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The BJJ Dirty Dozen are a notorious group of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts that have become pioneers of the sport. This incredible list of grapplers are the first ever non Brazilian athletes to ever be awarded a black belt in the art. Before BJJ became famous it was predominantly trained in Brazil by the Gracie family, as Helio and Carlos Gracie engineered a systematic, and effective method of ground fighting techniques. This became the cornerstone for Gracie Jiu Jitsu, and as the art began to flourish they began teaching the art to many students throughout Brazil. Even before Brazilian Jiu Jitsu's inception into the Mixed Martial Arts world of the UFC, the Gracie clan began teaching the Western world their ground breaking Martial Art

Let one of America's first 12 black belts, Chris Haueter introduce you to the standing position and how to pass guard.  Get his newest release at!

dirty dozen bjj

It is a massive achievement to become a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but back in the early days it was even more prestigious. Handing out black belts to athletes from the western world was not something to happen very often, and this was even more scarce as bjj for smaller guys found it even harder to be promoted. The Dirty Dozen are a group of twelve athletes that were honoured to be the first ever non Brazilian black belts in the Martial Art. What makes this list of professors even more astonishing is that some of them are still heavily invested into the community of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and are some of the most comprehensive Jiu Jitsu teachers of the modern era.


Craig Kukuk was the first ever westerner to be promoted to a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Sometime in 1991 Royler Gracie handed out the prestigious rank to Craig, which was a privilege and an honour. Craig became the first athlete outside of Brazil to open the first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy in New Jersey, in the United States of America. Craig never sought the limelight, and he stayed relatively private, as most of his journey through Martial Arts remains a mystery. Subsequently Craig has produced one of the most comprehensive series of instructional videos that has ever hit the market. Gracie Jiu Jitsu from A to Z contains eleven volumes, and boasts over six hundred individual techniques which includes Gi techniques, No Gi techniques, and even Mixed Martial Arts techniques. His DVD series incorporates every possible position of Gracie Jiu Jitsu from passing the guard, sweeping opponents, counter techniques, and submission maneuvers. There has been no other instructional content that even comes close to the amount of Gracie Jiu Jitsu that Craig Kukuk shows in his videos.


David Kama was one of the original members of the Dirty Dozen, as he made a name for himself competing in bjj against bigger opponents. David began training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the 1980's, where he trained with the most prominent figures of the Gracie Clan in Rickson Gracie. In 1995 David Kama became Rickson Gracie's very first American that he would promote to the rank of black belt. David Kama is one of the premier coaches in the world, as he began teaching out of California at Gracie Laguna Niguel. Nowadays he has built his own academy called Kama Jiu Jitsu - Rickson Gracie Team, in Texas, USA, where he has black belts like Fernando Costa, Ryan Young, Zack Womack, Greg Hayashi, Mike Saito, and Ken DaSilva coaching underneath him. David is a 6th degree black belt who is on his way to becoming a seventh degree coral black belt, which will be an outstanding achievement for the American legend.


In 1995 John Lewis became the fourth American in history to be promoted to a black belt by Andre Pederneiras. John began training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in his early twenties, and only lived a few blocks away from the famous Rickson Gracie’s academy in Culver City. An arrogant Hawaiin born athlete, John Lewis began training at Rickson's academy, where he learnt what is open mat bjj, and after rolling with some of Rickon’s students he was submitted with a footlock by a smaller nerdy athlete, and from there on John learned humility, honour, and respect. John became all about learning diversity in BJJ, and formed the opinions that learning all guard positions like submissions, and passes were a vital cog in the development of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. John Lewis was an entrepreneur Of Martial Arts as he was a Mixed Martial Arts champion, a UFC veteran, a Judo black belt under Gene LeBell, and a Sho Kon Do black belt under Dan Koji. Nowadays John Lewis is a formidable Martial Arts coach who has boasted training students like Chuck Lidell, Tito Ortiz, Kevin Randleman and an assortment of various other MMA Legends. In 2019 John Lewis was awarded his 6th degree on his black belt. John as also achieved worldwide notoriety for his outstanding contest against Carlson Gracie Jr. which ended in a draw.


Ken Gabrielson was awarded his black belt in 1993 by Reylson Gracie, and he became the second American in history to receive a BJJ black belt, behind Craig Kukuk. Ken started training in Jiu Jitsu when he was 23 years old, and sported the old school look of jiu jitsu long hair. Ken would add Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to his repertoire in an attempt to develop ground fighting techniques. Ken had already trained in other Martial Arts like Jeet Kune Do, and various other Filipino arts under the famous Paul Vunak. Ken would take private lessons with the master himself Rickson Gracie in what has become the famous Garage fighting academy. Nowadays Ken runs his own academy called Gabrielson’s Combative Fighting Systems, which is located in Colorado Springs in the United States of America. Ken is a humble coach, and has become an extraordinary mentor to many up and coming Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Mixed Martial Arts champions.


Professor Rick Lucero has become a 6th degree black belt under the famous Joe Moreira. Rick has a commendable 35 years of coaching, and competitive experience in the Martial Arts world. He has competed throughout his career on some of the biggest stages of all, including high level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitions, and many formidable Vale Tudo matches. Rick has an outstanding knowledge many different arts including Wrestling, BJJ, Judo, Sambo, Boxing, and Mixed Martial Arts. Rick has also trained with, and against some of the most formidable names in the Martial Arts world including Randy Couture, Vitor Belfort, Mark Kerr, Dan Henderson, Dennis Hall, and Sean Roberts. Rick is an extremely charismatic coach, and is one of the best in the business, as he is revered by many avid Martial Artists worldwide.


Marc Baquerizo became only the fifth American athlete to be promoted to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. Marc was the first American student to be promoted by the prolific UFC veteran Joe Moreira, alongside fellow students, and friends, Rick Lucero, and James Boran. Although not much is known about Marc, there are reports about a famous brawl he had with Tank Abbott, as well as witnessing numerous iconic Gracie challenges that inspired the nation, and then the world of Martial Arts. Training with Joe Moreira was challenging as Joe did not speak english, and Marc did not speak portuguese, but through the love of Jiu Jitsu they bonded, and became good friends. There are also reports that talk about Marc training with some of the best Martial Artists like Kimo Leopoldo, Marco Ruas and Allen Goes.


James Boran is one of the most well respected black belts in the world, and another student of Joe Moreira. James was awarded his belt in the same ceremony as Rick Lucero, and Marc Baquerizo, as the three iconic legends of the sport became good friends. James was a former linebacker in American football, and is also a Taekwondo black belt. Before James switched to Joe Moreira's Academy he trained under world famous Gracie names like Rorion, Royler, Royce and Rickson Gracie. In 1991 James started his own academy called Boran Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and it was around the same time that he also switched to the lineage of Joe Moreira. The former world champion has always been a formidable competitor, as he has maintained an extensive career in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu well into his fifties. As an older athlete James has won many tournaments like the World Masters, and the Pan American Championships, all while taking his highly successful competition team to prestigious tournaments all over the world.


Bob Bass took the honour of becoming Rigan Machado's first ever American black belt. Bob has a background in Wrestling, Karate, and Thai Boxing, but after seeing how his wrestling could over power his Karate, he knew ground fighting was the way to go, and this is why he turned to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The Machado Brothers could no longer keep Bob under wraps, as he was simply terrorising the West Coast of Jiu Jitsu until the Machado's knew they had to tie a black belt around his waist. Bob did the unthinkable in 1995 as he beat the famous Marcio Feitosa in the inaugural Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Pan American tournament as a brown belt. Many competitors have tried to takeout Bob over the years, and to no avail, as he has starred brightly on the competitive scene of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Nowadays Bob is a 5th degree black belt under the Machado Brothers, and he runs his own academy called South Bay Jiu Jitsu academy in Hermosa Beach California.


Rick Williams became another Brazilian Jiu Jitsu back belt under the famous Machado brother, Rigan Machado. Rick has trained extensively alongside Bob Bass under the Machado brothers for a long time, before earning his black belt rank. Rick has an extensive history of Wrestling, as his credentials speak loudly about his formidable style of grappling. Just like Bob Bass, Rick Williams also won the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Pan American Championship in 1996, and he did it easily, as no competitors really challenged him. Achieving the Pan American Championship gold at the brown belt level is why Rick was then promoted to the back belt level, as the Machado brothers could not hold him back any longer. Rick Williams' extraordinary skills in Jiu Jitsu has given him notoriety as one of the Dirty Dozen members.


Chris Haueter has become a 6th degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He was promoted to this level by Rigan Machado, and Dan Inosanto. Chris is a huge innovator of BJJ, and has become responsible for many different positions in the art. Chris began training as an avid Karate practitioner, before becoming a high school Wrestler. After finishing Secondary school he became a US Marine, where he gained valuable insight, and knowledge into hand to hand combat in a real conflict situation. Chris began training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with Rorion Gracie where he met Rigan Machado, before following him along the journey, and eventually leading to his black belt promotion in 1996. Chris became notorious for the term combat base stance, and even went on to name his academy after the term. Chris was the first American to submit a Brazilian in competition, and became the first American to ever compete in a World Jiu Jitsu Championship. Chris has become one of the premier coaches in Martial Arts, and boasts many incredible black belts under his tutelage including Matt Thornton, who went on to coach Connor McGregor. Chris is also the head referee for the Metamoris grappling promotion, and has also received notoriety for designing the Magikimono Gi for the Shoyoroll brand.


David Meyer is another Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt to be promoted under Rigan Machado in 1996. David became the first ever American athlete to receive a medal at the IBJJF World Championships in 1998. David began his journey into Martial Arts at six years of age, and later on in his life he trained at a Danzan Ryu Jiu Jitsu school, which was headed by the famous Henry Okazaki. David would become an instructor and was given an honorary black belt in the Martial Art. In 1984 the Olympics came to Los Angeles, which resulted in many of the sporting facilities to be rented out, leaving David unable to teach classes. David ended up finding some time at an Aikido school called Tenshin Dojo, which was owned by the future famous actor Steven Segal. David met John Will, and then later Rigan Machado, as he began his extensive rise into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. David's climb through the belt ranking system was rather quick, as he was awarded his black belt in six years, which was extremely fast at the time. David has become one of the pioneers of Jiu Jitsu, and one of the best grapplers of his generation.


John Will is an extremely famous Australian Martial Artist who became a black belt in 1998, and was awarded it by Rigan, and Jean Jacques Machado. Will won the best exponent award at the inaugural World Silat Championships held in Jakarta in 1981. Will's background in Martial Arts is quite extensive, and it includes training in disciplines like Wrestling, Taekwondo, Goju Kai Karate, Shootfighting, and Vajra Mushti. Will has also gained significant notoriety after publishing an extremely rare account of the Indian Martial Art Vajra Mushti, in the Western media. Will has trained with many world class athletes like Benny Urquidez, Gene LeBell, Pete Cunningham, Rorion Gracie, Rickson Gracie and the Machado brothers. Will and his business partner David Meyer have created, and distributed to six hundred schools throughout the United States, a BJJ curriculum, including Chuck Norris' United Fighting Arts Federation. Will also teaches defense tactics to law enforcement, and military agencies, including the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Defense Force, and the Marine Corps in Quantico in the United States.

Let one of America's first 12 black belts, Chris Haueter introduce you to the standing position and how to pass guard.  Get his newest release at!

the dirty dozen bjj


The calibre of these twelve athletes that make up the Dirty Dozen are phenomenal, as many students across the world makeup their base of students. The world has always spoken about how influential Brazilian athletes are in the grappling art, but for these twelve non Brazilian gentleman, they have added significant innovations to this magnificent combat fighting system. This first group of American black belts were the first to dominate and show people what an open mat in BJJ is. The Dirty Dozen are synonymous with excellence in Martial Arts, and survivability within the defense, and tactical fields of hand to hand combat. This group of exceptional Martial Artists have etched their names into the history books, and are all prolific black belt competitors, coaches, and pillars of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community.

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