Photo credit: www.MarlonDuenas.com
MarinMMA celebrates 5 years!
If you were to ask the average BJJ practitioner, “What are the biggest teams in jiujitsu?” they’d probably name Gracie Barra, Gracie Humaita, Alliance, and Nova Unaio, just to name a few.
Yet, there are thousands of smaller academies throughout the country that operate successful academies, where BJJ and MMA champions are training and emerging from every day.
MarinMMA is one of those academies.
MarinMMA is located in the heart of one of the largest and fastest growing BJJ communities in the world—the San Francisco Bay Area. The Bay Area is home to Ralph Gracie, Cesar Gracie, Dave Camarillo’s Guerilla JiuJitsu, Claudio Fraça BJJ, Charles Gracie, Heroes BJJ, Ricardo Barros BJJ, Fabio Prado BJJ, Raul Castillo BJJ, Kaijin BJJ, Triune BJJ, Sandro Batata BJJ, 610 BJJ, and Barra Brothers BJJ, and others.
Five years ago, in early 2006, Mikyo Riggs, opened his own Brazilian JiuJitsu and MMA academy in the Bay Area, MarinMMA. The Ralph Gracie black belt once found his own dreams fulfilled as a young fighter, training and competing in the U.S. Consistently showing tremendous heart and courage, Mikyo proved himself as a young fighter by winning various tournaments in the U.S. and even traveled to Brazil to advance in the sport.
Unfortunately, Mikyo’s professional fighting career came to a halt in 2005 after a car accident left him with chronic injuries. While recovering, he realized that his passion for the sport could be transformed into a new kind of excellence- creating champions. He has now put himself in the role of trainer and teacher
Today, he has found a new satisfaction from watching the students he coaches. His students are now bringing home the championship medals. In the last five years, his Brazilian JiuJitsu competition team has brought home dozens of medals from regional, national and international BJJ tournaments. They include: The American Cup, U.S. Open, Rio International Championship, Pan Ams and World Championships. In addition, the school’s MMA competitors have achieved an impressive 8-0 record in professional MMA fights, and 12-2 among amateur fights. The academy is also home to a large group of female students and competitors, who regularly compete and medal in regional and national tournaments.
Mikyo loves to teach, but will always consider himself a student of the art: “Martial arts are always fascinating to me,” he says. “The details and evolution of positions and techniques are never-ending. I could train my whole life and still have so much to learn.”
Mikyo began his training at 15, studying Freestyle Fighting, a MMA style of fighting. He received a black belt in this style, and discovered a deep passion for MMA. Mikyo later joined the Ralph Gracie team the first week the academy opened in San Francisco. He would become the first student at the San Francisco school to be promoted to blue belt, as well as the first to receive his purple belt. By the time Mikyo earned his purple belt, he was one of the top students at the Ralph Gracie Academy in San Francisco. He quickly became a solid jiujitsu player, always training hard in the academy and doing extremely well in the tournaments earning medals in almost every competition he entered.
Apart from his accomplishments in the ring, he has also contributed to MMA and the community in other ways. He was a contributing writer and photographer for Ultimate Athlete magazine and Submission Fighter magazine. He has cornered fighters in MMA shows, kickboxing, boxing, as well as jiujitsu tournaments. He also is a sought-out referee in the sport. It is this same passion and commitment that he has put into the Marin MMA academy and team.
Throughout the years, Mikyo has had the opportunity to train with some of the best fighters in the world. He trained regularly with Kurt Osiander, Dave Camarillo, BJ Penn, Ralph Gracie, Crosley Gracie, Sandro Batata, and other members of the famous Ralph Gracie Competition team. Luke Stewart, a professional MMA fighter and BJJ black belt competitor, was Mikyo’s #1 training partner and closest friend at the Ralph Gracie Academy. He has been a trainer and sparring partner for many world-class fighters in the PRIDE Fighting Championship, the UFC, and countless smaller MMA shows.
Anyone who knows Mikyo knows that not only is he a champion—he creates them. “If a student comes to me and shows a commitment and excitement, I will give them all that I can offer and help them to manifest their ambitions. "
“I want to teach jiujitsu to pass on the knowledge as well as train champions. The academy is a place where a student can train hard enough to be a world champion, but also learn at a pace that is more conducive to practicing the art for fun and improved health. Winning is important but the life lessons we teach are more important for a students long term sucess." Most nights, Mikyo rolls with his students and also focuses on cross training to maintain strength and health. He often has mat side chats with his students stressing the lessons he’s learned about health, injury and the lifestyle of jiujitsu.
“MarinMMA nurtures students to become healthy and confident. “I believe Brazilian jiujitsu is the best way to train mind, body and spirit.”
He is now fulfilling one of his dreams, working toward a goal of creating one of the best teams in the U.S. “The Marin MMA team has all the resources and heart to be champions.” Mikyo says. Their mountain of medals proves he’s right.