HEAD JIU JITSU INSTRUCTOR, BLACK BELT
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 falling 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 as one of a select few by Davie Fire-Rescue even prior to graduation. Having completed the rigors of professional training, AJ has his sights set on returning to the highest level of competitive jiu jitsu. AJ is a (gracious) sponsored athlete of Tatami Fightwear – which brand is well recognized as the best of the best in jiu jitsu.
ADULTS JIU JITSU INSTRUCTOR, BLACK BELT
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 3 year-old son (Thomas), sipping cold PBR on the beach, and doodling photos of Tom Brady.
ADULTS AND KIDS JIU JITSU INSTRUCTOR, BLACK BELT
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. When not training, Robert plays Sunday league soccer, appreciates a cold beer, and has been seen struggling to get out of his rash guard.
Ben Trawinski is a brown 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 morning classes. 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, an average (at best) PS4 gamer, and can’t stop immitating Bernardo Faria’s awesome voice.
KIDS PROGRAM INSTRUCTOR
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.
KIDS JIU JITSU, PURPLE BELT
Our youngest instructor, Joao is still enrolled as a college student. He is a devout Christian with fierce discipline in mind and body. Joao has trained under competitive black belts Victor Silverio and AJ Sousa. Joao has a special ability to communicate with our youngest students; commanding at times and compassionate at others. A well-respected technical competitor in his own right, Joao already has numerous gold medal performances to his name. When not teaching or training, Joao enjoys time with his family and girlfriend, weight training, and “catfishing” on the internet.
ADULTS JIU JITSU AND NO-GI INSTRUCTOR, BROWN BELT
Dru is a U.S. Marine. Respect. Actively involved in his community, his service to others burns bright. Dru has had the benefit of learning from multiple BJJ instructors, including Pablo Popovitch. Currently a brown belt under AJ Sousa, Dru is a model for HOW students should prepare and train. Dru teaches evening no-gi classes and isn’t afraid to stray into the once-verboten areas of teaching foot and ankle attacks. When not in his rash guard, Dru spends time with his son (Khalil), reads and meditates, and enjoys crafting figurines from finger-tape.
ADULTS JIU JITSU INSTRUCTORS, PURPLE BELT
Diane Portwood is a purple belt training under AJ Sousa. Her BJJ journey began in Gainesville training with Kenneth Juan, before moving to South Florida. Diane is a regular competitor with gold medal performances throughout jiu jitsu promotional groups, including IBJJF. If you leave your arm out there, Diane will snatch it. Off the mats, Diane is an internationally recognized painter/graphic artist, accumulating over 40 thousand Instagram followers. A former equestrian, she is well known for being an excellent hostess for team get togethers, a plantsman, and her coffee sometimes smells like scotch.
JAKE and ADAM FERRARA
ADULTS JIU JITSU INSTRUCTORS, BLACK BELTS
Two completely different people, each of them gifted-competitive black belts. Vested with deep competitive and coaching experience in both club and high school wrestling, the transition to jiu jitsu and no-gi grappling was a natural one for Jake and Adam. Competitors at every level and virtually every recognized jiu-jitsu promotion, Jake and Adam are “submission first” martial artists. Years of teaching experience has resulted in their highly efficient manner of conveying winning techniques to our students. A college graduate, Jake manages a Whole Foods location in Delray, Florida. The man is DANGEROUS with quinoa, either in a gi or out. Adam, a teacher in Palm Beach County, recently married and is expecting the birth of his first child (Emilia). His life is about to change forever, and he doesn’t even know it.
ADULTS/EXECUTIVE JIU JITSU INSTRUCTOR, BROWN BELT
“Tatonka” is a native-American word meaning “Big Beast,” “bison,” or “buffalo.” No one is quite sure if Tatonka has a real name – or if that’s just what his parents stuck with, but the name fits well. One of the most unique characters you will ever meet, Tatonka instructs morning classes at Beach BJJ. He is a consummate student, a tough opponent, and an exceptionally organized instructor. When not helping others on the mats, Tatonka is RN at a local hospital. His other pastimes include comic conventions, tattoos, and spending time with his girlfriend and dog (not always in that order).
OTHER GFT BRAZILIAN JIU JITSU INSTRUCTORS:
Daniel Roman, BJJ black belt (adults’ BJJ); Mateo Londono, BJJ black belt (adults’ BJJ); Ari Pollan, BJJ brown belt (adults’ BJJ) and many others who step in from time to time to keep our curriculum fresh and updated.