The Baltimore Martial Arts Academy hosts two very reputable Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu organizations – Renato Tavares BJJ Asociation led by Gary Berger & Noel Smith and Pedro Sauer’s Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Association led by Mike Johnson, Ronnie Russell & Steve Lord.
Our BJJ members have the opportunity to train in one or both styles receiving invaluable knowledge from our entire staff of BJJ instructors. Each style contributes to our school’s competitive success and our ability to offer quality Jiu-jitsu to both children and adults.
Renato Tavares Association
Renato Tavares – 5th Degree Black Belt – is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert & American Top Team competitor & coach. Renato was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1968. He began his training in BJJ at the age of 6 years old with Geni Rebello who is now 86 years of age. Geni Rebello is one of the best masters in Brazil and he is a black belt from Carlos e Helio Gracie. Geni Rebello has produced many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champions including State, Pan-American and World Champions from all around the world.
Renato Tavares is also world renowned authority in the discipline of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Grappling Enhancement for MMA. His thirst for knowledge has made Renato a technician par excellence. Renato has been training for about 37 years and has been competing for more than 30 years. At ten years old Renato helped his Master Geni Rebello, along with Geni’s son, Cirilo Rebello, teach new BJJ students.
Renato has been traveling and conducting numerous seminars throughout the Americas during the last sixteen years. Renato was instrumental in getting Parana, a state in the south of Brazil, and its community to recognize BJJ. In just three years Renato & Curitiba have produced their first BJJ world champions.
After training under Geni, Renato Tavares moved to Rio and trained with Carlson Gracie Sr. for over 10 years. Renato currently teaches out of Vero Beach, Florida and has three schools. The Baltimore Martial Arts Academy is an affiliate BJJ school under Renato Tavares.
Professor Pedro Sauer Association
Professor Pedro Sauer – 8th Degree Black Belt – was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where from an early age, he began training in the martial arts. Pedro began boxing at the age of 5 and later took up Tae Kwon Do and Judo. At age fifteen, however, his friend, Rickson Gracie, invited him to train Jiu-jitsu with his younger brother, Royler, who at the time was only nine years of age. This experience changed Pedro’s life as he was convinced that jiu-jitsu was the most effective of all the martial art styles. Thus he began his Jiu-Jitsu training the very next day.
Pedro earned a college double major in economics and business administration. He later did post graduate work at Fundacao Getulio Vargas. Pedro worked in Brazil as a stockbroker for eleven years before he deciding to move to the United States where he pursued a career in teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In 1990, Pedro moved to California with the original influx of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructors. He lived in California with Rickson Gracie and trained every day with the Gracie brothers (Rickson, Rorion, and Royce), their father, Helio Gracie, their cousin, Renzo Gracie, and the Machado Brothers, as well as many others. In December of 1990, Pedro moved to Utah where he lived for many years pioneering Brazilian jiu-jitsu in the American southwest. Pedro now lives in Maryland where he teaches part time out of Jeff Gordon’s Martial Art’s as well as a new school that he is currently opening.
Gary Berger, Owner/Instructor of Baltimore Martial Arts
Gary Berger – Brown Belt BJJ, Brown Belt Judo, Black Belt Kung Fu –founded the Baltimore Martial Arts Academy in November 1994. In the beginning, Mr. Berger’s dojo resided inside the Baltimore Judo Club in Catonsville, Maryland, where he taught classes in adult Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Arnis, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and children’s Kung Fu.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship UFC began in 1993 just before Mr. Berger opened up his dojo. The UFC had a profound effect on Mr. Berger’s life and approach to learning and teaching martial arts especially since he noticed that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was dominating the arena. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was relatively new and unknown to the martial arts community and quickly became accepted as the best martial arts system for no rules fighting.
Mr. Berger began his quest to learn Gracie Jiu-Jitsu which at that time was nowhere to be found in the state of Maryland. Mr. Berger was very lucky to find a master Judo instructor, John Anderson, who was legendary in Judo for his ground work otherwise known as grappling. Mr. Berger soon realized that Sensei Anderson’s 50 plus years of knowledge was comparable if not better than the training he may have found at a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu school elsewhere in America at that time. In fact, old school Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are very similar in their technique and methodology. The greatest differences lie in their approach to competition where BJJ focuses more on grappling and judo on throwing.
Mr. Berger began hybridizing his grappling and kung fu techniques together which eventually formulated a mixed martial arts system that he called Modern Kung Fu. Mixed Martial Arts was a term not yet invented.
In time, Mr. Berger met other professional martial artists, each with unique talents in their respective fields, and he invited many of these instructors to become full-time and part-time instructors at the academy. Currently the Baltimore Martial Arts Academy has more than 20 different programs with a plethora of staff and instructors unmatched by any other martial arts facility known at this time.
Michael Johnson, BJJ Instructor
Mike Johnson – BJJ Brown Belt – is 13 year Howard County police veteran who’s been training in the Martial Arts since 1990. Mike began training in the art of Tang Soo Do and successfully competed in many tournaments for sparring and kata (forms). After winning John Burdycks’ 12th Annual Maryland Open Men’s light weight black belt sparring division in 1994 he began kickboxing at the Laurel Boys & Girls Club under coach John Crawford.
In 2001 Mike Johnson began training in Gracie Jiu-jitsu and was certified as a Law Enforcement G.R.A.P.L.E. Instructor by Rorion Gracie. Since then he’s continued his training in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu under Professor Pedro Sauer earning his brown belt in June 2009.
Steve Lord – BJJ Brown Belt – began studying Brazilian Jiu-jitsu in Hawaii in 1996 after being introduced to the art by some Brazilian co-workers. He was instantly hooked knowing that he had to learn more. Steve moved to Utah where he found a way of continuing his training from Professor Pedro Sauer, a world-renown black belt. In 2001 Steve earned his blue belt from Professor Sauer.
In 2002 Steve moved to Ellicott City where he continues to live, work, and train brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at Baltimore Martial Arts. He earned his purple belt from Professor Sauer in 2006. Steve is a Grappler’s Quest silver medalist. Steve is a very courteous and astute practitioner and instructor of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. His students admire him greatly.