• Xenforo Cloud has scheduled an upgrade to XenForo version 2.2.16. This will take place on or shortly after the following date and time: Jul 05, 2024 at 05:00 PM (PT) There shouldn't be any downtime, as it's just a maintenance release. More info here

Training in Western PA (Pittsburgh)

ozguinness

White Belt
Joined
Jun 12, 2008
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
Moving back to Pittsburgh (in a about 1 1/2 months) from Tampa/St Pete after 5 years. I've been spoiled in Florida with there being so many good BJJ/MMA schools in the area. I've been researching the local Pitt schools, but it seems like the bulk of them are located in the South Hills (I'm moving to Oakmont). Where is everyone training?

Seems like there is a fairly large void in Western PA in terms of gi training (besides Pedro Saurer's school), anyone know of anything in North Hills that incorporates gi, no-gi, and stand up?

Thanks!
 
Hey, I live in Penn Hills. The closest place with good MMA/grappling is the Penn Hills Martial Arts Center. Dan Moore is a legit guy. They do not have BJJ (with the gi), only nogi grappling and MMA. Their web site is:

PHMAC : We'll teach you to fight

Here are some other places to train at:
  • Steel City Martial Arts is a good place to train at too. They have just Karate and BJJ, though. They do have the only black belt in Pittsburgh along with 3 brown belts and 1-2 purple belts instructing. They have the oldest program in the area.

  • Rogrigo Junqueira Jiu Jitsu is the third BJJ school in the county. They just have BJJ and are run by Rogrigo, a brown belt. They seem like a good school too, but they are very far way and just have BJJ with a gi AFAIK.

  • The only other actual BJJ school in the area - after the college clubs (both are fine places to train at) - is Combative Grappling Systems. They are run by a purple belt named Casey Leonard. They do gi once a week, nogi once a week, and mma once a week.

The only other places are not BJJ places. But you can get good training at some of them:
  • Mad Dog Gym has a lot of good wrestlers training there. They have Muay Thai and no-gi grappling classes, with many of their students training for MMA competition.

  • Total Karate is close to Oakmont, but I heard their grappling program is not very strong.

  • My friend Frank runs a free MMA/Self-Defense program out of his church on Monday nights at 7:00 PM. Their address is: 2326 Duncan Ave, Allison Park, PA 15101.

  • Kiski Martial Arts is close by. They have some grappling, but they are mostly a TKD school.

  • Pittsbugh Martial Art & Boxing Academy. They teach American Freestyle Martial Arts for self-defense, but not sport grappling, BJJ, or MMA.

There are other places like Ultimate Fighting and Fitness, Pittsburgh Fight Club, or MAC Fitness. But I suspect they are too far from you.
 
Last edited:
You are right that most of the BJJ schools are located in the South Hills area.

I would say go with Team Balance Pittsburgh. It's a tight group of guys who have an open minded approach to training.

If you are looking for a well rounded school (gi, no gi, takedowns, MMA), then that is probably the best place in Pittsburgh for you.
 
[*]Pittsbugh Martial Art & Boxing Academy claims they teach self-defense BJJ, but not sport or MMA BJJ. I don't think anyone there actually has rank in BJJ - like Yoseikan. I suspect that they just call it BJJ for marketing purposes.
[/list]

They are legit. I used to train with them. 3 of the instructors there had BJJ experience. They're a self defense and striking school, so you would not get any sport BJJ exp there.

The school is great for stand up. Their boxing and kickboxing classes are awesome.

If you want more info on their credentials, I suggest you call them or check them out in person. The instructors are very nice and would be happy to answer your questions.
 
Duely noted and corrected. What is their BJJ experience?
 
Duely noted and corrected. What is their BJJ experience?

Hi, I'm Bob Barnum (owner of Pittsburgh Martial Arts & Boxing Academy).

My personal BJJ was under Jim Chianese, who was a Blue Belt under Ed Vincent, who is a Black Belt under Walt Bayless. Jim was the former Senior Instructor of this school, I began training here when I was 12 and took over when the old owner retired.

After Jim Chianese, I trained under Jim Bazzy, a Black Belt, also under Ed Vincent. I don't have rank in BJJ. I did compete in grappling but nothing substantial. I am a 3rd Degree Black Belt from this school (before I became the owner) in our blended system. The ground stuff we do is primarily with the goal of getting back to your feet.

The other Instructors he was talking about would be my brother, Mike Barnum and Jon Ellis. Mike would have a similar story to me although he may have had more grappling competition than me (I'd have to check on that). Jon Ellis also came up in our system but supplemented with direct training under Ed Vincent. I'd also have to check on his competition.

So, there's ground fighting here but this is by no means a BJJ / Grappling school. Hope this helps.

Bob Barnum
 
Thanks. Ed Vincent is legit.
 
Last edited:
Hi, I'm Bob Barnum (owner of Pittsburgh Martial Arts & Boxing Academy).

My personal BJJ was under Jim Chianese, who was a Blue Belt under Ed Vincent, who is a Black Belt under Walt Bayless. Jim was the former Senior Instructor of this school, I began training here when I was 12 and took over when the old owner retired.

After Jim Chianese, I trained under Jim Bazzy, a Black Belt, also under Ed Vincent. I don't have rank in BJJ. I did compete in grappling but nothing substantial. I am a 3rd Degree Black Belt from this school (before I became the owner) in our blended system. The ground stuff we do is primarily with the goal of getting back to your feet.

The other Instructors he was talking about would be my brother, Mike Barnum and Jon Ellis. Mike would have a similar story to me although he may have had more grappling competition than me (I'd have to check on that). Jon Ellis also came up in our system but supplemented with direct training under Ed Vincent. I'd also have to check on his competition.

So, there's ground fighting here but this is by no means a BJJ / Grappling school. Hope this helps.

Bob Barnum

Hey Bob,

Thanks for clearing that up. Sounds like you have a great school there.

I'm a bit confused as to why you say you have BJJ experience though. It sounds more like you learned grappling from an American Jiu Jitsu system (Walt Bayless Combat Jiu Jitsu).

I am sure many of the techniques are almost identical. BJJ, Judo, and the other forms of Jiu Jitsu are all very closely related. You can find techniques from BJJ in every one of them. There are also other grappling arts like CSW that use a lot of techniques that you might find in BJJ but still developed in a different way.

So it just seems to a bit strange to me to call something BJJ when it has no real tie to the country of Brazil in any way. Would what you teach be more accurately called self-defense grappling or American Jiu Jitsu?
 
Hey Bob,

Thanks for clearing that up. Sounds like you have a great school there.

I'm a bit confused as to why you say you have BJJ experience though. It sounds more like you learned grappling from an American Jiu Jitsu system (Walt Bayless Combat Jiu Jitsu).

I am sure many of the techniques are almost identical. BJJ, Judo, and the other forms of Jiu Jitsu are all very closely related. You can find techniques from BJJ in every one of them. There are also other grappling arts like CSW that use a lot of techniques that you might find in BJJ but still developed in a different way.

So it just seems to a bit strange to me to call something BJJ when it has no real tie to the country of Brazil in any way. Would what you teach be more accurately called self-defense grappling or American Jiu Jitsu?

Call it whatever you want. My teachers called it BJJ at times, Freestyle Jiu Jitsu at times and Combat Jiu Jitsu at other times. The Bayless system was explained to me to have the submissions of BJJ with Greco-Roman and Sambo. Doesn't really matter to me.

What I teach is called American Freestyle Martial Arts, that's what my Black Belt is in.
 
Hey, I live in Penn Hills. The closest place with good MMA/grappling is the Penn Hills Martial Arts Center. Dan Moore is a legit guy. They do not have BJJ (with the gi), only nogi grappling and MMA. Their web site is:

PHMAC : We'll teach you to fight

I obviously would like you to visit the place I train at, Team Balance Pittsburgh . We have good judo and BJJ programs. Our school is actually located in Kim's Martial Arts. I think we have a good atmosphere and instruction. The head BJJ instructor is a brown belt, while we have one of the few 9th degree black belts in judo running the judo program. His son is a purple belt in BJJ and a 5th degree black belt in judo... I really like his instruction too. I also help instruct the BJJ classes. We just put in new mats and they are so awesome!!! You can get a free week to train with us too before signing up if you wish. We have judo, BJJ (gi), no-gi grappling, MMA, and TKD classes. Our web site is:

teambalancepittsburgh.com

(Note: this Saturday we don't have practice. We have open mat on Sunday at noon, though.)

Here are some other places to train at:
  • Steel City Martial Arts is a good place to train at too. They have just Karate and BJJ, though. They do have the only black belt in Pittsburgh along with 3 brown belts and 1-2 purple belts instructing. They have the oldest program in the area.

  • Rogrigo Junqueira Jiu Jitsu is the third BJJ school in the county. They just have BJJ and are run by Rogrigo, a brown belt. They seem like a good school too, but they are very far way and just have BJJ with a gi AFAIK.

  • The only other actual BJJ school in the area - after the college clubs (both are fine places to train at) - is Combative Grappling Systems. They are run by a purple belt named Casey Leonard. They do gi once a week, nogi once a week, and mma once a week.

  • The college clubs - Panther Grappling Club at Pitt and CMU Grappling Club - are great places to train too. They both do BJJ (gi) and nogi grappling. I started my training at the CMU Grappling Club. I also created the Panther Grappling Club when I was at Pitt. I don't recommend the other "MMA" clubs at Pitt - the Pitt MMA Club or the Pitt MAC Club - because, they don't train right. If you want to train at Pitt or CMU, stick to the PGC or CGC.

The only other places are not BJJ places. But you can get good training at some of them:
  • Nearby my Judo/BJJ school, South Hills Judo have good judo, muay thai, and MMA programs. I actually train muay thai there, but I do my BJJ, Judo, and MMA training at Team Balance. They had some very highly skilled judoka training there too. It is a great place to train and I can recommend them too.

  • Mad Dog Gym has a lot of good wrestlers training there. They have Muay Thai and no-gi grappling classes, with many of their students training for MMA competition.

  • The Pittsburgh Yoseikan Academy advertises BJJ, but they actually teach Walt Bayless Combat Jiu-Jitsu under Ed Vincent, not BJJ. This style is legit but not related to BJJ in any way.

  • Total Karate is close to Oakmont, but I heard they are a McDojo.

  • My friend Frank runs a free MMA/Self-Defense program out of his church on Monday nights at 7:00 PM. Their address is: 2326 Duncan Ave, Allison Park, PA 15101.

  • Kiski Martial Arts is close by. They have some grappling, but they are mostly a TKD school.

  • Pittsbugh Martial Art & Boxing Academy. They teach Walt Bayless Combat Jiu-Jitsu for self-defense, but not sport grappling or MMA.

There are other places like Ultimate Fighting and Fitness, Pittsburgh Fight Club, or MAC Fitness. But I suspect they are too far from you.

Frodo, this correction you made to my school's description is not accurate. I do not teach Walt Bayless Combat Jiu Jitsu. I teach American Freestyle Martial Arts. It would be accurate to say that the grappling elements of our American Freestyle come from Combat Jiu Jitsu but this is not a Walt Bayless or Ed Vincent school.
 
Hey, I live in Penn Hills. The closest place with good MMA/grappling is the Penn Hills Martial Arts Center. Dan Moore is a legit guy. They do not have BJJ (with the gi), only nogi grappling and MMA. Their web site is:

PHMAC : We'll teach you to fight

I obviously would like you to visit the place I train at, Team Balance Pittsburgh . We have good judo and BJJ programs. Our school is actually located in Kim's Martial Arts. I think we have a good atmosphere and instruction. The head BJJ instructor is a brown belt, while we have one of the few 9th degree black belts in judo running the judo program. His son is a purple belt in BJJ and a 5th degree black belt in judo... I really like his instruction too. I also help instruct the BJJ classes. We just put in new mats and they are so awesome!!! You can get a free week to train with us too before signing up if you wish. We have judo, BJJ (gi), no-gi grappling, MMA, and TKD classes. Our web site is:

teambalancepittsburgh.com

(Note: this Saturday we don't have practice. We have open mat on Sunday at noon, though.)

Here are some other places to train at:
  • Steel City Martial Arts is a good place to train at too. They have just Karate and BJJ, though. They do have the only black belt in Pittsburgh along with 3 brown belts and 1-2 purple belts instructing. They have the oldest program in the area.

  • Rogrigo Junqueira Jiu Jitsu is the third BJJ school in the county. They just have BJJ and are run by Rogrigo, a brown belt. They seem like a good school too, but they are very far way and just have BJJ with a gi AFAIK.

  • The only other actual BJJ school in the area - after the college clubs (both are fine places to train at) - is Combative Grappling Systems. They are run by a purple belt named Casey Leonard. They do gi once a week, nogi once a week, and mma once a week.

  • The college clubs - Panther Grappling Club at Pitt and CMU Grappling Club - are great places to train too. They both do BJJ (gi) and nogi grappling. I started my training at the CMU Grappling Club. I also created the Panther Grappling Club when I was at Pitt. I don't recommend the other "MMA" clubs at Pitt - the Pitt MMA Club or the Pitt MAC Club - because, they don't train right. If you want to train at Pitt or CMU, stick to the PGC or CGC.

The only other places are not BJJ places. But you can get good training at some of them:
  • Nearby my Judo/BJJ school, South Hills Judo have good judo, muay thai, and MMA programs. I actually train muay thai there, but I do my BJJ, Judo, and MMA training at Team Balance. They had some very highly skilled judoka training there too. It is a great place to train and I can recommend them too.

  • Mad Dog Gym has a lot of good wrestlers training there. They have Muay Thai and no-gi grappling classes, with many of their students training for MMA competition.

  • The Pittsburgh Yoseikan Academy advertises BJJ, but they actually teach Walt Bayless Combat Jiu-Jitsu under Ed Vincent, not BJJ. This style is legit but not related to BJJ in any way.

  • Total Karate is close to Oakmont, but I heard they are a McDojo.

  • My friend Frank runs a free MMA/Self-Defense program out of his church on Monday nights at 7:00 PM. Their address is: 2326 Duncan Ave, Allison Park, PA 15101.

  • Kiski Martial Arts is close by. They have some grappling, but they are mostly a TKD school.

  • Pittsbugh Martial Art & Boxing Academy. They teach Walt Bayless Combat Jiu-Jitsu for self-defense, but not sport grappling or MMA.

There are other places like Ultimate Fighting and Fitness, Pittsburgh Fight Club, or MAC Fitness. But I suspect they are too far from you.

Frodo, this correction you made to my school's description is not accurate. I do not teach Walt Bayless Combat Jiu Jitsu. I teach American Freestyle Martial Arts. It would be accurate to say that the grappling elements of our American Freestyle come from Combat Jiu Jitsu but this is not a Walt Bayless or Ed Vincent school.
 
Call it whatever you want. My teachers called it BJJ at times, Freestyle Jiu Jitsu at times and Combat Jiu Jitsu at other times. The Bayless system was explained to me to have the submissions of BJJ with Greco-Roman and Sambo. Doesn't really matter to me.

What I teach is called American Freestyle Martial Arts, that's what my Black Belt is in.

Thanks for the clarification.

I agree with you that what style a technique is said to be from has little impact on its application. It's not like when you successfully defend yourself your attacker will ask you if you learned that from a Brazilian or not. Effective technique is going to work regardless of what it is called.

My only concern was that it seems nowadays some people are using BJJ as a synonym for ground grappling when there is really no need for that. The Brazilians do not have a lock on ground grappling, and there are plenty of other legitimate systems out there that have developed ground fighting separate from the Brazilians.

Anyway, sounds like there might have been some BJJ influence in the Bayless system when it was developed. I just want to make sure that BJJ isn't supplanting all other arts that include ground grappling as that would not be accurate nor would it be fair to all those other arts.
 
Thank you all for your input. I'm looking forward to checking out the different schools and rolling.
 
ed vincent from new ken is a 3rd degree gracie blackbelt you can reach him at all american fitness on falcons park rd in lower burrell.
 
ed vincent from new ken is a 3rd degree gracie blackbelt you can reach him at all american fitness on falcons park rd in lower burrell.

No, he is not.

Read the rest of the thread before you post. Ed Vincent is from a style of Jiu Jitsu that is unrelated to the Gracies or Brazil in any way.
 
Interesting thread. I did some research on Bayless and found that Mark Schultz endorsed him. That is good enough for me. He must have some real knowledge. I have not heard of his students much in the BJJ or MMA community or competitions.

If any of you are looking for training on the north side of Pittsburgh then please contact us or come by for a visit. We like to have out of town visitors and welcome anyone to try out the academy for a week for free. We are an official Renzo Gracie school . I am a black belt under Renzo. I trained with Shawn Williams, John Danaher (St. Pierre head grappling coach and trainer), and Renzo himself of course. I was also a DI wrestler for Lehigh University. The school opened in March 2010. Classes and training are about 60% gi and 40% no gi. We also have an mma fight team and a boxing coach who does a class for the public on Fridays. We also have conditioning classes featuring kettlebells (I'm HKC cert) and TRX. We have kids (8+ yrs) classes as well. We currently have 7 women members and an all women's open mat one sunday/month. We are 15 min from downtown, 10 min from "the Strip", and about 15 min south from oakmont. Check out our website or email us at [email protected]
 
Back
Top