The Mendes brothers have assembled one of the most formidable teams in all of Jiu Jitsu. At every major tournament, you’re likely to see one of their young AOJ students put on a show and likely take home a medal.
Here is what you need to know about the Art of Jiu Jitsu team. We’ll cover the team’s origin’s from when the Mendes brothers split off from Atos Jiu Jitsu to start their own team and follow the team’s progression into its own BJJ affiliation.
The history of the AOJ team
The Mendes brothers start training BJJ
Guilherme and Rafael Mendes first started training under Ramon Lemos and Leonardo Santos after their cousin Thiago convinced them to train. The brothers began training with their cousin in Rio Claro, Brazil and quickly developed a knack for the sport.
Ramon Lemos immediately took the Mendes brothers under his wing, and the brothers dedicated themselves to training Jiu Jitsu full-time. They trained multiple times a day, every day, and their skills quickly advanced.
Both Rafa and Gui became two of the best low ranked BJJ athletes in the world, winning world championships from blue belt to brown belt.
Rafa and Gui join Atos
Right before Guilhereme and Rafael would become black belts, Ramon Lemos began working closely with Andre Galvao. Lemos helped Galvao establish his soon-to-be powerhouse team, Atos Jiu Jitsu.
The Mendes brothers were two of the team’s early stars that helped put Atos on the map. The pair used their innovative 50/50 techniques and berimbolos to win several world titles under the Atos banner.
Rafa and Gui open Art Of Jiu Jitsu
After training at Atos for a few years, the Mendes brothers wanted to venture out and run their own academy. In collaboration with RVCA founder and BJJ black belt PM Tenore, they started their own gym.
Their goals were to spread the art of Jiu Jitsu and make a positive impact on the community through their school.
The three called their school the Art of Jiu-Jitsu Academy (AOJ) and the school opened right in the middle of beautiful Costa Mesa, California in 2012.
Their collaboration with Tenore meant that AOJ isn’t your run of the mill school – AOJ has its own personality that was a mix of a modern gym meets art gallery.
Inside the AOJ academy, everything from the mats and walls are all white. Students are also only allowed to train in white Jiu Jitsu gis in order to not disrupt the carefully curated style.
The gym was a great representation of the brothers’ styles and personalities, and AOJ seemed from the start like it was destined to be a successful Jiu Jitsu academy.
AOJ takes off
Once the AOJ crew made their debut, they quickly showed that they were a world class academy. The Mendes brothers competed for a few more years after AOJ opened to build up the school’s reputation.
Before retiring, Rafa and Gui won a combined ten world titles and two ADCC titles. Their abilities and proven success quickly attracted numerous students to their academy.
AOJ separates from Atos
When AOJ was established in 2012, they were still under the Atos affiliation. As time went on, the two schools started to drift apart and they started to do their own thing.
Finally, in 2020, the Mendes brothers announced that AOJ had split from Atos. The split seems to have been amicable as neither side has said anything negative about the other publicly.
Gui and Rafa are now focused on building the AOJ brand and turning it into a full-blown BJJ affiliation.
AOJ’s top competitors
The Mendes brothers
You cannot talk about AOJ without mentioning their founders: Rafael and Guilherme. These two are some of the greatest BJJ athletes that have ever lived.
Not only have they won multiple world champions, but they are among the greatest innovators of modern Jiu Jitsu. They have innovated and popularized numerous techniques in Jiu Jitsu from 50/50 to the berimbolo, and have pioneered highly effective guard passing strategies.
Tainan Dalpra is one of the many young rising stars that represent the AOJ academy. Dalpra had a great run in the colored belts and was promoted to black belt at the end of 2020.
He quickly made an impact in his first year as a black belt, winning the IBJJF world title in 2021. In forty one matches so far as a black belt, Dalpra has only lost one time.
At just 22 years old, Tainan Dalpra still hasn’t reached his peak and will likely add more championships to his collection.
Johnatha Alves is another rising star out of AOJ who has trained under the Mendes brothers since 2016. He earned a training scholarship, which the Mendes brothers started to recruit young and talented grapplers from Brazil.
Alves has taken advantage of this opportunity and has become a world class Jiu Jitsu athlete. He won world titles at blue and brown belt before earning his black belt in 2020.
Since becoming a black belt, Alves has won two Pan Championship titles.
Jessa Khan is one of the top female no-gi competitors in the world. Like Dalpra and Alves, Khan received her black belt from Gui Mendes in 2020.
Khan has been a fixture on numerous BJJ pro shows and has gone against the world’s best female grapplers. At 21, Jessa is still looking to earn her first major BJJ title, but she’s still developing her game and has plenty of time.
Mateus Rodrigues is another young world champion representing AOJ. He is the son of a former Vale Tudo fighter and followed in his father’s footsteps as a competitor.
From the time Mateus was nine, he has dedicated himself to being a Jiu Jitsu competitor. Rodrigues has been under the guidance of Gui Mendes since he was a teen.
Mateus is one of the most recent AOJ black belts that was promoted in late 2021. He will look to earn his first world title as a black belt this year.
FAQS about AOJ
What does AOJ stand for?
AOJ stands for Art of Jiu Jitsu.
When was AOJ founded?
AOJ was founded in 2012 and became its own affiliation in 2020.
Who are the founders of AOJ?
The founders of AOJ are Rafael and Gulherme Mendes.
Where is AOJ headquartered?
The main AOJ school is headquartered in Costa Mesa, California.
The Art Of Jiu Jitsu Team Today
Since AOJ parted ways with Atos, they have been on a mission to take over the Jiu Jitsu competition world. The Mendes brothers have developed an incredible group of young and talented grapplers that have been dominating their competitions.
What is scarier is that the young AOJ competition crew is just getting started. We’re going to be seeing AOJ students win world titles for many years to come.