Ariel “Tarzan” Sexton has spent much of his life dedicated to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu – the martial arts style that was battle-tested and popularized by the Gracies in their homeland, and then exported around the world.
Now a second-degree BJJ black belt, Sexton is one of the top submission specialists in ONE Championship, and he is hoping to use those skills in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix beginning this Friday, 22 February.
When the 37-year-old Costa Rican faces Singapore’s own Amir Khan in the co-main event of ONE: CALL TO GREATNESS at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, he will represent a lineage that descends straight from the source.
On 22 February, will Ariel Tarzan Sexton lock in another scintillating submission and secure his ticket to the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix semifinals?Singapore | 22 February | 6:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onegreatness19
Posted by ONE Championship on Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Sexton trains out of the famous Renzo Gracie Academy in New York, USA, and has taken much of his knowledge directly from the legendary martial arts family.
However, when he started his martial arts journey during his adolescence in Canada, “Tarzan” was practicing something a little bit different.
“Some of my buddies in Vancouver were doing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu,” he begins.
“I was in a different area of the city, so I was doing Japanese Jiu-Jitsu mixed with some karate and aikido. I was very envious of them, but I didn’t feel like I could leave my school.”
Sexton spent much of his youth back and forth between Canada and Costa Rica. At the age of 19, he returned to the Central American country, and it was there where he was finally able to start studying “the gentle art” he had long admired.
How jiu-jitsu helps submission artist Ariel Tarzan Sexton express himself Singapore | 22 February | 6:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onegreatness19
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, February 9, 2019
In San José, the capital of Costa Rica, his friend took him to an academy ran by Mauro Sergio, a student of Ryan and Daniel Gracie, and “Tarzan” instantly knew he belonged.
The two Gracies would come and teach, and Sexton formed a bond with the Brazilians that led him to the home of the art.
“My coach was a tough guy. It was a real hard-nosed fight school, and we got good really fast and got tough really fast,” Sexton explains.
“I went down to Brazil as a blue belt for six months, and I was training at different Gracie schools in Rio [de Janeiro] and Sao Paulo.
“I conversed with Ryan and went to his gym in the city, and the relationship started. I was a part of the team and a part of the family, traveling around trying to learn more about this martial art.”
Will Ariel Tarzan Sexton seize the biggest opportunity of his career on 22 February?Singapore | 22 February | 6:00PM | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onegreatness19
Posted by ONE Championship on Saturday, February 2, 2019
Sexton became fascinated with BJJ, and he was in awe of the strength and skill of the coaches around him. This led him to start researching his lineage, and he was blown away.
He had a direct link to the heart of the Gracie family, who were pivotal in the modern martial arts revolution and, quite arguably, the most famous names in combat sports from the mid-1990s.
The Costa Rican began training more closely with Daniel, cousin to Renzo Gracie, to follow his route into mixed martial arts competition. Since then, “Tarzan” has been firmly embedded within the family.
“After becoming friends with Daniel, he basically became my mixed martial arts mentor and my professor,” he says.
“I had fights coming up, so Daniel would invite me to New York where he was training. I would go and sleep on his couch for up to six weeks and train with his team.
“He helped me out, never asking for anything and allowing me to stay at his place. I’ve been training in New York around 15 years now, in and out, and now I’m living here.”
"Tarzan" has pulled off some of the wildest submissions!Kuala Lumpur | 13 July | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onepursuit18
Posted by ONE Championship on Monday, June 25, 2018
Renzo Gracie’s Manhattan headquarters is world-renowned for the elite athletes who walk through its doors. Gracie himself is a bonafide superstar in the martial arts world, and he was recently victorious in his ONE Championship debut at the grand age of 51.
Sexton’s main coach is still his long-term mentor Daniel, but rubbing shoulders with the legends in his lineage has been inspiring for the Costa Rican.
“Daniel is a great person, and at the academy in Manhattan I was meeting all of his black belts and his cousins, so it was a great opportunity. It’s a great friendship. I see him all the time, and we train together still,” he explains.
“It’s great training with Renzo, [too]. I train in his class whenever he is in the city, but he is a very busy guy – he’s got 200 or 300 affiliates, so he travels the world all the time.”
As well as being a lifelong student, “Tarzan” is now a coach to the next generation. He teaches at Renzo Gracie Brooklyn, and he founded the Athletic Advance gym in Costa Rica.
When "Tarzan" clashed with "El Matador."Kuala Lumpur | 13 July | LIVE and FREE on the ONE Super App: http://bit.ly/ONESuperApp | TV: Check local listings for global broadcast | Tickets: http://bit.ly/onepursuit18
Posted by ONE Championship on Wednesday, June 27, 2018
The legendary professors Sexton has had inspired him to instill good values and martial arts skills into his own students, and in turn, they motivate him to keep expanding his own knowledge.
On 22 February, he wants to bring all of the experience he has gained from his Gracie mentors to the ring and progress in the ONE Lightweight World Grand Prix.
Should the Costa Rican win the eight-man tournament, it would give him a direct route to the ONE Lightweight World Title. Also, it would help him bring pride to his own name and lineage.