A two-time world jujitsu champion and accomplished submissive wrestling instructor is making a return visit to the Rim Country.
Gustavo Dantas made his first appearance in Payson April 30, 2005 at Club USA and is scheduled to return Sept. 16 at the Tonto Apache gymnasium. There, he will host a training seminar from noon to 3 p.m.
Many of those in attendance will be students enrolled in Wyatt Shepherd's Pankration Martial Arts in Payson.
Shepherd said he asked Dantas to have a follow-up seminar in Payson to allow his students more access to one of the finest martial arts teachers in the world.
Although many of those in attendance at the seminar will be Shepherd's students, the clinic is open to public for a $60 entry fee.
Dantas, a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, now lives in Tempe where he is a member of the Nova Uniao martial arts team and is a coach of jujitsu and other martial arts at Arizona Combat Sports.
In his career, the 32-year-old Dantas has racked up an impressive jujitsu record including winning the 1997 and 1998 world championships.
He also was an international champion in 1998 and 1999, finished third in the 1996 and 2002 world championships and won the Rio de Janeiro state championship in 1988.
In judo, he has been a Nevada state champion and is a two-time Rio de Janeiro titleholder.
His accomplishments in submissive wrestling include competing in the 2001 Abu Ahabai Combat Championships, and in No Holds Barred events he has a 2-0 record.
According to Dantas' Web site, he earned his masters degree in physical education in 1998 and later earned a black belt from third-degree black belt Brazilian jujitsu instructor Andre Pederneiras.
After living in Las Vegas, he moved to Arizona to start a partnership with renowned kick boxer Trevor Lally at Arizona Combat Sports.
"The school has produced some of the best mixed martial arts fighters in the world," Shepherd said. "Among them are Joe ‘The Diesel' Riggs and Drew Fickett.
"The school is now ranked one of the top five in the world."
Both Riggs and Fickett are among the best on the cage-fighting sports scene where, unlike professional wrestling, the punches, kicks and body slams are real.
In cage fighting, failing to "tap out" can leave a competitor with broken bones, torn ligaments and separated joints.
Shepherd, a former student at ACS, says the upcoming Payson seminar will be a perfect fit for those interested in self-defense or jujitsu training.
"Dantas will teach various submission techniques from all kinds of different positions," he said.
"This is a chance of a lifetime to train with one of jujitsu's most decorated experts."
For those who want to study martial arts for more than a single session, Shepherd opened Pankration Martial Arts in Payson about two years ago.
The school is Shepherd's first attempt at teaching on his own, but says he was an instructor at schools where he studied mixed martial arts for eight years. Shepherd has black belts in both jujitsu and judo.
In addition to teaching both those skills in Pankration, he mixes in Muay Thai kickboxing and grappling.
"(Pankration) is a hybrid martial arts system that has taken techniques from all martial arts and put it into one," he said. "It is now being taught to our armed forces as the preferred means of hand-to-hand combat."
Pankration is unique, Shepherd said, because it includes all facets of fighting, but also focuses on ground combat.
"That is were the majority of fights end up," he said.
Shepherd said experts claim Pankration should be the defense of choice for women, and it can be learned by students of all ages.
He cautions, however, that the real focus is on promoting a sense of balance in one's life and to learn the values of hard work, self-discipline, friendship and respect for others. Those who master it, he said, will improve their self-esteem, build their character and have the ability to defend themselves.
For more information about the upcoming seminar or the Payson Martial Arts School, call Shepherd at (928) 468-1675 or (928) 978-0631 to enroll.