Welcome to the Metro Detroit Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy. We have 2 great locations to serve you! Conveniently located in Shelby Township, Rochester Hills.   We offer the highest quality Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instruction in a friendly, respectful, family environment. Whether you’re looking for discipline, fitness, sport or self-defense training, we will meet your needs. Our curriculum covers all aspects of grappling, for self defense and competition, from throws and takedowns to ground fighting and submissions.

Our community-based method of instruction integrates beginners into ongoing classes with advanced students. Newcomers learn not only from the class instructor, but also from more experienced students, providing a wider pool of knowledge, wisdom and technique. Advanced students, in turn, gain insight by helping beginners to progress. All classes are taught by qualified instructors.


Scott Zapczynski De La Riva Black BeltThird Degree Black Belt Scott Zapczynski is the owner and head instructor of Metro Detroit Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He was first exposed to the effective art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by watching a skinny, 170 lb. Brazilian fighter named Royce Gracie control and defeat larger, stronger, more athletic opponents in the early Ultimate Fighting Championships. Shortly after, Scott began training in 1997 at a Gracie affiliated school in Farmington Hills, Michigan.

In 1998, while working on a project in Orlando, Florida, Scott began training with a BJJ Black Belt and Brazilian National Champion under Ricardo De La Riva named Marcelo Grosso. In 1999, Marcelo invited Scott to his home in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil to spend the winter training at Ricardo De La Riva’s academy in Copacabana. In 2000, Marcelo moved to Michigan with Scott and began teaching BJJ classes until 2001 when Marcelo had to return to Brazil.

A few Brazilian friends that had followed Marcelo up to Michigan stayed behind to live, work and continue training with Scott. At the end of 2002, Scott returned to Brazil to live and train for the winter. Fortunately, he has been able to spend 4 months per year since 2002, living and training in Rio De Janeiro with Marcelo Grosso and Master Ricardo De La Riva.

Over those years , Scott has trained and competed in Brazil as a member of Team De La Riva. Being fluent in Brazilian Portuguese, Scott has assisted Master De La Riva in giving BJJ and Self Defense seminars in the U.S. and Brazil.  Scott is proud to be the only American BJJ Black Belt to have begun training as a White Belt and been awarded his Blue, Purple, Brown, and Black Belts by Master Ricardo De La Riva. All belts were awarded at Master De La Riva’s academy in Copacabana, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

Scott grew up in Shelby Township, Michigan and is a graduate of Utica Eisenhower High School and Michigan State University.



Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academies tend to teach in a more relaxed and less rigid atmosphere than traditional martial arts. Nonetheless, in order to maintain a positive environment that is both conducive to learning and welcoming to potential students, we require our students, parents of students in the kids classes, and staff to adhere to the following MDBJJ Etiquette guidelines.

1. Always show respect to your instructors, training partners, and fellow human beings. Respect in training means: do not seek to harm fellow students physically (i.e., by cranking a submission harder than necessary to make them tap) or emotionally (i.e., by calling them names or making jokes about hurting them). Respect also means that you must train seriously and hard enough for you and your partner to improve his or her skills, conditioning, and fighting spirit. Not giving your best during training detracts from both you and your partner’s experience.

2. Maintain good hygiene (i.e., shower and brush your teeth regularly). As you can imagine, it is difficult to concentrate on technique when you find your partner smells distracting!

3. Keep finger and toe nails short and clean to prevent injury to yourself and others.

4. Bring a clean, dry gi to each class. Also, always keep a rash guard or T-shirt in your gym bag for no-gi classes.

5. Keep shoes off the mat, so that we can keep the mats clean and sanitary.

6. Do not walk outside with bare feet. If you have to go outside, wear sandals or shoes. Items (5) and (6) are especially important to prevent the spread of skin conditions such as ringworm.

7. Do not shout loudly or use profanity in the academy. This should go without saying.

8. Do not talk while the instructor is talking. It distracts those who are trying to learn and is disrespectful to the instructor, as well as other students.

9. Stand, sit with your legs crossed, or kneel during class. No lounging. Studies show that people learn more effectively when seated in upright postures.

10. Please wear your gi, a T-shirt, or a tank top while in public areas of the academy. No bare backs!

11. Do not leave the mat during class without the instructor’s permission.

12. Keep cell phones off during class. Again, they distract those who are trying to learn.

13. If the instructor has not changed the task, then continue doing the task he has given (i.e., don’t sit around talking because you feel you have done a technique enough times). You can NEVER do a technique too many times.

14. It is disrespectful to ask an instructor or a higher rank to train with you, so wait until they ask you to roll.

15. Always shake or slap hands with your partner before sparring.

16. The following techniques WILL NOT be allowed UNLESS permission is granted by the instructor prior to attempting them:

  • NO Slamming.
  • NO Neck Cranks.
  • NO Heel Hooks.
  • NO Twisting Knee Locks or Toeholds.
  • NO Knee Bars for Purple belt and under.
  • NO Small Joint Manipulation (fingers, toes).
  • NO Bicep or Calf Slicers for Purple Belt and under.
  • NO Scissors Takedowns.

These rules are to protect you and your training partners. If you have any questions or need clarification, ask the instructor PRIOR to attempting a hold or move that is in question.

17. Much of what we practice routinely with each other can injure the uninitiated. It should not be practiced on others outside of the academy.

What is the History of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Jiu-Jitsu, known in Brazil as “a arte suave” or “the gentle art”, is one of the oldest forms of martial art. The roots of Jiu-Jitsu lie in India more than 2,000 years before Christ. It was created by monks who could not use any type of weapons to defend their lives against barbarian attacks. It spread through China and eventually took root and further evolved in Japan becoming the first martial art style. The samurai clans in Japan named it Jiu-Jitsu and adopted it as their own traditional style to defeat an opponent regardless if the situation was striking, throwing or grappling. With the passing years, they split the techniques and developed other martial arts styles, such as Judo, Aikido, Karate, etc.

In 1914, Japanese Jiu-Jitsu champion Esai Maeda immigrated to Brazil where he was instrumental in establishing a Japanese immigrant community. His efforts were aided by Gastao Gracie, a Brazilian scholar and politician of Scottish descent. As an expression of his gratitude for Gracie’s assistance, Maeda taught the Brazilian’s oldest son Carlos the essential secrets of the ancient martial arts technique. Carlos taught Maeda’s techniques to his four brothers and in 1925 they opened the first Jiu-Jitsu academy in Brazil. For the Gracie brothers teaching the art was more than an occupation. It was their passion. One of the brothers, Helio Gracie, paid special interest to the use of the techniques. Helio, being of small frame, light in weight (only 135 pounds), and in frail health, was 16 when he began learning Jiu-Jitsu. Being unable to participate in classes, he would sit and watch his older brother teach every day. One day when Carlos was unable to make it to class, Helio was asked to instruct. Beause of his size and stature, he began to work with and adapt the basic rules of Jiu-Jitsu. He focused on the application of leverage in the art which it possible for a smaller opponent to defeat a larger one. He began experimenting, modifying and enhancing the basic techniques to make them effective for a person regardless of his or her stature. Thus began the development of a new and more effective art – Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.. Helio’s skills eventually enabled him to beat some of the world’s greatest fighters. Helio’s feats include the longest fight in recorded history – 3 hours and 45 minutes nonstop – and the historic match against Masahiko Kimura, who was probably the greatest fighter Japan ever produced Carlos and Helio Gracie’s quest became today’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a martial art that is continuously evolving as a result of input from practitioners throughout the world.

In the early 1990s, Helio’s eldest son, Rorion Gracie, moved from Brazil to Los Angeles. He wished to show the world how well the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu worked. In Brazil, no-rules Mixed Martial Art (MMA) contests (known as “vale tudo”) had been popular since Carlos Gracie first opened his academy in 1925, but in the world at large most martial arts competitions were restricted to a single style using the specialized rules of that style’s practice. To show the world the effectiveness of BJJ, Rorion started the Ultimate Fighting Championship. This was a series of pay-per-view television events in the United States that began in 1993. They pitted experts of different martial arts styles against each other in an environment with very few rules in an attempt to see what techniques “really worked” when put under pressure. Rorion also entered his brother Royce Gracie, an expert in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as one of the contestants.

Royce dominated the first years of the UFC against all comers, amassing eleven victories with no fighting losses. At one event he defeated four different fighters in one night. This, from a fighter who, at 170 lbs., was smaller than most of the other competitors in an event with no weight classes. In hindsight, much of Royce’s success was due to the fact that he understood very well (and had trained to defend against) the techniques that his opponents would use, whereas they often had no idea what he was doing to them. In addition, the ground fighting strategy and techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are among the most sophisticated in the world. Besides the immediate impact of an explosion of interest in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu across the world (particularly in the US and Japan), the lasting impact of Royce’s early UFC dominance is that almost every successful MMA fighter now includes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a significant portion of their training.

What is Metro Detroit Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu's BJJ Lineage?

We are proud to say that our lineage at Metro Detroit Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu puts us in a direct line of BJJ black belts beginning with the founder of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Grand Master Carlos Gracie, his oldest son Grand Master Carlson Gracie Sr., Master Ricardo De La Riva and our own Professor Scott Zapczynski.

Who can learn BJJ?

Practically anyone can utilize the techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Carlos and Helio Gracie never weighed more than 135 lbs when they developed their techniques. The core principle of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is to provide a method for smaller, weaker individuals to protect themselves from larger stronger attackers.

Will BJJ get me in shape?

Yes ! Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can provide you with far more extensive results than typical aerobic exercise. The resistance encountered while rolling provides you with a good base to improve your core strength through intense abdominal workout, increase your muscle tone, and reduce your body fat while improving your balance, bodily coordination, cardio vascular capacity, and muscular endurance.

What can I expect in a typical BJJ class?

A typical BJJ class at Metro Detroit Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is conducted exactly how Master De La Riva conducts his classes in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. Each class begins with a moderate warm up activity followed by stretching. We then drill our technique with a partner to learn the proper mechanics of the technique and by repetition we build the muscle memory necessary to help retain the movements. After our technique drilling is completed, we spar ( which we refer to as rolling). Rolling is an essential part of our training because it gives the students the opportunity to use the drilled techniques against a live, resisting opponent just as would happen in a real fight or sport competition. New students are eased into sparring at their own pace.

What is the belt ranking system?

The BJJ belts for adults over the age of 16 in order are: white, blue, purple, brown and black. It usually takes on average 1-3 years to progress through each belt. It depends largely on how often you train. The ranking system for kids under the age of 16 is a little different. The order is : white, yellow, orange and green.

Are there belt testing fees?

There are no belt tests or testing fees. All belt promotions will be awarded by BJJ Black Belt Scott Zapczynski under the supervision of Master Ricardo De La Riva.

What equipment/uniform do I need?

You will need a good BJJ gi (uniform) and athletic supporter with cup for the BJJ classes. Other equipment that is recommended but not required are kneepads, mouthguards and earguards.

What is the membership cost?

We have various membership plans available. A MDBJJ staff member will go over the different membership options with you when you come in for your FREE introductory class. Discounts are available for additional family members, law enforcement, active duty military and firefighters.

Do you have a drop in fee?

Yes! Our drop in fee for out of town students is $25. Please contact us before your arrival.

How do I get started?

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