Build each other


Sunny Yu

"Why Teach? My father tells me that my grandfather, whom I've only met once, was a Kung Fu master in his Taiwanese village. He continues to add that, among many contributions, he helped a lot of people in his community.


This revelation inspired me to evaluate my personal Brazilian Jiu Jitsu journey and come to the conclusion that I wished for my measure of success to not be defined by how many people I could "beat", but rather how many people I could help.


I desire that one day my grandkids will hear that their grandfather also helped many people in his community."

In 2016, Sunny completed the Gracie Academy Instructor Certification Program.  He has been a part-time instructor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since the Fall of 2007, teaching social dance and adding Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to the course offerings in the fall of 2011.



"I believe life is more enjoyable once we are equipped to protect what we value – including ourselves,

however, for the majority of my life I felt ill-equipped. 


When I was younger I had tried various martial arts but none ever “clicked” for me. Therefore, I never developed the confidence with those disciplines to protect myself. Until my mid-20s, I chalked myself up as a lost cause when it came to defending myself.

Then I found Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Finally, I had found a martial art that had structure, taught me the WHY behind every move, and really “clicked” for me!


Before long I felt like I could actually protect myself.

I finally had the equipment I needed to enjoy my life!

Alixander Laffredo-Dietrich completed instructor certification through Gracie University in January 2020. At IBM, he is an Offering Manager and also runs his own business helping professionals and entrepreneurs speak from the stage!

Gracie Jiu Jitsu Durham Ryron leadsership.png
Jim Phifer Gracie Jiu Jitsu Durham

Jim Phifer

Gracie Combatives Testimonial 2011

"I get so excited when I talk about Gracie Combatives that sometimes it is hard for me to get the words out. What I meant to say was........"I love Gracie Combatives"


I never thought that I would be able to learn real Gracie Jiu Jitsu because I live in the middle of nowhere. I am a former DT (defensive tactics) instructor with over 20 years of Law Enforcement experience. I am only interested in self defense. I have never been in a tournament, I have never seen one, and I don't even know the rules.

In all of my Law Enforcement training it always bothered me that what I thought were the 3 most important things were never properly taught how to deal with, these were: The Haymaker Punch, The Tackle, and the Headlock. As soon as I previewed Gracie Combatives I knew that I had found what I had been searching for my entire career. I was serious when I told you that the Gracie Bullyproof Techniques that you teach to 3 and 4 year olds are better than the techniques I was taught as a Police Officer and as an Intensive Probation Officer.

This stuff works! Can I beat a more experienced, sport Jiu-Jitsu player at this point? Not Likely. Can I successfully defend myself against a crazed mental patient who is 1/2 my age and twice my size and trying to punch my head off? Yes, and I have, all because of Gracie Combatives. The essential 36 Lessons do prepare people for the most likely attacks. Period."

Jim Phifer completed the Instruction Certification Program through the Gracie Academy in 2012.  He was also the principal operator for Gracie Jiu Jitsu Williamston, a Certified Training Center under the Gracie Academy until he moved to the Raleigh area.

Talton Mickle Gracie Jiu Jitsu Durham.jp

Talton Mickle

Gracie Combatives Testimonial 2020

"I found Gracie Combatives to be the solution to the most common problems in self defense scenarios. The 36 simple techniques will teach anyone how to properly defend against a street opponent.

The classes are taught where men and women can come without prior experience or superior physical attributes and learn all of the moves.

I knew I had to be a part of this program to help people of all backgrounds accomplish street readiness through the Gracie Combatives program.

I want to teach Gracie Jiu Jitsu helping people overcome their obstacles.  If they find physical limitations as a reason to not pursue learning, I want to help them overcome this barrier.

Talton Mickle completed the Gracie University Instruction Certification Program in July 2020.  He also graduated Army Basic Combat Training in 2016 and is currently serving.

Savannah Yu

Women Empowered Testimonial 2020

"I always thought that my size and strength were blocks in my ability to defend.


Was I was prepared to handle any situation in a fight?


An attacker follows four phases - Identify an unsuspecting target, subdue and isolate the target, control and exhaust the target, and carry out the assault.


What if at any of these points, I could not escape and get to safety?


When I was introduced to the Women Empowered program, all of these “what ifs” became “I cans”.


Not only that, but I've been able to apply these skills to my everyday life.


My favorite part is that I’m not overruled by fear anymore. I feel confident, excited and the people who come in our building leave with a smile and an eagerness to know more.


I’m so thankful to be a part of a community where the safety of everyone is a top priority.

Savannah Yu completed the Gracie University Women Empowered Instruction Certification Program in July 2020.  Other arts that she engages in include aerial silks, professional face painting and photography.