At Gracie Jiu Jitsu Carlsbad, our highly trained and skilled professionals are ready to get you started on your Martial Arts journey! We are all passionate about what we do and would love to help you reach your goals. Whether you’re looking to get into the best shape of your life, learn how to protect yourself or train for competition, we have what it takes to get you there!  

 Nick Stefan – Owner/Instructor

An Early Start

Professor Nick’s first experience with martial arts was at the age of 10, when he started taking Tae Kwon Do classes. Nick then started training in Muay Thai and Kenpo Karate at the age of 15. While studying boxing at El Camino College, Nick was introduced to Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

Shortly after falling in love with the Art, Nick signed up at Rickson Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy in West Los Angeles. At Rickson’s academy, Nick would watch Royler Gracie get ready for his Pride FC fights.

Deeper Into the Art

Nick found the Machado brothers Jiu Jitsu Academy in Redondo Beach, and after a few years of traveling all the way to Los Angeles, he decided to join and learn under the Machado Brothers, who at the time had the number one competition team in the USA. The Machado brothers studied under the Gracies and came to the US with them.

In 2006 Nick was presented with his Black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from Rigan Machado in the presence of John, Roger, Jean Jaques, and Carlos Machado.

Finding a New Jiu Jitsu Family

Nick later re-met Master Royler Gracie and decided to compete and train directly under him and the Gracie Humaita Flag. Royler recently promoted Nick to his 4th Degree Black belt.

Nick takes pride in representing the Gracie Humaita family and strives to be the best instructor to every student who comes into the Academy. He teaches adults classes at both locations and is available for private lessons.

Staci Stefan – Owner/Instructor

Staci started her martial arts journey as an amateur boxer over 20 years ago. It wasn’t until a few years after the opening of their first location did Staci fall in love with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. She immediately started competing and had great success and victories in tournaments, until injury, surgeries, and two more babies delayed further competition. After taking an 8 year competition layoff, Staci recently started competing again and is enjoying the thrill and challenge that competition brings. 

Now training 11 years, she is currently a Black belt under Nick Stefan and loves to give back to the sport that has given her so much by focusing on teaching others the wonderful art. Staci’s passion is empowering women and children through self defense and jiu jitsu and loves managing the gym and running the kids’ program and homeschool program. She teaches kids’ and women’s classes and is available for private lessons and self defense seminars/private groups.

David Ruiz – Instructor

Professor Dave Ruiz holds the rank of 5th degree Black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Rigan Machado. However, Dave started his training at the Gracie Academy in Torrance, CA under Royce Gracie. Dave trained with the original source of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Grand Master Helio Gracie. Helio visited and taught at the Academy often and Dave got to benefit from his legendary teachings. Not just in the ways jiu jitsu is applied but how it is lived, breathed, and thought about on a daily basis.

Dave competed through all the ranks doing very well in competition, and most importantly Dave can teach Gracie Self Defense the way Grand Master Helio passed it down to his sons and grandsons. Come take one of Dave’s classes and learn jiu jitsu the way it was meant to be taught! He teaches kids’ and adults’ classes and is available for private lessons.

Travis Sevilla – Instructor

Travis is a father, husband and teacher. A lifelong martial artist who earned his first black belt in Shotokan karate, and spent time in his younger days training Muay Thai. He began training with Nick Stefan 11 years ago and earned his Black belt under Professor Nick at Gracie Humaita Carlsbad. Travis loves the more technical aspects of jiu jitsu training and the details of the art, especially the more self defense application of jiu jitsu. Professor Travis coaches teens and adults at both our Carlsbad and San Marcos gyms and is available for private lessons. 

 Darwin Falcao - Instructor

Professor Darwin started his jiu jitsu training in 1998 in Brazil. He is a Black belt under Rafael Formiga and now also Nick Stefan. He has coached several high level athletes to the top levels of competition. Darwin has been a coach for more than 15 years, has 3 sons and 1 grandson! He is in love with life, nature and God! Darwin teaches adults' and kids' classes is available for private lessons. 

 Bob Gilstrap - Muay Thai Instructor

We are excited to have Bob Gilstrap, world-renowned kickboxing and MMA champion, UFC competitor, Hawaiian International Superbrawl Heavyweight Champion, Canadian Shootfighting Champion, and Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Kickboxing Champion here at Gracie Jiu Jitsu Carlsbad! 

Bob is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer holding certifications in restorative functional training, nutrition, and multiple additional training and coaching modalities. Bob brings over 27 years of competitive experience, coaching know-how, and personal training skills that you will not find anywhere else in our area!

Book your one-on-one consultation today and see where you can take your competitive, fitness, or wellness goals into 2023 and beyond!

Coach Bob teaches kids' and adults' Muay Thai and is available for private lessons.

John Turbeville - Instructor

Coach John is a Brown belt under Professor Nick Stefan and began his journey after bringing his daughter into the gym for kids classes about 9 years ago. He liked the family environment and has been training ever since, and also started coaching a few years ago. John works with kids and teens in both the regular and competition classes. He enjoys watching the students grow up in a positive environment that values respect and hard work, not only in the gym but at home and school as well. John believes that solid fundamental skills are most beneficial for all ages, especially when combined with the self defense applications of the art.

Additional Black Belt Instructors:

Steven Loree

Jeff Kudo

Tim Mallon

Chang Hwang