Professor John Frankl had his first Gracie Jiu Jitsu lesson in 1989 in Hawaii at the hands of one of Relson Gracie’s original students. Immediately impressed, he vowed to begin lessons as soon as he finished his studies in Korea and moved back to America. In 1994 he relocated to Los Angeles where he spent the entire year learning from the legendary Rickson Gracie. Before the year had ended, he was awarded his blue belt, but soon had to move to Boston for his doctoral studies. In Boston, he began training under Roberto Maia, an original Gracie Barra black belt, and cousin to Renzo Gracie and the Machado brothers. He received his purple, brown, and black belts from Roberto. John Frankl is currently a 4th degree black belt, the highest ranking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner in Korea, and maintains his student-teacher relationship with both Rickson and Roberto.
John returned to Korea in 1999 in order to work on his doctoral dissertation, and it was in that same year that he became the first to teach Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Korea. From 2000 to 2004 he returned biannually to teach seminars and ensure that his students were progressing in their own Jiu Jitsu development. In 2002, John met Matt Thornton, the president and founder of Straight Blast Gym International. The two shared a very similar philosophy and vision regarding the martial arts and many other important issues. In 2003, John officially joined SBG, and was soon appointed as the organization’s director for East Asia. In 2004 he returned permanently and founded the John Frankl Jiu Jitsu Competition Team and SBG Korea, which currently has over 50 academies in Korea.
John Frankl’s educational and academic career cannot be separated from his role in the martial arts and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Korea. He first came to Korea as a university student in 1987. In 1988 he returned to spend an entire year participating in an exchange program between U.C. Berkeley and Yonsei University. He returned in 1990 to pursue a master’s degree in Korean literature at Yonsei, after which he began his doctoral studies at Harvard University. He earned his Ph.D. in 2003, and began teaching at Yonsei University’s Underwood International College in 2005. During this entire period and to the present day, he has continued to travel between Korea and America—as well as traveling to Brazil and several other countries—in order to learn, teach, and compete in the martial art and sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
John Frankl Jiu Jitsu in Korea
John Frankl Jiu Jitsu began in 1999 and is the origin of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Korea. Since its founding, JFJJ has produced a great number of excellent instructors and world-class athletes. With over 50 official academies spread throughout Korea, JFJJ maintains the highest standards for both the physical abilities and moral character of its representatives.