There is so much to tell you about our 25+ years of Mixed Martial Arts instruction in Philadelphia and our 12 years in business. Through out the years, we have done so much. Please click on a tab below to explore our history.

Click Below to discover more about Balance Studios

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Balance Studios: The Headquarters

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Do you have 5 minutes? We packed 20 years of history in one slide show video.

Balance Studios (est. 2002)

Balance Studios opened their doors for business in 2002. Since then, the Migliarese brothers and their talented staff have been working hard to educate their students in the arts of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, MMA, and Yoga. The Balance center city location is the headquarters to more than 30 schools around the world.

“Balance” is one of the Oldest Gracie schools in the US. Owners, Ricardo and Phil Migliarese have been training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for more than 20 years and are certified black belts under Master Relson Gracie.

The Migliarese brothers currently guide 300+ students in their studios. Balance Studios became the Official Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy of Philadelphia in 2009 when Relson Gracie (Second oldest son of Helio Gracie) awarded “Academy Status” for upholding the teaching methods of Grandmaster Helio Gracie. Co-owner, Phil Migliarese is a 5th degree black belt under Relson Gracie and is the highest ranking representative of the Gracies in Philadelphia.

Balance Credentials
Balance Philosophy
Our Mission

We promise to provide the following:

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Team Balance Worldwide

” style=”fancy”] 20121021-135945.jpgTeam Balance is widely regarded as one of the elite martial arts teams in the world. Currently representing nearly 30 school world-wide, the ever-growing network consists of 5,000 students, all of whom have been carefully selected through limited enrollment to represent Team Balance.

Balance Studios, the headquarters of this top-notch team, is located in Philadelphia, PA, and is owned by Phil and Ricardo Migliarese. True American pioneers, the brothers have utilized their 40 years of combined martial arts experience, as well as the knowledge they gained while living and training with the legendary Gracie family, to build Team Balance into a multi-faceted university of the body and mind.

The exclusivity of membership fosters a familial environment that is unrivaled amongst competitors, and much sought out by those eager to learn from the best. Team Balance fighters run the gamut from average enthusiasts to world champion jiu-jitsu competitors; some are professional fighters who have fought in esteemed mixed martial arts competitions like the UFC, while others have represented Team Balance at the prestigious ADCC championships.

Their systematic method of teaching consists of basic, intermediate, and advanced classes in yoga, jiu jitsu, and mixed martial arts, all with the expressed goal of sculpting the individual into a complete fighter. Achieving black belt status as a member of Team Balance is unlike achieving it anywhere else, in that here it represents not only your skills as a jiu jitsu practitioner, but also your ability to strike, your take downs, and your overall character as a human being.

Want to Join Team Balance?

Call 215-636-9661 to speak to Ricardo or Phil Migliarese

-Please read the Team Balance Disclaimer (CLICK HERE )

-Balance Owner group on facebook (CLICK HERE)


Team Balance requirements

-Be a team player! Our team is our family

-Display an official TEAM BALANCE BANNER in your school

-All students register for TOURNAMENTS in the following way TEAM BALANCE / your school name

-Build a TEAM BALANCE PAGE on your website.


Team Balance Schools

State City Head Instructor School & Website
PA Philadelphia Phil & Rick Migliarese Balance Studios (HQ)
PA Philadelphia Frank Ambrifi & Phil Migliarese Balance Sudios 2
PA Exton Lonnie Beck Dragon Gym
PA Lancaster Damione Puopolo Gracie 717
PA Quakertown Chuck Glass Reality Martial Arts
PA Conshohocken Tim Hart Hart BJJ
NJ Sewell John Hassett Hassetts Jiu-Jitsu
NJ Voorhees Kenny Brach Brach’s Jiu-Jitsu
NJ Williamstown Mike Garaguso Garaguso Karate/Jiu-Jitsu
NJ Egg Harbor Rich Komar Komar Jiu-Jitsu
NJ Maple Shade Marco Perazzo New Jersey Martial Arts
NJ Ewing Bryan Bentley/Ron Jones Mercer Academy of Martial Arts
NJ Hainsport Pat Vacanti Vacanti Jiu-Jitsu
MD Baltimore Lee Synkowski Baltimore BJJ
DE Newark Bill Walters & Jimmy Morrison 302 BJJ
DE Wilmington Ken Primola Flow Jiu-Jitsu
DE Dover Alex Lapinsky Inside Control
NY Westchester Steve Kardian Westchester Jiu-Jitsu
NY Syracuse Ken Kronenberg Syracuse Jiu-Jitsu
NY Binghamton Tamdan McCrory CNY MMA Binghamton
VA Portsmouth Willie Hunter Tiger Martial Arts
FL Tampa Ryan Deichert Tampa Jiu-Jitsu
KY Somerset Brian Antonelli Team Balance Nomad
MI Detroit John Toth East West Martial Arts
CA San Diego Josh Amaro Relentless BJJ

Team Balance International

Country City Instructor School & Website
Ireland Dublin Ray Butcher Balance Ireland
Brazil Rio De Janeiro Steve Gifford Call 215-543-6224 for details
Aruba ———- —————- Call 215-636-9661 for details

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Migliarese Brothers: Fearless Leaders

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The Migliarese Brothers: 
Living and Teaching the Jiu Jitsu Lifestyle 
Article written by Thomas Gilmore (April 2007)

Phil Migliarese

Phil Migliarese

Phil Migliarese’s introduction to martial arts began with karate classes at the age of 8. By the time he was 12 he had discovered Brazilian jiu jitsu, a virtually unknown style of grappling at the time, but one that would soon transform the martial arts forever.

This was before the Ultimate Fighting Championship showcased the effectiveness of jiu jitsu to the world. It was also before the Gracie family, many generations of whom had revolutionized the Japanese form of jiu jitsu since the beginning of the 20th century, went on to become the legendary pantheon of fighters they are today. Those are the people Phil trained with. He went directly to the source.




Migliarese Family and The Gracie Family

Phil with Helio Gracie after teacher training

Throughout his years with the Gracies, Phil has become more like a member of the family than a student. Relson Gracie refers to him as a brother. And rightfully so, considering Phil shared the mat with them before Gracie jiu jitsu became a staple in every self-respecting martial arts studio in the world. He even participated in the legendary challenge matches that were frequent occurrences back when the family first issued the $100,000 challenge.



Migliarese Brothers represent the Gracie Family

Migliarese Bros. with Grand Master, Helio Gracie

These fights were labeled so because $100,000 was exactly the amount of money they would pay to anyone who could beat the Gracie fighters on the mat. In those days, it was a common occurrence for men who had studied martial arts their entire lives to barge into the Academy and denounce the effectiveness of Gracie jiu jitsu against their own style. 
When Royce gained popularity with the UFC, he was the guy everybody wanted to fight. In order to get to him, they would first have to go through Phil, or other students like him, to prove that they were up for the challenge. Phil’s first challenge match happened in Philadelphia, when he was just 14 years old. Royce Gracie was in attendance that day, when an adult male karate instructor walked in to the studio with entirely too much confidence in the black belt he wore about his waist. 
Phil was merely a white belt in jiu jitsu at the time, but had been studying for several months and had already developed a good foundation in the basics. He immediately closed the distance to render his opponents’ strikes ineffective, took him to the ground, and attained the mounted position. Once there, he forced the much larger man to tap in 30 seconds. When Royce informed the man that he had just been beaten by a 14 year old, the man’s bravado deflated, along with any chance of a rematch. 
Scenes like this played out on a regular basis, and no one ever collected that $100,000. Instead, the challengers received something much more valuable than money – a reality check. If they were wise, they supplemented their training with jiu jitsu.


Phil’s Travels

Mig Bros and Relson Gracie
Phil Migliares, Relson Gracie, Ricardo Migliarese

When Phil was 17, he left for Hawaii to live and train with Relson. For 3 months, he lived and breathed jiu jitsu; even carefully following the Gracie diet constructed by Carlos Gracie to ensure that his family of fighters would always be in top physical form. Phil still abides by the diet today. 
At the end of those 3 months, Phil flew back to Philadelphia, where he concentrated on his studies whenever he wasn’t teaching jiu jitsu. After the semester, he flew back to Hawaii to train for 3 more months before coming home and repeating the cycle all over again. By the time he was 18, he had enough frequent flier miles to add another stop on his journey, and it was then that Phil began training at the Gracie Academy in Torrance, CA. 
His duties, aside from teaching basic jiu jitsu to beginners, included scrubbing the toilets, sweeping the mats, and generally working as best he could to ensure the place met the meticulous standards of Rorion Gracie. His thoroughness would be tested even further when Grand Master Helio Gracie, Rorion’s father, arrived at the Academy.

According to Phil, there was a period of about 3 months where he taught every class at the Gracie Academy; even those ordinarily taught by Royce. Phil was so enmeshed in the family and the studio that he was invited to assist Royce with his jiu jitsu seminars all over the country.

Ricardo Migliarese

Ricardo Migliarese

During these years, Phil was so excited by the techniques he was learning that he would often rush home and teach them to his younger brother Ricardo, a natural who showed great promise in the style and enjoyed training so much that it wasn’t long before he followed in Phil’s footsteps and headed to the Gracie Academy in Torrance as well.
Ricardo has since grown into a true force in the world of jiu jitsu. As much as he is both big and strong, he is that much more technical and perceptive. These combined traits have led to him winning numerous world and national championships. In 1999, he won a world championship medal in the birthplace of Gracie jiu jitsu: Brazil.





Balance Studios / Relson Gracie Training Association

20121021-135945-1024x576In 2000, Phil moved back to Philadelphia and took over the Relson Gracie training association in the city. Two years later, Phil and Ricardo opened Balance Studios, which is now the oldest Relson Gracie affiliation on the east coast. Only a year later, Phil became the youngest student ever to have been awarded a black belt by Relson Gracie. And now, five years later, Phil is authorized to bestow that honor himself, as well as certify all 10 levels of instructors. 
Together the brothers have sculpted Balance Studios into a top notch facility that is widely regarded as one of the best in the world. Ricardo, now a black belt as well, is currently furthering his advantage by studying kinesiology, and before long should know even more ways to twist his competitors into knots.

The Migliarese brothers have devised a proven formula of instruction at Balance that caters to students of all ages, genders, sizes, and skill level with classes specially designed to focus on individual needs. They share the philosophy that one must completely repress the ego in order to truly evolve, and because of that, their academy encourages friendship and support like no other.

A common saying among jiu jitsu practitioners is that “a black belt is just a white belt who does not quit.” And while the Migliarese brothers’ goal is to impart at least a sample of jiu jitsu to everyone in the world, they want to do so in such a way that their students see no reason to quit. They would like for them to believe what they do – that jiu jitsu is a way of life. [/su_spoiler]
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Relson Gracie: Our Instructor

” style=”fancy”] relson_gracieThe 2nd oldest son of Helio Gracie, Relson Gracie moved to Hawaii in 1988. He began learning jiu-jitsu at 2 and entered his first competition at the tender age of 10! He was the Brazilian National Champion for 22 years straight, and during this period went undefeated in his weight and the open weight division. He became so popular that he attained the nickname “Campeao” or “Champion” among his friends and fans. Relson represented his family’s style in the rough streets of Rio de Janeiro against all challengers. He at this time he was considered the meanest of the Gracie Representatives.

There are still stories circulating in Brazil about some of the challenges Relson answered. Relson’s style of Jiu-Jitsu is submission based and is best suited for self-defense. Relson, as a Master of Jiu-Jitsu, still follows the correct promotion standards his father set. Relson’s style of instruction is very detail oriented and technical.

Relson’s Challenge Match

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He is the only person ever to have two students that train under the same roof to close out a division of the World Championships by taking first & second place. Relson has helped train some of the best fighters in the world & most respected Jiu-Jitsu practitioners. Upon his arrival to Honolulu, Relson had to prove the effectiveness of the Brazilian Martial Art to the locals. This would be a tall order for anyone. Hawaiians are usually large and tough warriors and there is a huge military population on the island. It was with great pleasure that Relson introduced the art of Gracie Jiu-jitsu to the Aloha State.

He now has trained Honolulu Police Department, all the U.S. Military forces, the Secret Service, the D.E.A. the F.B.I. and more. Now retired from competition, Relson continues to enjoy teaching classes in Hawaii and at his associations across the Nation. He has become quite fond of the island life. Each week you can find Relson at Sandies beach or at a B-B-Q when he is not on the mats. [/su_spoiler]
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Hélio Gracie: Our Inspiration

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(Oct 1, 1913 – Jan 29, 2009)

Helio Gracie is the founder the art of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (GJJ), also known internationally as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). Until his death, Hélio was the only living 10th degree master of the discipline and is widely considered as one of the first sports heroes in Brazilian history; he was named Black Belt Magazine’s Man of the Year in 1997. Helio was the father of the world-renowned fighters Rickson Gracie, Royler Gracie, Royce Gracie, Relson Gracie and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) founder Rorion Gracie.

In 1914, jiu-jitsu master Esai Maeda, also known as Count Coma, began teaching Helio’s older brother, Carlos Gracie. After practicing for a few years, Carlos passed his knowledge to his brothers.

Helio soon realized that due to his frail physique, most of the techniques he had learned from watching Carlos teach were particularly difficult for him to execute. Eager to make the techniques work for him, he began modifying them to accommodate his weak body. Emphasizing the use of leverage and timing over strength and speed, Helio modified virtually all of the techniques and, through trial and error, created Gracie/Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

In order to prove the effectiveness of his new system, Helio openly challenged all the reputable martial artists in Brazil. He fought 18 times, including matches against onetime world heavyweight wrestling champion, Wladek Zbyszko and the #2-ranked Judoka in the world at the time, Kato, whom Helio choked unconscious in six minutes. His victory against Kato qualified him to enter the ring with the world champion, Masahiko Kimura, who outweighed Helio by almost 80 pounds.

A modern-day legend, Helio Gracie gained international acclaim for his dedication to the dissemination of the art and philosophy of Gracie Jiu-jitsu. A dedicated family man who exemplified a healthy life-style, he was the epitome of courage, discipline, determination, and an inspiration to all those who knew him.

Migliarese Brothers Tribute to Helio

RickHelioPhilThe Migliarese Brothers started learning from Grand Master Hélio Gracie and his son Relson Gracie when they were 12 years old. Both brothers are completely committed to preserving his technique, teaching method, diet and philosophy.

On January 29, 2009, Phil and Rick Migliarese went to work on a project to honor the life’s work of Grandmaster Helio Gracie. This is demonstration of a portion of the Grand Master’s Self Defense System (80 techniques)