In the early 1990s, when competition jiu-jitsu was starting to become popular in Rio, a new team was founded, joining the two zones of the city.
Carlson Gracie’s pupil Andre Pederneiras (a black belt in jiu-jitsu and judo) had a strong team in Botofogo, in the South of Rio de Janeiro. To expand, he looked for new members for his team in the northern area of the city.
At this time, the North Zone was considered technically inferior in jiu-jitsu and Andre aimed to help the area as part of his quest.
Meaning “New Union”, the Nova União Jiu-Jitsu Academy was founded in Rio de Janeiro in 1995 when the Mello Tenis Clube Jiu-Jitsu, headed by Wendell Alexander, joined with Andre’s team. Wendell was a black belt from Sebastião Ricardo, who in turn was a student of the Master Oswaldo Fadda, one of the few people to train in Brazil under Sensei Maeda of Japan.
Within a few short years the team had a production line of local (state), national (Brazilian) and world champions which culminated in the team winning the Team Division at the 1997 World Championship.
In 1995, Nova Uniao first landed in the US with a partnership between John Lewis and Andre Pederneiras in Las Vegas. From this location, new branches were built with instructors such as Toni Pontes opening in Arkansas, Renato “Charuto” Verissimo in Hawaii, and Gustavo Dantas in Arizona; All three being Black Belts under Andre who started originally teaching at J-Sect Jiu-Jitsu, John Lewis’ school. Since then, Nova Uniao branches have been opening all over the country in states such as: AR, AZ, CA, CT, FL, IL, NC, NJ, NY, NV, OH and TX.
Now, in 2009, Nova Uniao has been accumulating titles in the US, Brazil, and Europe. In Brazil, Rodrigo “Feijao”, Wendell Alexander, Leonardo Santos, and Andre Marola have been responsible for re-structuring Nova Uniao to once again be in the Jiu-Jitsu spotlight, since over the years, the focus of the team has gravitated towards MMA. In the US, Gustavo Dantas (NU USA President), Robson Moura (Vice-President) and Bruno Bastos has made it their priority to organize Nova Uniao to compete at IBJJF tournaments, the World’s largest, and most respected, stage for Jiu-Jitsu events.