16 year old blue belt run Mississippi Gracie Academy
Houston Cottrell is the head instructor and owner of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Madison, in Madison, Mississippi. He is 16. And a blue belt.
Cottrell in is fact the youngest certified instructor with the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy, and runs the only Gracie Academy-certified training center in his state.
Houston was recently profiled by The Jackson Free Press.
Cottrell has worked toward the honor of being a Gracie instructor, one of the most respected names in the martial art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, since childhood.
His family moved from Flowood to Charleston, S.C., shortly after he was born. His first introduction to the world of martial arts came through a birthday party for a friend he attended at age 4, held at Master's Studio in James Island, S.C. Cottrell began studying Shaolin Kempo karate there. By age 9, he was helping teach classes, and by age 11, he became one of the youngest students to receive a black belt from the Master's Studio franchise. His family moved back to Mississippi in 2009.
After an unsuccessful search for a Shaolin Kempo school in Jackson, Cottrell saw a bumper sticker advertising Gracie South and trained there for two years.
After an almost two-year process, Cottrell became a Gracie Academy-certified instructor in July 2014 and opened his own training center, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Madison in January.
“Our program teaches kids physical self-defense and how to defend themselves verbally,” Cottrell says.
“When you know you can defend yourself physically if necessary, you can focus on defending yourself verbally first. You can tell the bully not to do that again and stand up to them without hurting the bully.”
His own parents practice at the studio, as well. “Taking courses together gives families something to do together and have in common, and that's something that's needed today,” Cottrell says.
Gracie Jiu-jitsu Madison hosts adult classes for ages 14 and up, Little Champs classes for 5 to 7 year olds, and Junior Grapplers classes for 8 to 13 year olds Tuesday. The studio also offers private lessons by appointment.
The Gracie Academy offered a statement, via Facebook, drawing a parallel between Helio Gracie and Houston Cottrell.
In 1929, the director of the Bank of Brazil, Mario Brandt, arrived for a private class at the original Gracie Academy in Rio de Janeiro, as scheduled. The instructor, Carlos Gracie, was running late and was not present. Helio, who up until that point only learned by watching his brothers, offered to begin the class with the man. When the tardy Carlos arrived offering his apologies, the student assured him it was no problem, and actually requested that he be allowed to continue learning with Helio Gracie instead. Carlos agreed to this and Helio Gracie became an instructor at 16 years of age. The rest is history.
At 16 years old, Houston Cottrell became the youngest person to ever complete the Gracie Academy Instructor Certification Program. At 17 years old, he turned an empty warehouse into a state-of-the-art Level 1 Certified Training Center and began working full time to teach Gracie Bullyproof and Gracie Combatives to a growing group of dedicated students in Madison, MS.
When you meet Houston, you realize that maturity has no age requirement, and when you see him teach, you realize that precise passionate instruction has no belt requirement.
Keep up the good work champ! We’re proud to have you as part of the family and Madison is lucky to have you leading the way!
Thanks to BJJEE for the assist