FREE INTRO CLASS

First time trying Brazilian jiu-jitsu?
No worries. Contact us with any questions that you might have.

ABOUT

Soul Fighters is a network of Brazilian jiu-jitsu academies that connects instructors, fighters, and students across countries and continents. Established in Brazil in 2008 by Rafael “Formiga” Barbosa and Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes, it has become one of the fastest-growing and most successful Brazilian jiu-jitsu teams in the world. The Soul Fighters network now counts numerous BJJ world champions and elite MMA fighters among its members. The team’s competitive success is founded on the values of dedication, hard work, and good citizenship. Its academies attract men, women and children of all ages and backgrounds to practice Brazilian jiu-jitsu, forging a community not only of great fighters but also of great people.

Soul Fighters Chicago is the creation of Andre “Maneco” Leite. A multiple-time World, European, Pan-American, and National Champion with over 20 years of experience in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Maneco ranks among the elite instructors in North America. He received his black belt under the legendary Carlson Gracie Sr. and developed his skills alongside a generation of outstanding fighters on Carlson Gracie’s Elite Team. An expert in self-defence and competition training, his approach to Brazilian jiu-jitsu combines traditional techniques with the latest innovations in the sport. Inspiring success by example, he passes on to his students the same knowledge and passion for BJJ that his masters once taught to him.

Work History
Carlson Gracie Academy Team — Chicago 2005—2008
Carlson Gracie Academy Team — California 2008—2009
Torres Martial Arts Academy — Indiana 2009—2012
Andre Maneco BJJ / Soul Fighters Chicago 2012—present

Extra Certifications/Licenses
Black belt degrees from IBJJF/USBJJF
Certified IBJJF Referee
CPR Certified
Self-Defence Specialist License
Unarmed Combat License

Languages
Fluency in English, Portuguese and Spanish

VIEW ALL ACHIEVEMENTS

World IBJJF Championships
• 2017 World IBJJF Championship (Gold)
• 2014 International Masters IBJJF Championships (Gold Medal)
• 2014 World IBJJF Championship (Silver Medal)
• 2013 World IBJJF Championship (Bronze Medal)
• 2012 World IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)

Pan-American IBJJF Championships
• 2017 Pan-American IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2015 Pan-American IBJJF Championship (Bronze Medal)
• 2013 Pan-American IBJJF Championship (Silver Medal)
• 2012 Pan-American IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2009 Pan-American IBJJF Championship (Silver Medal)
• 2004 Pan-American IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)

BJJ-PRO IBJJF Championships
• 2017 BJJ-PRO Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2017 BJJ-PRO (Absolute) Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2015 BJJ-PRO Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2015 BJJ-PRO (Absolute) Championship (Silver Medal)
• 2014 BJJ-PRO Championship (Gold Medal)

European Championships
• 2017 European IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2015 European IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2014 European IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2014 European (No-Gi) IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 European IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2012 European IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)

National IBJJF Championships
• 2017 National IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2017 National IBJJF (Absolute) Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 National IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 National IBJJF (No Gi) Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 National IBJJF (No Gi-Absolute) (Silver Medal)
• 2012 National IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2012 National IBJJF (No Gi) Championship (Gold Medal)

Arnold Championships
• 2009 Arnold Championship (Silver Medal)
• 2009 Arnold “Absolute” Championship (Bronze Medal)

Gracie Championships
• 2008 Gracie National Championship (Gold Medal)

Open IBJJF Championships
• 2017 Atlanta Open Winter IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2017 Atlanta Open Winter (Absolute) IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2017 Chicago Open Summer IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2017 Chicago Open Summer (Absolute) IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2017 Chicago Open Spring IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2017 Chicago Open Spring (Absolute) IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2017 Chicago Open Spring (No-GI) IBJJF Championship (Bronze Medal)
• 2015 Chicago Open Summer (No-Gi) IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2015 Chicago Open Summer (No-Gi Absolute) IBJJF Championship (Bronze Medal)
• 2015 Chicago Open Summer IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2015 Chicago Open Summer (Absolute) IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2015 Chicago Open Spring IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2015 Chicago Open Spring (Absolute) IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2014 Chicago Open Summer IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2014 Rome Open IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2014 Chicago Open Spring IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2014 Chicago Open Spring (No-Gi) IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 New York Open Spring IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 Houston Open IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 Chicago Winter (No-Gi) Open IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 Chicago Winter Open IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 Chicago Summer Open (No-Gi) Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 Chicago Summer Open IBJJF Championship (Bronze Medal)
• 2013 Chicago Summer Open (No-Gi Absolute) Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 Chicago Summer Open (Absolute) Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2012 Toronto Open IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2012 Miami Open IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2012 Chicago Open IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2012 Las Vegas Open IBJJF Championship (Silver Medal)
• 2011 Las Vegas Open IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2011 Chicago Open IBJJF Championship (Silver Medal)

HIDE ACHIEVEMENTS

CLASS SCHEDULE

ACHIEVEMENTS

World IBJJF Championships
• 2017 World IBJJF Championship (Gold)
• 2014 International Masters IBJJF Championships (Gold Medal)
• 2014 World IBJJF Championship (Silver Medal)
• 2013 World IBJJF Championship (Bronze Medal)
• 2012 World IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)

Pan-American IBJJF Championships
• 2017 Pan-American IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2015 Pan-American IBJJF Championship (Bronze Medal)
• 2013 Pan-American IBJJF Championship (Silver Medal)
• 2012 Pan-American IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2009 Pan-American IBJJF Championship (Silver Medal)
• 2004 Pan-American IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)

BJJ-PRO IBJJF Championships
• 2017 BJJ-PRO Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2017 BJJ-PRO (Absolute) Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2015 BJJ-PRO Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2015 BJJ-PRO (Absolute) Championship (Silver Medal)
• 2014 BJJ-PRO Championship (Gold Medal)

European Championships
• 2017 European IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2015 European IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2014 European IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2014 European (No-Gi) IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 European IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2012 European IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)

National IBJJF Championships
• 2017 National IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2017 National IBJJF (Absolute) Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 National IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 National IBJJF (No Gi) Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 National IBJJF (No Gi-Absolute) (Silver Medal)
• 2012 National IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2012 National IBJJF (No Gi) Championship (Gold Medal)

Arnold Championships
• 2009 Arnold Championship (Silver Medal)
• 2009 Arnold “Absolute” Championship (Bronze Medal)

Gracie Championships
• 2008 Gracie National Championship (Gold Medal)

Open IBJJF Championships

• 2017 Atlanta Open Winter IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2017 Atlanta Open Winter (Absolute) IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2017 Chicago Open Summer IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2017 Chicago Open Summer (Absolute) IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2017 Chicago Open Spring IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2017 Chicago Open Spring (Absolute) IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2017 Chicago Open Spring (No-GI) IBJJF Championship (Bronze Medal)
• 2015 Chicago Open Summer (No-Gi) IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2015 Chicago Open Summer (No-Gi Absolute) IBJJF Championship (Bronze Medal)
• 2015 Chicago Open Summer IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2015 Chicago Open Summer (Absolute) IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2015 Chicago Open Spring IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2015 Chicago Open Spring (Absolute) IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2014 Chicago Open Summer IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2014 Rome Open IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)

• 2014 Chicago Open Spring IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2014 Chicago Open Spring (No-Gi) IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 New York Open Spring IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 Houston Open IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 Chicago Winter (No-Gi) Open IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 Chicago Winter Open IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 Chicago Summer Open (No-Gi) Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 Chicago Summer Open IBJJF Championship (Bronze Medal)
• 2013 Chicago Summer Open (No-Gi Absolute) Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2013 Chicago Summer Open (Absolute) Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2012 Toronto Open IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2012 Miami Open IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2012 Chicago Open IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2012 Las Vegas Open IBJJF Championship (Silver Medal)
• 2011 Las Vegas Open IBJJF Championship (Gold Medal)
• 2011 Chicago Open IBJJF Championship (Silver Medal)

HISTORY + BENEFITS

The History of BJJ

In 1914, Mitsuyo Maeda arrived in Brazil. A Japanese judo practitioner and prize fighter, he had fought in thousands of “no-holds-barred” competitions around the world to demonstrate the effectiveness of his art. In Brazil, Maeda befriended Gastão Gracie and began to instruct his teenage son, Carlos, in the martial arts. At this time, Carlos’ younger brother, Hélio, suffered health issues that precluded him from training. Eventually Hélio overcame these obstacles and joined his brother, evolving Maeda’s teachings into what is now known as Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The Gracie brothers refined, adapted, and enhanced Japanese jiu-jitsu techniques, thereby creating a new and devastatingly effective system of fighting. The art was quickly disseminated throughout Brazil, and thereafter the world, by Carlos and Hélio’s extended family and their students. Tried and tested through competition and combat, Brazilian jiu-jitsu now stands as the most realistic and practical form of martial arts training available.

About

Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a form of fighting that employs leverage, mechanical advantage, and submission techniques to secure victory. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter seeks to take his opponent to the ground in order to neutralize imbalances of strength and limit the effectiveness of striking. Positional control is achieved through throws, sweeps, holds, and transitions, allowing smaller individuals gain an advantage over larger opponents. Joint locks and chokeholds enable the skilled Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner to disable their opponent or render them unconscious. Victory in live sparring is achieved when an opponent “taps out”, a symbolic surrender in the face of insurmountable odds.

Benefits of BJJ

The benefits of Brazilian jiu-jitsu are numerous and diverse. Regular training boosts self-esteem, relieves stress and improves mental and physical health. Practicing BJJ aids weight-loss and increases fitness, dexterity and flexibility. Self-defence techniques give students the confidence and the ability to deal with threatening situations, irrespective of strength or size. Because BJJ emphasizes technique and skill rather than power and aggression, it is the ideal martial art for smaller individuals, young people, and women. The absence of striking in Brazilian jiu-jitsu also allows practitioners to spar every day at maximum effort without fear of concussive injury. This not only protects the body, but also allows for harder and more dynamic training.

At Soul Fighters Chicago, students of all skill levels come together to pursue their journeys in jiu-jitsu. Training takes place in a welcoming and positive environment, with every student invested in the safety and progress of all others. Soul Fighters Chicago is not just somewhere to work out, but a second-home: a place to make friends, learn new skills, share ideas, and have fun.

FREE INTRO CLASS

First time trying Brazilian jiu-jitsu?
No worries. Contact us with any questions that you might have.
Please enter your contact information below and one of our qualified staff members will contact you shortly.

CONTACT

Soul Fighters Chicago is located in West Town, very close to the Blue Line and the Kennedy Expressway. We look forward to you visiting the academy.

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