In Search of the Elusive Mauricio (Maurice) Sakata
The name Maurice Sakata was first introduced into the BJJ community by its mention in the online bio of one Robson Pereira, who at the time was a BJJ instructor at Rat Pack Fighting Systems of Palmerton, PA. According to that vaguely and ambiguously worded bio, Pereira trained in several martial arts in Sao Paulo, including BJJ, and eventually earned a black belt; he had the opportunity to train with "notable athletes" such as Marco "Macaco" Aurelio and Maurice Sakata; and he was a member of Rickson Gracie's BJJ association. Naturally, people reading the bio would link "trained in BJJ," "earned a black belt," and "member of Rickson Gracie's BJJ association" together and come to the conclusion that Pereira was a BJJ black belt under Rickson--which turned out not to be the case at all.
Under mounting pressure to clarify whether Pereira was Rickson BB, RPFS posted a statement to the effect that Pereira had earned his BB under both Marco "Macaco" Aurelio and Maurice Sakata, and the Rickson had "approved" the belt. From being a "notable athlete" under whom Pereira had trained in some unspecified martial art, Maurice Sakata had now morphed into someone with the authority to co-award a BB in BJJ. But this revelation simply brought up another question--if the BB supposedly awarded by Aurelio and Sakata was indeed a legit BJJ BB, why would it have to be "approved" by Rickson? This question was soon followed by another RPFS posting to the effect that all references to Rickson Gracie were being removed from their web site and listings because those mentions of Rickson Gracie were an error on the part of the RPFS webmaster.
A subsequent posting related that Pereira was now training under Rich Latta, a Renzo Gracie brown belt with a school in Hatfield, PA; Latta was also listed on the RPFS web site as the head of their BJJ program. Since Pereira's skills were acknowledged to be subpar by RPFS--he had supposedly been out of the game a long time because of a debilitating work injury--it was hoped that remedial work under Latta would bring him up to speed and perhaps lead to his being re-ranked by Renzo Gracie. But again, if he was a legit BJJ BB under Aurelio and Sakata to begin with--supposed injuries notwithstanding--why would he have to be re-ranked by Renzo?
A few months later, the news broke that RPFS was now an affiliate of the Marcos Santos / Rigan Machado BJJ Association and that they--having recognized Pereira's previous rank of BB--had now promoted him to second degree. It seems that Pereira now "remembered" that Maurice Sakata alone had awarded him his BB and that Maurice Sakata was himself a BB under none other than the great Carlson Gracie, Sr. Now if Pereira had been a BB under one of Carlson's BBs all along, why hadn't he said so from the very beginning? Why had he instead been dropping Rickson's name and flashing a Rickson association card that anyone can order through the mail? Moreover, when questions about Maurice Sakata had first started making the rounds on the message boards, one of Carlson's students had asked Carlson if he knew any Maurice Sakata, and Carlson replied that fhe did not.
(to be continued)