Julio “Foca” Fernandez

Many individuals have aspirations of excelling in a particular business or sport, traveling the world, discovering new cultures, and chasing dreams. Whether it’s fear of failure or hesitation of stepping into the unknown, most can only wonder the possibilities had they decided to move forward. As for “Foca”, those dreams are a day to day reality.
julio-foca-fernandezRaised on the shores of Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Julio discovered his drive for competition through surfing. Spending endless hours on the board, “Foca” captured, twice, the Rio de Janeiro State Championship, became a 3-time Brazilian College Champion (Faculdade Candido Mendes – 1982, 1983 and 1984), Saquarema Ala Moana Champion (1978), Pier Ipanema Champion (1975), and member of the Company Surf Competition Team and Brazilian Nuts Surf Competition Team. It was during these endless hours in the water where friends dubbed him “Foca”, Portuguese for “Sea Lion”. It’s a nickname that continues to follow and distinguish the wave-rider nearly 40 years later. Surfing has been and always will be a passion for Julio, yet he feels the challenges faced and lessons learned at the renowned Carlson Gracie Academy in Copacabana truly shaped his life for the better.

Beginning his life as a martial artist, Julio first discovered Judo, age 6, and Capoeria, age 14. Moving on to Jiu Jitsu by 17, “Foca” became captivated with the art. Within the walls of the Carlson Gracie Academy’s inconspicuous location, Julio shared mat space with some of the world’s greatest Jiu Jitsu practitioners and legendary champions. Tirelessly drilling and sparring with guys such as Murilo Bustamante, Ricardo “Rei” Diego, Mario Sperry, Ricardo De La Riva, and Marcus Soares, it became routine for the Carlson Gracie Team to win nearly every tournament entered. Earning his black belt under the great Carlson Gracie, “Foca” went on to become a five-time Brazilian National Champion, three-time Rio de Janeiro Sate Champion, and two-time Minas Gerais vs Rio de Janeiro Champion.

Julio now resides in Vermont, operating a successful academy in Williston, and has produced many champions in Sport Jiu Jitsu, Free-Style Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts. He is also President of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu United States Association (BJJUSA) with certifications in the Confederação Brasileira de Jiu-Jitsu and International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation. Julio remains committed to providing the highest level of instruction to competitors and students who want to learn properly in a safe and positive environment the brazilian jiu-jitsu martial art. He strongly believes instructors should teach with great affection, do not criticize, encourage, and he wants his students to feel inspired.

Beyond the black belt and championship titles, Julio represents something much larger than simply another name in the books. After moving to the states, “Foca” was determined to continue the traditions of his homeland lineage.  Joining forces with fellow accomplished teammate and longtime friend, Rodrigo Medeiros, in 2000 the two founded BJJ Revolution Team. Nearly 12 years later and multiple US national championships, the team claims 80 affiliate schools and has extended worldwide with locations in the US, Brazil, and Europe.