Professor Raz Chan is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) black belt, bestselling author and researcher on mental toughness for athletes. His martial arts training began at the age of 5 under his father, Grandmaster James Chan, who operated one of the first martial arts schools in western Canada during the 1960s.
But Raz’s true love was in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and reality-based martial arts.
His BJJ journey began in 2003 when he was 33, having been inspired by Royce Gracie and Bruce Lee. His early years were spent training at a local MMA gym and his first milestone was receiving his blue belt from former UFC fighter Denis Kang.
Three years later, he spent time training at the LA-based Jean Jacques Machado Academy where he met his future teacher professor Todd Nathanson. Professor Nathanson, widely considered to be one of the best BJJ instructors in the US, is referred to by many as a hidden gem of knowledge.
Under the guidance of Todd and his sons Jared and Ben, Raz began earning a reputation as one of the most technical competitors in his age group, as witnessed by his competition meets on the international competition scene.
Travelling back and forth from his home base of Vancouver, BC to LA was often challenging. Most local BJJ clubs request full allegiance to their own schools. While finding a local place to train, Raz met Rodrigo Carvalho, 3rd degree black belt, who ran a Gracie Barra gym in Vancouver’s city centre and welcomed Raz not only as a student but also as a instructor, even while he still trained with the Nathansons.To train BJJ at a high competition level at two different schools – never mind in two different countries – is rare and an exception. Incorporating the best of both schools has accelerated Raz’s technical mastery of BJJ and has resulted in a personal BJJ brand that he instills now in his students.
In 2015, Todd and Rodrigo mutually agreed to co-promote Raz to black belt together. It is highly unusual for two different BJJ owners to supercede their individual school protocols and provide a unified promotion such as this to one student.
As a lifelong learner of BJJ and aspiring to share his knowledge with students, Raz continues to teach various levels of BJJ out of Vancouver. On any given evening, you might find more than 50 students on the mat under his direction and guidance. He is highly sought by BJJ competitors looking to advance their game and for recreational BJJ students – particularly those who are slightly older – who want to explore the intricacies and benefits of martial arts.
Because of demand for his BJJ knowledge, Raz created his @WhiteBeltWarriors Instagram in July 2017 to help newbies learn the nuances of BJJ in an online environment. He had more than 12,000 global followers within the first six months of his launch.
Raz believes in using the martial arts to make a greater impact in the world. As a motivational speaker, he spends his time helping underprivileged kids succeed. His efforts have helped a local elementary school raise funds to start a robotics program and he has provided ongoing support to their breakfast program through food bank drives and other fundraising initiatives with his students. In 2017, Shaw Communications recognized Raz Chan as one of Canada’s 50 Outstanding Citizens for his philanthropic contributions.
He has been featured for his martial arts expertise, acts of bravery, and charitable causes in The New York Times, Canada’s Fight Network, Gracie Magazine, CTV, and Vancouver Magazine.