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Gracie News

Gracie Garage to Certified Training Center

November 14, 2012

In October 2009, after several months of searching for the "right martial art", Marty Jennings discovered Gracie University. It only took one viewing of the sample videos to know that he had finally found the system that could teach him street self-defense, sportive techniques, and proper philosophy while accommodating his hectic sales travel schedule. He purchased the Gracie Combatives curriculum and immediately began the process of searching for a dedicated training partner using the student search function at Enter Robert Davenport. Robert replied to Marty's inquiry about training together and they chose to meet at a local restaurant to introduce themselves and discuss their training goals. Within the first few minutes of the conversation, Marty discovered that Robert had been studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from many sources since the early 1990s. To say that Robert was a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast is an understatement and Marty had hit the jackpot regarding training partners. Neither Robert nor Marty would have ever guessed that the 90 minutes they spent trading martial arts stories that day would lead to them being martial arts school owners less than 3 years later.

Robert and Marty began their training in the living room of Robert's home on a 64 square foot mat. After a couple of months, they discussed the option of opening a Gracie garage so that they could invite others to join them on their paths to Gracie Jiu-Jitsu mastery. In January 2010, the cars were backed out of Robert's garage, a 330 square foot mat laid down, and Jenks Jiu-Jitsu Gracie Garage was born. For the next 2 years, Robert's garage operated morning, afternoon, and evening teaching both adults and children the world's most effective form of self-defense. Robert and Marty are very proud to note that their garage enabled 6 of its members (including themselves) to master the Gracie Combatives and earn their blue belts.

In 2011, the Gracie Academy in Torrance, CA announced plans for its Instructor Certification Program (ICP) giving those that met the pre-requisite requirements the opportunity to become a certified instructor with the end goal of opening a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu training center in their local area. After only a few days discussion, Robert, Marty, and one of the garage's blue belts, Dr. Patrick Sharp, decided that this was the next logical step. In July 2011, after several months of home study of the teaching methodology, producing videos of their teaching in action, and a live evaluation at the Gracie Academy, Dr. Sharp, Marty, and Robert graduated the ICP with a probationary status that granted them permission to establish the first (and to date, only) certified training center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

After several months of searching for the perfect location, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Tulsa Certified Training Center opened its doors to the public. The opening did not come completely without reservation as both Robert and Marty were concerned with being regarded as "just blue belts" while teaching in a location where MMA and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts are readily available. Their concerns quickly diminished as the structure of the school, the ego-less environment, the Gracie certified linear program of self-defense, and the support of the Gracie Academy itself guaranteed a school where students concerned themselves with the quality of teaching rather than their instructor's belt color.

Robert, Marty, and Dr. Sharp continue to juggle full-time careers, spouses and families but will forever remain dedicated to sharing Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to the world. To read more about them or Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Tulsa, please visit and if you're in the area, stop by and check us out. Our sincere hope is that you will discover all of the benefits Gracie Jiu-Jitsu can provide as we did those years ago.