Full Name:

Daniel Russell


Black Belt, Second Degree

Black Belt, Second Degree


"Grande Urso"
(Big Bear)
This nickname was given to me by Carlson Gracie Senior while I was his student in Chicago.

Main Achievements/Successes:

BJJ has prepared me for many of life's challenges outside of the academy. BJJ has made me a better person and made me a better husband, father and supervisor at work.

I have only competed once back in 2000 at the Pan-American tournament. I won a silver medal in my division (Blue Belt). 

Favorite Position/Technique:

My favorite technique by far is the Kesa-gatame (Scarf Hold). Professor Hannette calls it my "House Specialty."

Most memorable fight:

This was not a fight but rather a training session. I had been promoted to purple belt and had been training with Master Carlson Gracie for about a year. I was very confident & a bit cocky about my BJJ and felt like I could hold my own against anyone. Professor Richardo "Rey" Diogo came to Chicago to visit the Master and we had a chance to spar. Professor Diogo absolutely destroyed me prompting Master Gracie to say to me, "you need to stop laying there like a dead fish!" This was a very humbling experience that I will never forget and made me realize how far I still needed to go in my training.


I started training in the Martial Arts in 1985 and became interested in BJJ after watching Royce Gracie win the 1st UFC. In the beginning, my BJJ training consisted of watching video tapes and attending BJJ seminars. My formal BJJ training started at the Carlson Gracie Junior school in Chicago. I was a member of the school from 1997 to 2006. After Carlson Gracie Senior passed away, I was devastated and stopped training BJJ for a few years. Fortunately, I found Professor Andre & Hannette who brought me back into the sport I love so much!