Thursday, the Santa Rosa County Chamber of Commerce as well as county and City of Milton representatives officially welcomed Alex Silva Ruas and his school of jiu jitsu to Pace with a ribbon cutting. For the event, Ruas invited Grand Master Francisco Mansor, one of six men to receive a professor’s diploma by jiu jitsu founding father Helio Gracie.

Commissioner Don Salter read a letter from Representative Jeff Miller welcoming Mansor on his visit to Santa RosaCounty and recognized his “strong character and leadership skills.” Salter himself echoed Miller, noting the importance of leadership and discipline Ruas teaches at his school.

Mansor also received a key to the City of Milton from Mayor Wesley Meiss. Meiss expressed his thanks as well to Mansor and offered whatever help the city could to  aid Ruas’ efforts in supporting peace and togetherness in the community.

Manor’s third gift came from Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Rich Aloy, a SRSO deputy patch in honor of Mansor’s service as a police officer in Brazil for 35 years. He showed the assembled students of Ruas the 11 scars in his torso from gunfire over the years as a narcotics officer. Aloy said the law enforcement mission, to protect and serve, is near and dear to his heart. Instilling confidence in youth, he said, makes a community safer and supports Ruas’ and Mansor’s efforts to do so.

Speaking before those gathered, Ruas thanked them for recognizing his business as part of the community and said he wanted to continue to bring master jiu jitsu artists to the area and work with law enforcement “to allow our community to be safer,” especially, he said, with violence and bullying so prevalent today. He said while he’s guarded about other teachers in his dojo, he wants to create a network between schools to assist one another with infrastructure. Ruas said, “It’s not about me. It’s about the community.”

With a heavy Brazilian accent, Mansor said jiu jitsu has, of all martial arts, the most control due to its balance between using the left and right side of the body. He pointed to Ruas’ assembled class and Ruas himself and said “Today, I teach it for my grandsons here. This is my son; these are my grandsons. This is one family.”