Professor Joao “Jon” Silva was born in 1982 in Rio de Janeiro to Helena Pinho da Silva and Aloisio Silva. Unlike most kids, Joao started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu at age 3 with his father and master Aloisio Silva. At that time there were not many kids doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and there were no tournaments for kids in Jiu-Jitsu so Joao started training Judo as well. By age 5, the young Joao was competing in Judo tournaments. At age 7 Joao competed in his first Jiu-Jitsu competition and from then on he would compete in as many tournaments as he could. Ironically, but important, is the fact that although Joao had began training at a very young age and was very knowledgeable in Jiu-Jitsu, competing was never an easy thing. The young Joao would become very nervous at tournaments due to the pressure he felt at being the professor’s son. But even at a young age Joao was never a quitter, and with as much bravery as he could muster he would always tell his fat her that he wanted to compete and so Aloisio would sign him up.
By the time Joao was 10 years old his father, Master Aloisio, had moved it Itaipava, a town located in the mountainous terrains in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro and Joao went to live with his father. It was in Itaipava that Aloisio had what was at that time one of the biggest martial art academies, Dojo Sport Center. It was here and then that Aloisio had the opportunity to spend great time with a person he considered a friend, a mentor and one of his greatest masters in Brazilian Jiu-Jits, Helio Gracie. Helio Gracie had a ranch that was located only a few minutes from the Dojo Sport Center and would often be found there. During this time Helio Gracie approached Aloisio Silva on whether he had a kid’s class because Helio had a grandson that was being bullied by girls at school. Helio was already an older man at this time and found it a bit difficult to teach a 6 year old boy how to defend himself, especially when he also had to teach him how not to hurt the girls. Aloisio at the time did not have a kid’s program but with Helio Gracie’s inquiry he quickly thought that maybe Joao, his son could teach. And this is the beginning of Joao’s path as an instructor of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Joao began to teach the young grandson of Helio Gracie and within a few months Helio Gracie came back to the Dojo Center with the great news that his grandson no longer had any problems at school. Joao recalls being told by his father that Helio Gracie had told him that Joao would be a great teacher. Jokingly, Aloisio bantered back with a thanks to Helio, commenting that if only Joao could do good in the tournaments. Helio told Aloisio that he had the same problem when he was a kid, he was a great teacher at the academy but not when he was faced with a challenge and that it was something you just grow out of.
In the meantime Joao had began teaching a kids class at his father’s academy, but Aloisio was not too happy with the idea of a kid teaching other kids so he would try to put adult instructors in. Every time he would do that the class would lose students and so Joao, due to popular demand, became the instructor of the kid’s class at the young age of thirteen. Joao says that teaching was a great tool and learning experience for him because it forced him to focus, which was something he had difficulty with. When he would teach he had to think and explain what he was thinking so for him, he was teaching and learning at the same time.
As the adolescent Joao continued teaching he also continued training and after many tournaments Joao finally experienced a tournament victory that was significant to him. He had won tournaments before but unlike tournaments before, at age 14 Joao finally felt the victory. This feeling motivated him to train harder, to be a more dedicated student and with this he was able to find his groove in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he was developing his game and executing his plans. And finally, after 7 years as a yellow belt Aloisio promoted his son to an orange belt. By age 15 Joao was competing in all the tournaments he could and that year he competed in the IBJJF Mundials as the youngest competitor to ever participate in that event at the time. During this time Joao not only trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Judo but he was also training in boxing, kickboxing and capoeira in which was a full day of training for his body and brain.
At age 17 Joao moved to United States with his father and family to pursue the opportunity of starting and developing a team in the United States. As with most immigrant families, coming to the United States was initially filled with many struggles and Joao, soon after arriving to the United States began to teach at a local karate academy in the City of Lawndale. At this time Joao was a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a black belt in Judo and his students were quickly becoming champions as they started winning local tournaments. Experiencing success with those first students, Joao and his father decided to open their first academy in Hawthorne, California. Due to legal technicalities they were unable to use the name of their original Brazilian team, Dojo Jiu-Jitsu and so began Aloisio Silva Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. That first year their team was the U.S. International Team champions. One year later, in January of 2003 Joao was promote to Black Belt and the academy moved to Lawndale, California where Joao become the head instructor with his sister, Patricia Silva.
Joao followed in the same footsteps as his father who was known for his ability to make champions and in the same year he made his team the 2003 National Team Jiu-Jitsu Champions. Joao’s team was becoming recognizable through their Silva chant, the number of competitors that represented their team, the amount of gold medals they were taking home and they were becoming known as the Silva Army. And so the nickname stuck as students began to use it when fighting in MMA events.
Today he is not only actively developing his team but is actively attempting to help shape the future of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the United States. Since the age of 20 Joao has been hosting his own tournaments since he became disillusioned with the existing system that did not allow for fair matches due to the way advantages were decided or how referees had too much power in influencing who would win a match. Much of the disillusion came from Joao’s own experience in the many tournaments he competed in and felt that the final decision has been one that was unfair to him. With that, in 2004 he founded the North American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation and in 2005 alongside his sister, Patricia Silva and brother-in-law, Samuel Aschidamini, the first North American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament was held with the goal of creating an event that would welcome competitors of all teams with the clear expectation of a fair fight.
Today the North American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation is quickly becoming known and respected as an organization with the great ability of hosting events that do justice to the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The NABJJF is transforming the competitive world by providing state of the art technology to provide live team scoring, immense organization and an overall sense of welcome and fairness to all competitors. Their events are now renown for their professionalism in presentation, fairness and geniuses to the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Joao personally continues to train and compete, taking his team and himself to as many competitions as possible. He has had many personal and team victories and in 2009 he fought in his first MMA fight and won via armbared within 1 minute of the 1st round. Joao presently has 3 MMA victories with one loss. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu today is his past-time, his livelihood and his passion.
Joao had dedicated his life to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and at age 29 he is an accomplished instructor, competitor and participant of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He is known for his strong sense of morals and character, his unfailing friendship and his willingness to help others. He is the father along with his wife Summer of two beautiful daughters, Isabella born in 2007 and Sophia born in 2009, who he is now blessed to have training on the mat with him. Joao is a hard working man, blessed and fortunate enough to have brought with him an amazing art that he learned from his father
Aloisio Silva from his native country Brazil, further blessed to be able to share and teach this art with his students, to derive a livelihood from it and to actively participate in its development in the United States. He strives to be the best, he was raised to fight and to love the experience, he has and continues to learn a lot from the art itself, from his father, students, colleagues and instructors. He looks forward to the opportunity that God will put in his life and how it will shape his story.