During the spread of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from Brazil across the Unites States in the 1990s, as discussed in the Brief History of Bay Area Jiu-Jitsu under the leadership of the legendary Ralph Gacie, an important seed was planted in Mountain View, California of the Bay Area.
The Mountain View academy --- formerly located at 1495 W. El Camino in the city of Mountain View prior to moving to the current location in 2019 at 4607 Cherry Ave. in the city of San Jose --- was founded in 1996, becoming the "Mother" academy of the Bay Area as one of the first Gracie owned gym in northern California. The dojo quickly gained a reputation for having one of the toughest mats in the United States, producing many BJJ stars such as BJ Penn who went on to become a UFC hall of famer, the charismatic Kurt Osiander, the arm-hunting BJJ and Judo phenomenon Dave Camarillo, founder of OnTheMat.com Alan "Gumby" Marques and the once-celebrated Cameron Earle, just to name a few. In addition to Ralph's own expansion of dojos, an estimated 75% of all dojos in the Bay Area have some lineage back to the Mother academy.
BJ Penn reminiscing his start at Ralph Gracie BJJ Mountain View dojo
View this post on Instagram
I just got the opportunity to revisit and enter the @ralphgracie academy in mountain view California where it all started for me, I started training here at 17 years old with the one of the best instructors and most fearsome fighters of all time. Ralph left such an impression on me that I will always say he is not a only an awesome instructor who taught me so much but he is also one of the toughest people to ever walk the earth, he is the one who taught me to never fear anyone no matter how big or how good they are. When you see me entering the ufc for slot of my fights, it is me imitating what I saw Ralph do in his attitude and competitions! He is the kind of guy that no matter what shape he is in, if you decide to wrestle with him, you will have to go until someone gets tapped, because Ralph Gracie will never give up, no matter what! Thank you for the excellent techniques and amazing fighting mentality that you taught and passed on to me!! I am forever grateful !! #graciejiujitsu #ralphgracie #mountainviewCA
Ralph was integral in the everyday training of the students as well as training for his own MMA fights. There are many stories from the early days, including one about a spontaneous and intense battle between Ralph and Frank Shamrock that could have been broadcast on pay-per-view. This was a precursor to later formal fights between Frank and Rezo Gracie as well as Frank and Cesar Gracie.
The Mother academy was home to thousands of students over the years, many hailing from Apple and Google, among other Silicon Valley hi-tech companies. Ralph went on to open several other academies in San Francisco, Berkley, Chino Hills, Dublin and Walnut Creek, and many more associate academies.
After 23 years, due to "highest and best use" real estate development in the Mountain View area, the Mother dojo and all of its history was relocated to San Jose. The 5 black belts starting off the San Jose dojo have a combined 75 years of training experience in Mountain View. The academy program now also focuses heavily on mentorship to junior BJJ athletes, being located next to John Muir Middle School, is close to Branham High School, and is an official corporate sponsor of Williams Elementary School in the Almaden Valley.