canada in 2002. After Rafael graduated from college with his Masters, he began to work in the field of Clinical Psychology as well as continue to train and teach Jiu Jitsu in his spare time. Although he enjoyed working in this field, Rafael felt that he was able to help people more when he was teaching on the mats.
In 2009, Rafael was a Brown Belt and had the pleasure to meet Master Rilion Gracie at the Florida Open tournament. After meeting, the two began to work together. Rafael assisted Rilion Gracie with the opening of multiple schools across the US and soon after moved to Miami to manage the flagship Rilion Gracie Academy.
In July 2012, Rafael earned his Black Belt via Master Rilion Gracie, Roger and Roggan Gracie at Rilion Gracie Academy Houston. This is the only time three Gracie’s have been present in a graduating Black Belt in the State of Texas. Over the last three years, Rafael has been a direct driver of BJJ teaching and enrollment in Miami. He has a tremendous amount of experience in teaching students of all ages (starting at 3 years old) and experience levels. He has also had the opportunity to teach a variety of groups like the U.S. Marshalls, the Miami-Dade Police, US Military how to properly defend themselves armed/unarmed.
Rafael has been influenced by one of the most notable-respected Jiu Jitsu Master Rilion Gracie, the youngest son of eleven brothers (2nd Generation and Legacy of Senior Grand Master Carlos Gracie) as well as many others throughout his 32 years in the martial arts. His greatest take-away from Master Gracie’s guidance is discipline, values, being a role model, and how to teach the Jiu Jitsu art and lifestyle on and off the mats.
So come out and play with the Best of BJJ in the Florida Panhandle!
Welcome to the Gracie Elite Pensacola
The Rilion Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academies are the premier academies for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It is the home of authentic Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Founded by Rilion’s father, Carlos Gracie Sr., in the 1920’s, Gracie Jiu Jitsu has been proven to be the most effective form of self defens.
Rilion is widely recognized as one of the best Jiu Jitsu practitioners in the world. He is the only member of the famous Gracie family teaching in Florida and Texas
Rilion has instructed members of the U.S. Armed Forces, law enforcement officers, air marshals, security professionals, as well as private citizens. Students come from all around the world to train and improve their skills at our academy
Jiu Jitsu, however, is for everyone, regardless of age, gender, body type or physical ability. By using leverage, balance and technique, a weaker individual can defend themselves against stronger, more physically capable opponents.
Rafael Fernandez Coelho
Head Instructor & Owner
BLACK BELT JULY 2012 FROM MASTER RILION GRACIE
ALSO PRESENT ROGER GRACIE AND ROGGAN GRACIE
2001 II International Championship-Gold-Blue Belt-Brazil
2003 Copa Northwest Ralph Gracie-GOLD-Purple Belt-Seattle-USA
2004 Pan American-Silver-Purple Belt-California-USA
2004 Copa Northwest Mamazinho/Rodrigo Lopes-GOLD-Purple Belt-Seattle-USA
2004 2nd Copa Northwest-Silver-Purple Belt-Seattle-USA
2005 3rd Copa Northwest-Silver-Purple Belt-Seattle-USA
2006 5th Copa Northwest-Gold-NO GI-Purple Belt-Seattle-USA
2006 6th Copa Northwest-Gold-Purple Belt-Seattle-USA
2008 Grappler Quest SE Championship-Silver-Brown Belt-Boca Raton-USA Trials
2009 Florida States Championship-Silver-Brown Belt-Orlando-USA
2010 Abu Dhabi Pro-Brown Belt-Gold-USA
2010 Florida BJJ Championship-GOLD-Brown Belt-Orlando-USA
2010 Florida BJJ Championship-Silver-NO GI-Brown Belt-Orlando-USA Division
2011 Florida States BJJ Championship-Silver-Brown Belt-Orlando-USA
2012 Miami Open BJJ- Black Belt-Silver-Miami-USA
2012 Miami Open-Medio-Bronze-Miami-USA
2013 Miami Open- Medio-Bronze-Miami-USA
2014 Miami Open-Medio-Bronze-Miami-USA