Jiu Jitsu Improving University Avenue






If you want to learn self-defense or be a fighter, check out City of Champions – a quiet training gym for athletes from beginners to pros. Owner Dustin Thornton takes pride in making his place “beginner friendly” and has an able staff of coaches to guide a boy or girl, man or woman, toward their personal goals, whether it’s getting fit, losing weight, improving strength and conditioning or martial arts like Jiu Jitsu or Muay Thai.

Thornton, 37, has invested to make this gym into a pleasing and welcoming business, improving the lighting, equipment and restrooms, since opening in 2012. “We have a #1 rating on Yelp, which does a thorough background check on your business,” he says. “You can’t change any Yelp reviews at all, and all mine are A-1, five star ratings. We’re proud of that.” Comments include: “Neat place, clean floors, no messy equipment … dedicated instructors who inspire … it’s all business for a full hour.”The big challenge facing this business area, he believes, is “the lack of foot traffic. We need a coffee shop or café to attract people and get walkers to stop in.” Thornton knows what it takes to become successful. For over a dozen years, he’s dedicated himself to learning skills and honing his talents. “There aren’t any short cuts to a high level of functioning except old-fashioned hard work.”

Inspired in 2001 watching Royce Gracie, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Mixed Martial Arts champion on TV from his home in Pittsburgh, Thornton moved to San Diego in 2005 after his coach told him that the most concentrated Jiu Jitsu schools were in southern California and eventually settled in El Cerrito where he and wife Yoko and 9 month old baby Kiara now live. On weekdays he closes the gym between 2 and 4pm to spend time with his family, doing chores, and relax. Then he returns to work until 9pm or later.

Jiu Jitsu or Judo (a gentle art) involves a throw or takedown by using the joint locks or “chokes.” It does not use kicking or punching, but involves quick, but studied moves and fast reflexes. “Limbs don’t often get broken because the opponent will tap out to concede. This system was started in Japan. It allows a small person to defeat a larger person.”

City of Champions also stresses the mental side of conditioning. “If you have the desire, we can train you,” Thornton says. He quotes Napoleon Hill: “Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man, but sooner or later the one who wins is the one who thinks he can.”

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Jiu-Jitsu / San Diego class added to the schedule

Question : So what can possibly be better than Jiu- Jitsu ?

Answer: More Jiu-Jitsu !

Yes, if you guessed more Jiu Jitsu you were right!  We already know that the 10 am class is a very popular time among SDSU students and members who work 2nd or 3rd shift.  We also realize the 7 pm works perfect for the 9-5 rs who come in to train Jiu-Jitsu after work. But can we serve our current students and future students better by offering an earlier class during the week? Maybe you have dinner plans after work but still want to train. Maybe you are a mom or dad and want to be home in time to read to your son or daughter before they go to bed . What ever the case may be we just made another option! Starting February 17th 2015 a 5 pm Jiu-Jitsu class has been added.

So far here is what to expect.

From the start a quick warm up and some technique to follow.

How long ? 1 hour to train and work on your technique that you learned from the day  or weeks prior.

Will there be live training/ rolling ? This 5 pm Jiu-Jitsu class will have an open mat about half way through so you will get some rounds to choke and arm lock each other.

Is this an advanced or beginner friendly class? Good question and all levels are welcome because this format helps beginners get their feet wet without being overwhelmed . This also pushes the advanced level competitors to think and work quickly with less time on the clock just like competition.

See you all Tuesdays at 5 pm .

Have any more questions or concerns , let us know feedback is always appreciated .







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Top 5 Reasons To Train Muay Thai

Adrian Flying knee

So, you’re thinking of taking up Muay Thai and don’t mind taking a few knees to harden up the stomach. Cool. Or perhaps you already are taking Muay Thai and in the middle of sparring you’re wondering, “Why am I taking Muay Thai again?” Whatever the case may be, many of us have our own reasons why we practice the Art of 8 limbs. Whether it be to take it professionally, get in shape, or simply have fun with a new hobby here are the Top 5 Reasons to train Muay Thai and the benefits it has to offer. 


1. CAMARADERIE: That’s right the friendships you build and trust among the ones you spend time with is one of the most important benefits you can get from the art of  Muay Thai. The team feeling and being a part of something you strive for has a huge impact on your new journey. From the outside or within your current circle of friends, you may feel alone on taking the next step which may make things difficult to accomplish. Once you begin at the right gym you should have a sense of acceptance and bond with your training partners and coaches. The best Muay Thai schools welcome new students; they understand what it was like to be the newbie. 


2. FITNESS: Did you ever hear: Choose a job you love, and never work a day in your life. Well it’s true and working out should not seem too much like “work.” Let’s face it, one of the major reasons people join gyms is to get into shape. No one should spend their time in a commercial big box gym surrounded by machines that give no feedback. Training Muay Thai will be one of the most engaging, interactive total body workout sessions you can ever get and after your first class you’ll see why. Not everyone is going to fight or wants to but you should be getting into shape right alongside the ones who are. The average student loses between 8-12% of real body weight in the first 3 months when combined with proper nutrition. Once you start seeing your progression advancing, your body fat burning away, your stamina increasing, all other healthy habits will begin to fall in place. Doing an activity this engaging on the human body will make other healthy habits easier to get into. Following a healthier diet will be easier, being mentally focused from paying attention to class and drills will be better, and overall energy that you need throughout the day will be there.


 3. DISCIPLINE:  Distractions are everywhere and can happen quite frequently throughout the day. Situations will arise that distract a person’s intentions by caving into desires or very commonly reacting with emotion instead of a more thoughtful, rational, controlled response to a situation. If you “have no reason not to” then you will. How does this work? Let’s look at some major factors when someone loses control or focus or never had any to begin with. If a person wants to lose weight and has little to no discipline, then unfortunately the task will probably not happen. Overeating is a huge problem in western culture and it does not help if your friends, family, or peers are in the same boat or encourage it by peer pressure by acting as if it’s normal. You need to counter these types of things with a a solid foundation, a strong desire to do good, and a like-minded support team to guide you along the path.


4. SELF DEFENSE: Simply living as humans or animal needs a defensive mechanism in order to survive. Whether it be speed, strength, camoflaugue, etc., every tool helps and it doesn’t hurt to have it. Knowing Muay Thai can give you an edge when faced with the challenge of life or death. Even walking around at night can be scary and knowing a martial art can help you feel a lot safer, but obviously not totally safe. It’s something that goes wherever you go, can travel with you anywhere, no security checks can take it away from you, and there’s no source of power should the weapon be lost from your hands and may very well be caught by the assailant. In a dire situation whether it be yourself or a loved one that is being attacked by a mugger or bully, your training can give you the courage, knowledge, and skill to protect anyone.  To a general degree, going through a sport that hones your reflexes and surrounding area awareness can save your life as well. It can be something like evading an obstacle at the last second on the road, or ducking under a pie thrown at you, the effects of muay thai can help you stay safe. 


5. SPIRITUAL:  Rooted with a few spiritual practices, Muay Thai grounds itself with rituals that help cleanse and strengthen the fighter. These routines are practiced, empowering and give more of a spiritual meaning. Traditionally, before two fighters fought in the ring they performed a pre-fight ceremony called the “Wai Kru.” This dance-like performance serves many purposes including: paying respects to the king and country, their teachers, loosens the body, and relaxes the nerves for the fighter. This ceremony also “seals the ring” indicating that after this ritual, it’s just you and me. Before the fighters take to their corners they wear a headdress called a “Mongkol” that represents which gym they’re from and grants them protection. In addition they also wore an armband called a “Pratjit” that is said to bring good luck. Transitioning into personal affairs, practicing Muay Thai can humble yourself while learning with teachers and peers develop different viewpoints to handle situations, find your limits and set the bar higher each time. People travel far and wide to learn more about themselves, develop faith, seize life and try to make a difference. We go through setbacks yet we insist to find meaning in our existence. The mind can be problematic, guiding the spirt through a mental labyrinth. However, with creative arts such as Muay Thai, through its philosophies and principles, can open doors and break walls that are in the never-ending path of self-discovery.

Want to learn more? Try a Free Muay Thai class to begin your journey !

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Every parent should know this about Kids Jiu Jitsu

The kids Jiu Jitsu classes have really grown this past year, we’d like to thank all the parents who take a positive role in keeping their kids in the Jiu Jitsu program here at City Of Champions !

In our adult program the #1  thing said to our coaches after they begin is “I wish I trained Jiu Jitsu when I was a kid” What is the reason for this?

We see lots of children who have no discipline, are very over weight and have no self esteem, are being bullied at school and have no confidence because of this. It is a cycle that will carry into adulthood and become harder as they make it to middle and high school.
Our Job has always been to transform those into confident , in shape children with a discipline to conquer all the challenges they face while growing into a young adult like peer pressure from older kids, bullying,  childhood obesity and the need to “fit in” with the wrong crowd or gang.

Our kids team builds off each other to put each individual on a different level from when they arrived and to help them look up to each other and the coaches.We are always there with a strong positive reinforcement to build them into young leaders.

Kids get into shape and feel better because of it .Learn discipline, receive  a structured schedule along with “rules of the mat” that set the tone for the class .

This is our foundation , want to see more?

See it for yourself and let our actions speak for us !! Any  Mon- Wed – Fri at 5 pm . for a Free Class.


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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Open Mat on Saturday

Jiu Jitsu open mat

Jiu Jitsu  open mat is now on Saturdays at 9 am . In the past we have always had open mat on Sunday but now we decided to switch it up for the  fall season. This Jiu Jitsu  open mat is open to the public for friends of students to come roll with us or even try a free class .

What is Open mat and how is it different from a normal class? Open mat is first a day where we show up and train, we set the timer and roll rounds to sharpen up on technique learned from the prior week . Its a perfect day to prepare for competitions also as competing on weekends is most common.

Are beginners welcome to this Jiu Jitsu open mat? Yes ! Beginners are always welcome to this class , we strongly encourage beginners to open mat because its a perfect way to improve very quickly and to meet a large portion of the other teammates.

This open mat is  with the Gi or commonly known as Brazilian Jiu Jitsu  so show up and train with us we would love to have you here!


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Thai Pads and Pad Thai – What More Do You Want In Life?

Quick note from our head muay thai instructor Adrian Morilla!  He’s been in Thailand, training at Sitmonchai Gym.  By the looks of it, the steady diet of pad thai noodles and thai pad training hasn’t been working…looks like Adrian has let himself go, eh?  😉  Adrian sends his love to the City of Champions muay thai members and can’t wait to show everyone what he’s learned at Sitmonchai.  With this picture next to the leg kick demon Pornsanae Sitmonchai, you can sure leg kicks are going to be on the curriculum when he gets back.  Tiger balm those legs everyone! 🙂

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We all gotta start somewhere…

We’ve been getting a lot of new members recently, which is great!  We love beginners and people just starting out with martial arts.  First things first – are you nervous?  Good.  Because that’s normal!  Everyone was new at some point.  The difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary is that the extraordinary just kept coming back to practice.  Remember – one step ahead, one practice more than the other, makes for ‘extra’.  Here’s a picture of Head Jiu-Jitsu instructor Dustin Thornton as a white belt in 2003 to prove how this is true!

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Fancy Feet

Here’s an image that our 6pm muay thai instructor Duc Nguyen loves having his class warm up with.  It’s a boxing drill.  To do it, jab one direction while moving your feet towards it.  Sound easy?  Do it in a large circle.  Still easy?  Do it the other way around.

Train and have fun everyone!

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Congrats Vince and Juan!

Big Congrats to Juan (3rd) & Vince (1st)  on their wins in the Dream Submission Only Jiu-Jitsu tournament on October 12th! Way to represent the City of Champions San Diego jiu-jitsu team!!

Photo: Big Congrats to Juan 3rd  & Vince 1st  today on their wins in the Dream Submission Only Jiu-Jitsu tournament ! Way to represent the Team !!

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