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  • Professor David Kama

    Professor David Kama (4th Degree Rickson Gracie Black Belt) – A private, low key individual who always preferred to operate “in the background,” so to speak, when it came to his Jiu-Jitsu. Dave is one of only a handful of American Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belts who have trained directly under Master Rickson Gracie from white belt to black belt. Professor Dave is one of the famous “Dirty Dozen of Jiu-Jitsu,” making him one of the first 12 non-Brazilians to receive a black belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Prof Dave Kama and Prof Chris Saunders are the only members of the Dirty Dozen to earn a black belt from Rickson Gracie. Dave is acknowledged to be one of the best practitioners ever to be produced by Master Rickson; American or Brazilian. Dave was for many years in the 90s, Master Rickson’s “go to” student/understudy. In the late 80s – early 90s, when the Gracie Brothers would issue challenges to other marital arts academies, it was often Dave Kama they would take as their “game cock,” to take on the challengers. Dave never lost a challenge match. The rationale was, “If our student can do this to your best fighter, imagine how much better your school will be if you add in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu concepts to your art.” Dave was asked by Master Rickson in 1993 to take over the primary duty of running Rickson’s 2nd school in America; Rickson Gracie Laguna Niguel (Prof Chris Saunders managed his third school, Rickson Gracie Oxnard, CA). Rickson also asked Dave to travel the world with him to conduct his seminars, where as many as 400 people attended. The practice then, was for Rickson and Dave to train with (and submit) at least once with every single attendee, to show the effectiveness of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. In these situations, Dave never failed to submit his opponent.

    In the mid-2000s, the TV show “Fight Science” approached Master Rickson to do a segment on Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. MMA and grappling superstar (under Master Fabio Santos) Dean Lister was slated to be his partner for the show segment’s demonstration (you can see Dean in the background at 3:10).

    Instead, Master Rickson brought in his most trusted understudy Professor Dave Kama to help him share Rickson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu with the world.

    Professor Dave has been running the Laguna Niguel, CA school ever since. In 2012, Dave changed the name of the school to Kama Jiu-Jitsu, reflecting Master Rickson’s formal retirement from teaching his family’s art. Professor Dave is still the primary instructor at Kama Jiu-Jitsu Laguna Niguel, teaching most of the classes.

    Black belts from all over the country and jiu-jitsu practitioners from all over the world come to train with Dave to learn the Jiu-Jitsu taught by Master Rickson.

    To date, Professor Dave has awarded just three of his students the rank of Black Belt Professor, making a Kama Jiu-Jitsu black belt professor a rare encounter indeed.

  • Fernando Costa Professor

    Professor Fernando Costa – Professor Dave’s first student to earn the coveted black belt from Dave is Professor Fernando Costa. Fernando comes from a Jiu-Jitsu family, with two older brothers who are also black belts (Mauricio under Master Rickson, Tochi under Master Jacare). Prof Fernando shows one can be a serious and decorated Gracie Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and still have a light-hearted demeanor, full of fun and humor. Professor Fernando, a spectacular instructor in his own right, has been Dave’s student and understudy since 1993 and is responsible for running Kama Jiu-Jitsu’s Laguna Niguel Academy, as well as taking on secondary teaching responsibilities.

  • Ryan Young Professor

    Professor Ryan Young – Professor Ryan began his journey under Master Rickson’s older brother, Grand Master Relson Gracie in 1989. Upon moving to California in 1992, he began training at The Gracie Academy in Torrance, where he met Dave Kama when he was still a purple belt. They immediately became friends due to their common Hawaiian heritage. Ryan made the transition to Master Rickson’s academy shortly after Rickson left Gracie Torrance and opened his own academy on Pico Blvd. in West L.A. in 1992. Unlike Professor Dave and Professor Fernando, Ryan trained at a few academies over the subsequent years. At these other academies (Dirty Dozen member Ken Gabrielson’s Combative Fighting Systems, and Brad Jackson’s Ralph Gracie OC), Ryan met and studied under other prominent black belts such as Rodrigo Gracie, Roger Machado, Mauricio “Tinguinha” Mariano, Renato Migliaccio, and Eduardo Fraga. During this time, he spent a significant amount of time learning the “competition game” until he retired from active competition in 1996. In the mid-2000s, he also studied Judo under Japanese Judo legend Nori Bunasawa, until he was sidelined by injury. In 2009, he was reunited with, and settled in, to his “home” at Professor Dave’s academy in 2009 as a brown belt, where he became an assistant instructor and learned to teach “The Dave Kama Way.” Ryan became “Professor” Ryan in May 2012, when he earned his “professor bars” on his black belt from Professor Dave.

  • Jack Taufer Professor

    Jack Taufer – Jack began his journey in Salt Lake City, UT after watching UFC 4 in 1995. Luckily, Master Pedro Sauer (Rickson Black Belt from Brazil) was teaching in Salt Lake City at the time. Jack also has family in Florida, and would visit there often as a teenager. He attended a Rickson seminar in Tampa, FL, and it was there he met (then) Asst Professor Dave Kama in 1995. Master Pedro awarded him his blue belt in 1998. It was under Master Pedro where Jack learned the value of having a profound (and deep) command of the basics, as Master Pedro, who is of a slight frame and weight, is especially known for. During the early 2000s, Jack relocated to SoCal and found Professor Dave in Laguna Niguel in 2001. After arriving in Orange County, Jack lived in San Diego for six months, where he trained for a period of time under Royler Gracie black belts Saulo and Xande Ribeiro. He earned all his subsequent ranks (purple, brown, and black) from Professor Dave, culminating in receiving his black belt in 2012, the same time as Professor Ryan.

    Currently, Jack travels the country for his job, taking time to visit other academies to train, while sometimes conducting Kama Jiu-Jitsu seminars when his hectic work schedule permits.