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 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.