19Mar

Manuel Reyes

Like many, I remember my first exposure to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu while watching the Ultimate Fighting Championship. At UFC 1, I saw a man from Brazil beating guys twice his size and began to ask myself two questions, “How is this even possible?” But more importantly, “What is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?” It wasn’t until I enlisted in the United States Navy where I got the opportunity to find out the answers to my questions. In 2004 the Navy had relocated me to San Diego, where a friend invited me to join him at Odie Neto’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy. After my first class I quickly signed up and got the “Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu bug.” I trained 5-6 times a week and sometimes twice a day earning my blue belt in just 6 months of training in 2005. While on military leave, I had the pleasure of training for a month at the Open Door Academy with Professor Sergio Silva. Shortly after, the Navy stationed me in Jacksonville, Florida, where I did the majority of my training at Gracie Barra Jacksonville under Professor Larry Shealy. I trained under Professor Shealy from 2005 to 2010, receiving both my purple and brown belt under the Gracie system. I participated and placed in multiple tournaments in the Georgia and Florida area and qualified for the Florida Grappling League’s state championship as a purple belt. In 2010 I moved back to the bay area after being Honorably Discharged from the Navy and rejoined Team Silva where I received my Black Belt under Professor Silva in 2012.

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