INSTRUCTORS

  • Professor Nick Stefan Instructor


    Our experienced instructors are experts at teaching adult Jiu Jitsu and Jiu Jitsu classes for kids. Read on to learn more about the teachers at our Jiu Jitsu academy.

    An Early Start

    Nick’s first experience with martial arts was at the age of 10, when he started taking Tae Kwon Do. Nick then started training in Muay Thai and Kenpo Karate at the age of 15. While studying boxing at El Camino College, Nick was Introduced to Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

    Shortly after falling in love with the Art, Nick signed up at Rickson Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy in West Los Angeles off of Pico Blvd. At Rickson’s academy, Nick used to watch Royler Gracie get ready for his Pride FC fights.

    Deeper Into the Art

    Nick found the Machado brother Jiu Jitsu academy in Redondo beach, and after a few years of getting sick of traveling all the way to Los Angeles, he decided to join and learn under the Machado Brothers, who at the time had the number one competition team in the USA. The Machado brothers studied under the Gracies and came to the US with them.

    In 2006 Nick was presented his black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from Rigan Machado in the presence of John, Roger, Jean Jaques, and Carlso Machado. Also in attendance were B.J. Penn, and numerous other blackbelts.

    Finding a New Family

    Nick later re-met Master Royler Gracie and decided to compete and train directly under him and the Gracie Humaita Flag. Royler promoted Nick to his 1st Degree Black Belt.

    Nick takes pride in representing the Gracie Humaita family and strives to be the best instructor to every student who comes to the Academy.

    Competition

    Nick has competed his entire career in Jiu-Jitsu, winning tournaments from white to black belt.

    Some competition Milestones:

    • NoGi Mundial Champion 2009
    • Pan American Silver Medalist 2010
    • Multiple X Grapplers Quest Blackbelt Champion
    • Multiple X Grapplers Quest NoGi Champion
    • Pan American Champion 2006
    • Copa Pacifica Champion 2003
    • Arizona State Silver Medalist 2004
    • Multiple X Best of the West Champion
    • Multiple X Grappling Games Pans Champion
    • US Open Champion 2005
    • 2x American National Championship medalist
    • 5x American International Champion
    • Gracie Jiu Jitsu Open silver medalist
    • Gracie Jiu Jitsu Open silver medalist
  • Charlie Gardner Instructor


    Professor Charlie Gardner started his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training in Colorado under Amal Easton. In 2009, Charlie moved to Carlsbad, CA and started training under Nick Stefan at Gracie Jiu Jitsu Carlsbad as a blue belt. He started working teaching classes, and then eventually working his way up to manager at the Gracie Carlsbad location.

    Charlie, now a Blackbelt and Gracie Jiu Jitsu Instructor, has fought MMA and Muay Thai bouts, and in Jiu Jitsu tournaments with great success.

    Nick has groomed Charlie to be the best instructor and student in the Academy. Charlie teaches Jiu Jitsu classes and Muay Thai classes at our Gracie Jiu Jitsu gyms in San Marcos and Carlsbad.

  • Steve Kazola Muay Thai/MMA Instructor
    Steven “Thunderbeast” Kozola
    
    While Steve was young he earned his black belt in Tae Kwon Do. This sparked his life long interest in becoming a martial artist. He started with amateur mixed martial arts fighting while attending Northern Illinois University and studying Kinesiology. Upon graduation Steve moved from Illinois to Southern California in pursuit of his dream of going pro in MMA. He has now over 10 professional mma fights and is a Bellator Veteran. His enthusiasm and hard work has made him one of the best instructors in the business.
  • Steve Kazola Muay Thai/MMA Instructor
    Steven “Thunderbeast” Kozola
    
    While Steve was young he earned his black belt in Tae Kwon Do. This sparked his life long interest in becoming a martial artist. He started with amateur mixed martial arts fighting while attending Northern Illinois University and studying Kinesiology. Upon graduation Steve moved from Illinois to Southern California in pursuit of his dream of going pro in MMA. He has now over 10 professional mma fights and is a Bellator Veteran. His enthusiasm and hard work has made him one of the best instructors in the business.