Jacksonville Gracie Jiu Jitsu is led by Luiz Palhares who is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor and instructor. Palhares was presented his 7th degree black and red belt by the President of the Jiu-Jitsu Federation of Rio de Janeiro, Carlos Robson Gracie, in 2010. Palhares spent over 23 years being trained directly by the Gracie family, first under Rolls Gracie until his tragic Hang Gliding accident, then later under Rickson Gracie. He was awarded his black belt in 1984 by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu co-founder Helio Gracie and Rickson Gracie.
During his lifetime Palhares has also accumulated a number of world-class competitive victories. Beginning in 1998, he won both senior heavy weight and open divisions of the Brazilian National Jiu-Jitsu Championships. Later, in 2000, 2003, and 2004, again in both the senior heavy weight and open divisions, he took 1st place at the Pan-American Championship. In 2002, Palhares also claimed 3rd place at the Masters and Seniors International championship.
As an instructor Palhares has taught throughout the US and Europe. He teaches seminars and conducts private lessons around the globe. As a certified Army Combatives instructor he developed a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Combatives program for the US Navy SEALs at Dam Neck, Virginia. At Camp Blanding, Florida in 2010, Palhares taught a five month long Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu program for the 3rd Battalion 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) prior to their deployment to Afghanistan. He has taught Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu seminars for the US Marines in Tennessee and at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Palhares also enjoys a long standing relationship with the Jacksonville Florida Sheriff's Office (JSO) to provide instruction.