Coach Riley grew up on a farm in a rural town in North Carolina. Having no interest or ability for physical sports, most of his time was spent playing video games and watching martial arts movies.
While in high school, Riley discovered a VHS cassette of the original Ultimate Fighting Championship. Seeing a smaller competitor choke or nearly break the arms of much larger opponents seemed like something magical from one of those martial arts movies or video games come to life. This was Riley’s first glimpse at Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
It wasn’t until the summer of 2011 that Coach Riley, now living in Nashville TN, would look for a gym that specialized in teaching Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. After trying two schools that just weren’t a good fit, Riley was almost ready to give up and accept BJJ wasn’t for him. However, trying a third and final time in 2012, Riley found his BJJ family with Marcello Ribeiro. “I didn’t know anything about the lineage or degrees of a black belt, I just knew I fit in on the first day.”
Although he originally signed up for fitness and self-defense, Riley quickly wanted to compete at local tournaments. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, to go out there and compete. People were watching and I wanted to leave so bad, but I just forced myself to do it.”, Riley admitted. Through time training on the mat and focusing on the techniques and instruction from Professor Marcello, Riley has grown into a multi-time IBJJF champion.
“BJJ has given me a confidence I didn’t think was ever possible. I’m able to talk in front of a class when I help teach other adults, or yell instructions at a tournament to help coach adults and kids from our gym. Marcello Ribeiro and his school have really brought me out of my shell and made me the best possible version of myself, on and off the mats.”
Coach Riley has also helped his wife Mimi get into training BJJ. “I wanted my wife to be able to protect herself, but more importantly I wanted to share something that was such a huge part of my life with her. One time we even drilled on yoga mats in the fitness center of a hotel while we were on vacation.”
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