Team Balance Instructors

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With over 25 years of experience in teaching Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai Kickboxing, the Balance Studios teaching staff is by far the most experienced team to get you to the next level in your martial arts journey. Owners Phil Migliarese, Ricardo Migliarese, and Frank Ambrifi have been practicing Mixed Martial Arts in Philadelphia since 1989, before the popular Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was created. Each owner is ranked as a Black Belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and have their combat origins in Boxing. The Migliarese brothers come from 3 generations of Philly Boxing. They have know from the beginning that intelligent striking and grappling are imperative to surviving a real fight.

The Balance Jiu-Jitsu Lineage is simple: HELIO GRACIE –> RELSON GRACIE –> MIGLIARESE BROTHERS


 

 

Phil “Jiu-Jitsu Matrix” Migliarese III

Head Instructors / Owners

Phil “Jiu-Jitsu Matrix” Migliarese III is a 5th degree Relson Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt with over 20+ years of experience in BJJ, Muay Thai Kickboxing, and Mixed Martial Arts.

A Gracie Worlds and National Champion, Phil is a trainer, training partner and coach to UFC and MMA fighters as well as World and Pan-Am Champions. Phil is also a Master Level Yoga Instructor, author/creator of Yoga For Fighters and has many years of training in Judo.

During the 1990′s, Phil did an extensive teacher training at three different Gracie Academies: California, Hawaii and Brazil. He trained under Grand Master Helio Gracie, Master Relson Gracie, and UFC legend, Royce Gracie.

He is the founder of Jiu-Jitsu Share Online Community , Jiu-Jitsu Matrix (a video newsletter and online learning community) and one of the co-founders/co-owners of Matrix Fights Promotion Company . He currently lives in Philadelphia, PA where he teaches at Balance Studios which he co-owns with his brother, Ricardo Migliarese. Phil is the Head of Team Balance International.

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Phil “Jiu-Jitsu Matrix” Migliarese III

Phil “Jiu-Jitsu Matrix” Migliarese III

Head Instructors / Owners

Ricardo “Animal” Migliarese

Head Instructors / Owners

Ricardo “Animal” Migliarese is a 4th degree Relson Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt with 20+ years of BJJ, Boxing, and MMA

A World and Pan-Am Champion, Rick is a trainer, training partner and coach to UFC and MMA fighters as well as other World and Pan-Am Champions. He currently lives in Philadelphia, PA where he teaches at Balance Studios which he co-owns with his brother, Phil Migliarese. Rick is also one of the co-founders/co-owners of Matrix Fights Promotion Company.

Ricardo began his athletic training with boxing lessons at age 12 with his older brother Phil. Soon, Rick began to compete in in-house tournaments with favorable results. Rick began to take his own practice to the next level. In 1999, Rick traveled out of the country for the first time – to Brazil for the Mundials. He won the silver medal to start what would be a successful and impressive professional career

Rick joined his brother Phil at the Gracie Academy in California in the late 90′s to train with Grand Master Helio Gracie, the source of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

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Ricardo “Animal” Migliarese

Ricardo “Animal” Migliarese

Head Instructors / Owners

Frank "Beast of the Northeast" Ambrifi

Head Instructors / Owners

Frank Ambrifi is a 1st degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Phil and Ricardo Migliarese with over 15 years experience. Frank also has over 25 years of wrestling and boxing experience. He currently lives in Philadelphia, PA where he is the head instructor/manager at Balance Studios Northeast Location, which he co-owns with Phil and Ricardo Migliarese.

Frank began his competition career in wrestling at the age of 14 at George Washington High School. By his senior year, Frank had earned the respect of his teammates and coaches to become the captain of the team. After graduating from high school in 1992, Frank joined the United States Marine Corps and continued to wrestle in their intramural system. He was also an Ironman Champion in 1992 & 1993. After his time in the Marines, and inspired by Royce Gracie in his win at the first UFC, Frank started training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with the Migliarese brothers.With a dream of opening his own studio, Frank spent much of his time honing his BJJ skills and studying the special techniques involved with teaching Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He wanted to bring top notch instruction to Northeast Philadelphia and would not pursue his goal until he received his black belt. Knowing that the Gracie self defense techniques can and do save lives is important to Frank and he wanted to ensure that his skill level was thorough enough to convey every detail of this system properly. In 2008, his hard work was rewarded by Phil and Rick with approval from Relson Gracie who had also been overseeing his training through the years. He then focused his energy on building a new Balance location, bringing Gracie Jiu Jitsu to the Northeast section of Philadelphia. Frank follows the Balance Studios Leadership Program model with an exemplary level of personal attention to his students and their instruction, setting this school above and beyond all others in the Northeast.

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Frank

Frank "Beast of the Northeast" Ambrifi

Head Instructors / Owners

Josh "Sloth" Vogel

Black Belt / Program Director

Josh began his martial arts career studying traditional martial arts, eventually finding his way to a couple of VHS tapes of UFC 1 and 2 in 2003. On seeing Royce Gracie dismantle his opponents with almost magical ease and efficiency, Josh felt he had to learn more about this amazing art. He made his first appointment at Balance studios within the week. It was love at first choke. Josh knew that this was going to be something that he wanted to pursue professionally so he began competing, training hard and learning the art of how to teach Gracie Jiujitsu from his instructors, Phil and Ricardo Migliarese. As a Black belt and full time instructor at Balance studios, Josh continues to research, learn and teach and finds no greater pleasure than sharing this amazing art with his friends and students.

Check out Josh's Newsletter at this link: http://www.theslothreport.com

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Josh

Josh "Sloth" Vogel

Black Belt / Program Director

Relson Gracie

Red Belt Grand Master

Relson Gracie is the second oldest son of Grandmaster Helio Gracie, the man who is credited as innovating the Jiu-Jitsu taught by Mitsuyo “Count Koma” Maeda into what is now known as Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, also referred to as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Relson was born into a legendary fighting family. His fighting spirit was evident since his birth and he began to learn the techniques of Gracie Jiu Jitsu at the tender age of 2.

In 1952, the Gracie’s opened Academia Gracie at Avenida Rio Branco, Centro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This original academy operated for 30 years. The following year, on March 28, Relson was born into the most influential martial arts family of the modern era. Ten years after the commissioning of Academia Gracie, Grandmaster Helio Gracie held the world’s first Gracie Jiu-Jitsu tournament in Gurilandia Clube, Botafogo. Relson competed in this historical event at the age of 10 and was the Brazilian National Champion in both his own weight class and the open division for an unprecedented 22 years! His record and domination of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu earned him the name “Campeao,” Portuguese for Champion. Relson’s accomplishments did not go unnoticed.

His knowledge of Jiu-Jitsu soon became a commodity within the Brazilian martial arts community. In 1975, at the age of 22, Relson was approached by Rio’s Secretary of Sport Jose Morais and Manaus Senator Artur Vigilio, a Reyson Gracie Black Belt. They proposed that Relson open his own academy. This was the beginning of the academy at Ilha Clube Jardim Guanabara (ICJG), Relson’s first Jiu-Jitsu academy. In addition to teaching Tuesday and Thursday evening classes at the already well established Academia Gracie Humaita, Relson taught at ICJG on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights. The following year brought another joyous event in Relson’s life, the birth of his first child, Karina Gracie.

In the years to come, the notoriety of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu grew, and in 1978 Academia Gracie relocated from its original location to Flamengo in Rio. The academy would develop students here until 1985. 1982 capped off the birth of his second child, Rishna Gracie and Relson’s and Rickson dominance in the black belt division in tournaments. Relson continued to dominate the 83kg weight division while younger brother Rickson did the same in the 77kg division. Their Jiu-Jitsu superiority showed as they repeatedly closed out the open weight division as well, sharing 1st and 2nd place.

In addition to their supremacy in Jiu-Jitsu competition, the Gracie’s have demonstrated their martial arts mastery in Vale Tudo, Portuguese for “Anything Goes.” Decades before Mixed Martial Arts events were held, these no holds barred wars were being waged in the stadiums of Brazil. Grandmaster Helio Gracie was one of the first in a long line of family members who proved their mettle in the ring. He is regarded as one of the first sports heroes of Brazil. Carlson Gracie was next to uphold the family honor in the Vale Tudo events. He retired from Vale Tudo after his last fight with Valdemar Santana in 1970. Due to the Gracie’s domination in Vale Tudo, for over the next ten years there were no challenges to the Gracie family in the professional Vale Tudo arena.

However the challenges did not slow down on the street. Relson, along with his brothers and cousins defended the Gracie name in the ultimate arena, the mean streets of Brazil. Even in true “no holds barred” matches, where it was often a matter of survival, Relson and the Gracie family maintained its dominance and proved that Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is the most effective style.

On April 25, 1980, the torch was officially passed to Rickson Gracie when he defeated Casemiro “Rei Zulu” Nascimento Martins by rear naked choke. Rei Zulu suffered a similar fate at the hands of Rickson again in January of 1984 during their second encounter. Relson trained Rickson for both events in anticipation of fighting Zulu himself, but later acquiesced to Grandmaster Helio’s wishes for Rickson to make his debut as the Gracie family champion.

In 1985, Relson moved from Rio de Janeiro to Monterey, California at the request of Pedro Sauer’s older brother Carlos. There Relson taught at the Eseline Therapy Institute for a year and a half. During this time Relson’s third child and first son Rhalan Gracie was born in 1987.

Shortly after Rhalan was born, this time at the request of Carlos Valente, Relson set his sights on spreading his family’s art to Hawaii. In June of 1988 he moved to Honolulu where he was destined to build a Jiu-Jitsu empire in a place where the sport was relatively unknown. Two years after his arrival in Hawaii, Relson was blessed with his fourth child, Kailani Gracie, while he laid the ground work and foundation for his own competition team.

In the pre-UFC years, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was relatively unknown outside of Brazil. Relson taught out of his garage in the evenings after a hard day’s work in the construction industry. However, the effectiveness and benefits of Jiu-Jitsu soon spread throughout the island of Oahu, and in the same year he expanded his classes to Studio 4, in the Athletic Complex of the University of Hawaii at Manoa to meet the demand. He would instruct at this location until 1996, all the while continuing to teach out of his garage.

Just as his father held the world’s first Jiu-Jitsu tournament, Relson organized the first tournament outside of Brazil in Honolulu in 1992.

The following year, older brother Rorion Gracie launched his brainchild of bringing Brazilian “Vale Tudo” (literally “anything goes” matches), the precursor to modern Mixed Martial Arts, to the United States and the rest of the world. The Ultimate Fighting Championship was created and launched the career of the now legendary, Royce Gracie. However prior to UFC 1, Royce was just Rorion and Relson’s little brother. Relson along with his brothers were tasked with training and making sure that Royce was prepared for one of the most momentous events in martial arts. Relson’s style was and is still ideally suited to this limited rules type of combat. Royce displayed their father’s Jiu-Jitsu to perfection as he took on three masters of different martial arts styles to win the first official mixed martial arts event in the United States. As we all know, Royce went on to win three of the first four events and is now a martial arts legend. However, with the advent of the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, many of Relson’s lethal techniques are no longer legal under the current rules.

In Brazil, a historical event in Jiu-Jitsu occurred in 1996: the first official World Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships (Campeanato Mundial de Jiu-Jitsu), held at the Tijuca Tenis Clube in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. The following year, Relson Gracie brought a team from Hawaii and became the first team outside of Brazil to close out a division at the Worlds. Two of Relson’s students, Kendall Goo and Kelly Matsukawa, took first and second place in the Adult Blue Belt Pessidissimo division. Through Relson’s hard work, Hawaii had captured the most medals in the World Championships outside of Brazil. After the changes in the rules, Relson felt tournaments started to steer Jiu-Jitsu away from the principles that his father had created it for. Relson decided to place less emphasis on pushing his team to compete and refocused on the true essence of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

After being in the islands for 8 years, the official Relson Gracie Main Academy was opened on Waialae Avenue in Honolulu, Hawaii. It remained in Waialae until 2000 when the Academy moved to its current location at 844 Queen Street. That same year, the Relson Gracie Team joined forces with Gracie Humaita and placed in every division at the Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championships in Florida: 1st in the Female and Master/Seniors divisions, 2nd in the Juvenile, and 3rd in the Adult.

Relson continued to host tournaments as well. The Relson Gracie National Jiu-Jitsu Tournament has been held annually in Columbus, Ohio since 1997. Due to the success of his inaugural National tournament, Arnold Schwarzenegger approached Relson to start the Arnold-Gracie World Submission Championships, also held in Columbus, has grown rapidly since its inaugural event in 2000. Between 2005 and 2008, participation increased from 1200 to 1800 competitors.

In 2004 Relson turned over the daily operations of his Main Academy to one of his black belts in order to free up time to travel to the academies within his growing association that has spread throughout the country. The following year, Relson was blessed with his fifth child, Kaena Gracie.

The Gracie’s are confident that they have created the best form of self defense in the world, and as a result they have been constantly tested by countless individuals ranging from martial arts masters to street fighters in the mean streets of Brazil. Relson was more than happy to not only defend the family name, but also prove the effectiveness of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Relson’s ferocious fighting style quickly garnered him the reputation that, of all the Gracie’s, he was the last one you wanted to test yourself against. The only Vale Tudo matches of Relson’s caught on film is featured on the video documentary Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Action 1. This fight against a Karate master can be seen below.

Although Relson’s techniques are deeply rooted in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, as taught to him by his father, Grandmaster Helio Gracie, his personal style has focused on “street effective” techniques. As such, he has developed a Jiu-Jitsu designed for defending yourself in a survival situation where there are no rules.

Today, Relson Gracie has over 40 associations that he regularly visits across the US and internationally and is growing rapidly. Because of this, he has traveled the world and taught his style of Jiu-Jitsu to a wide range of students, including local law enforcement, the U.S. Military, Secret Service, D.E.A., and F.B.I., in addition to individuals who simply sought mental and physical improvement.

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Relson Gracie

Relson Gracie

Red Belt Grand Master

Drew Vogel

Black Belt / Program Director

Drew’s journey in the martial arts began as a 12 year old in a small Shotokan Karate dojo and immediately adopted a rigorous training routine. While in college in 2003, Drew found Balance Studios and was instantly drawn to the effectiveness of Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In 2006, after completing the Leadership Program Drew began teaching at Balance Studios under the Migliarese Brothers. He believes that a balanced approach is necessary to sustain any activity, sport or lifestyle in a healthy and productive way. Drew is currently a Black Belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, a black belt in Shotokan Karate, and is a brown belt in Judo and has been actively training for 18 years. In addition to Jiu-jitsu, drew also enjoys ashtanga yoga, judo, and chess.

Check out Drew's blog at this link: http://cauliphlowercollective.tumblr.com/

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Drew Vogel

Drew Vogel

Black Belt / Program Director

Ajarn Kevin Seaman

Muay Thai instructor / Ranking: Black

Kevin Seaman
*40 Years in the Martial Arts
*Mental and Physical Performance Coach with 25 years experience
*Full Instructor and Senior Student under Sifu Dan Inosanto in Jeet Kune Do and in Filipino Martial Arts
*Considered one of the leading authorities of Jeet Kune Do
*Studied Thai Boxing since 1986 under Ajarn Chai Sirisute
*Certified Senior Instructor ranked as Ajarn and Special Advisor for the Thai Boxing Association USA (TBA)
*Certified 23 Thai Boxing Instructors through the TBA
*Certified CSW Instructor Under Erik Paulson
*Certified Full Instructor in Jeet Kune Do under Sifu Tim Tackett
*Certified Associate Instructor in Wing Chun under Sifu Francis Fong
*Certified Instructor in Seven Martial Arts Systems total (2 in JKD)
*Striking coach for over 100 competitors in USA Boxing, UFC, USMTA, IKBA, Bellator and others.
*Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Balance Studios
*Certified USA Boxing Coach
*Certified Police Defensive Tactics Instructor
*Author of 3 books:
Jun Fan Gung Fu: Seeking The Path Of Jeet Kune Do
The Winning Mind Set
The Mind Game Of MMA
*Professional Educator/Consultant/ Speaker
*Staff Instructor in Physical Education/ Athletics Department at Cornell University for 20 years.
*Has written for various magazines, featured in Black Belt, Inside Kung Fu, MA Training, Authority MMA, and others.
In addition to being a Professional Educator for over 35 years, Kevin Seaman has taught on the instructional staff in the Physical Education Department at Cornell since 1992. Kevin has written dozens of articles featured in national and international magazines. He is currently on the writing staff of contributors for Bodybuilding.com, the largest website for professional and amateur bodybuilders in the United States.

Kevin is a guest lecturer and workshop presenter for numerous business, educational, sports and recreational organizations including the Johnson School of Business MBA Fellowship at Cornell University and exclusive Performance Coach for the Professional Kiteboarders at 2005 PKRA World Cup held in Caberete, DR. Kevin is an affiliate of Brian Tracy International. He has presented over 250 workshops, seminars and group presentations to date. In addition to this, his study and application of the art and science of personal achievement and performance coaching has spanned over two decades. He has taught his Winning Mind Set Principles helping to empower thousands of students of all ages on both an academic and vocational level for over 30 years.

Kevin R. Seaman began his martial arts training in 1970 in Southern California. To date he has achieved advanced instructor levels in seven different martial arts systems and is a certified boxing coach, certified police defensive tactics instructor, and published author.

Kevin has extensive experience in the education and coaching of amateur and professional competitors in Thai boxing, kickboxing, boxing, shoot wrestling, NHB, UFC and full contact stick fighting. He has had a positive influence on the athletic careers of thousands of athletes, including high school and collegiate athletes, Empire Games medallists, national champions, All Americans, international champions, and Golden Gloves State Champions, as well as dozens of professional athletes. Now closed, Kevin owned and operated his 5.300 sq. ft. Premiere Martial Arts Training Facility and Gym, the East West Martial Arts Academy for nearly 20 years. He now works as a contract educator, teaching all over the country.

Kevin is a three-time Hall of Fame inductee, being inducted into the ZDK, AMA and World Martial Arts Hall of Fame’s. In 2001, he was honored for a Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award in Atlantic City, at the largest Black Tie event of it’s kind, in the history of the martial arts.

Kevin has competed in the martial arts on a regional, national, and international level for over a decade, and was an “Eastern National Champion” in both floor forms and full contact sparring. At the age of 37, Mr. Seaman was a World Champion in full contact stickfighting competing in Southeast Asia at the 1992 World, Kali, Arnis Championships at the Aquino Memorial Stadium in Manila, Philippines.

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Ajarn Kevin Seaman

Ajarn Kevin Seaman

Muay Thai instructor / Ranking: Black

Kru Andy Russell

Muay Thai instructor / Ranking: Black
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Kru Andy Russell

Kru Andy Russell

Muay Thai instructor / Ranking: Black

Judah Ciervo

Muay Thai instructor / Ranking: Black

Judah’s practice of the martial arts began in 1994 when he received a copy of Bruce Lee’s Tao of Jeet Kune Do, which he studied intently for several years. A self-directed learner from a young age, Judah first began formal instruction in the fighting arts in the fall of 1997 studying at the Philadelphia Muay Thai Academy under Gerry Brown and Ken Perry (RIP). Judah earned his Muay Thai shorts under Ajarn Sakasem Kanthawong and Kru Andy Russell in February 2000 and began to compete as an amateur in Muay Thai that summer for the next 9 years. Judah has a fought both nationally and internationally in Muay Thai, most recently fighting the 2010 Pradal Serey (Kun Khmer) national champion in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

In 2002 Judah became a Muay Thai instructor and the Competition Team Coach at Body Arts Gym under Angel Cartagena. That same year Judah broadened his horizons and began learning no-gi grappling and mixed martial arts, under Stephen Haigh founder of the Philadelphia Fight Factory, and had his first Shoot Fight/MMA bout in the fall of 2002. While fighting under the Fight Factory banner from 2002-2009 Judah was the Muay Thai coach for the MMA team and was privileged to have been a teammate and sparring partner of future MMA luminaries Eddie Alvarez and Zach Makovsky during the first 5 years of their careers.

Judah is part of the last generation of MMA fighters to have competed in Vale Tudo matches (one 10 minute round all techniques allowed) in the United States in April 2003 against Billy Craparo (RIP). Judah won his pro MMA debut April 2008 by second round TKO and made his pro Muay Thai debut January 2009.

Since March 2013 Judah has been continuing his martial arts journey learning Gracie Jiu-jitsu at Balance Studios under the instruction of the Migliarese and Vogel brothers and is continuing his study of Muay Thai under the guidance of Master Instructor Kru Andy Russell.

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Judah Ciervo

Judah Ciervo

Muay Thai instructor / Ranking: Black

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