Team Nova Uniao


South West corner of Alma School & 60
1660 S. Alma School Rd #118
Mesa, Arizona
Phone: 480-491-5440

The Competition


The 1st annual D.A.N. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Tournament

“Laughter continues to heal me, and give me a reason to smile” ~Damien Antonio Nava (D.A.N.)


January 11, 2014 proved to be an exciting day for not only the BJJ community, but for my family as well. The 1st annual D.A.N. tournament was a great opportunity for us to bring awareness to a larger community in regards to Neurofibromatosis. NF2 is a disease that my wife, and two youngest kids are battling. I decided early on when given the opportunity I would do whatever it took to help them win this war. Anyone walking in my shoes would want to do the same. When starting to plan this endeavor I had no idea what kind of support I would be able to generate. Little did I know things were about to get crazy in this BJJ school, and it would open up doors to change our lives greatly.


On tournament day we were prepared to house over 120 competitors in only 3600 square feet of space. The day was very exciting as we saw well over 200 people come through our doors to compete, and spectate on behalf of NF2 awareness. There were schools represented from all over the valley, and all the way to Tuscon.  They also came to support Damien. I was extremely proud of my son as he kick started the event with a speech from the heart that I will never forget. Struggling with Autism on top of this genetic disease has made socializing, and interactions difficult over the years. However, today he shined like no other as he spoke of his fears, and struggles about his walk with this disease.


There were plenty of exciting matches to be had, and many colored belts from white to black. It was an honor to have everyone in our school, and we even had several exciting competitors take part in this cause. World Champion Sarah Black joined us for a great match, and great purpose. We also had competitor Darron Caldwell who is not only a Bellator Fighter, but also a college all American wrestler participate. We had 2 very distinguished black belts John Wagner of North Phoenix GD-Jiu Jitsu, and Renato Freitas of JCBJJ come to compete in an exciting black belt match. For some of our Nava BJJ students as well as other valley students this smaller venue provided an opportunity to try out competition on a less intimidating level. The experience as a whole was very exciting!

I really would like to take time to thank some of the amazing people that helped this event come together. To name them all would be hard to do. This group of volunteers dedicated their time so that this cause would meet, and exceed its purpose. So to the volunteers thank you for your time, and energy. You gave so much more than your time that day. You gave me renewed hope in the dedication of friends, and of others. To the referees I thank you all for spending the day supporting this event. Those referees include Ryan Heilman, Jay Pages, Andrew Gardineer and Jesus Jose. Thank you to AGGRO apparel, and CNTRL Industries for donating gear to the event as well as setting up booths. Some of the other sponsors of the event who donated are as follows: Global Chiropractic, Eminence kimonos, Fighter Tech, 24 Carrots Natural Cafe, Fifty/50 BJJ (Ryan Hall) and Copperhead Crossfit. I also want to send out a very heartfelt thank you to AndrewKstudios who dedicated his time, and efforts to making a documentary style video. For all the countless hours he put towards helping us to have a voice my family will be forever grateful. Last but not least to all the people that competed, and walked through those doors I thank you. This is the beginning of great things for the future of my family. There is less fear when you feel the strength, and the support of others. I have never been more proud to be a part of this Arizona BJJ community.


'Tis the Season at Nava BJJ

November has been a very busy, and exciting month at Nava BJJ! We started off by promoting several students who have puts a lot of time, and dedication into their BJJ training. On November 9th my very first student Jenni Larson was promoted to Purple belt! Jenni has been with Nava BJJ for 5 years, and has become such an important part of our family. Jenni recently had surgery to help repair an injury, and has been slowly on the mend. Despite being on crutches she still made it to receive this honor, and we are extremely proud of her! Jeremiah Easton who has been with Nava BJJ for 4 years also received his Purple belt. Jeremiah has always been very dedicated to his training, and competes on a regular basis. He continues to set a great example at the school to those around him and is a great BJJ practitioner! Rich Young who is a GFS/Nava BJJ student was the third student to receive his purple belt on the 9th. Rich trains regularly at our affiliate GFS, and has made tremendous strides in the time he has put into his Jiu Jistu training. He has become quite a competitor, and pretty exciting showman if you have ever watched him compete! It was also very exciting to promote 4 of our students to blue belt. Each one has worked hard, and proven their desire to improve their Jiu Jitsu journey with much heart. Congrats go to:

Jeryme Spitzer

Julissa Ramirez

Clayton Smith

Jambo Grunert GFS/Nava BJJ


I am always extremely proud of my students when they achieve this honor. We have great expectations at Nava BJJ, and these students continue to strive to exceed those expectations. They continuously represent the best of themselves, and therefore bringing out the best in others around them. We finished off the day with an unbelievable potluck! It was one like I have never seen. We had everything from a pig that had been roasted in a pit over night to spam musubi! The family time was definitely Nava BJJ style. I am looking forward to another day just like it..


Now time to catch up with some other November events! On November 13th Nava BJJ joined up with a total of 9 Nova Uniao team members to head to the Clark Gracie seminar held at Jay Pages MMA. The event proved to be very informational, and we learned some great technique that evening. It was a great experience rolling with Clark Gracie, and learning a lot about ways to refine our game as BJJ practitioners. Great memories at another great local event!

On November 16th my son David Nava was promoted to purple belt by Claudio Franca in California. My son started training Jiu Jitsu 7 years ago with Gustavo Dantas. He has always made me so proud with his drive to succeed, and be the best in Jiu Jitsu. Great Job son!!


Starting off December Daniel Madrid who is the GFS/Nava BJJ instructor brought home double Gold to get the month off right! On December 7th Daniel headed to Pleasanton, California to compete at the Jiu JItsu Grand Prix. This was an event held by Dave Camarillo. Great Job Daniel, and way to represent your BJJ family well!

I would like also like to say congratulations to GFS/Nava BJJ student Jose Munoz who brought the bronze home after competing in the Long Beach Open. Jose is always striving to improve his Jiu Jitsu, and takes any opportunity he can to compete! Great Job Jose!


1st D.A.N. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Tournament 

On January 11th Nava BJJ will be hosting its very first annual D.A.N. tournament. I just wanted to take this opportunity to explain what this tournament is about, and what it means to me. D.A.N. stands for the name of my son Damien Antonio Nava. As many people know my wife, and two youngest kids live with a genetic disease called Neurofibromatosis type 2. Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF 2) is a disorder characterized by the growth of noncancerous tumors throughout the nervous system. The most common tumors associated with Neurofibromatosis type 2 are called vestibular schwannomas or acoustic neuromas.  These are benign, usually slow-growing tumors that develop from the balance and hearing nerves supplying the inner ear. If tumors develop in other parts of the brain or spinal cord, signs and symptoms vary according to their location. Complications tumor growth can include changes in vision or sensation, numbness or weakness in the arms or legs, and fluid buildup in the brain. NF2 can cause deafness, severe balance problems, facial nerve paralysis, spinal cord compression, swallowing difficulties and/or eye function complications. While this disorder is very complicated the purpose of our lives are clear to us as we continue the fight to provide the best for our family. We also have a determination to fight on behalf of those living and struggling every single day with this awful disease. My son Damien truly has become one of the greatest examples of inspiration in my life. In just the short time since his diagnosis he has already faced 2 major surgeries, and each time with renewed hope. Facing deafness Damien continues to prove to me, and others that this life is about more than the struggle. Instead it’s about looking past the pain for the hope he knows ultimately lies ahead. This tournament is not only an opportunity to help me continue to meet the medical needs of my family, but to help bring awareness for the many people that need a cure for NF2. I hope that we will be able to support a few of the various foundations that spend countless dollars on research to end this ongoing battle. I look forward to seeing you all, and although I can never thank you enough I will always seek to support this awesome Jiu Jitsu community the best I can.
The competition will take place on January 11th at           
Nava BJJ 1660 South Alma School Road #118 Mesa, AZ 85210.
The Pre-registration fee is $40 until January 8th @ 10pm.
The brackets will be released day of the tournament.
Medals will be awarded to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place only.
The winners of their Divisions have a chance to win a Ctrl gi.
All athletes must weigh in WITH gi on starting at 8am.
Complete rules can be found at 



Team Nava BJJ takes 1st at the 5th Southwest Classic and more...

These past few months have proved to be not only busy for Nava BJJ, but have also proved to test our skills to the limit. We have been actively participating in local, and out of state tournaments. This is all in hopes that we will grow as competitors, and Jiu Jitsu practitioners. August 10, 2013 Nava BJJ/Nova Uniao headed to the Las Vegas Summer International Open. This turned out to be an exciting opportunity to watch our team Nova Uniao as a whole seal the first place spot. Some of the highlights from Nava BJJ competitors themselves were Jeanine Knapp, and Grace Campbell closing out their light feather weight divisions. The girls respectively did an awesome job on the mat making the team extremely proud of their hard work. Gary Hatch did an outstanding job taking second in his division, and 3rd in the open division. Aaron Wilson continued the wins with securing 3rd in his division. Paul Nava took 2nd in his division adding more medals to this already exciting day. It was a victorious day overall with Nova Uniao taking first with an 80 point lead over Gracie Barra. Great job team!!


In September a small group headed out to compete at the nationals 2013 Gi and Nogi tournament. In the Gi Brandon Walker placed 3rd in his division getting the team off on the right foot. Jenni Monroe also took 3rd representing Nava BJJ women with lots of strength and skill to back it up. The medals continued as Gary Hatch placed 3rd in his division! In the Nogi Brandon Walker represented Nava BJJ proudly by bringing home the Gold in his division. Jose Munoz competed in his division and the open taking 3rd in both. Great job Jose!  After some intense matches Aaron Wilson took silver in his division. It was an overall great trip, and just another opportunity to give us a reason to train hard. We are always so very proud of our competitors who show no fear when stepping on the mats. They not only show amazing skill, but have no problem learning from their experiences!


Master Seniors Worlds was the next tournament that Eddie Morrow, Jeremiah Heisterman, Dave Barnes and Coach Paul headed out too. The team took this opportunity to compete as a great learning experience! They had the chance to compete in some very technical matches and fought hard every step of the way. Coach Paul took Gold in his division! We are very proud of him, and the Nava BJJ team who continue to support him as not only a team but as a family.


On October 26th and 27th we took a large team to compete at the 5th Southwest Classic. Combined with the students from Nava BJJ our affiliate GFS brought a large group making this one of the largest groups Team Nava BJJ has brought to a tournament. This event was filled with talent, skill, and display of heart every step of the way! The kids did an awesome job competing at the Southwest Classic. This was also one of the largest kids groups taken to a tournament to date. Thank you GFS as well for encouraging and supporting your kids in competition every step of the way! All of the kids clearly worked hard before hitting the mats. It would be hard to point out all the highlights because there were way too many. The team as a whole showed such intensity when coming into this event, and especially when getting on the mats. The family vibe was in the air as we cheered each other on to victory. Some of the exciting moments included Jose Munoz who had a total of 6 fights in both divisions. In the final open match he met fellow Nava BJJ team member Gary Hatch who also had won Gold in his division. As they met in this last match in the open Gary respectfully bowed out to Jose earning him the Gold, and Gary the silver! It was very similar to the last local tournament where Gary and Aaron Wilson met in the finals at the open weight division after having won their respective divisions. The best moment was yet to come..Nava BJJ secured the first place trophy as a team! The team worked extremely hard in every way for this opportunity, and for this moment. We definitely won’t take it for granted, and we realize there will always be the need for constant training on our part as a team. Great Job to Nava BJJ/GFS!!!


Lastly several Nava BJJ teammates headed to compete at the 2013 World Nogi championships. Brandon Walker, and Jose Contreres faced several tough opponents in their individual divisions. They did an awesome job of representing the hard work put into their daily training. Coach Paul took Gold at his very 1st Worlds Nogi tournament securing his second Gold of the year at a Worlds event!


In just a few short months the team has done some pretty exciting things in the Jiu Jitsu community. We are extremely grateful to have this family, and hope we can give back as much as they give to us. So until next time..see you on the mats.


Nava BJJ Bringing the Heat in June

The summer for Nava BJJ has been a very busy one. We have worked hard, and had many victories along the way. On June 8th we held promotions. These events are great opportunities to honor the dedication of these students who have put so much time into achieving this goal. The names of students promoted on June 8th are as follows:


Eddie Morrow

Gary Hatch

Aaron Wilson



Chris Rottinger

Koa Kalama

Jacob Medina



Andreas C.

I am extremely proud of each one of these students for many reasons. They each not only trained hard to earn this honor, but they all have a fierce dedication to competition at tournaments. I look forward to seeing great things from each of them in the years to come. I am also excited to see my very first white to Purple belt, Aaron Wilson. The excitement will continue as we have more promotions coming up in November. Stay Tuned!


On June 29th and 30th Nava BJJ headed to the Az BJJ 2013 State Championships. This would prove to be another exciting tournament for all of my students, and a rewarding opportunity for our team. The names of all the students who medaled are as follows:



Grace Campbell 2nd-Light feather

Alex Kray 3rd-Light feather

Amber Burkey 3rd-Light feather

Jimmy Chavez 3rd-Light

Kim Mullins 3rd-Middle


Keola Kalama 1st-Ultra heavy

Steven Enriquez 2nd-Middle

Josh Herald 2nd-Super heavy

Jeryme Spitzer 3rd-Middle

Senior 1:

Mike Van Osten 3rd-Middle

Senior 2:

James Grunert 1st-Heavy



Richard Young 1st- Ultra Heavy

Brandon Walker 2nd-Medium Heavy

Raymond Calderon 2nd-Light feather

Daniel Rodriguez 2nd- Rooster

Jenny Larson 2nd-light



Nate Steen 1st-Super Heavy

Luis Varela 1st-Ultra Heavy

Koa Kalama 2nd-Heavy

Kevin Tyrell 2nd-Light

Senior 1:

Nolan Daniels 3rd-Light




Aaron Wilson 1st-Light


Gary Hatch 1st-Middle



Jose Munoz 3rd-Medium Heavy


Ross Brantner 2nd-Medium Heavy


Eddie Morrow 3rd-Light

David Barnes 3rd-Middle




Daniel Madrid 3rd-Heavy


Christian P. 1st

Lukas V. 2nd

Luis V. 2nd

Kade G. 2nd

Hayden G. 3rd

Maximus F. 3rd

Patrick M. 3rd

Jordan A. 3rd



I also want to acknowledge Nava BJJ instructors on their outstanding performances as well:

Ryan Heilman 1st-Brown middle

Sarah Black 1st-Purple middle



As always I enjoyed the different aspects of watching my team perform, and learn along the way. It was definitely a great time watching two brand new purple belts (Gary Hatch and Aaron Wilson) win their divisions, and close out the open together. The team did outstanding as a whole, and we were very fortunate to take a 2nd place spot overall at the AZ BJJ State Championships. I look forward to the next event as does my team. It’s always a great opportunity to or lose.