Joao Crus was born in Brasilia, Brazil, and moved to Rio de Janeiro when he was 17 years old. In his youth, he was very active and athletic in swimming. He started his initial Martial Arts training with Karate at the age of 22 and earned his way to a brown belt. Just before he was about to test for his black belt, he stumbled upon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and began secretly attending classes while he was still training Karate. In his competitions in Karate, Joao won 5 State Tournaments and was 2nd place in a National Tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once Joao had a taste of BJJ, he no longer had the desire to complete his black belt in Karate, and began training BJJ full time in 1998.
Before he came to the United States, he earned his blue belt under Leonardo Castello Branco in Rio. In addition to his martial arts training, Joao was a strong competitor in Wind Surfing and Sailing in Brazil. He won the amateur circuit 3 times in the Caribbean competitions. Joao was a part of the sports and nutrition world as a top sales representative for Optimum Nutrition and started his own store in 1999. During this time, he developed a friendship with world renowned Carlson Gracie. Carlson would visit his store regularly, just to visit and talk about life. Little did they both know that they would be working together down the road.
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