What you need to know about Checkmat BJJ

Last updated on 27.12.2021 by

Checkmat BJJ is one of the younger Jiu Jitsu affiliations out there, but in a short time it has made waves. In just 13 years since being founded, they have created numerous world champions within their affiliate academies.

Here is what you need to know about Checkmat BJJ, including everything from their founding to their top competitors!

The history of Checkmat BJJ

The story of Checkmat BJJ starts with its founders, Leo, Ricardo (Rico), and Leandro Vieira. When the Vieira brothers began their Jiu Jitsu journey, they were a part of the Jiu Jitsu affiliation Alliance.

Leozinho (Leo), the oldest of the brothers, began training with Alliance founder Romero Calvacanti when he was six years old. This was before Jacare had founded Alliance and was running his academy Academia Strike.

Leo’s brothers would also start training under Cavalcanti during the early 1980s. The brothers would all earn their black belts from Cavalcanti and win numerous titles under the Alliance banner.

The Vieira brothers leave Alliance BJJ

Unfortunately, tension started rising between the Vieira brothers (along with  other Alliance competitors) and Alliance co-founder Fabio Gurgel. The bad blood developed from Gurgel dictating which federations Alliance athletes were allowed to compete in. This led to many of the world champions leaving Alliance, which included the Vieira brothers.

The Vieira bros and Brasa Team 

After the fallout with Fabio Gurgel, the Vieira brothers bounced from gym to gym, training wherever they could to prepare for competitions.

A few years after leaving Alliance, the Vieira brothers attempted to create their own academy along with a few others. They would call it the Brasa Team, and enjoyed a few years of competition success. Ultimately, the Vieira brothers would leave Brasa in 2008 over disagreements over leadership and vision for the team.

Checkmat BJJ is formed

After their departure from Brasa, Leo and his brothers would take matters into their own hands. They formed their own team in 2008 and called it Checkmat BJJ.

The Vieira brothers would recruit their good friends Chico Mendes and Sebastian Lalli to help build their academy. Checkmat BJJ went from a small academy of top competitors to a full fledged Jiu Jitsu affiliation almost overnight.

In their first year the team won the adult team championship at the 2008 No-Gi Worlds. They repeated this feat by winning the team championship at the 2009 No-Gi Worlds.

Checkmat BJJ had seemingly come out of nowhere and became a big time player in the world of Jiu Jitsu. Every year since they were founded, the team continued to grow and develop more and more world champions.

Checkmat BJJ’s top competitors

Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida

Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida is one of the most successful BJJ competitors. He has an astounding resume of thirteen BJJ World Championships, four No-Gi World Championships, and two ADCC gold medals. Buchecha has done it all in BJJ and has recently transitioned to MMA, where he is 2-0.

Michelle Nicolini

Checkmat is home to one of the greatest female BJJ athletes of all time, Michelle Nicolini. In Jiu Jitsu, Nicolini is an eight time BJJ World Champion, a two time No-Gi World Champion, and an ADCC gold medalist. Michelle has also transitioned to MMA, where she is 6-3 and fights for the promotion One Championship.

Adam Wardzinski

The Polish grappler Adam Wardzinski is arguably the best European BJJ competitor on the planet. Known for his stellar butterfly guard game, Wardzinski is the reigning Abdu Dhabi Grand Slam Champion and recently took second in the Abu Dhabi World Pro 13. He is one of the most active BJJ competitors in the world and runs his own Checkmat school in Poland.

Joao Assis

Joao Assis is a Checkmat back belt under Leo Vieira and was one of the top No-Gi competitors in the 2010s. Winning two No-Gi World Championships in 2010 and 2015, while also winning gold at the 2013 ADCC Championship. Assis is now semi-retired from competition and runs his own school in California.

Lucas Leite

Lucas Leite has been with Checkmat BJJ from the beginning and helped the team become a top Jiu Jitsu affiliation. In his competitive career, Leite would win three No-Gi World Championships and four Pan Championships. Today Leite runs his own highly regarded Checkmat BJJ school in Upland, California.

Leo Vieira

You can’t mention Checkmat BJJ without its leader, Leo “Leozinho” Vieira. Before he stopped competing to create Checkmat, Vieira won two ADCC Championships and one BJJ World Championship. Vieira has recently come out of retirement and competed against old rival Cleber Luciano at BJJ Stars 7.

FAQs about Checkmat BJJ

Who founded Checkmat BJJ?

Checkmat BJJ was founded by the Vieira brothers, Leo, Ricardo, and Leandro Vieira. As of now the current head of Checkmat BJJ is Leo Vieira.

Where is Checkmat BJJ headquarters located?

Checkmat BJJ HQ is located in Signal Hill, California. They also have three main academies that are located in Brazil, two in Sao Paulo and one in Rio de Janeiro.

When was Checkmat BJJ founded?

Checkmat BJJ was founded in 2008.

Where did the name “Checkmat” come from?

The name Checkmat was borrowed from the game of chess and it signifies the move to win the game. Just like in chess, when you submit someone in Jiu Jitsu, that is checkmate! 

How many countries have a Checkmate BJJ academy?

As of now there are over 30 different countries that have a Checkmate BJJ Academy.

What is the official Checkmat BJJ website?


Checkmat BJJ today

What the Vieira brothers have created in just 13 years is nothing short of remarkable. A group of Alliance outcasts went on to create one of the most formidable teams in all of Jiu Jitsu. 

Countless world champions were developed within Checkmat schools and some are considered all time greats. As a team, they have won three No-Gi World Championships and two European Championships.

Today, Checkmat BJJ is one of the fastest growing BJJ affiliations in the world. Now with academies in over 30 different countries in the world. They will no doubt continue to grow and continue to offer world class Jiu Jitsu training across the world.