In Memoriam: Pedro Brandao Lacerda

Instructor Emeritus

Pedro Brandao Lacerda

By Sijo Bruce Corrigan (Source

Pedro was the first Black Belt Professor of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at PMA, and my teacher of this art.

I met Pedro purely by accident when I was training with another Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor.  At that time, Pedro was a very young guy barely able to speak English, had nothing in his pocket, owned a broken down car, and was on the verge of becoming an illegal alien.  After having spent my life training in the martial arts, and leading young men and women in the United States military, I recognized the same drive, motivation, and warrior characteristics in Pedro that I had seen a thousand times before in many young Americans – but he needed some help.  

With that in mind, and the purely selfish thought that I could receive some of the best training available, I told him if he would stay – I would help him out.  No one could imagine what would emerge from this young guy, and how he would develop into a teacher, a fighter, a champion, a hard working individual, a husband, a Dad, a productive member of the United States, and finally – one of the elite defenders of our nation.

My relationship with Pedro developed beyond him teaching me, and me helping him – Pedro became as close to me as a son.  I know his skill in Jiu Jitsu, and his abilities as a teacher benefited me more than I could ever hope. I also know that many times I frustrated Pedro the same way my Dad frustrated me when I was a young man and he didn’t answer questions the way I expected.  However, we hung together as he developed my Jiu Jitsu, and I watched him formulate what he wanted his future to be.

Pedro had a promising career as a Jiu Jitsu Competitor, and as a fighter – few would dispute that he was among the best.  However, Pedro had something else in mind.  What many don’t realize, is that a foreigner can’t just come to the United States and join the U.S. military.  On the contrary, it takes a lot of time, a lot of legal work, unbelievable documentation, security clearances, and finally – that most sought after thing – the “Resident Alien Green Card.”  Pedro faced a lot of hurdles, and jumped them all.  And finally, when he made his decision to pick a military service to join, he chose the Army because he knew for sure the Army would most likely send him to Iraq.  Pedro completed Airborne training, the Ranger Indoc Program, and Ranger school – becoming one of America’s finest Special Forces Soldiers.  He also became a citizen of the United States.

It has been a long, long road forme and Pedro – an old martial artist learning new martial arts skills, and a young man learning about life in America.  I hope I influenced Pedro as an example of what the military creates in a person.  My Dad served in the U.S. military before he was a citizen of the United States, and so far, two of my son’s have served their country.  I’m very proud that Pedro is part of this legacy.

Pedro will always be “The Professor” of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at Progressive Martial Arts, and his Jiu Jitsu skills will live on not only through me, but more sothrough his brothers Patrick, Nick and David.

In May of 2010, Professor Pedro Brandao Lacerda passed away due to a brain aneurism.