In 1996 I started training at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy, Royce Gracie’s Cleveland School, run by Craig
Cramer. I have always had a passion physical contact sports and ultimately for Martial Arts. I trained six
days a week through-out my entire college career between Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts. As
a person who is driven and fueled by competition, Martial Arts allowed me the opportunity to
constantly test and challenge myself. After graduation from college I took some time off from Brazilian
Jiu-Jitsu to ensure a successful career path. Once I was established in my career I knew that it was time
to get back on the BJJ mats. I wanted that physical competition to allow me to decompress from
stressful days of work. I was able to get in contact with the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu player I have ever had
the opportunity to train with and learn from. His name is Eduardo Barros. He is born and raised in
Brazil. He has learned from, trained with and competed against the best in the world. He is, Brazilian
Jiu-Jitsu. Learning from him, is like drinking water straight from the glacier. I immediately started back
training under his tutelage. There are lots of schools that claim to teach BJJ. I always say, “Question the
source”. Where did they learn from? Did they train under a true Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and
instructor? I did and still do. Eduardo has trained under the Gracie family and ultimately earned his
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt from Andre Pedernerais, one of the famed founders of Nova Uniao. After
many years of training, countless injuries, ego bruising and mild cauliflower ear, I am proud to say that in May of 2013, I earned my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt under Eduardo Duarte Barros. Currently, I am 1
of only 5 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belts under Eduardo Barros.
As I meet people throughout my travels and within the BJJ world, which is smaller than people realize, it
boils down to one thing. Know who your instructor really is and who they learned from because that
will be what ultimately forms what you become. If your current instructor had a school that they
trained at or even ran on their own and he/she had zero Black Belt instruction on a regular basis, i.e.
daily, weekly, monthly and yearly, then the question becomes, “Who taught them”? The goal should be
to get the knowledge from as close to the source as possible. Know your teacher/instructor. Know who
they learned from. Know the lineage that forms who you become as a student and a person. Yes, that
truly matters, as you constantly challenge yourself.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has become a passion of mine when I am not working. I hope that if you’re reading
this, my passion for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu will be passed onto you as well. I have the opportunity of
partnering with another of Eduardo’s Black Belts and a close friend and training partner, Todd Meighen.
He and I run, GT Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy, in Akron, Ohio. We welcome all new students who
want to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
3rd Degree Black Belt May 2nd, 2022
2007 NAGA Blue Belt 1st place
2009 NAGA Purple Belt 3rd place
2011 Grapplers Quest Brown Belt 1st place