We Defy & Grappling Mastery Featured in Orlando Sentinel

We Defy Foundation

Grappling Mastery is a proud Affiliate of We Defy Foundation.  We were featured by Orlando Sentinel in this article about our Mount Dora We Defy Location:  Orlando Sentinel Article about We Defy and Grappling Mastery in Mount Dora

If you are a Disabled Combat Veteran you can learn more about how to apply for a We Defy Scholarship here.

Here is a quick video about Grappling Mastery: BJJ & We Defy from the article!

Grappling Mastery in Action! “Doc” vs. “Panda”

Grappling Mastery is home to multiple Florida State Champions, Regional Champions, and Pan American Champions among many other highly respected competitions.

Here is another great video featuring Grappling Mastery Team Members by Tom Benitez.  Ted “Doc” Kendall and Carlos “Panda” Caparas are seen grappling during a documentary about Military Veterans, PTSD, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Grappling Monday from Tom Benitez on Vimeo.

Ted and Carlos grapple during open mat

FOCUS Magazine Features Kai “The Hammer” Staton

Kai "The Hammer" Staton, Florida BJJ State Champion

The Fit Life Podcast: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu featuring Professor Brian Ruscio

Rick Copley of The Fit Life Podcast recently interviewed BJJ Black Belt, Brian Ruscio of Grappling Mastery

The Fit Life Podcast is a fitness blog hosted by Rick Copley. Rick Copley is a gym owner, an online fitness coach and 30 year veteran of the fitness industry. He helps people to lose weight, get fit, live with vitality and enjoy the process.  He recently asked Grappling Mastery’s own, Professor Brian Ruscio to speak on fitness and living a healthy lifestyle.

Rick Copley is a personal trainer in Tavares Florida at No Limits Fitness with several certifications and track titles and accomplishments.  Rick has owned several successful gyms and now has continued his efforts online with The Fit Life Podcast.

Brian Ruscio is a 1st Degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt and owner of Grappling Mastery with several Personal Training Certifications of his own.

Grappling Mastery’s Kai “The Hammer” Featured in Future FighterZ 2016 Calendar!

Grappling Mastery's, Kai "The Hammer" Staton featured in the 2016 Future FighterZ Calendar
Grappling Mastery's, Kai "The Hammer" Staton featured in the 2016 Future FighterZ Calendar
Grappling Mastery’s, Kai “The Hammer” Staton featured in the 2016 Future FighterZ Calendar

Grappling Mastery’s own, Kai “The Hammer” Staton is being featured in the upcoming 2016 Future FighterZ Calendar.  Kai has been recently recognized in the Orlando-Lake County Sentinel for winning the most recent Florida Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation State Championship in his division.  He is now being recognized for his skills again!  You can purchase the 2016 Future FighterZ Calendar here.  You will find Kai featured in May 2016 of the calendar.  You can also buy the Future FighterZ poster featuring Kai here.


Local 13 Year Old Boy makes Front page of Orlando-Lake County Sentinel Today for his skills in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu!

13 year old local boy, Kai Staton, featured on the Front Page of Orlando-Lake County Sentinel for his skill in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Grappling Mastery’s own, Kai “The Hammer” Staton made Front Page of the Orlando Sentinels Lake County Division for his recent Florida BJJ Federation State Championship win.  13 year old Kai has been at Grappling Mastery for almost 2 years now and has taken to the sport very quickly.  Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a sport in which there is no striking.  It is know as a Grappling Martial Art, which can be used for self defense as well.  The sentinel highlighted his achievements.  You can find the article here.


13 year old local boy, Kai Staton, featured on the Front Page of Orlando-Lake County Sentinel for his skill in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
13 year old local boy, Kai Staton, featured on the Front Page of Orlando-Lake County Sentinel for his skill in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

MOUNT DORA — Kai “The Hammer” Staton has taken a step toward a future in the Ultimate Fighting Championship events with a win in the jiu-jitsu state championship recently.

The 13-year-old won the 2015 Light Featherweight Florida Federation Brazilian jiu-jitsu event held in Pompano Beach Aug. 8. He had two matches that lasted four minutes each.

“I was pretty excited,” he said of placing first in his age group and weighted class of 90 pounds. “I’m just glad it’s over.”

“He gets nervous,” piped up Brian Ruscio, his instructor.

“Lots of stress,” chimed in Michael Staton, Kai’s father.

Kai has been going to classes three times weekly for the past two years at Grappling Mastery in Mount Dora.

Ruscio said, “He’s very good — one of the smaller kids for his age. He’s amazing. He learns very fast — very creative. He understands the goal and gets there creatively.”

Kai recently earned his green belt, which is the school’s second rank. He demonstrated 74 moves, including chokes and take-downs during testing.

“I like to learn, just learn new things. I find it pretty interesting,” Kai said.

The Eustis Middle School eighth-grader also enjoys competing. He starting boxing several times a week at the age of 6 and began competing every three months by 10. That’s when he got his nickname “The Hammer,” a powerful jab known to wear down an opponent. The last time he competed in the ring was in 2012.

When he quit boxing, Kai said, he wanted to do some “ground techniques” or grappling. Grappling in martial arts is any fighting style that uses techniques relying on grasping and controlling the opponent using body leverage as a way of achieving supremacy.

Half of the garage at the Staton home is a boxing ring, so Kai puts in plenty of hours of practice at home. He also practices kickboxing and plays in the Mount Dora Babe Ruth League. It’s not all about physical training, though. He enjoys playing video games such as Call of Duty.

“I plan on trying out for soccer and baseball next year,” he said.

And when he turns 16, Kai will have the opportunity to test for his blue belt, the third rank in the school.

“My plan is the UFC,” he said of the company that promotes events for some of the best jiu-jitsu competitors in the world.

For more information Contact Grappling Mastery at (352)702-5689 about how you or your child can learn more about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and even try 30 days free!

Mount Dora Citizens compete in Police and Firefighter First Responder Games

Mount Dora Citizen
2015 First Responder Games
2015 First Responder Games

Recently the Mount Dora Citizen recognized Professor Brian Ruscio of Grappling Mastery and his team for their participation in the upcoming 2015 First Responder Games in Brevard County.  First responders always receive the Hero Discount at Grappling Mastery.

You can find the full article here.

Brian Ruscio appears unassuming and quietly confident.  A youthful-looking 36, he says he has been at his craft – Grappling – for over 30 years.  He recently sat down with Mount Dora Citizen editor, Melissa DeMarco, to talk about his passion for teaching and competing.

Grappling Mastery: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA Academy is Brian Ruscio’s  career, his passion, his hobby – and his life’s calling.  Ruscio says that when he was only 5-years old, his mother encouraged him to take up wrestling.  “When she first took me, she tried to warn me that it wasn’t TV wrestling, you know, like WWE?  Well, I said I understood that, but I was still a little disappointed at first.  Anyway, I started wrestling – and I fell in love with the sport.”

Ruscio says his first organized sporting activity as a young child was soccer. But somehow, he knew it just wasn’t quite the right fit for him.  After he transitioned to wrestling, he never looked back.  As a young adult, Ruscio went from wrestling, to coaching, and then refereeing wrestling matches. He realized he wanted to be involved in wresting and grappling in some way, but knew he could not make a living by working with wrestling clubs and organizations.

That’s when he discovered Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or BJJ. Says Ruscio,  “When I started BJJ, I was immediately interested in the sport.  What first interested me the most, was that being pinned doesn’t end a match.  When you’re pinned you find a way to work your way out of that situation…that opened up a whole new world to me.  I fell in love with how creative you could be in the sport, the flexibility to try new moves, to work to find a new solution.”

The attainment of fitness is one aspect of BJJ to which participants aspire.  But there is so much more, according to Ruscio.  “If you’re stressed, having a bad day, overwhelmed with something – this sport can take you away from that.  It gives people a place that’s a relief from school, and work and things like that.  When you’re on a mat, when there’s a guy trying to get you in a choke hold – well, all that other stuff doesn’t matter any longer.  You are thinking and reacting to those things happening on that mat, in that moment.  You focus on the moment, on your next move and you let the other things in your life go for a little while.”

Professor-Brian-Ruscio-with-the-Kids-BJJ-Academy-in-Mount-Dora-of-Lake-County-Florida-Best-Kids-InstructorGrappling Mastery hosts students of BJJ from age 4 to 64.  Ruscio says physical limitations in the sport are fewer than many people may believe.  “There are many people who practice jiu jitsu with some kind of physical disadvantage,” he says.  “That’s one of the amazing things about this sport – there is room to be creative, to adapt to circumstances and evolve.”  He says he works with children who have autism and adults who have physical limitations.  All of them, he says, gain from the experience.

“I can watch how a person first approaches grappling and see what kind of person they probably are out in their day-to-day activities,” he says.  “How people roll here is how they generally do things in life.  People who are aggressive here, always restless, on the move, going for a take-down, that’s how they live.  People who are reserved, shy, don’t like to learn new things in here – well, that’s how they probably operate in the rest of their lives.  But through BJJ, when my more aggressive students work with the more reserved ones, they all gain something.  They all learn from each other.”

Coach Rita with Tracie, Justin, Brian and Jason at Central Florida BJJ Regionals

Ruscio is pleased to be working with a strong team who are considering participating in a 2015 First Responders Tournament in Cocoa Beach.  Tony Tindell, Firefighter Lieutenant; Ryan Swinford, Army Captain; Alec Ritter, Florida State Trooper; Anthony Biasella, Groveland Police Captain; and Justin Blake, Orange County Corrections are training with an eye to compete in the tournament.  First Responders Games are open to firefighters, military, paramedics, police, EMTs and federal agents only.  Competition is tough.  The areas of competition include running, cycling, paintball, grappling, hockey and much more.  “These guys train hard and work hard in here and out there,” he says, motioning toward the door.

Most weeks Ruscio is in his facility all seven days.  His classes and training styles vary depending upon the clientele at any given class.  Within a day he may go from teaching basic skills to 4-year-olds, to working with mixed martial arts “No-Gi” competitors preparing for Pan-American NAGA (North American Grappling Association) tournaments. He teaches classes and has open mat sessions almost every day, except Sunday, when he gives private lessons at the academy.

Competitions are key to improving in the art of BJJ.  Ruscio says attending, and participating in competitions are probably the best ways to stay abreast of changes in the sport and learning new moves.  Small competitions may include 50-100 entrants, but the larger tournaments may have several hundred competitors vying for titles.  Ruscio, who has a long list of competitive achievements (some of which are displayed at the academy) is modest about his many wins.  One of the most impressive looking trophies he displays is the large belt he won in December as an Expert Champion in the NAGA Pan-American Championships.

But it’s not only Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that is practiced at Ruscio’s Grappling Mastery Academy.  “We also combine BJJ with wrestling and Judo.  In addition, we have a striking martial art called Muay Thai, or kickboxing that we offer here,” Ruscio explains.  Although students work towards belts earning “belts” (there are different colored belts in BJJ that demarcate levels of proficiency), they are secondary achievements. “I try to keep the integrity, the guys who work here with me understand that.  Of course, they still want the belt, they know what it means.  But they’re not chasing the belt, they’re chasing the knowledge. The knowledge is so much more than the belt.”

Melissa DeMarco, Editor

Self Defense Demonstration and Interview on WESH 2 News

Brogan Morris of WESH News interviews Brian Ruscio of Grappling Mastery about Self Defense for Women
Brogan Morris of WESH News interviews Brian Ruscio of Grappling Mastery about Self Defense for Women
Brogan Morris of WESH News interviews Brian Ruscio of Grappling Mastery about Self Defense for Women

Brogan Morris of WESH TV recently interviewed Professor Brian Ruscio about the Ladies Only Classes at Grappling Mastery and had the opportunity to practice some moves that can be used to defend herself should she ever be attacked.  We picked a couple of techniques to be shown live on video and answered a few common questions about self defense.

Brogan: “There have been 77 reported sexual assaults in Orange County in the past six months. Of those 77, nine were from the University of Central Florida area alone.  Knowing how to protect yourself can save you if you are ever attacked. Grappling Mastery is a place in Central Florida where women can learn self-defense.”

Brian Ruscio speaks on Self Defense for women
Brian Ruscio speaks on Self Defense for Women

Brian: “Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the most effective martial art for women’s self defense.  Every attacker wants to take you to the ground.  That’s where Brazilian Jiu Jitsu specializes.  Not only will you learn self defense, but you will get in shape, have fun, and develop self confidence.”

Brogan Morris of WESH 2 News Throwing BJJ Black Belt Brian Ruscio of Grappling Mastery
Brogan Morris of WESH 2 News Throwing BJJ Black Belt Brian Ruscio

Brogan: “What would you say to any ladies that might be hesitant to join a class?”

Brian: “That’s normal, even most guys are hesitant.  It’s always better to overcome one moment of hesitation, than to live a lifetime of regret.”

You can find the FULL VIDEO with Brogan Morris of WESH and Brian Ruscio of Grappling Mastery here.

Featured Testimonials

BJJ Black Belt, Brian Ruscio

“Great teacher, great folks. Brian knows how to break the moves down so even beginners can understand how and WHY they work.  I’ve been training at grappling mastery now for a year and a half. I can’t say enough about

Alexander Scopino, Real Estate Agent Alexander Scopino Reviews Grappling Mastery Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy

This place is amazing! It has been such a great experience for my 11 year old son. His self confidence has gone up so much in just a few weeks. Brian and the other instructors do such a great job

Jessica Hartman Donahue, Mother

“I studied under Brian for over a year learning Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His knowledge of the art is immense and work ethic is second to none. If you train with Brian, you will see results… period.”

Malin Hess, Co-founder and CEO at Luxury’s Finest Malin Hess reviews Professor Brian Ruscio of Grappling Mastery

Click Here for More Testimonials and Reviews of Grappling Mastery and Professor Brian Ruscio!

Photo Gallery of our Grand Opening in Mount Dora!

Grappling Mastery Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & MMA hosted a Self Defense Seminar, Ginastica Natural Class, and a Zumba Fitness Class at our Grand Opening of our New BJJ Academy in Mount Dora on US HWY 441 near Loch Leven.

Enjoy the photo gallery below!

It’s not too late! You can still enjoy Grappling Mastery BJJ & MMA Academy for 30 Days Free!  For more great pictures and videos subscribe to the Grappling Community below!