Meet Our Instructors

Leilani Akiyama - Judo

Leilani Akiyama's journey in the world of martial arts is nothing short of inspiring. Her introduction to judo at the age of 7 in Japan was sparked by a desire to support her brother, who was facing bullying. What began as a protective measure turned into a lifelong passion for Leilani.

Boasting an impressive decade-long tenure with Team USA, Leilani has left an indelible mark. She proudly represented the team in four Senior World Teams and six Senior Pan American Teams, accumulating a total of 17 Senior International medals, including a notable 2014 Senior National Championship title. Her prowess extends to the global stage, earning her a coveted spot among the top 36 judokas in the world at the 2021 World Masters Invite.

Leilani's Olympic aspirations speak volumes about her dedication, with hopeful bids for both the 2016 and 2021 Games. Not confined to judo alone, she brings a wealth of experience from her 10-year journey in wrestling, achieving the prestigious status of 2x High school wrestling All-American.

Embracing her role as a coach, Leilani has been sought after to guide Team USA, a testament to her expertise and leadership. Her commitment to nurturing the next generation of martial artists is evident in her role coaching kids' judo classes at San Diego Judo.

Leilani Akiyama stands as a paragon of commitment, tenacity, and a fervent pursuit of personal excellence throughout her martial arts journey, solidifying her influence in the martial arts community.

Jacob Flores - Judo

Judoka Jacob "Jake" Flores has left an indelible mark on the Judo world, showcasing his exceptional skills and resilience in prestigious competitions. In 1998, Jacob Flores demonstrated his prowess on the international stage by securing a commendable seventh-place finish at the Judo Dutch Open's-Hertogenbosch.

Prior to his international success, Jacob displayed his talent and determination at the 1997 Jr Pan-American Championships in Cali, Colombia, where he achieved an impressive third-place ranking. This accomplishment highlighted his capability to compete at a high level, even at a young age.

Solidifying his standing as a formidable force in Judo, Jacob Flores achieved a remarkable feat by clinching the first-place position at the 1998 USA Senior National Championships in Chicago, Illinois. His victory in the national championships underscored not only his technical proficiency but also his ability to excel on the domestic stage.

Jacob Flores's journey is a testament to his dedication, skill, and competitive spirit. His achievements at both the international and national levels reflect a commitment to excellence that inspires fellow judokas and contributes to the rich legacy of martial arts.

Matheus Alarcão - BJJ

Introducing Matheus Alarcão, a seasoned Jiu-Jitsu practitioner with a remarkable journey that spans continents and showcases his dedication to the art. His story began in 2010 at Gracie Humaitá in Anápolis, a small town in Goiás, Brazil, where his passion for Jiu-Jitsu ignited.

In pursuit of excellence, Matheus made a pivotal move in 2014 to Rio de Janeiro, training under the guidance of esteemed figures like Dedé Pederneiras and Professor André Marola at Nova União. This transition marked a significant chapter in his journey, laying the foundation for the high-level skills he would later develop.

In 2017, Matheus made a bold decision to fully immerse himself in Jiu-Jitsu, relocating to the United States and choosing San Diego as his new home. Since then, he has been honing his craft at Atos Jiu-Jitsu HQ, benefiting from the mentorship of the legendary 5x World Champion and 6x ADCC Champion, Andre Galvão.

The pinnacle of Matheus's journey was reached at the end of 2022 when he earned his well-deserved black belt from the esteemed Galvão. Matheus's competitive spirit was evident early on, as he started competing as a blue belt, making waves across Brazil. Now, we are thrilled to announce that Matheus Alarcão is joining our community to share his wealth of knowledge and expertise in high-level Jiu-Jitsu.

Prepare to be inspired as Matheus brings his passion and experience to our academy, teaching both kids and adults the art of Jiu-Jitsu. With a teacher of his caliber, our community is set to embark on a journey of growth, skill development, and a shared love for the art. Join us in welcoming Matheus Alarcão to our team – where excellence in Jiu-Jitsu meets dedicated instruction!

Heather Morgan - BJJ

Heather Morgan, a professional Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu athlete, began her BJJ journey at the age of 23 after earning a degree in health and exercise science and a background in competitive gymnastics. Fueled by newfound passion, Heather relocated to San Diego, overcoming financial challenges to pursue training.

Within five months, Heather achieved her first World title at white belt and received her blue belt on the podium. Her journey was marked by setbacks, injuries, and unwavering perseverance. Despite working at Starbucks to support her training, Heather's dedication led to opportunities aligned with her training needs.

Heather's BJJ journey imparted valuable life lessons in confidence, patience, mental toughness, and overcoming adversity. As a professional athlete, she sustains herself through teaching private lessons and seminars. Heather's commitment to mental training played a pivotal role in her recent achievement as a 2x World Champion at purple belt.

She advocates for women to strive beyond average, pushing themselves out of their comfort zones for personal growth. Emphasizing the importance of a robust support system and mentorship, Heather navigates the challenging path to becoming a black belt World Champion. Her story is a testament to resilience, determination, and the transformative power of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Brent Yasukochi - Judo

Brent Yasukochi, born on June 18, 1992, in Oceanside, CA, is a highly skilled judoka representing the United States with a career spanning several years. Notable achievements include securing third place in the U66 category at the Presidents Cup Dallas in 2012 and second place in the U60 category at the US National Championships in Reno in 2014.

Yasukochi's recent South American tour showcased his commitment, participating in major tournaments across Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina. Although no medals have been won yet, his impressive performances highlight his determination for success.

Affiliated with the San-Shi judo club, Yasukochi has contributed to its success, securing a bronze medal in the 60 kg juniors division. Beyond competing, he actively engages in coaching and mentorship, earning a third-place finish at the San Jose Buddhist Sensei Memorial Tournament.

Initiating judo at age 7, Yasukochi boasts 24 years of dedicated practice. His extensive accolades include a 2nd Senior Nationals College National Champion, Judo All-American, and a varsity team member at San Jose State from 2012 to 2016. As a true ambassador for judo, Yasukochi's impact extends beyond competition, reflecting his passion and commitment to the sport's principles on and off the mat.

Jonathan Fennell - AJJ

Jonathan Fennell is commonly referred to as “Sunshine” due to his bright red hair and sunny disposition. Currently, he holds the rank of black belt. He began his jiu-jitsu journey by studying traditional Japanese jiu-jitsu (all that was available in the area at the time) in 2012 in a small town in South Carolina at the age of 15.

Being young, he tried to leverage the power of YouTube Jiu Jitsu to learn more. He quickly found videos of a young American phenom tearing through opponents with his own style of Jiu Jitsu. He immediately began studying Keenan’s style and eventually saved up enough money to move to San Diego to train with more high level competitors.

Sunshine currently trains and teaches at Legion AJJ. We’re extremely excited to have him join us and share his great wealth of jiu jitsu knowledge! Let’s welcome Sunshine to San Diego Judo!