Social Impact Through the 2021 Brazil Camp

Social Impact Through the 2021 Brazil Camp



During our Brazil Camp last Fall, we visited Professor Tony’s hometown of Recife where we enjoyed incredible beaches trips, trained at various academies in the city, tried new foods and made good friends. It was a trip of a lifetime and a true cultural exchange. 

A group of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu learners

On this trip we also had the privilege of meeting several DreamRoot local leaders who run three jiu jitsu social projects that serve some of the most impoverished populations in Brazil and visited the Arte Suave / DreamRoot Training Center in Paulista, Pernambuco.  

Preparing to meet the leaders, Team Passos students donated 150 donated jiu jitsu uniforms (gis) and 50 belts to distribute to their students in need.  Each U.S. camp participant brought an extra suitcase filled with the gis and took them to Brazil. 

 To-date, through Team Passos students and Onda BJJ, we have donated a total of 364 gis.  

For many Brazilian students, this was the first gi. To have their own uniform instills a sense of dignity and confidence which enhances learning and growth on the mat. To learn more about the impact of a uniform, check out this blog article 

A boy from the Sertão DreamRoot Training Center shared that the donated gi was actually the first piece of new clothing he has ever received. And many of the gis were delivered to an orphanage in Aldeia, Pernambuco run by DreamRoot local leader Jesse Hall. 


As you may imagine, there were many poignant moments during this trip. It was powerful to witness true bonds of friendship, respect and encouragement formed among students and leaders from the U.S. and Brazil. One young man explained that our presence gives them hope and energy to keep going.  

Thank you to all who have donated gis over the years. And a huge shout out to the camp participants who help transport all of the gis. Your contributions are changing lives and generations to come. 

We are also grateful for the local leaders who run jiu jitsu social initiatives in some tough locations around the world. Through their sacrifice and dedication of continually showing up, they are creating safe and supportive spaces for community members to experience: 

  • Healthy connections 
  • Predictable routines 
  • Activities and relationships that build self-esteem 
  • An alternative to going to the streets or isolating in an empty house 

 We are preparing for our next Brazil Camp that will take place in October 2022. If you are interested in joining, please contact us at 


More about DreamRoot Leadership Institute

DreamRoot Leadership Institute (DreamRoot) is a non-profit that was birthed at Team Passos Jiu Jitsu. It exists to reverse cycles of poverty in underserved communities where people dream of a life that is free of hunger, despair and suffering. They do this by strengthening local leaders and providing training, resources and networks to help launch local initiatives that transform their communities and lead to sustainable social and economic growth. 






2022 Jiu Jitsu Leadership Cohort

2022 Jiu Jitsu Leadership Cohort

2022 Jiu Jitsu Leadership Cohort


We have officially launched our Jiu Jitsu Leadership Cohort for Assistant Coaches at Team Passos HQ in partnership with DreamRoot Leadership Institute!

A group of people sitting on the floor forming a circle and discussing

This cohort provides a solid foundation for participants to learn how to facilitate world-class jiu jitsu programs and effectively lead others on and off the mat. In addition to equipping and multiplying coaches at Team Passos, this cohort is also a beta program for DreamRoot. They will soon offer the training program to underserved communities around the world (learn more here).

Over the next 4-months, participants will receive tailored instruction and hands-on experience in how to facilitate classes as an Assistant Coach while developing their leadership skills. Cohort participants also benefit from personal coaching sessions and additional resources throughout the program.

With the mission of the academy being to transform people’s lives through the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, one student at a time, so they can achieve more, our coaches carry a large leadership responsibility and influence for impacting positive change.

The goal of the cohort is to equip and empower others to fulfill their leadership calling. This program emphasizes the continued development of the participants’ leadership journey. This cohort is not about accumulating more information. Rather, we at Team Passos are seeking transformation in the way we act in our families, workplaces, schools and at the academy; where we further become the leader each of us are called to be. We measure transformation less on “doing” and rather on our perspective and thought processes, which then effects our decisions, actions, and behaviors.

We believe this Assistant Coaches’ training will have a tremendous impact on each program, student, and the academy as whole. We are always working to take your experience at Team Passos to the next level. Continually equipping and developing our coaches is just one way we ensure you gain world-class jiu jitsu instruction and training experience.

Be sure to give a shout out to the cohort participants assisting in class when you see them!

“Jiu Jitsu is just a tool. The academy is just a platform. Remember: it’s always about people” – Tony Passos

Narrowing the Performance Gap

Narrowing the Performance Gap

 Narrowing the Performance Gap  

Cheers to the first Monday of the year! Ringing in the New Year is a great opportunity to reflect, hit the reset button, and set an annual focus. We are not referring to a New Year’s resolution.  

And while we are a huge fan of goal setting, let’s view our goals from the angle of where we are today, where we want to be, and what it will take to get there; that’s what we call narrowing the performance gap.  

This begins with vision and is finished by a consistent execution of an intentionally crafted routine.   


We must become clear on where we are going in order to gauge progress, make course corrections and celebrate milestones along the journey, and to realize when we have arrived. Rather than focusing on what we want to do or have, it is important be clear on who we want to become. Who we are determines where we are headed.  

Knowing what kind of person you feel called to be and understanding your deeper purpose will guide your goals, and help you align your actions and decisions to your values and priorities. Without this vision, you will be directionless and inevitably waste our time, energy, and potential on seemingly “good” activities at best and become totally derailed at worse.  

Through this clarity of vision, you will be able to assess where you are now and how to narrow the performance gap to where you would like to be. The performance gap informs your goal setting.  

Check out our blog about setting goals in your BJJ training. 

Execute an intentional routine 

Once you’ve identified a goal or three, identify the strategy needed to make it a reality and build a routine that will set you up for achieving them. The key is having a deliberate approach, backed by a solid routine. A healthy and balanced routine provides the structure needed for each of us to develop and be our best. It is your daily, weekly, monthly, and even annual routine that facilitates you to achieve your desired goals and sustains your success. It provides a Lacking this will lead to frustration and unfulfilled potential.   

High performers stick to the basics. They develop, refine, and execute a fundamental routine that positions them for success. They then commit to walking out that routine with a level of focus and excellence. Instead of becoming bored with routine and monotony, and subsequently veering off course to chase the next fleeting idea, high performers commit to implementing an intentionally crafted routine to achieve their vision, periodically evaluating for opportunities to adjust and fine-tune.   

This is the same approach we take when drilling in class. Even after having learned a new technique, we rep it over and over. The reason for this goes beyond just developing the skill of applying the technique effectively during a roll. The more we repeat the same technique, the deeper we will understand the position. As the technique becomes second nature to us, we are then able refine it, explore various angles, and build upon it. This routine of repeating the same drills over and over deepens our understanding the position and ultimately the art of jiu jitsu. And this is what allows us to progress in our jiu jitsu journey.

Repping a well-crafted routine that is critical to our development and performance so that we can achieve our goals and dreams on and off the mats. Rather than wearing ourselves out by trying to control the outcome, focus on the process. Put into practice what you know to do and commit to consistently walking out your responsibility.  

As you build a routine around the person you want to become, pay attention to how you allot your time. Time is our most precious resource. How we invest, or waste, time reveals our priorities. Be intentional with your day by prioritizing your time in a way that builds foundational habits that lead you to becoming the person you feel called to and to live in your deeper purpose.  

Here are some practical tips that lead to higher performance:  

  • Designate specific days that you consistently train. If you miss a day, focus on getting back into the rhythm of your set training routine. 
  • Make healthy eating and getting adequate sleep non-negotiable. Manage your water intake to be able to perform your best on the mat (and in life). Fun fact, did you know that sleep is most directly tied to vitality?  
  • Know who and what empowers you to perform at your highest level and prioritize them.   
  • Embrace and honor your human limitations. Design a realistic schedule that keeps your bucket full. Creating rhythms of work, play, and rest. Commit to taking a day off once a week, make space to reflect and process, connect with your teammates, and do things just because you enjoy them.  

As we roll into this New Year, let’s focus on narrowing our performance gap between where we are today, and who we want to become. Let’s continue to stretch ourselves outside of our comfort zone and put into practice what we know to do. Start by clarifying your vision, setting goals, and building a routine; a routine where every piece of your day is designed to help you be your best and perform at your highest level. Then, check in with yourself regularly. Take time to reflect, process, and make any adjustments daily, quarterly, and annually.  

You will experience exponential grow as you execute a routine that builds upon your cumulated successes from the days and weeks before. Rather than a destination to arrive at or a task to perform, embrace the process, with all its joys, trials, and everything in between. We are here for you at the academy as we walk alongside you in this journey together.  

What is one thing you can start doing immediately that will get you further on the path of who you want to become? 

And, while we’re at it, choose one thing you should stop doing immediately that would help you perform at your best.    


Partnership with DreamRoot Leadership Institute

Partnership with DreamRoot Leadership Institute

A logo of Dreamroot Leadership Institute

Partnership with DreamRoot Leadership Institute

We are super excited to be partnering with a new non-profit called DreamRoot Leadership Institute. DreamRoot serves to reverse the cycles of poverty by unleashing the potential of local leaders in under-resourced communities to solve local challenges and raise up others to do the same. The objective of this partnership is to expand the impact of our Jiu Jitsu outreach efforts which we have been implementing here in the U.S. and abroad in Brazil.

Our mission is to transform people’s lives through the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu — one student at a time — so that they can achieve more. We have a vision to see every person, regardless of their life’s circumstances, be given the opportunity to realize and achieve their dreams; where they are living out their fullest potential and all of society advances as a result.

Over the years, Team Passos has been involved in using Jiu Jitsu programs in the slums of Brazil and even here in Virginia as a way to reach children, youth, and adults to build life skills, mentor, and cast a higher vision for their lives. In addition to the regular gi donations, we have been training and mentoring several Jiu Jitsu Professors running BJJ initiatives in Brazil. With this new non-profit, we will be able to expand the reach and thus the impact.


These initiatives and the impact are the fruit of the collective action, heart and dreams of everyone here at Team Passos. Each of our students have been a huge part in bringing this to reality through your support and encouragement. I want to take this time to thank again everyone who has donated gis over the years. Here is a more thorough update about our gi drives.


What we’re working on in 2020:

  • In collaboration with DreamRoot, we will launch our first 6-month Jiu Jitsu Leader Incubator Cohort for several local leaders running programs in Northeast Brazil. These cohorts offer needed training, resources and a support network for leaders working in some challenging environments.
  • We are in the process of renovating one of the Jiu Jitsu academies we have been working with into a training center. The center offers additional programs like English, music, and entrepreneurial classes to students who would otherwise not have access to such programs.
  • In the near future we desire to roll out virtual leadership and entrepreneurial incubator cohorts for at-risk youth and underprivileged individuals.

I’d like to invite you to check out the DreamRoot website. If you would like to learn more about DreamRoot or would like to get involved, please let us know.

Warmest regards,


Professor Tony Passos
Labor Day: Reflections from a First Generation American

Labor Day: Reflections from a First Generation American

do something creative every day

Labor Day: Reflections from a First Generation American

Bom dia and happy Labor Day! This year we roll in the 125th anniversary of Labor Day becoming a holiday in the United States. It is a holiday honoring the social and economic achievement of workers and consequently their contributions to the world. As a nation, we celebrate the value and dignity of each of our work and what it contributes to the greater society.

Upon immigrating to the U.S. over 15 years ago, I began my initial years working odd jobs from raking leaves to singing as the mouse and then cleaning toilets at Chuck E. Cheese. While the work was not easy, the hours were long, and the language was foreign, I would not change this experience for anything. There is a beauty in working with excellence in anything we are tasked with. After holding on to the vision of one day teaching Jiu Jitsu for a living and owning an academy, my dream eventually became a reality.

The testimony of an environment that allows people to progress when they work hard and pursue their dreams is not an advantage that many around the world have available to them. I am blessed to have had this opportunity here in the U.S. and am grateful for all those who have helped make this possible. It is because of having received this chance in life that I am keenly aware of my both privilege in receiving it and responsibility to steward it.

None of us arrive on our own. We are standing on the shoulders of those who have come before us. And we have an obligation to lift others up to rise together. We are called to greatness and we are capable of achieving it.

As I reflect on the Labor Day holiday, it is my hope that we each, collectively, develop our talents and ideas to contribute ingenuity and progress to the world. That we spend our time on higher pursuits. To invest our resources in the advancement of society. And wield our influence to foster unity. This is not just a hope, but it is what we work toward every day at Team Passos. It is absolutely humbling to see how far we as a team have come and what we have accomplished in such a relatively short amount of time. And to think, it all started with a dream coupled with the willingness and ability to work hard, planted in an environment that allowed it to flourish.

The world needs your dreams and your work. I encourage everyone to go after their dreams and work hard until it is realized. You will greatly impact those around you. Together we can accomplish more than we could ever imagine possible.

Have a wonderful Labor Day!

– Professor Tony Passos

Why Jiu Jitsu is so Transformational

Why Jiu Jitsu is so Transformational

A group of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu athletes sitting on the floor looking at the cameraJiu Jitsu has proven to be a catalyst of transformation in so many people’s lives. Over and over we hear one inspirational success story after another. From the underdog rising to victory, being able to overcome physical, emotional, and mental barriers, to Jiu Jitsu being the vehicle out of poverty. The transformation in people’s lives through the art of Jiu Jitsu is undeniable. I have experienced such transformation in my own life and have the privilege to continually witness it first-hand in my students and coaching team. But what is it about Jiu Jitsu that is so transformational?

Jiu Jitsu by nature throws us into vulnerable and uncomfortable positions where we wrestle head-on with our own limitations. It is on the mat where we come face-to-face with our personal challenges and push past what has previously held us back. But what makes Jiu Jitsu so extraordinary is the community and BJJ family you find there. It is in a supportive BJJ community that allows us to consistently come to that place of vulnerability where we learn and progress. Essentially it is relationships that transform.

Coming to the U.S. in 2004, with my family living in Brazil, I found myself without an immediate community and attempting to navigate a new culture and customs all alone. I lost no time in finding a gym to continue my Jiu Jitsu training. It was there that I met many friends who helped me learn the ropes in this new city and encouraged me to go after my dream of teaching and coaching Jiu Jitsu for a living. They are still my close friends today, 15 years later. Jiu Jitsu connects us with lifelong friends to go through the ups and downs of life together; celebrating the successes and helping us to keep going through setbacks.

As much as I appreciate the time on the mat in a gi, it is those moments outside of the class time that are the most critical. Where I have seen the most incredible transformations take place in people’s lives is on the benches off to the side of the mats and in the locker rooms. It is during the side-talks 15 to 20 minutes after class. There is no denying that when we fall into an unfavorable position while rolling, we are offered an effective tool to grow emotionally and physically. However, it is a supportive training environment with encouraging teammates that facilitates the beautiful art of Jiu Jitsu to truly shine. It is in this collaborative culture that allows us to face challenges, grow stronger and progress further in the face of adversity than if we were to go it alone.

The academy is a place to connect with others and make friends. It is a place where students and parents come to leave behind the stress from their work day and decompress before transitioning home for the evening. With busy schedules where it often requires weeks of scheduling in advance to find a time to meet up with an old friend, the academy is a constant place where you can walk in and meet-up with friends any day of the week.

The art of Jiu Jitsu and the community at the academy has a huge impact in our own lives and the lives of our family members. But you also have a huge impact in other people’s lives at the academy. Every time you walk through the doors, you have an opportunity to be a positive influence for someone else. Just a simple “hi, how are you?” can be the one interaction that transforms your teammate’s life. It may not necessarily be the technique I taught in class that day but rather a small gesture of acknowledgement that has the power to unlock a smile.  And it is amazing that in the process of reaching out to others we ourselves are also blessed and transformed.

This is why I encourage all of my students to hang out after class. I see a huge difference in the students who stay a little longer.  It is in those 15 to 20 minutes before, but even more after class, once you have the chance to decompress and leave it all on the mat, where relationships are built and breakthroughs happen.

The theme of our academy is that it is not about Jiu Jitsu. It is about the connections and relationships made through Jiu Jitsu. I have seen little else rival the mats of Jiu Jitsu in creating an environment that transforms lives. This is the Jiu Jitsu experience. And I guarantee that this will be a game changer for your life.

– Professor Tony Passos