Instructors

Gracie_0442_originalBRANDON GARNER

Brandon Garner has lived the majority of his life competing against and learning from the best in martial arts, fitness, and self defense. His work ethic, demeanor and commitment to those around him continues to push him to learn and better himself. As a result, his students benefit greatly. It's not everyday you get to train with one of the legendary Royce Gracie's own.

  • Black Belt under Royce Gracie (training since 1999)
  • Pro MMA fighter 8-1 pro record (17 total fights)
  • 2010 No Gi Pan American Games - Bronze medal
  • Army Special Forces Hand to Hand Combat Instructor- 2004 to Present
  • Carolina Fight Promotions Bantamweight Champion
  • The Ultimate Fighter Season 8 participant
  • Level 2 Army Combatives Instructor
  • SOCP (special operations combative program) - Instructor
  • Level 1 CrossFit Certified
  • 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games Competitor
  • Coach of UFC fighter Tim Kennedy
  • 11 years kickboxing and wrestling experience
  • BSBA Economics and Finance - Appalachian State University


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JASON WINGATE

Jason Wingate’s passion is marital arts; he has devoted a majority of his life to the study, practice and teaching of both karate and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. He is a Brown Belt under Royce Gracie.

During middle school, Jason began studying traditional karate and by the age of 18 he earned his black belt in Okinawian Go-Ju Ryu. Upon entering college to pursue a biology degree at Radford University, Jason discovered Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and has been practicing ever since. Jason began his tutelage in Gracie Jiu Jitsu under the now Renzo Gracie Black Belt Tim Mannon. While studying biology at Radford University, Jason dedicated his time to the study of science and Jiu-Jitsu.

Jason trained Jiu-Jitsu upwards of five times a week while making the Dean’s list most semesters and graduating with honors. Jason earned both his blue and purple belts under Tim Mannon and the legendary Renzo Gracie while in Virginia. After graduating with a B.S. in Biology from Radford University, Jason moved to Raleigh to pursue a PhD in Biology at North Carolina State University. Jason is presently researching and working on his dissertation. Jason is an active competitor; he has won several advanced no-gi and brown belt divisions. Additionally, Jason is a seasoned referee who has refereed hundreds of Jiu-Jitsu Matches. Lastly, he is a caring and patient teacher who can convey information to students of any level.

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BLAKE TAYLOR

Blake has been actively competing in sports for nearly his entire life.  As an accomplished high school wrestler, he represented Team North Carolina (Freestyle and Greco wrestling) in 2002 and 2003 and earned All-State honors in 2002.  He continued to have a successful collegiate career, where he wrestled for Appalachian State University from 2003-2006.  Blake's passion for learning and competing did not end after college and he soon began training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, and kickboxing.  He has trained under Scott Francis, John Reese, and Ted Leiner for Muay Thai and kickboxing and Billy Dowey and Jason Culbreth for BJJ.  He currently is a blue belt under Royce Gracie and looks forward to expanding his knowledge and experience in BJJ.

Currently training under Brandon Garner, he is 5-2 (garnering Fight of the Night honors in his fourth fight) in his Mixed Martial Arts career and is known for utilizing his experience in Muay Thai, wrestling, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to develop a hybrid style of fighting efficient for MMA.   He is excited to be a part of the Gracie Raleigh team and looks forward to helping coach others to success in Muay Thai and MMA as well as in their personal life.

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DOUG CZAJKA

Doug’s interest in Muay Thai began in 2007 when he decided to visit a local Raleigh gym that offered Muay Thai. While he enjoyed training, traveling for work kept him from doing it as much as hoped. In 2011 he left his job and had 8 months to kill before returning to graduate school. He decided to use some of that time to travel to Thailand solely for the purpose of training Muay Thai. It was here that Doug really fell in love with the sport and culture of Muay Thai and began to take his own training more seriously.

Doug has returned to Thailand twice more since that first trip, training at notable gyms like Sitmonchai, Luktupfah, and 96 Penang. He has picked up numerous tips and techniques from training at various Thai gyms and likes to incorporate a lot of pad holding and clinch work into his own training and classes. He is currently 2-1 as an amateur and hopes to continue competing in Muay Thai as well as travelling to Thailand to train.

EVAN ARREDONDO

Evan started competing at the age of 13 in the sport of wrestling. He is an accomplished wrestler who has competed at the highest levels of high school wrestling. After graduating in 2013, Evan enrolled in Gracie Raleigh to pursue a fighting career. Since then, he has developed a deep passion for the arts of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai. Evan is an active fighter who is ranked, as a purple belt, in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training under Brandon Garner.

STUART SMITH

Stuart offers private and small group training for fitness and kickboxing.

Stuart’s passion for martial arts began at a young age where he began Shotokan Karate then quickly transitioned to American kickboxing and wrestling through high school. While pursuing a degree in Kinesiology at East Carolina University, Stuart discovered a Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school. There he began training in preparation for his first Mixed Martial Arts bout. After graduation in 2012 and becoming a certified Health Fitness Specialist, Stuart moved to Raleigh where he joined Gracie Raleigh to further his passion as a martial artist and coach.

Stuart is currently 3-1 in his Mixed Martial arts career, training under Brandon Garner. He has developed a striking style cohesive to MMA that focuses on efficiency and fluidity of movement, timing and precision by utilizing his experience in various forms of martial arts. As a strength and conditioning coach he uses a sport-specific approach to improve performance, speed, power, mobility and reaction time. He is grateful to be a part of the Gracie Raleigh team and looks forward to helping others succeed.

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