Gracie Martial Arts proudly serving Tampa

Gracie Martial Arts has Classes in Tampa, Perfect for Kids, Teens, and Adults Martial Arts Lessons.

Who we Are And why You Should Train Here

Since we’ve opened, we’ve been dedicated to changing the lives of people one person at a time, through martial arts, education and coaching. We strive to provide a safe, comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for all students and family members in . We take pride in creating an environment for individuals to achieve, develop and succeed in their personal goals.

We strongly believe that martial arts can be for everyone, regardless of age, gender or experience levels. Throughout all of our programs, students will not only learn the necessary skill sets to protect themselves, we stand behind our realistic and practical approach, confident it will enable every member to achieve greatness and live their best life..

Get To Know Our World Class Instructors

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Emiliano Cardona

OWNER / GRACIE UNIVERSITY CERTIFIED INSTRUCTOR

Emiliano’s  passion for Jiu-jitsu began in when he saw Royce Gracie in the first UFC1 {1993} defeat multiple challengers of greater size and strength.  He didn’t know or understand what Royce was doing, but he saw that it worked, and he came out victorious. Emiliano knew he wanted to try Gracie Jiu-jitsu.  At that time one of the few ways to get instruction in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu was to attend seminars, so Emiliano’s very first introduction to the art came at a seminar hosted by Royce Gracie in Atlanta.  By early 1994 Emiliano was training in Tallahassee at a Jiu-jitsu school run by Harlan Taylor, now one of Royce Gracie’s first Black Belts. Emiliano has continued his Jiu-jitsu education receiving  promotions from Harlan Taylor, Pedro Valente, Royce Gracie and the Gracie Academy.  In January 2015 he received his instructor certification and the blessing of the Gracie Academy to open up a Gracie Certified Training Center in Tampa, FL. He has had the unique opportunity to train all over the country at various Jiu-jitsu schools and even in foreign countries. He is a founding member of the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and MMA club at the University of South Florida. Emiliano is now the owner head certified instructor at Gracie Martial Arts Tampa Jiu-jitsu and Self-Defense a Gracie Certified Training Center where he continues to learn. 

Off the mats he is an Army veteran, husband, father of five, loves to surf, and play rugby when possible and is active in his church.
 
 
 
 

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Saulo Cepeda

SENIOR JIU-JITSU INSTRUCTOR, COMPETITION SPECIALIST

Saulo began his Jiu-jitsu journey in 2001 under Royce and Rorion Gracie at the original Gracie Acedemy in Torrance, Ca. He earned a Blue Belt as one of the original Caique Academy students under now 7th Degree Coral Belt, Master Carlos (Caique) Elias. Saulo continues to train in competitive Brazillian Jiu-jitsu under 6thº Black Belt, and 6x World Champion Marcio (Pe de Pano) Cruz.

Saulo is a US Army/Air Force Veteran, serving a combined 24 years. After a 7 year hiatus he resumed training at Vagner Rocha’s affiliated School in Cocoa Beach, FL from 2011 – 2015.  Prof. Rocha awarded Saulo his Purple Belt in Dec. 2014.

Saulo retired as a Captain from the US Air Force in 2015. He moved to Tampa, Fl in summer of 2016, began training in the Gracie Combatives® Program, while at the same time also training in competitive Brazillian. In 2019 Saulo was handpicked by Prof. Cruz for a coaching staff position.  Saulo is now the Children/Teen program coordinator, and an Adults’ Self Defense/BJJ Fundamentals coach.  He also, assists 3rd degree Black Belt Prof. Rodrigo Cruz with Advanced BJJ class sessions.

Saulo is a 2xGold medalist at the 2019 IBJJF Orlando Summer Open tournament, as well as 4x medalist in 2018-2019 previous tournaments. He continues to receive extensive training in Gracie Jiu-jitsu Self-Defense/Combatives Programs, and has has also received training in Judo, Muay Thai, and Filipino Combat Arts from highly accomplished instructors.

As a coach, Saulo is committed to provide the highest quality instruction in BJJ to Adults and Children for years to come. Saulo can not only help with your Combatives® in a street fight, but can also prepare you for tournament “sport style” technique and strategies for those looking to compete in the future.  Book Saulo today. 

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James Riggs

GRACIE UNIVERSITY CERTIFIED INSTRUCTOR

JIU-JITSU AND SELF DEFENSE INSTRUCTOR

Inspired by the effectiveness of Jiu-jitsu, which he observed through the UFC, James Riggs began training in New York City under IBJJF world champion black belt Ailson Brites.  After relocating to Miami, he continued studying at the Valente Brothers academy, primarily under Pedro Valente.  There, he learned Jiu-jitsu as a complete self defense system, including striking, ground grappling, throwing, stand-up self defense against surprise attacks, and philosophy.  James was promoted to purple belt under the Valente brothers before moving to Tampa, where he is excited to share his experience and continue growing in Jiu-jitsu.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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