MARTIAL ARTS FOR BOTH CHILDREN AND ADULTS!

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu proudly empowering St. George families since 2012

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu has beginner to advanced jiu-jitsu classes in St. George for men, women, and children.

Who we Are And why You Should Train Here

At Gracie St. George, we believe Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is for EVERYONE, regardless of age, gender, athleticism, or ability. We are proud to say we are continuing the legacy of Grandmaster Hélio Gracie who believed jiu-jitsu should empower the weak to be able to defend against the strong. This is why we offer structured martial arts curriculums specific to the self-defense needs for any demographic or skill level, with programs created for beginner adults, women, and children.

We take pride in creating a safe, comfortable, and welcoming learning environment for all students and family members in Southern Utah. We are passionate about what we do because, simply put, we believe confident humans make kinder humans.

Welcome To The Family

Whether it’s teaching you how to tie your first jiu-jitsu belt, or guiding you through your first technique, our team’s priority is to make you feel at home from the moment you walk into Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. Should you have any questions, call our number above to speak to one of our Student Experience representatives.

Get To Know Our World Class Instructors

About Us | Gracie Jiu-Jitsu St. George

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About Us | Gracie Jiu-Jitsu St. George

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About Us | Gracie Jiu-Jitsu St. George

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About Us | Gracie Jiu-Jitsu St. George

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About Us | Gracie Jiu-Jitsu St. George

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About Us | Gracie Jiu-Jitsu St. George

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About Us | Gracie Jiu-Jitsu St. George

Instructors Name

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About Us | Gracie Jiu-Jitsu St. George

Instructors Name

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Meet Our Instructors

Jake Johnston

About Us | Gracie Jiu-Jitsu St. George

In the balmy summer of 1992, Jake’s journey into the intricate world of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu began with a serendipitous encounter through a martial arts magazine. He ordered Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Basics, and with it came two bonus VHS tapes: Gracie Jiu-Jitsu: In Action Vol. 1 & 2. The tapes were a revelation, prompting Jake to write to Rorion Gracie, seeking further enlightenment. Rorion’s response was not just a letter but a gateway, complete with a copy of The Gracie Diet and guidance on where Jake could learn Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in the United States. The options were Torrance, CA, with the Gracie Brothers; Honolulu, HI, with Relson Gracie; and Provo, UT, with Pedro Sauer.

Growing up in the rugged terrains of Southern Utah, Jake chose to relocate to Provo, determined to train under Pedro Sauer. This quest, however, was anything but straightforward. It took Jake ten relentless months to track down Pedro, missing him narrowly at Bryant High School and again in Provo. But in the summer of 1993, destiny favored the persistent, and Jake finally began his training under the legendary Master Pedro Sauer.

Before this transformative chapter, Jake had been immersed in Muay Thai for about 18 months. Two pivotal encounters steered him towards Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. The first was a humbling sparring session with his instructor’s formidable Samoan friend. Despite Jake’s relentless attacks, the giant’s single, powerful punch nearly knocked him out, revealing the limitations of Muay Thai for someone of Jake’s smaller stature. The second was a challenge match against one of Pedro Sauer’s students, who had only trained for three months. The no-rules fight took place after-hours in a store in St. George, UT, called Joker Joker (owned by the student’s relatives). In both rounds, Jake was swiftly taken down and choked out, solidifying his resolve to master Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Jake was the first of Pedro Sauer’s students to train “unlimited.” Three months into his training, he forged a friendship with Pedro, and they began carpooling between the Provo and Salt Lake academies. Jake’s dedication was unparalleled, attending two private lessons weekly, training mornings and evenings, accumulating an average of four hours per day. He also trained with Bart Smith and Mica Cipili at the BYU wrestling room on Fridays, courtesy of Mark Schultz.

In August 2006, Jake achieved a monumental milestone, earning his black belt alongside his longtime teammate, Lonnie Foster. His teaching journey began around 1994 or 1995, initially with kids’ classes, and eventually expanded to portable mats in parks, gyms, and Dixie High School’s wrestling room during his visits to Southern Utah.

In November 2009, Jake relocated back to St. George and began teaching out of his garage in 2010. Two years later, in 2012, he reached out to Rener Gracie and became one of the first black belts to pass the Instructor Certification Program (ICP) from the Gracie Academy, now Gracie University. This marked a profound shift in his Jiu-Jitsu philosophy, with Ryron Gracie becoming a mentor and close friend.

July 2012 saw the birth of Gracie Zion, where Jake began teaching classes with his two sons, Casey and Tyler, and his wife, Melissa. In 2022, he took a leap of faith, investing all his savings, supplemented by a dear friend’s gift, into a larger facility. He bid farewell to his architectural career to devote himself entirely to his true passion: teaching and sharing Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Jake is celebrated for his playful, smooth, and efficient style, heavily influenced by Ryron Gracie, Pedro Sauer, and Grandmaster Helio Gracie. His journey is a testament to perseverance, passion, and the transformative power of martial arts. Today, at Gracie Jiu-Jitsu St. George, Jake continues to inspire and educate, shaping lives with the timeless wisdom and techniques of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Ian Abbott

About Us | Gracie Jiu-Jitsu St. George

Ian, a native son of Southern Utah, has trained under Jake’s watchful eye for nearly twelve years, molding his natural talents into those of a consummate Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. His journey through the world has been marked by both intellectual pursuit and compassionate service. With a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies from the University of Utah, Ian’s path meandered through the realm of behavioral health for over a decade before finding its current home in health care administration. This varied experience imbues him with a unique perspective, enhancing his teaching in ways both profound and practical.

Ian is not just a talented brown belt; he is an artist of the mat, blending precision with creativity in a manner that makes his every move a lesson in itself. His ability to convey even the most complex techniques with clarity and wit is unparalleled, making him an invaluable asset to Gracie St. George. Whether working with children, military personnel, or law enforcement officers, Ian’s instruction leaves an indelible mark. His fast-witted humor and articulate nature resonate deeply, ensuring that those who train under his guidance depart not only more skilled but enriched in spirit.

In every corner of the nation, from local classes to GST seminars, Ian’s originality and depth of knowledge shine through. Those fortunate enough to learn from him find themselves bettered, their understanding deepened and their skills refined. Ian’s presence is a testament to the transformative power of dedication and the boundless potential of the human spirit, a beacon that guides and inspires all who cross his path.

Casey Johnston

About Us | Gracie Jiu-Jitsu St. George

From the moment Casey Johnston entered this world, he possessed a rare gift, a magnetic presence that drew people to him like moths to a flame. His personality, as compelling as it is humble, showcases the makings of a natural-born leader. Casey’s journey in Jiu-Jitsu began at the tender age of four, a path forged under the tutelage of his father, Jake Johnston, a black belt whose passion for the art runs as deep as the roots of an ancient tree.

Casey’s early years saw him achieving milestones with grace and tenacity. His yellow belt was awarded by none other than Pedro Sauer, followed by his orange and green belts under the esteemed guidance of Ryron and Rener Gracie. By the age of fourteen, alongside his younger brother, Tyler, Casey was already stepping into a role of responsibility, assisting his father in running all the classes at Gracie Zion in 2012. Together, they nurtured the spirit of Jiu-Jitsu within their community, teaching Gracie Bullyproof, Gracie Combatives, and Master Cycle classes.

In the year 2022, Casey felt a calling, an urge to further share the wisdom and art of Jiu-Jitsu. He approached his father with a heart full of purpose and embarked on a journey to become a Certified Instructor. By July of that year, Casey had successfully completed the Instructor Certification Program, becoming the third fully Certified Instructor at Gracie St. George, standing proudly alongside Ian Abbott and his father.

Casey’s profound understanding of the fundamentals is akin to his father’s, a remarkable talent for retaining and imparting knowledge. As the primary instructor for the Gracie Bullyproof program for kids, Casey’s dedication shines brightly. He also takes the helm of the Gracie Combatives classes, a responsibility he shares with his father, guiding students with a steady hand and an unwavering spirit.

In his personal life, Casey is anchored by the love of his life, Ayana, who recently graduated from the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business with a Master of Accounting. Together, they embody the spirit of adventure, traveling the world and embracing life’s experiences with fearless hearts. Casey’s love for the water, particularly the secret swimming holes of Zion National Park, is a testament to his adventurous soul, always ready to dive into the next escapade with little more than a moment’s notice.

Casey Johnston stands as a beacon of leadership, knowledge, and passion, a living testament to the enduring legacy of Jiu-Jitsu and the unyielding bond of family.

Melissa Johnston

About Us | Gracie Jiu-Jitsu St. George

In the heart of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu St. George, where the spirit of resilience and community thrives, Melissa Johnston stands as a beacon of strength and grace. Since 2012, she has trained under the watchful eye of her husband, Jake, weaving her journey through the intricate tapestry of Jiu-Jitsu. As the lead instructor for our Women Empowered program, Melissa imparts not just the techniques of martial art, but the indomitable spirit it fosters, inspiring women to discover their own strength and courage.

Melissa’s role extends far beyond the mat. She is the unseen hand, the quiet orchestrator behind the scenes, ensuring the academy runs like a well-oiled machine. Her meticulous attention to detail and tireless dedication to administrative duties have been the backbone of our school’s rapid growth, allowing it to flourish and thrive.

Together, Melissa and Jake have built a life rich with purpose and love, raising six children with unwavering devotion. Their son Kai, born in 2018, has been a source of boundless joy, a light in their lives that shines brightly. Melissa, with the fortitude of a pioneer woman, has experienced the profound journey of home birthing all four children she has brought into this world, a testament to her strength and resilience.

Her soul finds solace and adventure in the great outdoors. Whether camping under a canopy of stars or exploring the rugged terrain, Melissa embraces the natural world with open arms. She and Jake, bound by a love as enduring as the mountains, are constant companions, sharing every adventure, every challenge, with unyielding unity.

Melissa possesses a spiritual gift, an intuition that guides her with a gentle yet powerful force. This gift, a compass of the soul, navigates not only her personal life but also the very essence of our Jiu-Jitsu academy. Her presence is a quiet strength, a nurturing force that enriches the lives of all who cross her path.

In Melissa Johnston, we see the embodiment of dedication, spirit, and unwavering support. She is the cornerstone of our community, a figure whose impact resonates deeply, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of our students and the broader Jiu-Jitsu family. 

Melissa and Jake are extremely proud Utah natives.

Dolly Stoner

About Us | Gracie Jiu-Jitsu St. George

In the world of Gracie St. George, where commitment and passion are revered, Dolly Stoner stands as a pillar of dedication and resilience. Since stepping onto the mat in June of 2019, Dolly has not only trained with an unwavering consistency—averaging four sessions per week—but she has also risen through the ranks to achieve a one-stripe purple belt, a testament to her skill and perseverance. Her journey, however, does not end there. Dolly has earned the coveted BBS1 stripe and, in January 2024, she graduated from the Instructor Certification Program, becoming the fifth instructor at Gracie St. George.

Dolly’s foray into martial arts began with karate, a discipline where she relished breaking through mental and physical barriers. It was her daughter, Penny, who first introduced her to the Gracie Bullyproof classes, and from there, Dolly’s path took a decisive turn. Realizing the limitations of karate for realistic self-defense for the average woman, she embraced Gracie Combatives and became an official student at Gracie St. George shortly after. The allure of overcoming larger adversaries captivated her, driving her deeper into the world of Jiu-Jitsu.

One of the unique aspects that drew Dolly to Jiu-Jitsu was the structured curriculum of Gracie University, a rarity in the broader BJJ community. Initially skeptical, she found herself profoundly impressed by the comprehensive vision and the high standards set by Ryron and Rener Gracie. This respect for the integrity and excellence of the Gracie’s contribution to martial arts became a cornerstone of her commitment.

Dolly’s connection to the Gracie St. George community is deeply personal. She shares a close bond with Jake’s family and has forged strong, trusting relationships with her training partners. Her family remains her greatest treasure, with her husband, Josh, standing as her unwavering tower of support. His encouragement allows Dolly to dedicate herself fully to both learning and teaching Jiu-Jitsu, balancing her roles as a devoted mother and a passionate martial artist.

Dolly’s journey is not merely about physical prowess; it is also about the profound understanding of the mind-body connection. This holistic approach to Jiu-Jitsu has not only liberated her but has also inspired those around her. In the tapestry of Gracie St. George, Dolly Stoner’s story is one of relentless pursuit, community, and the transformative power of martial arts.

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