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September 1st, 2014

Facebook Group Will Replace This News Page

From this date forward, all news will be posted in our closed facebook group, TNBJJ. Please join to see what has been going on!

(This photo is our cover page photo for 2017)

August 16, 2014
Tennessee State BJJ Championships

Huge Congrats to our State Championship Competitors!!! Brad Mcguire won gold with a textbook demonstration of the basic techniques in our curriculum. Michael Keith Roberts won gold against some very tough competition, with some brilliant guard play and back taking. Alexis Joy Smerdon did not have anyone to fight in her division, so she very bravely decided to compete in a much higher weight division. She lost a very hard fought battle in the final against an opponent who was more than 50 pounds heavier, and who was also a many year experienced Judo competitor. I am so proud of all of you!!!!

July 26, 2014
Black Belt With Two Degrees Promotion

Rick Sparks officially received the second stripe on his black belt from Soneca today.


The seminar went great. It was good to see Gene and his crew. Thanks everyone for supporting Soneca.


July 12, 2014
Helio Soneca Seminar

Soneca will be giving a seminar at our school on this day from 12:00 - 2:00. The cost is only $50. We are a Helio Soneca Association school, so please come and support this seminar.

July 9, 2014
Huge Promotion Ceremony

Huge congrats to Josh Carpenter who received his BJJ blue belt, Doug Smith who received his BJJ purple belt, Chris Miller who received his BJJ brown belt, and Wes Franks who received his Judo Black Belt. I could write a book about the accomplishments of all these guys. Way to go!

May 14th, 2014
Judo Yellow Belt Promotion

Big Congrats to Alexis Smerdon for receiving her yellow belt in Judo tonight. She had a dominating performance in the UT class tournament with 4 victories by ippon. Way to go Alexis!

May 5th, 2014
Purple Belt Promotions

Wes Franks and Jason Roberts both received their purple belts tonight. These guys have been super dedicated, and their hard work is paying off! Big congrats guys!


February 15th, 2014
TNBJJ travels to the Soca Seminar

Jason Roberts, Wes Franks, Josh Anderson, and Rick Sparks traveled to Louisville, KY, for a great Seminar with Soca and Soneca.

February 2014
The Year of Ben Burton

Over the last year, Ben has amassed an AMAZING tournament victory string including:

Judo Black Belt Division:

    • Rebel Invitational: Gold Medal Masters
    • UT Invitational: Gold Medal Masters
    • Carrol Co. Invitational: Gold Medal Masters
    • Judo Jones Memorial: Gold Medal Masters
    • Mayfield's Judo Tournament: Gold Medal Masters
    • PeachTree Judo Tournament: Silver Medal Masters
    • UT Invitational: Bronze Medal Adult

    Update May 31st:

    • Tennessee State Champion 2014

November 2013
Tournament Victory and Blue Belt Promotion

Big Congrats to Ben Burton for receiving his blue belt tonight. Ben has had a great competition run as of late, including a great victory in the blue belt division of the Smokey Mountain BJJ Open. He was allowed to compete in that division by the tournament director because there were no white belts in his divisions. Big Congrats Ben!


July 27th, 2013
Black Belt Promotion

Dr. Michael Carter received his black belt from Helio Soneca at the seminar. Michael is an amazing grappler, one of the very few anywhere who has a high level mastery of BJJ, Judo, and Wrestling. We are fortunate and proud that Michael is a member and co-instructor at our club.


July 27, 2013
Helio Soneca Seminar

Thanks much for everyone who came out to support Soneca, and to witness Michael Carter receive his black belt. It was a great seminar!


July 13th, 2013
Tennessee State BJJ Championships

Big congrats to Ben Burton, for winning gold at the Tennessee BJJ state championships! Way to go Ben!

May 22nd, 2013
Judo Brown Belt Promotion

Jason Roberts received his brown belt in Judo tonight from Rick Sparks and Michael Carter. Way to go Jason!

April 1st, 2013
Judo Brown Belt Promotion

Ben Burton received his brown belt in Judo tonight from Rick Sparks and Michael Carter. Congrats Ben!


February 23rd, 2013
Tennessee State Judo Championship

Ben fought his way through a 7 man division (white to black) in the Tennseesse Judo state championship to earn a silver medal! He defeated two brown belts along the way. Great job!


February 16th, 2013
Battle at the Border

Big Congrats to Ben "The Beast" Burton, for winning the open weight, open rank BJJ division at the battle at the border. Way to go Ben!



August 27th, 2012
Purple Belt Promotion

Chris Miller received his purple belt tonight from Rick Sparks. Chris has become super techincal and tough as nails over the last couple of years. He proved himself in the Smokey Mountain open, and every night in class. Thanks to the guys from KnoxBJJ who came out to support Chris.


April 21st, 2012
Smokey Mountain Grappling Open

We only had a single competitor in this tournament, but what our team lacked in size, we made up in power. Chris Miller fought in the blue belt division, and put on one of the most dominant performances I have ever seen. He had three fights, won all by submission in less a minute and half. Two by choke from the back, and one by choke from the mount. Chris got the takedown in every match, advanced to mount or back, and finished all three opponents without a single point or advantage scored against him.

Way to go Chris!!!!!


February 1st, 2012
Blue Belt Promotion

Emily Mannescmidt received her BJJ blue belt today from Rick Sparks. Emily has worked long and hard for this belt. Congrats Emily!



December 14th, 2011
Purple and Blue Belt Promotions

John Miller and Justin Headrick both received their purple belts tonight from Rick Sparks. Darla Oringderf received her blue belt, and Chris Miller and Kayla Stephens both added a stripe to their blue belts. This was a huge night for our club. We also had a little Christmas party afterward, with food, beer, and gifts for all, as promised. Thanks to the guys from KnoxBJJ who came out to support John and Chris.

These were all well earned promotions. Big congrats guys!!

November 28th, 2011
Blue Belt Promotion

Adam Treadway received his BJJ blue belt today from Rick Sparks. Adam is an excellent Judoka, who has been adding BJJ to his game for almost 3 years now. Congrats Adam!

October 17th, 2011
Blue Belt Promotions

Jason Roberts, Richard Eggers, and Wes Franks all received their BJJ blue belts today from Rick Sparks. Jason has won gold in two tournaments in a row in dominating fashion. Richard has also won gold in the last two tournaments in which he fought. Wes has been training hard, and is a scholar of jiu-jitsu. These were three well earned promotions. Big congrats guys!!


October 15th, 2011
Tennessee State BJJ Championships

We had a fantastic performance at the state championships. 2 golds, 2 silvers, and 2 bronze. Jason continued his complete domination of his opponents, once again putting on a textbook display of jiu-jitsu to win gold. And he did this fighting in the adult division, against opponents 15 years his junior. Richard also did a great job calmly working his way to gold in the gi division, and bronze in the no-gi division. Kayla and Justin also did a fantastic job both winning silver. But Darla was the star of the show, having never competed in any sort of athletics before, and at 46 years old, fought in the adult division and won bronze. She was literally fighthing girls half her age. She only lost by 3 points to her first opponent, and ran up 11 unanswered points on her second opponent, before submitting her to win bronze. Way to go Darla! Way to go team!!

Peymen, Michael, Jeremy, Bill, John, Jeremy, Jason, Wes,
Brad, Soneca, and Rick (Not Pictured, Patrick and Matt)

Rick and Michael get promoted!



July 9, 2011
Helio Soneca Seminar

My instructor, fifth degree bjj black belt and world champion Soneca gave a great seminar today. Thanks to everyone who came from our school, and also to Brad, Peymen, Matt, and Bill, who came in from Brad Hatcher's school, Samuel Braga's school, and Knoxville BJJ to support Soneca. As you can see from the picture, I promoted Soneca to brown belt in English!

Promotions: Congrats to Michael Carter, who received his brown belt today, and to Rick Sparks who received his first degree on his black belt.

Richard (Gold, Bronze), Dan (Silver, Bronze), Jason (Gold), Ben (Bronze)
Not Pictured: Alex (Bronze), and Emily (Bronze)

May 7th, 2011
Smokey Mountain Grappling Open

Big Congrats to our competition team! Fantastic showing by our team. Everyone on our team who competed won a medal. Jason dominated all of his matches, winning them all without giving up a single point or advantage. And he did this in the adult division, playing some guys almost 20 years his junior, an amazing job for his first BJJ tournamant. Richard, Emily, and Ben, also did great in their first BJJ competition, all medaling in their divisions. Richard put on a real show, espeically when he arm dragged and jumped on his opponent's back standing, all 250 pounds of him, before submitting his opponent. Dan, fighting for the first time as a blue belt, also did a great job getting two medals, he just continues to pile them up! Alex, even though he was too sick to train or get his weight correct for the tournament, competed in a heavier weight division, but still dominated his opponent in the bronze metal match. We won the standup battle in almost every match. Our standup training is really paying off! I am very proud of everyone!!!

Jason Roberts: Gold Gi
Richard Eggers: Gold Gi
Richard Eggers: Bronze No-Gi
Dan Hoggatt: Silver No-Gi
Dan Hoggatt: Bronze Gi
Emily Mannescmidt: Bronze Gi
Ben Burton: Bronze Gi
Alex Basiri: Bronze Gi


April 30th, 2011
United States National Judo Championships

TN BJJ and Judo club sent Rick Sparks to the United States National Judo Championships. Rick got silver in the black belt masters division.

March 26th, 2011
Pan American BJJ Championships

TN BJJ and Judo club sent Rick Sparks to the Pan American BJJ Championships. Rick got silver in the black belt open weight masters division.



March 12th, 2011
Tennessee State Judo Championships

TN BJJ and Judo club sent Rick Sparks to the Tennessee State Judo Championships. Rick got silver in the masters division, losing in the final to the 2009 masters world judo silver medalist.



December 6th, 2010
Blue Belt Promotion

Dan Hoggit received his BJJ blue belt today from Rick Sparks. Dan has been training almost 3 years, and has medaled seven times in BJJ competition, including a state championship gold medal, and a smokey mountain open gold medal. Big Congrats Dan!


November 20, 2010
UT Invitational Judo Tournament

TN BJJ and Judo club sent Jeremy Sizemore and Rick Sparks to this competition. Jeremy won silver in the green belt masters division, and Rick won gold in the black belt masters and silver in the black belt adult division.


October 16th, 2010
Blue Belt Promotion

Patrick Caylor received his blue belt from Rick Sparks tonight. Many other blue belts will be very happy that they are no longer being smashed by a white belt. You all know how tough Patrick is on the mat. He finally made it to blue after training BJJ on and off for 5 years. Congrats Patrick!


October 2, 2010
North Carolina State Judo Championships

TN BJJ and Judo club sent Rick Sparks to this competition. Rick won gold in both the black belt masters and the black belt adult divisions.



World Champion!

Soneca is currently a 4th Dan and known as one of the best instructors in the world. He is also one of the early founders of Gracie Barra, one of the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu school in the world. Soneca is famous for his amazing competition victories which include Brazilian, Pan-American, International, and World Championships. He has also won several NHB championships.

Helio "Soneca" Moreira's championships:

1995 Pan-Am Champion
1996 World Champion
1997 Brazilian Champion
1999 International Champion
2001 MAGA Champion
2003 Combate Extremo Champion (NHB)


September 11, 2010
Helio Soneca Seminar

Soneca will be giving a seminar at our school on this day from 1:30 - 3:30. The cost is only $50. We are a Helio Soneca Association school, so please come and support this seminar.

Regular class will be held on this day from 12:00 - 1:00

August 30th, 2010
Blue Belt Promotion

After an awesome tournament performance at the state championships, Brad Wilcox and Darryl Lawson both received their blue belts from Rick Sparks. These guys have been training like crazy, and are both tough and technical. Congrats guys!


August 28th, 2010
Blue Belt Promotion

Congratulations to Kayla Stephens who received her blue belt from Rick Sparks on the podium at the Tennessee State BJJ Championships after winning the gold. Kayla has won gold in all three tournaments in which she has competed. Big Congrats for a well deserved promotion!!





August 28th, 2010
Tennessee State BJJ Championships


We had a great showing at the State Championships. We had 6 competitors, and two were in the same pool. But we still brought back 3 gold medals. Everyone who competed for us got at the least, a silver medal.

Justin Headrick: Gold No-Gi Advanced
Kayla Stephens: Gold Gi
Dan Hoggit: Gold No-Gi Intermediate
Brad Wilcox: Silver Gi
Darryl Lawson: Silver Gi

Everybody did a fantastic job. Justin won in impressive fashion in a large stacked division that had some purple belts competing in it. Brad fought his way to the final, and settled the match with a coin flip with a former training partner. Dan defeated a blue belt who is also a judoka on his way to victory in his no-gi division. Kayla defeated all of her opponents, and Darryl lost a tough fight in the finals of his division to a very tough collegiate wrestler, who in the words of his coach, smashes every blue belt in their academy. I am very proud of everyone's performance at the tournament.

We also got third in the no-gi team competition with a very small team to amass points. Amazing!

Also, thanks for everyone who came and supported our competitors. Nice teamwork guys!


July 24th, 2010 (Saturday)
Class Re-Schedule and Work Day

On Saturday, July 24th, we will be doing some work to repair the outside wall at the dojo. We will be meeting there at 8:00 AM to do this work. If you could come and help, it would be really appreciated. Bring a shovel or other digging tool if you have one. No construction experience necessary, we have some experienced guys, but of course it would be a plus.

The class will be rescheduled to 1:00 - 2:30 on this day. Sorry for any inconvenience that this might cause, but this work has to be done if we are to keep the dojo in reasonable repair.



July 20th, 2010
New Video Resources

The curriculum instructional videos for purple belt and beyond have been slowly growing. We now have over 150 instructional videos in the student only area.



June 9th, 2010
Blue Belt Promotion

Dennis Wright has been involved in Judo and Jiu-Jitsu for about 15 years. He is a Judo blackbelt with a strong throwing and top game. After training BJJ for about 2 years now, he received his blue belt from Rick Sparks today. Congrats Dennis!


May 15th, 2010
Blue Belt Promotion

Big Congrats to Allan Ho who received his blue belt from Rick Sparks on the podium at the Smokey Mountain Open just after he won the gold. Allan put on a textbook display of beautiful BJJ and Judo, combined just the way they should be. Way to go Allan!




May 15th, 2010
Smokey Mountain Grappling Open

Huge Congrats to all our winners!!! Every single person who competed for our team won a medal today.

In the team points competition, even though we had no kids team, which basically meant we were competing with half as many competitors to get points as the other top teams, we still got third in the team no-gi, and fourth in the team gi.

6 gold, 1 silver, and 4 bronze medals.

Allan Ho: Gold Gi
Justin Headrick: Gold No-Gi
Zack Smitely: Gold No-Gi
Zack Smitely: Bronze Gi
Alex Basiri: Silver Gi
Dan Hoggit: Gold No Gi
Dan Hoggit: Bronze Gi
Brad Wilcox: Gold No-Gi
Kayla Stephens: Gold Gi
Chris Miller: Bronze Gi
Darryl Lawson: Bronze Gi

Also congrats to Steve Cox (of team Monster), who competed with us today, and medalled. Way to go Steve!

There were too many amazing performances to detail them all here, but I cannot do this without mentioning the throw of the tournament by Allan Ho. He hit an incredible Harai-Goshi, the whole auditorium cheered when he hit it! Kaboooomm!

Great job everyone!!!


April 14th, 2010
Blue Belt Promotion

Big Congrats to Chris Miller who just received his blue belt from Rick Sparks. Chris has been training BJJ for many years, and this was a well deserved promotion. Chris has successfully competed in tournament, winning a silver medal in the last state championship. Chris has always had a very tough takedown and top game, and now his guard is excellent as well.

April 17th, 2010
Draculino Seminar at Samuel Braga's

The amazing Draculino will be giving a seminar at Samuel Braga's school in west Knoxville. Draculino has produced and astounding number of world champions, including Samuel Braga. Time is from 12:00 - 2:30. I strongly encourage everyone to try to attend. The cost will be only $60.

Schedule Change for this Day

We will modify our schedule on this day to accommodate this. The TNBJJ class will start at 10:00 and end at 11:30 sharp. I will be going directly to the seminar from Alcoa.

The Draculino Seminar was Awesome! Many of my friends and training partners from Samuel Braga's Gracie Barra school were promoted by Samuel to blue belt, and two were promoted to brown belt by Samuel, my old friend Peyman Dehkordi who I have trained with since Soneca first came to knoxville, and my friend Richard Carter. Big Congrats to all of these well deserved promotions.

March 17th, 2010
Blue Belt Promotion

Eric Horton just received his blue belt from Rick Sparks. Eric started training under Michael Carter at the school almost 3 and a half years ago, and has continued with Rick since. He is also a two time BJJ tournament champion. This was a well deserved and somewhat overdue promotion. Congrats Eric!!


February 27, 2010
NAGA National BJJ Championships

Brad Wilcox won the bronze medal at the NAGA national bjj championships in a huge and tough division of 26 competitors. Amazing job Brad!!!

October 23rd, 2009
T-Shirts Coming Soon...

Tennessee Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Shirts.
Will be Available in White or Black.


Update: December 2009:

T-Shirts are Here!

Eric Horton (Gold)

Kayla Stephens (Gold)

Zack Smitely (Silver, and Also won Gold in no-gi)

Dan Hoggit (Bronze, also won bronze in no-gi)


Not Pictured: Chris Miller, silver medal in the gi.

October 17th, 2009
Tennessee State BJJ Championships

HUGE CONGRATS to our 3 NEW STATE CHAMPIONS!! Zack Smitely, Eric Horton, and Kayla Stephens all brought home the gold! Our team also won 2 silver medals, and 2 bronze medals.

Zack Smitely also won silver in the gi, losing only to "Big Judo" Mike, who has won gold at the purple belt level in about half a dozen tournaments. Chris Miller had a great showing winning a silver medal in gi division. Dan Hoggit brought home two bronze medals, one in the gi, and one in no-gi.

Chris, Zack, and Dan all had at least one match where they submitted their opponents in less than 30 seconds.

I am very proud of everyone who competed today, everyone fought very well. Way to go team! Our guys, who only train 2 times per week at most, fought very well against many competitors that train 3 to 5 times per week!

If anyone has a picture of Chris at the podium, or of Zack at the podium for the no-gi, please e-mail them to me.

October 17, 2009
Black Belt Promotion

TN BJJ and Judo club Co-instructor Gavin Enck received his black belt today from Royler Gracie. Way to go Gavin!!!!




Zack, Brian, Rick, and John


August 19th, 2009
Blue Belt Promotions

Zack Smitely and Brian Dwyer both received their blue belts from Rick Sparks. Brian is a Judo blackbelt who was first introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu over 10 years ago. Zack has been training diligently and has competed successfully in several BJJ tournaments as well as having notched a nice MMA victory. Also pictured here is John Miller, who received his first stripe.

Dan Hoggit and Eric Horton

Braden, Dan, Alex, Soneca, Eric, and Rick

July 25, 2009
Kentucky Open Championship

The TN BJJ and Judo club competition team did an excellent job at the tournament. Everyone fought extremely well.

Eric Horton won the heavyweight division with an impressive display of Judo and Jiu-Jitsu skills. He executed the throw of the tournament, hitting a huge Harai-goshi in the gold medal match. He went on to dominate his opponent in this match, securing the gold.
(Watch Eric's Throw Here)

Dan Hoggit fought in a huge no-gi division, stacked with skilled wrestlers. Dan submitted his first opponent, and blanked his second opponent winning 16-0. He fought a war in the semi-final match, losing by the lowest possible margin, one advantage. He then went on to win his final match and earn the bronze medal.


July 22, 2009
Purple Belt Curriculum

The TN BJJ and Judo club Purple Belt curriculum is now available in the student resources section



July 9, 2009
Blue Belt Promotion

After 2 and 1/2 years of solid dedicated training time, Greg Wenndt received his well deserved blue belt from Rick Sparks.


May 29, 2009
Saturday Class Schedule Change

Starting in June, we will be expanding the Saturday class to 1 and 1/2 hours, and eliminating the open mat. Class will start at the same time (10:30 AM), and end at 12:00 Noon. I will stay around after the class to answer questions as always. The Wed Class is unchanged (8:15-9:35 PM).



May 15, 2009
Please Help the Club Grow

Download our flyer by clicking here, print out a few copies, and hang them up where prospective new members might see them.

Update: Flyer has been updated as of April 8, 2011.



May 2, 2009
EGO Grappling Tournament in Nashville

TN BJJ and Judo club student Allan Ho competed in the gi division of the ego grappling tournament and won a bronze medal. In his match for third place, he passed using the Margarida pass, and submitted his opponent in only about 1 minute. Good job Allan!


May 2, 2009
Blue Belt Promotion

After three solid tournament performances in the last 6 months, and about a year and a half of solid mat time, Justin Headrick received his well deserved blue belt from Rick Sparks.

April 29, 2009
TNBJJ New 2 Day Per Week Class Schedule will Start on April 29th!

Due to significant demand, we will start having 2 classes per week at the end of April. The new class will be 8:15 - 9:35 on Wednesday Evenings. The first Wednesday class will be on April 29th.


April 28th, 2009
Video Resources Now Online!!

The 80 techniques of the TN BJJ and Judo club White to Blue Belt Curriculum are now online, organized by stripe. These videos are available for all monthly and private lesson students.

April 25th, 2009
Smokey Mountain Grappling Open

TN BJJ and Judo club sent three competitors to the Smokey Mountain Open tournament and came back with two gold medals, and two silver medals. Congrats to Zack Smitely who won the gi division. Zack received his fourth stripe on the podium, with high quality masking tape! Congrats to Justin Headrick who won the no-gi division and placed second in the gi division. Congrats to Dan Hoggit who got second in his no-gi division.

TNBJJ Association school LMU BJJ/MMA Club member Adam McKenzie also won gold at the tournament. Congrats to Adam, and also to Alex Basiri, for his first, and very excellent tournament coaching job!

Since we did not have class on this day, there will be a free makeup class on April 29th, 2009, Wed at 8:15



April 22, 2009
New Student Resources Available

Guys, I have begun to post the white belt stripe by stripe requirements, the game plan flowcharts, and the technique videos. Go to the resources tab, and click on the link in the "For Students Only" section. You will need the password I sent you via e-mail. Be patient as this takes a tremendous amount of time for me to complete.

April 4 and 11, 2009
TNBJJ Saturday Classes Begin

We had a good turnout for our first two classes. 8 guys showed up in the first class, and we had 15 people on the mat for the second class, even though it was Easter weekend! We had several BJJ blue belts, as well as some Judo brown and black belts in attendance. I am not in the picture because I took it.

Black Belts: Helio Soneca, Gordo Correa, Samuel Braga, Rick Sparks

April 4, 2009
Gordo Seminar

Roberto "Gordo" Correa, who is credited with revolutionizing the bjj competition game with the introduction of the half guard, gave an awesome seminar at Samuel Braga's School in West Knoxville. In attendance from TN BJJ and Judo club were Zack Smitely, Alex Basiri, Michael Carter, and Rick Sparks.

At the seminar Soneca promoted Michael Carter to purple Belt, way to go Michael!



December 6, 2008
Blue Belt Promotion

After winning first in the no-gi division at the Helio Soneca Tournament in KY, and about 2 and half years of hard work, 2-time BJJ tournament champion Alex Basiri received his well deserved blue belt from Rick Sparks.


Alex gets the triangle on an mma fighter


December 6, 2008
Helio Soneca Grappling Tournament

TN BJJ and Judo club sent a three man team to the Helio Soneca Grappling Tournament in Louisville, KY. Congrats to Dr. Michael Carter for winning the masters division, to Alex Basiri for winning the no-gi division, and Zack Smitley for winning a silver medal in the gi division.



Alex Basiri, TN State Champ!

October 11, 2008
Tennessee BJJ State Championships

Congrats to Alex Basiri for winning the gold at the TN BJJ State Championship. He submitted all three of his opponents in around a minute each. Also congrats to Justin Headrick, who took silver in the no-gi division.


World Champion Soneca awards the belt, while
World Champion Samuel Braga looks on

July 26, 2008
Black Belt Promotion

Rick receives his BJJ black belt from Helio Soneca at the Kentucky Open in front of 500+ spectators and competitors. So many helped me reach this goal, thanks to all!



July 6, 2008
Helio Soneca Seminar

Soneca came to association school Appalachia Martial Arts and put on an Awesome seminar. Thanks to everyone who came out!!

Soneca student John Miller received his blue belt from Soneca at the seminar. Way to go John!


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