Coach Derek

I am a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu purple belt and retired Army Green Beret. My professor and mentor is Pedro Sauer Black Belt, Mark Cukro. I have been training in the art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for more than ten years, and was a certified Special Operations Combatives (SOCP) instructor and Modern Army Combtives (MACP Level 3) Instructor for eight years.

My martial arts journey started off with a interest in movies. Watching TV shows such as, Kung Fu, and Bruce Lee movies and a kids, who wouldn’t dream of becoming a martial artist with almost mythical powers! While, I did not have the means at the time to pursue this fantasy, I did have the opportunity to wrestle in middle school and high school. Although, I did not necessarily consider this a martial art at the time, I definitely believe in the incredible effectiveness of wrestling and grappling as a base to effective martial training.

During the late nineties I had the chance to finally view my first tapes of the highly contentious Ultimate Fighting Championship and watch Royce Gracie defeat several much larger opponents. That was my first introduction to Gracie Jiu Jitsu and confirmation of the effectiveness of grappling in a one on one confrontation. Unfortunately I did not have the means to start training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) at the time, but did train in American Kenpo Karate for a while until my military career with the Army National Guard led me to new experiences and far away places.

I’ve always had the desire to learn and teach. A large part of my career was spent learning and instructing various combat skills, and gave me exposure to Army combatives in 2007 and more formal BJJ instruction in 2008 through the civilian combatives coach and Flavio Behring Black Belt, Rob Handley. I spent many years teaching combatives both at a unit level and and certifying soldiers to teach at their own units.

Eventually a change in jobs temporarily delayed my training; I picked it up again, still as a white belt under Simson Go in Las Vegas until moving to North Carolina to serve as an instructor of Special Forces Non-commissioned officers. In 2012 I trained under Royce Gracie Black Belt and SOCP founder, Professor Greg Thomson and his senior students at Team ROC. I received my blue belt in 2013. Do to family circumstances and a required schedule change my primary coach and training partner became, Carlos Machado Black Belt, Clint Carrol. I was awarded my purple belt in March 2016.

Since leaving military service at the end of 2016 I continued not only training to improve my own skill, but have gain the most satisfaction in teaching. I started teaching as the Jiu jitsu coach at SPARTC, llc in Aberdeen, NC; I have been teaching there ever since. I moved to Laurinburg, NC in the summer of 2018 and saw there was no Brazilian jiu jitsu available and, although opening my own academy was never really what I planned on, I decided this would be a great opportunity to spread the art!

I truly love sharing what knowledge I have with my students and to watch them learn and apply their skills. It’s awesome to develop good friendships and excellent training partners! BJJ is a humbling art and a long journey; I am always looking for people to learn from and to continue learning together!