Meet Our Jiu-Jitsu Instructors

Professor Derek Barlow

Received his Black Belt in August 2017 after 9 years of training under Professor Robert Drysdale /Professor Marcelo Nunes

Learning Martial Arts

Derek was never interested in team sports. In fact, he had tried mountain biking, kickboxing, powerlifting, and kettlebell lifting before finding his true love – Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

He grew up in a household with a single mother who worked two jobs to make ends meet, and a mostly absentee, abusive father who was an addict. Due to his traumatic childhood, Derek suffered from anxiety and depression and was going through life largely without knowing himself.

In 2008, Derek began learning about Brazilian jiu-jitsu through local martial arts school. He would develop the skills and self-confidence to understand and deal with his personal issues through physical, mental, and spiritual exercise.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu made Derek a better father, husband, friend, critical thinker, and decision maker. It also helped him lose weight, improve his diet, become a more social person, and approach every situation in life with a strategic and tactical mindset.

Through the practice of jiu-jitsu, he’s met many great people from all walks of life who he would not have met in his own average social circle. He now feels it is his time to share his life-changing BJJ Journey with his St. Paul community and give back.

Professor Brian Mogdans

Professor Brian received his Black Belt in August 2017 after 11 years of training under Professor Robert Drysdale/Professor Marcelo Nunes.

His Jiu-Jitsu Journey

While serving in the Military (82nd Airborne Division), he was introduced and trained in hand to hand combat that consisted mostly of striking and Judo. There was a small amount of Jiu-Jitsu being taught at the time but not as much as there is today. He gravitated towards the ground game and always wanted to train at it more.

In early 2000, he began working security in various bars and nightclubs in the city and worked with several people who trained in Jiu-Jitsu and MMA. He would work with them periodically now and again and eventually they talked him into joining a school. In 2006, he started training on a regular basis.

From the beginning, he loved every aspect of Jiu-Jitsu: the techniques, the discipline, the camaraderie, and the complexity. He felt that Jiu-Jitsu filled the void that he felt after leaving the military: the friendships, the support, the highs and lows that come with something that is at times both physically and mentally exhausting.

After receiving his purple belt, he began teaching the fundamental classes and found that he loved teaching. The sense of pride it gave him when watching students he personally trained competing and winning sealed the deal and put him on the path to eventually open a school in St. Paul and teach full time.

His mission is simple, he wants to introduce as many people as possible to Jiu-Jitsu and all the benefits that come with it. He is dedicated to providing each student with the very best instructions and support. He will sweat with you, he will bleed with you, he will celebrate with you, and he will suffer with you. He believes that as much as Jiu-Jitsu is an individual sport during a competition, it is also, and perhaps even more, a family.

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