MOUNT DORA – Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter Gilbert Burns, ranked No. 2 in the world, is coming to town.
Burns will host a special workshop at Mount Dora BJJ Academy in Eustis on Saturday in celebration of the Academy’s 8th anniversary.
“Something like this doesn’t happen every day,” said academy owner David Iturrino. “It took almost a year to solidify. It’s so awesome that he takes advantage of this time to come and visit our little town and celebrate with us.
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Burns, who just turned 35, is a third degree black belt and has been involved in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for years, traveling the world giving seminars on technique and training exercises.
“I have been doing seminars for over 10 years now and have been to many different countries where I can share my experiences to help change someone’s life,” Burns said. “By training as a competitor, I feel like I can help people improve. Jiu Jitsu has changed a lot of things in my life and I really want to help strengthen this community.
Burns’ seminar will begin at 11 a.m. and is open to both adults and children. Membership cost is $ 75 for teens and adults, $ 40 for children. And the cost for non-members is $ 100 for teens and adults and $ 60 for children.
Prior to the workshop at 9:30 am, there will be a belt promotion ceremony. It will be a great moment for David’s wife, Annie, who will receive her first degree black belt in BJJ. She will be the first woman from central Florida to receive this achievement.
“I’m harder on her than anyone else,” said David. “She deserved it.”
Annie used her skills at the academy to teach other women to be strong and self-reliant.
“One of my goals is to grow our women’s group,” said Annie. “You would be surprised at the number of women victims of violence. I know firsthand that I have experienced it myself, in addition to cancer twice, the loss of my parents and the loss of my life. I hope that by seeing me achieve my goals, people will see that they can do it too.
The academy is celebrating its eighth year and its many accomplishments. The academy started out as a 650 square foot hall and has grown into what is now a more than 9,000 square foot facility.
David and Annie founded the academy to teach children and adults the benefits of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in competition, in shape and in self-defense. They have since created the nonprofit, Grappling For Life, to reach out to disadvantaged youth and give them an outlet through education and mentoring.
The academy offers training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, No Gi grappling, kickboxing, boxing, MMA, wrestling, judo, Elevate fitness classes, and women-only classes. In addition to the regular classes, the academy organizes summer camps, after-school programs and holiday events for children.
“We are really excited about this opportunity,” said David. “We will continue to grow and grow and hope one day to open a sports complex to continue helping children in our community. ”