Black Belt uses Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to give back to community

Certified Gracie instructor and Pedro Sauer black belt Brett Thompson is all about three things; his family, real estate closings, and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. By blending his three loves into one, Mr. Thompson has been able to give back to the community by providing free self-defense classes to real estate brokers and real estate agents in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. Brett Thompson shed some light on the reason for his Gracie Jiu-Jitsu based real estate self-defense class:

“I’ve done thousands of closings and met thousands of real estate agents. In doing so, I understand some of the needs and concerns of agents and one of those is safety. I combined my love for my law firm and Jiu-Jitsu by creating a self-defense class just for real estate agents.”

brett teaching

“It’s going to be a fun event. You’re not going to learn any crazy spinning round kicks or anything like that. This class is about practical self-defense tactics using Gracie Jiu-Jitsu techniques and leverage to get out of an attack or confrontation. We go over how to defend yourself effectively if someone grabs your hair, pins you against a wall, tackles you to the ground, and other common attack scenarios.”

brett mount

When Brett Thompson is not training or teaching Gracie Jiu-Jitsu at Linxx Academy of Martial Arts, he is either spending time with his wife and two children, or he is working on real estate closings at his law firm, Thomson Law Group.

“The foundation of my law firm is real estate closings. We do about 40 to 50 closings a month for people who are buying homes, selling homes, or refinancing the mortgages on their homes. My referral sources for those people are primarily real estate agents and loan officers representing buyers and sellers.”

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Brett Thompson attended Virginia Military Institute on a wrestling scholarship in the mid 90’s and while home for summer break, Thompson laid eyes on UFC 1. He was amazed at the way Royce Gracie utilized Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to dominate much larger opponents. It was at that moment that Brett knew that BJJ was something he wanted to pursue following his Division I collegiate wrestling career.

brett thompson

In search of a BJJ school, Mr. Thompson and a comrade took to the Yellow Pages. Brett stumbled upon a Jiu-Jitsu ad for Linxx Academy of Martial Arts, owned by Pedro Sauer black belt Frank Cucci. He walked into his first class and, after divulging his Division I wrestling credentials, was permitted to spar. Thompson claimed to achieve takedowns with relative ease, however; once on the mat he admitted to being submitted six ways from Sunday. Mr. Thompson touched on the taste of humble pie:

“I drove home after my first class thinking that I want to learn everything there is to know about Jiu-Jitsu because this little guy just handed me my rear. It was a paradigm shift in the way I viewed my abilities and the way I viewed what the possibilities were for self-defense. I basically thought I could beat up anyone in the world, being a Division I nationally ranked wrestler, and to walk in on my first class and get worked was truly humbling.”

As a purple belt, Brett Thompson along with Nestor Bayot, Todd Margolis, and MMA standout Brandon Vera traveled to Rio de Janiero, Brazil for the World Cup Championship in 2003. Brett was too tardy to sign up for the weight class division; however, Thompson was permitted to compete in the Absolute division. Brett won his first four matches of the tournament and faced Andre Galvao in the semi-finals. Brett spoke on his match with Galvao and his reward for fourth place:

“I did well but at the end of the match he jumped guard on me. I had bad posture and he walked up an arm lock. I tried my best to spin out of it but it was on brother; he tapped me out. Galvao won his next match and won the purple belt Absolute division for 2003. When I got back from Brazil, I received my brown belt from Pedro Sauer for placing 4th in the Mundial.”

brett brown belt

Brett Thompson began his teaching journey as a brown belt by filling in when he could and assisting Frank Cucci when prompted. He also began teaching a takedown class in exchange for a reduction in tuition. Training and teaching under Mr. Cucci, Brett Thompson was introduced to a new school of Jiu-Jitsu with old school principles. Thompson expanded on the transition to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu:

“Back then we didn’t have any structure to it. It was like this is what I know and this is how I do it. So, Frank Cucci made the decision to hook up with Rener and Ryron Gracie to become a Gracie Certified Training Center and to go through the Instructor Certification Program. Gracie Combatives really goes back to the core of Helio Gracie and the foundation of Jiu-Jitsu, which is self-defense. I had been training for 18 years and have competed up and down the east coast. I even entered into the Mundial in Rio but I had never seen certain techniques like the ‘Punch Block Series from guard’ that is taught to white belts in Gracie Combatives. It was time to humble myself and pretend to be a white belt and learn the techniques.”

brett pedro rener ruron

Thompson had this to say about becoming a Gracie Certified Instructor:

“I’ve been to law school and read a lot of big law books and let me tell you, the instructor manual is no joke. They don’t play games haha. One chapter is Gracie philosophy; another chapter is slice presentation. It’s all of the formulas that they use to teach the system. They have a chapter on Bullyproofing for kids and one on Women Empowerment. It’s a ton of information. It’s kind of like McDonald’s in the sense that no matter where you go, the fries will taste the same. They are trying to make the vibe and formula uniform no matter where you are in the world… and I like that.”

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Meeting a complete stranger in a vacant house is something that most people would never do. For real estate agents, such an activity is an everyday occurrence. According to the 2015 Member Safety Report by the National Association of Realtors, 48% of women and 25% of men in the real estate profession have experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety. Check out these clips pertaining to the dangers that real estate agents face on the job:

When asked about how the real estate self-defense classes came to fruition, Brett Thompson had this to say:

“I’d like to say that it was my bright idea but… I had a real estate agent friend who knew I trained Jiu-Jitsu every day and talked about it a lot. We were talking about how there are a lot of high profile cases in the news about real estate agents being abducted from vacant homes and murdered, sexually assaulted, and/or robbed. That’s when my friend came up with the idea of me doing self-defense classes for real estate agents.”


By providing real estate self-defense classes, Brett Thompson not only boosts attendance for Jiu-Jitsu class, but more importantly displays an effective form of self-defense to a demographic of people who might not otherwise have the opportunity.

Here are the details for those who wish to attend Mr. Thompson’s self-defense class on June 10, 2016:

Who: Real estate agents

What: Please wear comfortable workout clothes. Pants covering the knees are recommended.

Where: Linxx Academy of Martial Arts (1320 Kempsville Road, Virginia Beach, VA)

When: Friday, June 10, 2016 from 9:30a.m. to noon (lunch provided by the sponsors at noon)

How: Register by contacting Brett Thompson at or by calling Thompson Law Group at 757-486-3333 or by registering on Facebook.

What are you doing to expand the art of Jiu-Jitsu and what are you doing to educate the masses about the importance of self-defense?

brett group

brett flyer

Twitter: @theeddiemercado


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