by Josh Carpenter

Ranard Brown, of Cornelius, and Mike Bertram, of Mooresville, recently opened the Gracie Lake Norman Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy in Mooresville.

“Mike and I thought it would work because there’s no other martial arts (in Mooresville) other than Taekwondo, so we thought it was great idea to open up a location,” Brown said.

Brown, an 11-year martial arts veteran, has his second-degree brown belt and trains directly with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu legend Royce Gracie. Bertram, slightly less seasoned than Brown, began his training four years ago under Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Matt Serra in Long Island, N.Y. Bertram has a purple belt.

The academy teaches Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which Brown said focuses more on a grappling-style of fighting.

The academy started out teaching only adults three times a week – Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Not long after opening, adults requested classes for children.

The academy also teaches an empowerment course for women, which incorporates self-defense techniques.

Brown credits much of the academy’s success to being associated with a name like Gracie, whose 11 submission victories rank most all-time in UFC history. Gracie even drops by the academy on occasion.