Rodrigo Antunes was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.His introduction to martial arts was made at the age of 4, through judo, as there was a judo club very close to Rodrigo’s residence. He trained under the illustrious George Mehdi.BJJ appeared in Rodrigo’s life when he was 8 years old. His cousin was a close friend of Carley Gracie and he would often encourage Rodrigo to give jiu jitsu a try. Rodrigo ended up signing to Reylson Gracie’s old academy in the Gávea Shopping Centre. The training there was more focused in the old school methods of self defence. A few years later, through some friends Rodrigo started training with another legend of the sport, Sergio Bolão. There he got in touch with the sporting aspect of jiu jitsu. Rodrigo also worked extensively with many other coaches from the Carlson Gracie lineage, such as Rodrigo Medeiros (founder of BJJ Revolution Team). He also spent some time with Jorge Pereira.
His training continued under many different faces, including Ricardo “Franjinha” Miller, (Paragon Founder), other Gracie family members and the man that would award Rodrigo his black belt in 1999, Ze Mario Sperry.
After coaching BJJ all over the world, moved to US. In Brazil, besides teaching professional fighters, beginners, kids, executives, Law Enforcements and Special Forces, he competed and medaled in important tournaments such as the Pan Ams, Worlds Masters, Worlds No Gi, Metamoris, Brazilian Nationals, American Nationals and the Rio State Championships.
In 2012 Rodrigo Antunes received his 4th degree in BJJ from Grand Master João Alberto Barreto, a man who also had great influence in Rodrigo’s life as a martial artist.
In 2016, Gokor Chivychian and Gene LeBell promoted Rodrigo to the rank of Black Belt in their Grappling System.
Ricardo “Franjinha” Miller has being teaching and competing for the last 15 years with many titles in regional, national and international competitions. With his black belt, Ricardo set for himself challenges extending beyond Brazil.
In 1996 he came to the United States to compete and to teach. He proved to be successful at both. With American partner Mike Florimbi, the Paragon Academy of Martial Arts was founded in 1998 in Santa Barbara. Under Ricardo’s hands-on direction as coach and fighter, Paragon Santa Barbara has become a powerhouse for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instruction in California.
Ricardo and competitor-level students have dominated in regional, state, and international tournaments. In addition, Paragon has become a community force for recreational Jiu-Jitsu, a resource for law enforcement, and developer of ongoing physical training and self-defense programs for young people, adults, seniors, and women.
Joe began his grappling journey as a student in Japanese Jujitsu. Wanting to deepen his knowledge in the ground game, Joe sought out Paragon BJJ Academy. Because of Paragon, Joe’s passion grew quickly for the art of what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu stands for. Paragon is his home away from home.
He has been training for over 8 years. In 2015, Joe took Gold as a brown belt in World Masters Championship in Las Vegas. Joe was awarded his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt in December, 2015 by Professor Rodrigo Antunes and Professor Ricardo Franjinha Miller.
Joe’s passion for the art is expressed through his teaching of both kids and adults.
With the success of the Santa Barbara school, “Franjinha” opened a Ventura location as well as affiliate schools in Lompoc and Santa Maria.