AJ Sousa began his BJJ training under the watch of respected BJJ black belt and UFC veteran Vagner Rocha, until moving to Ft. Lauderdale in 2012. In 2014, AJ received his black belt from one of the most successful grapplers in the history of the sport, Pablo Popovitch. ​ AJ is one of a handful of American jiu-jitsu players to capture national attention even before receiving a black belt. In 2013, AJ was part of the cast of Lloyd Irvin’s original “BJJ Kumite,” and was a 2013 IBJJF No-Gi World Champion (brown belt, middleweight). That year, AJ was also victorious in an ESPN televised International Martial Arts Festival finals. Since earning his black belt in 2014, AJ was the featured champion of Xande and Saolo Ribeiro’s “BJJ Library” reality challenge. AJ has earned gold medals at dozens of competitions, including numerous International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (“IBJJF”) championships (Miami, Boca, Vegas), as well as numerous other grappling/BJJ events, including ISGA, MMAC, Del La Riva Cup, Copa America, and Grappler’s Quest tournaments. AJ is a 10-time North American Grappling Association (“NAGA”) champion (expert division), and is a submission ace. He was a 2015 UAEJJF World Trials champion (Tampa) and, despite his relatively short time so far as a black belt, has victories over a number of former black belt world champions, including Tarsis Humphries and Lucas Lepri.  In 2016, AJ earned gold at the IBJJF Dallas, Miami, and Las Vegas Opens.  AJ competed in the 2016 Copa Podio in Brazil, with his only losses coming by points to then-undefeated Leandro Lo and ADCC champion Davi Ramos (2 x 0).  In 2018, AJ enrolled in the fire-academy to begin his pursuit of a career in fire-rescue, but continued his competitive training.  In 2018, AJ defeated Arnaldo Maidana at ACBJJ 11 at 75kg, before failling to Romulo Barral at 85kg at ACBJJ 13.  In 2018, AJ accelerated his studies, in pursuit of a career as a firefighter and first-responder.  As an exceptional candidate, he was hired by Davie Fire-Rescue prior to graduation.  With full-time studies nearly behind him, AJ looks forward to continuing his march towards the top of the world jiu jitsu rankings.  AJ is a (gracious) sponsored athlete of Tatami Fightwear – which brand is well recognized as the best of the best in jiu jitsu.



A native of Biddeford, Maine, Shawn was a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu student under Amal Easton’s first black belt, Jay Jack. Soon after moving to Florida in 2009, Shawn began training under the instruction of Pablo Popovitch. Shawn is a veteran competitor of IBJJF, NAGA, ADCC gi trials, Grappler’s Quest and numerous other BJJ competitions. Shawn earned his masters degree from Florida Atlantic University in 2016, and provides financial planning assistance as a professional with Morgan Stanley. When not working, Shawn enjoys time with his wife and 2 year-old son (Thomas),  sipping cold PBR on the beach, and doodling photos of Tom Brady.



Robert is a father of three, a licensed foster parent, a practicing lawyer, and an avid student of BJJ. In 2014, at the age of 45, and after 8 years of competitive training, Robert received his black belt. Having reached the top of the podium in NAGA, Grappler’s Quest, IBJJF, and numerous other more local competitions, Robert credits his modest BJJ success to excellent instructors, consistent training, and a love for the “gentle art.” Robert regularly teaches fundamentals, beginners, children, and executive level classes at the academy. Sometimes affectionately referred to by members and BJJ friends as “Professor,” Robert emulates his teaching style after the dozen or so world champions with whom he has trained across the U.S. and abroad. More than any personal achievements, Robert values the friendships and family that he has made along his BJJ journey.



Ben Trawinski is a purple belt under AJ Sousa. A frequent competitor of IBJJF tournaments across the US, Ben is an avid student of the BJJ game and philosophy. Ben teaches our afternoon classes on Mondays and Thursdays, His jiu-jitsu specialties include spider, spider-lasso, and Ezekial submissions. Ben is a recognized business leader in the field of electrical contracting/staffing. He is the proud father of two boys, three dogs, and a garden gnome named “Pinky Pie.”



Coach Jose is a high-level international competitor, and excellent instructor with a unique connection with our younger students.  Jose has won gold at multiple belt levels at both the Pan American and IBJJF World Championships.  Jose has numerous additional  IBJJF and local titles to his name – despite his relatively young age of 21 years – and is still an active competitor.  Currently a brown belt, Jose is perhaps one of the most humble instructors that you may encounter.


Daniel Roman, BJJ black belt (adults’ BJJ); Adam Ferrara, BJJ black belt (adults’ BJJ); Jake Ferrara, BJJ black belt (adults’ BJJ); Mateo Londono, BJJ black belt (adults’ BJJ); Ari Pollan, BJJ brown belt (adults’ BJJ), Andrew Cutthbert, brown belt (adults’ and kids’ BJJ); Alex Costan, purple belt (kids’ and adults’ BJJ); Joao Ribeiro, blue belt (kids’ BJJ), and many others who step in from time to time to keep our curriculum fresh and updated.