Posts Tagged ‘Taekwondo vs BJJ’

The First American to Earn a BJJ Black Belt

Craig Kukuk was the first US native to achieve the rank of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt (1992) by Royler Gracie. Kukuk is also the co-author of one of the very first Jiu Jitsu instructionals, the “Renzo Gracie – Craig Kukuk Brazilian Jiu Jitsu” a historical piece of footage that helped advertise Jiu Jitsu in America in a time when the sport was not yet spread countrywide.

Craig Kukuk Jiu Jitsu


Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Royler Gracie > Craig Kukuk

Weight Division: Super Heavyweight (100kg/221lbs)

Craig Kukuk Biography

Craig Kukuk was raised in California, United States, becoming a high school wrestler before joining the Gracie Academy in the 1980’s. Craig got very involved with Gracie Jiu Jitsu, learning from Rorion Gracie for many years, earning all his belts up to brown belt from Helio Gracie’s son.

By the time Kukuk was ready for his black belt, Rorion advised Craig to visit Brazil and train there to gain more experience. It was in Brazil where he trained at the original Gracie Academy in Rio de Janeiro. This is the place where great champions such as Rickson & Royler Gracie learned much of their fighting knowledge. There in Brazil Craig received his black belt from the hands of Royler Gracie thus becoming the very first American black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Upon his return to the US and after a short spell being an assistant instructor of Rorion Gracie,  Craig decided to move to the East Coast. There he opened a few gyms in that area. Shortly after Craig brought Renzo Gracie to partner up with him at his New York gym they two formed a strong partnership and together they launched one of the most successful Jiu Jitsu instructional at the time, the aforementioned “Renzo Gracie – Craig Kukuk Brazilian Jiu Jitsu”. It is rumored on the internet that this instructional and the fees involving this video effort were the root of the break-up between the two instructors at the time. Though the actual reasons behind this bitter separation are still somewhat of a taboo subject within the BJJ community.

Craig has most recently created  On-Line private classes in submission grappling and BJJ and currently devotes most of his time to these classes and his academy in Boise, Idaho.

If you want to start working towards your BJJ black belt in Western Mass

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