In August 1996, little after conquered the World Championship in Brazil, Ricardo traveled to the United States to compete in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Pan American Championship (held in California). After visiting friends in Santa Barbara, he fell in love with the city and decided to move to the USA. He went back to Brazil and told his girlfriend (today his wife-Erika) that he wanted to make the move to the USA. However, a few weeks before leaving Brazil, Erika realized that she was pregnant. At that point, Ricardo made the most important decision of his life: to move his new family to America.
In February 1997, unable to speak English, but determined to make a life in the USA, Ricardo moved to Southern California and began to work toward his dream in the beautiful town of Santa Barbara. While he worked to support his family with any job that he could find, at the same time, he put some mats down in a local community center (Casa de La Rasa) and invited every person he met for a free introductory Jiu Jitsu lesson.
The word spread quickly and in 1998 Ricardo met Michael Florimbi. Michael is considered by Ricardo as his “older brother” and “Godfather” in America. With Michael’s help, Ricardo got the opportunity to create the first Paragon BJJ academy.
The academy was founded in 1998 by Ricardo “Franjinha” Miller and Michael Florimbi. The first Paragon academy was in Santa Barbara and was located behind the old California Hotel on the corner of State and Mason Streets.
Under Ricardo’s hands-on direction as coach, mentor 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 a developer of ongoing physical training and self-defense programs for young people, adults, seniors, and women.
With the success of the Santa Barbara school, the Paragon name became well known as a symbol of excellence in Jiu Jitsu and people around the world desired to represent Paragon and became part of our family.
With this success and improvement over the years, the team of Paragon Black Belts works toward continued growth, while insuring the high quality of our instruction. Most importantly, we aim to continue the tradition of a positive and friendly environment where people can come to achieve their goals in life.
Today you can find Paragon schools in California, Texas and Sweden.