Instructors

Samuel Puccio is a black belt who instructs classes each week and is available for private training sessions. Learn more about Sam and the rest of the instructors here.

Samuel Puccio | Black Belt 3rd Degree

Head Instructor

Samuel Puccio is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, training under Rodrigo Medeiros, BJJ Revolution Team/Carlson Gracie Team. Samuel started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in 1997 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In 1999, he moved to Los Angeles and trained BJJ and boxing for one year with UFC Champion Vitor Belfort and Al Stanke. Samuel trained extensive No Gi freestyle and vale tudo in 2000, and trained with many professional fighters in the Carlson Gracie team; he also worked as an instructor at Left Cross Training Center. In 2002, Samuel moved to Birmingham, Alabama with the hopes of bringing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to the Southeast. Today, that goal is a reality — Samuel Puccio Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has 10 locations with over 500 students.

Angela Carmichael Smith | Black Belt

Women's Instructor

Angela is a one-stripe, first degree black belt with over 15 years experience in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. She teaches Women’s Self Defense class at our gym; she is a certified ASAF self defense instructor,, and she is the first female Black Belt in the state of Alabama in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Her favorite thing about jiu jitsu is that “it allows me to explore my limitations and strengths to create personal physical and mental growth.” Angela also likes to participate in CrossFit, bowling, yoga and Aikido. Angela is a nurse and a business owner; when she’s not working out, she enjoys, traveling, learning new things and spending time with her friends and family.

Dj Wright | Black Belt

Assistant Instructor

DJ is a black belt with 10 years of experience who teaches both Gi and No Gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. DJ’s favorite thing about jiu jitsu is the complexity; he’s a mechanical engineer, and his love of problem solving translates to grappling as well: “Every jiu jitsu match or roll is a new puzzle to solve with many different routes to the solution. Every partner can bring new variables to the equation and it is up to you to find the answer.” In addition to jiu jitsu, DJ practices yoga and likes to play soccer to cross-train. When he’s not at the gym on on the field, DJ travels the world, works on old cars and motorcycles and watches martial arts movies (especially Jackie Chan’s).

Russell Marbut | Purple Belt

Assistant Instructor

Russell is a purple belt who teaches No Gi classes. Russell’s favorite thing about jiu jitsu is that, “It teaches you the way of mastery, which can be applied in any discipline.” Russell has been training jiu jitsu for four years; he trained for a couple of years in Chito-Ryu Karate in the past, but when he found jiu jitsu he found a life-long passion. To balance and improve his jiu jitsu, Russell does yoga, swims and weight trains. When he’s not at the gym, Russell works as a web developer; in his free time, he plays video games or enjoys hiking and being out in nature.

Bob Maharrey | Purple Belt

Kids Instructor

Bob is a purple belt with almost a decade of jiu jitsu experience; he teaches children’s jiu jitsu classes. When Bob was a kid, he took wrestling and tae kwon do classes, so he understands how much grappling and martial arts have to offer children. One of Bob’s favorite things about jiu jitsu is its ability to strengthen relationships: “The great friends we make in jiu jitsu are the best,” he says. “All three of my sons are grapplers and it is so much fun to get to train and learn with them.” Bob owns a tree service, and in the summer, he travels out west to fight wildfires.