MEET THE FAMILY
Ryron Gracie is a fourth degree black belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and one of the head instructors at the Gracie Academy. Introduced to the art before he could walk, Ryron's earliest memories are of watching his father teach jiu-jitsu in the garage at their home in Hermosa Beach, California. As the eldest grandson of Grand Master Helio Gracie, Ryron has dedicated his life to the preservation and perpetuation of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in it's purest form, as a method of self-defense. When he's not sharing the gentle art with the world, Ryron can be found engaging in the usual silverback gorilla activities: eating, sleeping, or climbing trees.
Rener Gracie is a third degree black belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and one of the head instructors at the Gracie Academy. Renowned for his infectious enthusiasm (a.k.a. the "Renergy") and his uncanny ability to explain/teach any subject or skill as if it were a jiu-jitsu technique, Rener's passion for sharing the gentle art is unmatched. When he's not teaching or traveling, Rener spends most of his time researching, refining, and restructuring the Gracie Academy curricula so that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu can be made available in a fun, safe, and comprehensive format to students all over the world.
Ralek Gracie is a first degree black belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and one of the head instructors at the Gracie Academy. Eager to test his skills in the professional fighting arena, Ralek had his first professional fight in 2007. After back-to-back armbar victories, Ralek fought Kazushi Sakuraba and defeated him via unanimous decision. Today, Ralek spends most of his time teaching seminars around the world. When he's not spreading the art, Ralek enjoys making music and spending time with his sons, Rylan and Rakai.
Ricardo Bayona was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia. After watching Royce do his thing in UFC 1, he became obsessed with learning Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. With no certified instructors to learn from in Colombia, he decided to pack his bags and move to Torrance to train at the Gracie Academy headquarters full time. Today, Ricardo is a certified Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt and one of the head instructors at the Gracie Academy. When he's not teaching jiu-jitsu, Ricardo keeps busy as a professional photographer.
Alex Stuart is a certified Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belt and one of the head instructors at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy. Before he became a full time jiu-jitsu instructor, Alex had a "normal desk job," and vividly remembers the days when he couldn't wait to clock out so he could race over to the Gracie Academy and jump into class. As he climbed through the rankings, Alex was handpicked by the Gracie family to join the Instructor Certification Program, not only because of his rapid technical growth, but, more importantly, due to his warm personality and sincere desire to help every other students grow with him. When he's not teaching or training, Alex spends time with his beautiful family.
Racquel Kussman found her way to the Gracie Academy after her mother recommended she learn self-defense. At a petite 105 lbs, Racquel had immediate appreciation for the leverage-based techniques of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Training six days a week for several years, Racquel became one of the most technically proficient female students at the Gracie Academy. Today, she is a certified purple belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and one of the lead Gracie Bullyproof instructors who spends much of her time teaching private lessons to girls and boys between 5 and 12 years old. Racquel recently graduated from California State University Long Beach, and when she's not training or sharing Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, she enjoys painting.
Brian "T-city" Ortega is a brown belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and an instructor at the Gracie Academy. When Brian was 12 years old, he got in a physical altercation with a larger, more athletic bully and lost. After seeing Royce do his thing in the UFC, Brian's father, Martin, enrolled Brian at the Gracie Academy to help build his confidence and self-defense skills. Naturally a very shy boy, Brian was virtually speechless for the first five years. But today, things are different. Not only is Brian one of the most outgoing and talented instructors in the family, but he's also a professional MMA fighter with an impressive winning record!
Alex Ueda is a certified purple belt and an instructor at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy. In January of 2007, Alex became unhappy with the weight he was gaining from having a full time desk job, and he decided it was time to get in shape. Since he wasn't much of the treadmill type, Alex thought he would give Gracie Jiu-Jitsu a try. After the first lesson, he was hooked, and a few months later, not only had he reached his target weight, but his confidence soared from his new-found self-defense skills. After seeing the profound impact Gracie Jiu-Jitsu had on his life, Alex decided to become an instructor so he could impact others in the same way.
Sam Fernandez is a brown belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and an instructor at the Gracie Academy. Sam went to high school with Rener, but ironically, they didn't know one another until after graduation when Sam strolled into the Gracie Academy looking for a fun hobby and effective self-defense. Having never played on any organized sports team, Sam was delighted to discover that success in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu didn't require him to be strong, fast, or athletic. By the time he earned his purple belt, Sam had become so well liked for his super smile and his ego-less training style, that the Gracie family asked him to join the Instructor Certification Program. He accepted the offer and the rest is history.
When Jordan was 7 years old, his father enrolled him at the Gracie Bullyproof program. Jordan excelled through rankings and quickly became one of the most talented young students in the Gracie Academy. By the time he was 14 years old, Jordan was training daily with high-ranking purple, brown, and black belt adult students, which only further accelerated his progress. Jordan received his black belt at 20 years old, and today he is one of the head instructors at the Gracie Academy.
Eve Torres is one of the head instructors of the Women Empowered program at the Gracie Academy. After graduating from the University of Southern California with a degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering, Eve began working for the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). Traveling to different parts of the world every weekend for work, Eve found herself in some dangerous situations, and that's when she became interested in learning self-defense. After completing the Women Empowered program and earning her pink belt, Eve was determined to share her new-found passion with women all over the world, and that's when she decided to become a certified instructor in the Women Empowered program. When Eve isn't teaching, training, or traveling, she enjoys working out on the beach and babysitting her adorable nephew, Joshua.
Guido Jenniges in a first-degree black belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and an instructor at the Gracie Academy. A full-time real estate agent, Guido started training at the Gracie Academy in the mid 1990's after he was attacked on the streets. Aside from the self-defense aspect of the art, Guido's passion for jiu-jitsu stems from the fact that it so effectively balances his professional life. The exercise, the stress relief, and the camaraderie are a few of the benefits he appreciates most. When he's not teaching at the Academy, Guido enjoys scuba diving and playing soccer with his friends.
Victoria Parsons Gracie is one of the head instructors of the Women Empowered program at the Gracie Academy. As someone who is constantly traveling for work, Victoria found the Women Empowered techniques invaluable to her safety on the road. Upon graduating from the program, Victoria completed the Women Empowered Instructor Certification Program so she could pass on the gift of empowerment to other women. Victoria's enthusiastic and articulate teaching style make her an amazing instructor, but it's her outgoing personality and sincere passion for helping people that make each of her classes so memorable.
Sam DiMaggio is a certified Gracie Jiu-Jitsu brown belt and an instructor at the Gracie Academy. After the birth of his son, Frankie, Sam discovered Gracie Jiu-Jitsu when he was looking for a low impact martial art that he could practice for many years without risk of injury. Sam quickly fell in love with the simple and effective techniques of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and he enrolled his son in the Gracie Bullyproof program when he was just under five years old. Seeing the positive impact that the art had on his son's discipline and confidence, Sam became highly motivated to become an instructor. Sam completed the Instructor Certification Program with flying colors, and today, he is an integral part of the Gracie Academy.