Arcadia Jiu-Jitsu Instructors

Professor Ben Zhuang

Black Belt

12 Years Experience


Professor Ben is the head instructor and head strength and conditioning coach at SCHOOL BJJ. Ben is a Paragon Black Belt under Ricardo "Franjinha" Miller and also co-owns a Paragon affiliate in Pasadena, CA. Ben began training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 2005 under Professor Rodrigo Teixeira after becoming interested in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu from watching early UFC and Pride events and noticing that Jiu-Jitsu fighters were dominating in matches. Ben teaches the fundamentals class at the academy and also runs the fitness bootcamp 5 days a week.

• IBJJF Certified Black Belt

• NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

• ACSM Certified Personal Trainer

• NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist

• BioForce Certified Conditioning Coach

• ISSN Certified Sports Nutritionist

• FRC Mobility Specialist

• 2007 – NABJJF LA Open – Silver (Absolute Division)

• 2007 – Hayastan Grappling Challenge – Bronze

• 2008 – NABJJF North American Tournament – Bronze

• 2008 – Hayastan Grappling Challenge – Gold

Favorite Move: Kimura

Professor Bert Castro

Black Belt


Professor Bert is a Gracie Barra Black Belt who started training BJJ in 2008. With a wrestling background and love for boxing Bert began training MMA with Roberto Piccinini from Chute Boxe Academy Brazil at Piccinini Training Center in down town Los Angles. While training at PTC Bert began training BJJ under Robson Rodrigues from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Professor Bert’s accomplishments include:

• 2009 – Pan American Championship – Gold

• 2010 – Pan American Championship – Bronze

• 2012 – Pan American Championship – Silver

• 2013 – Pan American Championship – Silver

• 2014 – Pan American Championship – Gold

• 2012 – American National Championship – Gold

• 2012 – Abu Dhabi World Pro San Diego Trials – Gold

• 2012 – World Master Championships – Bronze

• 2012 – Las Vegas International Open – Silver

• 2014 – Las Vegas Spring International Open – Gold

• 2014 – Las Vegas Spring International Open, Absolute – Silver

Favorite Move: Choke(s)

Coach Joshua Valles

Brown Belt


Coach Josh is the head coach of the competition team and is the head teens instructor. Josh grew up in the Pacific Northwest and discovered martial arts at the age of 19. He was very passionate from the beginning and soon became committed to training full-time with the goal of becoming a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt world champion. When not coaching at the academy, Josh travels to compete in Jiu-Jitsu competitions around the world.

* IBJJF No Gi World Championship - Gold Medalist

• IBJJF Europeans Championship - Silver Medalist

• 2x American National Champion

• 2015 Abu Dhabi World Pro Trials Double Gold Champion (weight & absolute)

• 2016 Abu Dhabi World Pro Trials Champion (Florida)

• 2x Eddie Bravo Invitational black belt tournament participant.

• North American No Gi Absolute Champion

• 2x North American Gi Champion

• Gracie Worlds (no time limit submission only) Gi, No Gi, and Absolute Champion

• 2x Gracie National Champion (Gi, No Gi, Weight, & Absolute)

• BJJ Pro International Double Gold Champion (weight & absolute)

• NAGA Champion

• Grapplers Quest UFC Fan Expo Double Gold Champion (weight & absolute)

• 2x LA International Open Champion (Gi, No Gi, Weight & Absolute)

• 3x Vegas International Open Champion

• San Francisco International Open Champion

• Seattle International Open Double Gold Champion (weight & absolute)

•Multiple time IBJJF Worlds, Pan American medalist (weight & absolute)

Favorite Move: Armbar

Coach Patrick Donabedian

Brown Belt


Coach Patrick is the No-Gi instructor at the academy. Currently a Tenth Planet brown belt under Eddie Bravo, he is also a student of the Gi under the guidance of Ben Zhuang and Josh Valles. A business analyst by day and Jiu-Jitsu junkie by night. After a 15-year baseball career that peaked with him playing for the University of Miami Hurricanes, his curious obsession with diving, sliding, and plain falling on the ground so often and unnecessarily could finally be explained--the ground, or Jiu Jitsu, is his domain. Whether teaching or learning, the objective is simple: uncover effective submission pathways transferable for both gi and no-gi combat.

There are whispers that he reluctantly dons the gi just to fit in at SCHOOL.

Favorite Move: The Truck

Coach Leo Irizarry

Purple Belt


Coach Leo is the program director and head kids instructor at the academy. He has competed and medaled in several IBJJF competitions. When Leo isn’t on the mats you may find him hiking with his dogs, working on computer animation, or playing Magic the Gathering. He is currently focused on training and working toward the goal of obtaining his black belt.

Favorite Move: Cross Choke

Coach Ji Irizarry

Purple Belt


Coach Ji is the assistant kids coach at the SCHOOL BJJ. She started training Jiu-Jitsu for fitness. Besides training Jiu-Jitsu, she is a graduate student at California Institute of Technology. She researches in genetics and she is interested in increasing public interest in science. She finds that training Jiu-Jitsu is one of the best ways to deal with her stress and it helps to focus on her research. Thus, she tries to spread these benefits of training Jiu-Jitsu to the public, especially women and kids.

Favorite Move: Spider Guard Sweep