Groundbreaking Wing Chun Instructor Expands Expertise over Greatmats

Chris Damiano Builds Academy into One of the Best in Gulf Coast

By Brett Hart

After 32 years in martial arts, Sifu Chris Damiano has been round the world honing his skills in everything from wrestling to Hapkido to Judo, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Jeet Kune Do and has developed a strong understanding of what works for him and his students.

A Chicago native, Sifu Damiano originally moved to Florida because he needed training partners. Soon he was teaching others how to be his training partners.

Chris Damiano owner Centerline Martial Arts Greatmats Grappling Mats

Wing Chun
In 1994, he narrowed his focus exclusively to Wing Chung and six years later traveled to Hong Kong to study with Grandmaster Ip Ching, the second eldest son of Bruce Lee’s mentor Ip Man. Damiano later became an instructor under Ip Ching, opening Centerline Martial Arts out of his garage in Destin, Florida in 2000. A contractor during the day, Sifu Damiano finally opened Centerline as a full-time martial arts academy in 2007. He quickly became one of the most sought after instructors in the Gulf Coast and was named the USA International Black Belt Hall of Fame’s 2013 Wing Chun Instructor of the Year.

Damiano now also has academies underneath his banner in St. Louis, Boston and Las Vegas.

Chris Damiano Centerline Martial Arts Greatmats Grappling Mats

Jiu Jitsu
Over the last four years, Damiano has added Gracie Jiu Jitsu to his repertoire, studying under fellow 30-plus year martial artist Sensei Brandon Hetzler, who has achieved black belts of varying degrees in Fudoshin Taijutsu, Goju-Ryu, Shito-Ryu and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Sifo Damiano still splits his time between his contracting work and martial arts, teaching three days per week, but with other instructors, the academy is used 5-6 days per week.

centerline-martial-arts-chris-damiano8

The Need for Mats
With his current academy being located in the second story of an office building and his teaching expanding beyond Wing Chun to striking/kickboxing and jiu jitsu, he quickly discovered that concrete flooring was no longer suitable for his practices.

That’s when he discovered Greatmats martial arts floors. One of his friends with a big Karate school told him about Greatmats, and Hetzler, who has used Greatmats flooring in his home dojo for six years, both highly recommended Greatmats to Sifu Damiano.

In 2012, Damiano equipped his academy with Greatmats 20 mm inch thick martial arts mats and a pro pole pad. While he was happy with the quality of the mats, they proved to be too thin for his judo and jiu jitsu work – especially in the kids classes. So he ordered three of Greatmats’ 2 inch thick 4×10 foot folding mats to add more cushion for those exercises.

Centerline Martial Arts Chris Damiano Greatmats MMA Grappling Mats

Greatmats Grappling MMA Mats
In 2015, he upgraded to Greatmats’ 1 5/8 inch thick Grappling MMA Mats, with a no burn tatami surface and 4-foot critical fall height rating, and sold off his 7/8 inch mats to students for garage workout areas.

”These mats are not as taxing on the body for what I’m doing now,” Sifu Damiano said. ”I love those mats! My school’s completely covered in it except for my back room.”

With approximately 20 students per class and 45 of his 60 students being adults, the mats are regularly put to the test.

”Those mats get an awful lot of use every night,” He added. ”The overall quality of those mats are great. They’re durable. We usually do 45 minutes of technique and eight 5-minute rounds of sparring/grappling. We always start standing. Using wrestling takedowns or judo takedowns, three rounds of kickboxing and three rounds of kickboxing with takedowns. I love that tatami top.”

Pole Padding
The Grappling MMA mats have eliminated his need for the folding mats, but added that the pole pad is still a ”very needed piece” in his school, noting that it is often used as a circuit training tool.

”People use it to train on; kids kick it,” Sifu Damiano said. ”Sometimes I use that to line them up, and they can do some of their striking on that as part of the stations.”

A believer in ”time put in equals skill,” Sifu Damiano has definitely put in his time, and for the last five years, that time has been put in over Greatmats martial arts floors.

Centerline Martial Arts class on Greatmats Grappling MMA Mats and Greatmats Pole Paddding
Chris Damiano
Centerline Martial Arts
Destin FL 32550
For more on this topic please review our Martial Arts Mats product page.
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Professor Jucao Brites Attends Tournament Created in His Honor

adults grappling SUGA Jucao Cup 2016 GreatmatsGracie United Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools attended the Jucao Cup in Hammond, Louisiana to showcase their talents in front of Professor Ailson “Jucao” Brites and 800 spectators on July 23. The Jucao Cup tournament was created to honor Professor Brites.
armbar at Jucao Cup tournament SUGA GreatmatsThere were 265 Gracie United students representing 19 schools and three states at the tournament. Gracie United Pnchatoula, Madeville, Ascension and Bay St. Louis were the top four schools in terms of number of competitors.

youth tournament at Jucao Cup SUGA GreatmatsTournament Organizer Rafael Ellwanger said, ”Our unity is was makes us special. We have 19 locations and five more opening this year. Events like this reinforce our commitment with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the development of our skills in a safe and positive environment.

”We brought our professor and leader Ailson Jucao Brites from New York to be present and named the event in his honor. The medals were custom made with his logo and in his honor.”

award ceremony at Jucao Cup SUGA GreatmatsProfessor Brites was presented with an award thanking him for committing over 40 years of his life to jiu jitsu and leading this group of athletes.

One of the event’s top competitors was Brian Wells. Among the youth, Robert Derks and Camden Alford stood tall above the competition. Savanna Camarata was a top performer in junior division. Faith Lee, Sara Lebeau, and Rachel Beard were standouts in the women’s divisions.

Rafael Ellwanger
Gracie United BJJ
Ponchatoula LA 70454
For more on this topic please review our Grappling and MMA Mats product page.

BJJ Alabama State Championships a perfect start to summer

Alabama State BJJ ChampionshipsOrange Beach Alabama is currently preparing to accommodate the South USA Grappling Association‘s sixth Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Alabama State Championships this Saturday, May 14, 2016.

Danny Ruiz vs. Michael Morgan MMA

Danny Ruiz and Michael Morgan

The Championships will be highlighted by a black belt match between Michael Morgan and Danny Ruiz.

Morgan, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and Judo brown belt, is the head BJJ instructor and owner of The Academy of Pensacola.

Ruiz, 37, is a black belt in both BJJ and Judo and holds a second degree black belt in Dantoryu JuJitsu. Ruiz is the owner and head instructor at Capitau Jiu-Jitsu and MMA and holds a professional MMA record of 14-6-0.

More than 200 competitors are already preregistered and approximately 300 hundred are expected to sign up for the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Alabama State Championships before registration closes Wednesday at midnight. Currently, 20 academies and five states are represented on the competitor list.

Event organizer Rafael Ellwanger said, “This event is a getaway, mini vacation event. Parents approached me asking for the opportunity to have an event where they can go and enjoy the weekend, not just go compete and (go) back home. So we decided to choose the closest and best white sand beach with tons of attractions and entertainment.”

This premiere BJJ tournament is equipped with Greatmats Grappling MMA Mats. As an official sponsor of the South USA Grappling Association, Greatmats is offering all competitors and spectators at the even an opportunity to win prizes from Greatmats through participation in the Greatmats Photobomb Contest. Included amongst the prizes are Amazon Gift Cards, Greatmats Credit and a Folding Gym Mat. To learn more about the contest, visit http://www.greatmats.com/martial-arts-mats/greatmats-photobomb-contest.php.

Weather is predicted to be perfect and the tournament coincides with the last week of school for most kids and teens in the area. Should all go as planned the Alabama State Championships will be the perfect way to kick off the summer vacation by competing and enjoying a weekend on the beach!

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Alabama State Championships

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Alabama State Championships

2016 Summer Classic boasts 400+ BJJ competitors

Youth Grappling sponsored by Greatmats

AGF Youth GrapplingEntering its fifth year, this Saturday’s (May 7, 2016) Summer Classic in Duncanville, Texas has become staple of amateur Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Texas.

This year, the American Grappling Federation tournament features more than 400 athletes and nearly 70 teams.

“There’s 3 other tournaments going on during a 4 week span, and we still managed to have a good turnout like this,” said AGF Co-Owner Chris Carlino.

This marks the sixth American Grappling Federation tournament of 2016. Remember that all competitors and spectators in attendance at a 2016 AGF tournament are eligible to enter the Greatmats Photobomb Contest for a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card, $50 Greatmats Credit or 5×10 foot by 2 inch thick folding mat. To learn more about Greatmats

Greatmats and American Grappling Federation

Greatmats and American Grappling Federation

Photobomb Contest visit http://www.greatmats.com/martial-arts-mats/greatmats-photobomb-contest.php. Check out Greatmats Martial Arts Flooring options at http://www.greatmats.com/martial-arts-mats.php.

Jackson BJJ Championships coming Saturday

American Grappling Federation no gi

If you find a Greatmats Martial Arts Floors banner in your photos from this event, post it to Greatmats Facebook page to enter yourself in the Greatmats Photobomb Contest.

With athletes from more than 60 academies registered to compete in the American Grappling Federation’s Jackson BJJ Championships at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi on April 30, the day is sure to have adrenaline flowing at an all-time high.

Last year’s team champion, the No Limit Killer Bees will look to defend their title while Vector Jiu-Jitsu aims to improve on last year’s second place finish. BJJ Revolution, which placed third at the tournament a year ago is riding high after a team victory at the New Orleans BJJ Championships on March 12.

Festivities begin at 7:30 a.m. At the Hangar Dome of Millsaps College.

While your there, don’t forget to take a picture of yourself next to a banner for tournament sponsor Greatmats for a chance to win great prizes. Visit http://www.greatmats.com/martial-arts-mats/greatmats-photobomb-contest.php to learn more on how to enter and what you could win.

Greatmats Photobomb Contest

Win Gift Cards or a Folding Mat in Greatmats’ Photobomb Contest

Kansas City BJJ Championships bigger than ever

Greatmats Photobomb at American Grappling Federation Tournament Don’t Miss the American Grappling Federation’s 2016 Kansas City BJJ Championship, sponsored by Greatmats, April 23 at the LeVO Sports Complex in Riverside, Missouri.

In its second year with the AGF, the Kansas City BJJ Championships has nearly doubled its intrants for the 2016 tournament with more than 400 competitors pre-registered. The 400-plus competitors, ages 3-55, represent nearly 80 martial arts academies and will compete in 222 divisions.

Last year’s KC BJJ Championship Tournament was held Aug. 29 and won by Gracie Barra with 270 points. Kansas City BJJ was close behind with 260 points.

AGF Grappling Action sponsored by GreatmatsThis year, there are three Gracie Barra Teams (Hannibal, St. Louis and Whiteman AFB) with competitors entering more than 100 events. Kansas City BJJ has already 26 athletes registered for 53 events.

If you’re going find one of Greatmats floor banners and take a picture of yourself with the banner in the photo to enter Greatmats Photobomb Contest for a chance to win great prizes. Learn more about the photobomb contest at http://www.greatmats.com/martial-arts-mats/greatmats-photobomb-contest.php

BJJ Revolution consumes 2016 New Orleans Championships

Greatmats, AGF New Orleans BJJ Championships

New Orleans BJJ Championships Kids No Gi tournament action

Greatmats Girls BJJ, AGF, Grappling

Female BJJ action at the 2016 AGF New Orleans Championships – Gi Division.

BJJ Revolution dominated the 49-team American Grappling Federation (AGF) New Orleans BJJ Championships on March 12 as it more than doubled the points posted by runner up Cyclone BJJ.

While Cyclone BJJ claimed the Kids No Gi title with 141 points, and Kids Gi tile with 126 points, BJJ Revolution held near complete control of the adult classes.

The New Orleans BJJ team champions compiled the bulk of their 691 points in the Adult Gi Division where it boasted 290 points, and added another 245 points in the Adult No Gi Division. In both cases, BJJ Revolution bested the next best team by more than 200 points.

Greatmats Grappling, AGF Tournament

Adult Men’s Gi Grappling at 2016 AGF New Orleans BJJ Championships

BJJ Revolution placed second in Kids Gi (83 points) and third in Kids No Gi (73 points).

Marra Senki Jiu Jitsu placed second in the Kids No Gi division with 78 points. Alan Belcher MMA edged NOLA BJJ via tiebreaker for second place in the Adult No Gi Division with 37 points.

Kron Gracie Jiu Jitsu West Monroe grabbed the number two spot in the Adult Gi Division.

Greatmats Photobomb Contest

Win great prizes in Greatmats Photobomb contest!

Greatmats, a national martial arts flooring leader and sponsor of the AGF, is offering participants and spectators at all 2016 AGF Tournaments the opportunity to win great prizes throughout the 2016 season by simply posting a picture of yourself at an AGF event with a Greatmats banner somewhere in the picture. To learn more about how to enter the Photobomb contest, visit http://www.greatmats.com/martial-arts-mats/greatmats-photobomb-contest.php.

Louisiana BJJ Championship Grappling

2016 American Grappling Federation New Orleans, Louisiana, BJJ Championships