The Team

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Sonny Parlin – Owner/Head Instructor

I have been training since 2007 and I am currently a brown belt under Rob Kahn. When I started training I was 270 lbs (check out my weight loss story here). Jiu Jitsu changed my life. I started training in Connecticut at the age of 34. In 2012 I moved to Florida specifically to train with Rob Kahn at Gracie Tampa. Rob is Royce Gracie’s first black belt and has produced multiple UFC fighters and ADCC veterans. Rob’s strategy based system of jiu jitsu is what I teach at Gracie Bradenton.


Kevin O’Day – Kids Jiu Jitsu Coach

Kevin O’Day runs our kid’s jiu jitsu program. Kevin is a two-stripe blue belt and he’s been at Gracie Bradenton since the beginning! Along with running the kid’s jiu jitsu curriculum during the week, Kevin also coaches the kids when they have competitions. Kevin is a dedicated and caring coach who always goes the extra mile to make sure the kids have an amazing experience every time they come to class.


Joe Verycken – Morning Jiu Jitsu Coach

Joe Verycken is a purple belt and morning class instructor for Gracie Bradenton. Along with being an instructor for martial arts, he was also involved in the Bogata, NJ police youth summer camp program.


Rob Kahn – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Coach

Rob Kahn is a second degree black belt under legendary three-time UFC champion, Royce Gracie. Rob has been training with Royce Gracie since the mid 90s and is Royce Gracie’s first black belt and the founder of the Gracie Tampa Network. Rob is usually here on Friday nights teaching his mad science.


Josh Escher – Head Striking Coach

Josh has been training martial arts his entire life and started kickboxing at the age of 10. Josh holds the following kickboxing titles, ISKA Junior Florida Batamweight, ISKA Adult Florida Lightweight, and ISKA United States Adult Lightweight. Josh was on the ISKA USA team and fought in Sicily, against team Italy. Josh holds a Muay Thai record of 1-1-0 with one Knockout and an amateur kickboxing record of 18-3.


Matt Lindner – Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & MMA Coach

Matt Lindner is a brown belt, an active jiu jitsu competitor and amateur MMA fighter. Matt is a very thoughtful instructor with a genuine love for the sport.

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Werther Marciales – Wrestling Coach

Werther is a wrestler, jiu jitsu purple belt and MMA fighter. In Werther’s class you’ll learn wrestling for use in both submission grappling and MMA.

The Gracie Tampa family is a trusted name in mixed martial arts training.

Gracie Bradenton is a member of the Gracie Tampa Schools network, a network that has produced multiple UFC fighters and Abu Dhabi Combat Club Veterans. (ADCC is the Olympics of Jiu Jitsu).


Since joining the Gracie Tampa family, I have been privileged to train with and learn from multiple ADCC veterans, including Robby Donofrio and Matt Arroyo as well as so many other talented black belts in the network. My coaches are super talented and awesome people. I have gained so much jiu jitsu wisdom from these guys as well as all of my beastly training partners, past and present!

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