About Us

Aztlan Combat Sports proudly serving Lafayette

Aztlan Combat Sports has classes in Lafayette, perfect for kids, teen, and adult martial arts lessons.

Who we Are And why You Should Train Here

Since we’ve opened, we’ve been dedicated to changing the lives of people one person at a time, through martial arts, education and coaching. We strive to provide a safe, comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for all students and family members. We take pride in creating an environment for individuals to achieve, develop and succeed in their personal goals.

We strongly believe that martial arts can be for everyone, regardless of age, gender or experience levels. Students will not only learn the necessary skills to protect themselves, they will have a fun and enjoyable experience. We stand behind our realistic and practical approach, confident it will enable every member to achieve greatness and live their best life.

Meet Our Coaches


Dr. Stephen Hall

Foundational & Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Instructor

I got my start in martial arts when I entered the military right out of high school at 17 years of age. At the time, I was trained in Army Combatives, which I immediately took to. That training gave me a way to alleviate the stress of military life, plus gave me confidence in self-defense situations, especially in terms of dealing with an actual enemy.

I was a Section Chief on an M109 Howitzer (155 mm) Field Artillery battery. I left the Army after 7 years due to blast injuries suffered from artillery fire. I spent a few years recovering from military life and entered college. I obtained a BS in Chemistry from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. While an undergrad, I worked as a Research Assistant in the Department of Neurosurgery at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix. I then earned a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Purdue University. I completed a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship in Molecular Virology at The Scripps Research institute, subsequently starting a vaccine company, which was later acquired. In 2015, I was inducted into the Academic Hall of Fame at Grand Canyon University.

Martial arts provide me with a way to stay fit, deal with difficult situations and reduces stress in my life. Although all martial arts have their merit, I have trained in combat sports like boxing, kickboxing and jiu-jitsu. These combat sports allow one to train under fairly realistic conditions, where a seemingly insurmountable obstacle can be dealt with and hopefully overcome. It is so much like life where often we must be at our best when things are at their worst.

Through the course of my scientific career, I also trained in combat sports, powerlifting and CrossFit. I was CrossFit-certified as a Level 1 trainer and Strongman and owned a CrossFit affiliate for several years.

Starting as a white belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, I competed over 25 times at North American Grappling Association (NAGA), Extreme Grappling Open (EGO) and International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) events. I medalled over 20 times at NAGA, EGO and IBJJF, including IBJJF Pans and Master Worlds. 

I received my blue belt from Professor James Clingerman at the Indiana Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy, my purple belt under Professor André Galvão at Team ATOS and my brown and black belts from Professor Jason Keaton at the Blind Fury Jiu-Jitsu Association.

I have started several combat sports academies and am currently an IBJJF Black Belt and co-owner of Aztlan Combat Sports. 

I am a single father of 3 amazing children, 5 incredible grandkids and 2 beautiful sisters. My words of wisdom to my family and those around me are no matter what you do in life, just be happy, healthy and safe.

The Aztlan jiu-jitsu lineage is: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Carlson Gracie > Renato Tavares > Jason Keaton

Book a private lesson with me HERE!


Mario Reyes

Foundational & Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Instructor
Kickboxing Coach

I originally was from Brownsville, Texas, but my family moved to Indiana when I was fairly young. I graduated from Twin Lakes High School where I played football and wrestled. Two weeks after graduating, I shipped off for the Army. 

I spent my early adulthood stationed in South Korea where I began doing Tae Kwon Do. I then went to Germany where I deployed to Iraq in February of 2004 for Operation Iraqi Freedom II. When I returned, I was immediately sent to Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was there that I began training in a hodge podge of traditional striking martial arts such as Kung Fu, Kali, and Karate. We shared the mat space in the morning with some of the Army Combatives guys. After seeing them train, I decided to sign up for the course. I graduated from the Level 1 Modern Army Combatives Program Basic Course and was addicted to learning more. 

I later moved to Fort Benning, Georgia (where I did two more year-long deployments to Iraq) and progressed in my Army Combatives training. I competed as often as I could and I was also selected to represent the 3rd Brigade Combatives Team in the All-Army Combatives Tournament in 2008, 2009, and 2010. I eventually graduated the Tactical Combatives Instructor Course (Level 4) and practiced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in my spare time. I was the Lead Instructor for the Army Armor Basic Officer Leader Course Modern Army Combatives Program for nearly three years before I left the Army. 

I left the Army and moved to Monticello, Indiana. I opened a small academy there for a few years before I accepted a job doing protective security for the U.S. Ambassador and Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. I was in Kabul for a couple of years before I changed companies and worked in Erbil, Iraq. In total, I’ve spent 7 years of my life in Iraq or Afghanistan in both military and paramilitary roles. 

I completed my bachelor’s degree in Strategic Security and Protection Management while I was in Afghanistan and began work on my Master’s in Intelligence Management. I was injured while in Iraq and left work to return to West Lafayette, Indiana. Later, I decided to pursue my Juris Doctorate. My graduation date is May, 2025. 

I owe everything to Jiu Jitsu and what it’s done for me. I was not a good student in high school, but I am now on the verge of a law degree. It’s because jiu-jitsu taught me that knowledge and effort are what separates everyone in the world. I fell in love with learning. I hope I instill that in my two beautiful children that I have with my amazing wife, Erica. 

My mission in life is to spread that message to as many people as possible and to any other combat veterans who may be struggling to find purpose outside of the military.

Book a private lesson with me HERE!


Erica Reyes

ACS Administration

Call (765) 269-7125 to set up your free trial!

I run the day-to-day operations of Aztlan including managing members’ accounts, welcoming new members, and getting potential members in for a trial.

I handle our customized member management software that is tailored specifically to Aztlan.

I also coordinate marketing in order to attract new members, running online ads, creating online content, developing local awareness and recognition through reach-out programs, etc.

I also actively train jiu-jitsu here at ACS several days a week.


Former Pro UFC and Bellator competitor Matt Mitrione

Matt Mitrione

Kickboxing Lead Instructor

I attended Purdue University, where I played football as a defensive lineman for the Purdue Boilermakers and also earned a degree in communications from Purdue.

After my football career, I transitioned to mixed martial arts (MMA). I gained prominence as a contestant on Season 10 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” a reality TV show produced by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). I competed as a heavyweight on the show, showcasing my athleticism and raw talent.

Following my experience on “The Ultimate Fighter,” I went on to have a successful career in the UFC. I was known for my aggressive fighting style and knockout power; I secured notable victories over opponents such as Kimbo Slice, Derrick Lewis, and Gabriel Gonzaga.

In 2016, I signed with Bellator MMA, a prominent MMA promotion. Competing in Bellator, I continued to display my skills inside the cage, earning victories over established fighters like Fedor Emelianenko and Roy Nelson.

After retiring from professional MMA competition, I transitioned into various roles within the combat sports industry. I have worked as a commentator and analyst for MMA events, providing insights and expert commentary on fights and fighters. Additionally, I have explored opportunities in podcasting and media, leveraging my experience and knowledge to engage with fans and enthusiasts.

I remain involved in the MMA community, offering guidance and support to aspiring fighters while staying connected to the sport that has played a significant role in my life.

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Preston Kirkham

Judo Lead Instructor

I started judo in 2000 when my church pastor invited me to his club. He learned judo in Japan while he was stationed there during the war. Our club focused on history, competition and traditional technique. My competition record earned me a judo scholarship to Texas A&M University where I served as captain and president. Our judo team traveled across the country to compete at all major tournaments until 2010 when I graduated and moved to Dallas.

I continued my training under Russ Hogan at Eastside Dojo where I brought my two sons into the sport. My wife and two sons moved with me to Lafayette, IN in 2021 and found Aztlan Combat Sports.

I am a 2nd Degree Judo Black Belt and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt. I have 24 years experience in Judo and was a collegiate and national judo competitor and Captain of the Texas A&M Judo Team.

Book a private lesson with me HERE!


John Woodworth

Early Bird Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Lead Instructor
Lunchtimers Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Lead Instructor

I started my martial arts journey back in 2009. During my late high school years, I discovered MMA. After beginning training MMA and it’s various disciplines, Jiu-Jitsu stuck out to me. It was my eventual move to a new club in 2013 that got me on the path I am on now. I haven’t looked back since.

I appreciate the puzzle solving nature of the sport. There is always a new challenge to overcome with growth. It’s difficult at first and requires patience in the beginning. But as you gain more experience, the learning process becomes irresistible.

It has helped me in several ways. Connection to the community has allowed me to make friends and contacts to people of all walks of life. I enjoy meeting and talking to people of different backgrounds.

Through jiu-jitsu, my fitness is more desirable, as I want to move more efficiently on the mats. In addition, my confidence and self-assuredness had improved, which gives me comfort in moving throughout my everyday life, especially if conflict were to arise.

My goal is to be as proficient as possible in teaching and practice. I am always striving to learn more, whether that be jiu-jitsu, boxing, wrestling or self-defense. And I want to pass that knowledge along to others and make them better.

Book a private lesson with me HERE!

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Travis Sandifur

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Instructor
Kickboxing Instructor

I’m originally from Lafayette, Indiana. I got started in martial arts because my mother was in martial arts when I was young. I also really liked the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Later in life, I was about 16, is when I started with Kim Pham Li in Vietnamese Tai Kwon do. I then stumbled onto Rhynos, I had 2 cage fights while at Rhynos in 2003.

In 2006 I joined the Army National Guard as a medic and deployed to Iraq. While in Iraq, I worked in a clinic at night taking patients and during the day provided medical support for the combatives program. I was a level two instructor during my time in Iraq. When I came back home, I began training mainly kickboxing, but still practiced no-gi off and on. I accepted multiple kickboxing matches, but only 1 opponent followed through.

Training has helped release stress and keeps my mind focused from dwelling on situations from the past. It has helped develop a sense of self-worth and a sense of camaraderie.

Book a private lesson with me HERE!


Dr. Rebecca Sharples

Jaguars Program Head Coach
Ladies Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Lead Instructor

After several years of training CrossFit and weightlifting, and after a year of watching my young daughter train, I started my own Brazilian jiu-jitsu journey in January 2018. Currently a purple belt, I have competed in around 30 competitions, including taking 2nd in Pans in 2020, and five so far in 2024 placing 1st in the last three.

I hold a Doctor of Education in Learning and Organizational Change with my research focusing on gender inequity. I am especially passionate about teaching women and children the art of jiu jitsu and empowering them through this sport to feel confident and powerful in their everyday lives. 

I teach our women’s only classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at noon as well, our fundamental kids’ (Jaguars) class on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30pm, and our competition kids’ class on Sundays at 5pm. I love both gi and no-gi, but my favorite style is in the gi using the lapels to play guard and choke my opponents. 

Book a private lesson with me HERE!


Jake Rowe

Kids Eagle Program Head Coach
Kickboxing Instructor

I’m originally from Lowell, IN but have lived in Lafayette for the past seven years. I hold a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Indiana State University and spent nearly a decade as a high school band director here in Indiana. In addition, I am a multi-instrumentalist and have been playing the drums for over 20 years. I recently transitioned to higher education and work at Purdue University as the Assistant Director of Student Engagement for the Purdue For Life Foundation and am currently working to obtain my master’s degree in higher education with a focus on administration and leadership through Purdue University Global.

I started my martial arts journey four years ago after being introduced to my friend Tanner Dunfee. He invited me out to my first jiu-jitsu class, and I fell in love with it. I quickly began taking kickboxing classes as well and haven’t looked back.

I truly believe that martial arts have made me a better person. Learning these techniques has helped me to gain confidence in many facets of my life. From physically being able to handle myself, to being a better husband, building stronger relationships, and having the courage and determination to make changes in my professional life, I would not be where I am today without martial arts and this community. I have met some of the best people ever and am lucky to call them my friends, training partners, and coaches.

In the future, I would like to get back into competing, as well as continue to strengthen the kid’s Jiu-Jitsu program. As a former public teacher, I love giving back to my community and helping the next generation grow into confident, respectful, and disciplined members of society.

Book a private lesson with me HERE!

About Our Logo

About Us

Our logo depicts a bird known as a Resplendent Quetzal. It is native to Central America and considered by some to be the most beautiful bird in the world. It also has a rich history in Mesoamerican culture.

Considered sacred by several Mesoamerican civilizations, the Resplendent Quetzal remains culturally significant to this day. The Resplendent Quetzal likely inspired Quetzalcoatl, the “plumed serpent” god of Mesoamerica. Legend has it that Quetzalcoatl helped create Earth. Rulers and nobility wore headdresses made from this trogon’s shining green feathers, which symbolically connected them to the god.

It was considered a crime to kill a quetzal, so the plumes were procured by capturing the bird, plucking its long tail feathers, and setting it free. In several Mesoamerican languages, the term for quetzal can also mean “precious” or “sacred.”

The iridescent green tail feathers also symbolized spring plant growth to the Aztecs and Mayans, who viewed the quetzal as the “god of the air” and as a symbol of goodness and light. The Mayans also viewed the quetzal as a symbol of freedom (it was said that the bird would rather starve than to remain in captivity) and wealth, as its feathers were used as money. Even today, the currency of Guatemala is called the quetzal.

The Resplendent Quetzal is also the national bird of Guatemala, pictured on the country’s flag and coat of arms. It was thought to be the spirit guide of a Mayan prince and hero, Tecún Umán, who fought against the Spanish conquest. According to legend, Tecún Umán was killed as he fought the conquistador Pedro de Alvarado. As Tecún Umán lay dying, a quetzal flew down and landed on his chest, dipping its feathers in the hero’s blood. This is supposedly how the bird acquired its red breast and belly feathers.

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Aztlan Combat Sports provides martial arts classes to Lafayette, West Lafayette, Battleground, Delphi & Dayton communities

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