Ares East Mesa
Jiu Jitsu

Ares East Mesa BJJ

Mission Statement

Our mission is to be the catalyst that allows individuals to discover their innate abilities so they can transform their lives, and be good stewards of their community by transforming the world through the application of lessons learned through jiu jitsu in a safe and supportive environment.

Our Coaches

Alex Martinez

Ares Black Belt Instructor

Alex is a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Professor Paul Nava.  He has been training and competing across the country since the rank of white belt.  Alex has won and been the runner up in many International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) tournaments as well as professional “Super Fights”.  He has extensive experience as a kids coach, a fundamentals coach, and advanced techniques coach.  He received his Black Belt from Paul Nava and the Ares Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Association in September 2019.  As the head instructor of Ares East Mesa Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy, his goal is to make a positive change in the lives of his students and the community.

Koa Kalama

Ares Black Belt Instructor

Koa has achieved a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He has competed and has medaled multiple times both in in-state and out-of-state tournaments as well as Pro-Fights – Fight 2 Win- No Gi. Koa will be coaching our Mixed Levels No-Gi program, which is currently scheduled on Tuesdays & Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings.

Josh Cisneros

Black Belt Instructor

Josh started training jiu jitsu at the age of 12. Received his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black belt at the age of 20 under Tom Knox. Josh has been competing in tournaments and events since white belt throughout the world. Currently competes internationally as a Black Belt Professional Athlete. He has won various major tournaments and titles from organizations such as IBJJF and F2W.
Josh has years of experience teaching kids, adults, and competition classes with high level instruction. He looks forward to pass down his knowledge of the art he has gained throughout his journey over the years.

Main Achievements:

  • 1st Place IBJJF Pan Championship (2020)
  • 1st Place IBJJF American Nationals (2020)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF Pan Championship NOGI (2021)

Main Achievements (Colored Belts):

  • Fight 2 Win 145 lbs No-Gi Champion (2019)
  • 1st Place IBJJF World Championship No-Gi (2019 brown)
  • 1st Place IBJJF World Championship No-Gi Juvenile (2016)
  • 1st Place IBJJF World Championship Juvenile (2016)
  • 1st Place IBJJF Pan Championship Juvenile (2017)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF World Championship (2019 brown)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF World Championship Juvenile (2017)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF Pan Championship Juvenile (2016)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF Pan Championship (2019 brown)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF European Open (2019 purple)
  • 2nd Place IBJJF Asian Open (2019 brown)
  • 3rd Place IBJJF Pan Championship (2018 purple)

Yaya Villefuerte

Brown Belt Instructor

Yaya started training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 2006 in Tokyo, Japan at 6 years old. She’s currently a Brown belt under Josh Cisneros and from the moment she stepped on the mat she knew this is what she wanted to do. Yaya’s competitive career began at 9 years old where she competed for years winning numerous World and Pan titles in the kids division. In 2016 she won her first IBJJF NO-GI world title at Blue belt and the following years after that obtained the 2017 IBJJF Pan Ams title and two more IBJJF World Titles. The wins and loses throughout her career have lead her to what she is today. Yaya is now an advocate for women and children to begin training especially at an early age because of all the lessons and experiences it granted her. Her goals now are to jump back into the competition scene post pandemic as well as develop her teaching abilities and continue building the best version of herself and those around her.

3X IBJJF World Champion
IBJJF Pan American champion

Tom Gaughan

Ares Brown Belt Instructor

I’ve spent 9 years in the Navy and that’s where I started my martial arts journey. I took Muay Thai for 2 years but being consistent while underway was difficult. Shortly after transitioning to civilian life I started Jiu Jitsu at a Royce Gracie affiliated school where I received my blue belt. I was given an opportunity to relocate to the SF Bay Area and there I trained at One World Jiu Jitsu under Mike Prudencio where I received my purple belt. After a lengthy layoff (recovering from surgery, getting my MBA and being lazy) I relocated to Arizona and visited several BJJ gyms and am fortunate to have found Nava / Ares BJJ. I lost weight, got my mojo back and received my brown belt in July of 2020. I’ve always been a mentor and I love to teach. There are few things more life changing than Jiu Jitsu and I am honored to join the coaching staff at Ares East Mesa. It should be noted that I was voted “Most Likely to be the Nicest Guy You’ll Ever be Submitted by” – NotLanta 2020

Tiffany Gaughan

FitMethod Instructor

Virginia born but Californian by heart my fitness journey started in 2008 when my fiancée and I moved across the country. I wanted to be in the best shape of my life for my upcoming wedding however, growing up a bookworm with very little desire to be athletic left me uncertain on where to start. I decided that trying group fitness classes would help give me some direction and was hooked!Leaving countless classes full of motivation and inspiration from the instructors I decided that this was something that I wanted todo. I want to show others that it doesn’t matter where you start-you just have to start. I love showing other show to challenge themselves and just how strong they are both mentally and physically. My journey started over 12 years ago, and I continue chasing my fitness and helping others meet their goals. Experiences: Athletics and Aerobic Fitness Association (AFAA) Group Fitness Instructorand Nutrition certified. Schwinn Indoor Cycle Instructor NPC Bikini Competitor trained bycurrent Ms.Fitness Olympia Whitney Jones Crossfit and Olympic Lifting trained by one of the worlds top athletes Chyna Cho. These experiences have opened doors to allow me to become a MuscleEgg sponsored athlete and a BSN/Optimum Nutrition regional demo representative during my competing years. I’m also owner of Wanderlust Studio AZ and have done hair and makeup for tons of events andphotoshoots. Fun! You can find me training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (current obsession!), teaching our exciting FitMethod classes here at Ares East MesaBJJ or doing a little hair and makeup on occasion!

Chris Academia

Brown Belt Instructor

Chris Academia is a Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He started training in 2005 in Maui, HI. In 2007, he moved to Arizona where he continued to train. He won gold at the 2018 American Nationals in Las Vegas. In that same year, he debuted in a professional fight. He continues to train and pursue his dream of opening an academy in the hopes of changing other’s lives through BJJ, the way that it changed his.

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If you’re interested in trying Jiu-Jitsu, this is the perfect way to dive in! Sign up for a full 6-WEEK CHALLENGE FOR FREE!

Men, women and children alike start training jiu jitsu for different reasons. Some reasons may include: learning the art of jiu jitsu, self-defense, weight loss, the camaraderie of a team, a healthy family activity, exercise and more. The reasons people start jiu jitsu are personal for everyone. So, whatever your reason is for visiting our website, we would love to learn more about you and your reason/goals. Click below to start your journey and to see if we are the right team for you.


Rich Pudleiner

Ares Student

“A fantastic coach”

Alex has the heart of a leader, coach, and competitor and he brings that spirit out in anyone who trains with him. I have witnessed him work with all ages of youth and adults. He exhibits patience while expecting and teaching to improvement. I personally have benefited from Alex’s ability to coach broadly and with technical accuracy, and my children have excelled in BJJ through his coaching and feedback. I can attest that he is genuine and wants the best for those with which he coaches and trains. If you are looking for a fantastic coach to start or further your jiu-jitsu journey look no further than Alex Martinez.

Vin & Marlena Vallejo

Ares Students

“Jiu jitsu has been a lifesaver for our family”

Jiu jitsu has been a lifesaver for our family for many reasons. It has not only brought us all closer, but it been such a positive activity we can all do as a family. It’s been a form of therapy, and after each class we walk away feeling accomplished. I’ve never experienced that with any other sport or form of exercise. The practice of jiu jitsu teaches you discipline, responsibility and healthy lifestyle. One huge reason we have fallen in love with sport is because of the coaches we have trained under. Alex Martinez is exceptional. He is patient, hard working and makes everyone feel like they can do anything. He leads by example and believes in his students. Training jiu jitsu has been one of the biggest blessings to our family and we would highly recommend the sport to everyone.

David Blau

Ares First Degree Black Belt

“I highly recommend him as a Jiu Jitsu practitioner/instructor but more importantly as a person.”

During my almost 20 years in practicing and competing in Jiu Jitsu I have met countless amazing people. Few,if any, have impressed me more than Alex Martinez. Not only has he been able to positively transform his health and lifestyle, but himself as a person. Alex always leads by example. Not only does he outwork anyone in the gym, he is not afraid to put it on the line in world class competitions as well. Many instructors are afraid to compete as they might lose and look weak in front of their students. Not Alex!! What you see is what you get!…. This may be why the people that train with him and learn from him absolutely LOVE HIM!… he always gives 100% both on and off the mats. No matter if it’s in Jiu Jitsu, business, friends or his family, he is the man you want on your side. I highly recommend him as a Jiu Jitsu practitioner/instructor but more importantly as a person.

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