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  • Straight Blast Gym Buford Just Added Four New Jiu Jitsu Black Belts to our Tribe


    Generally, our Martial Arts Student of the Month recognition goes to one person, but we couldn’t not highlight these four men for their amazing accomplishments.

    Earning a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not easy. Many martial arts in America hand out black belts after 3-or-so years of training. In Jiu Jitsu, that timeline is typically more like 10 years. A Jiu Jitsu black belt is a symbol of great skill and the countless hours that the practitioner has spent on the mats, honing their craft. It is a milestone achievement and one that we are honored to commemorate for these four gentlemen.

    Let’s take a look at our four newest Jiu Jitsu black belt recipients at Straight Blast Gym Buford.

    Jose Vargas

    Jose is one of SBG’s longest-tenured students, dating all the way back to our first location in Lawrenceville in late 2010. Back in the early days, when white belts heavily dominated our mats and gym, Jose was one of the leaders of the SBG tribe. He was one of our first students to earn a blue belt from Coach Phil Gentry, and now, 11 years later, he received his black belt from Coach Phil.

    Back in the early days of Straight Blast Gym Buford, when we were light on capital, Jose became an investor in the gym. It was an incredible gesture and an amazing show of faith in a coach and community that he had only been a part of for about a year. We have never forgotten Jose’s generosity and the confidence that he showed in our tribe early on, and it was an honor to award him with a much-deserved black belt.

    Antony Bui

    Antony Bui has seen it all in his time with us, being one of our old-school students who has surpassed the decade + mark with Straight Blast Gym. He began training Jiu Jitsu in Athens when he was in college and then became a student with us at our first location in Lawrenceville after he finished school. In those days, a “big” class was about ten students, and you’d better believe we made sure to get a picture of that class. 🤣

    Over the years, Antony has seen the gym grow, not only in numbers but in culture. Students like Antony, who is not only friendly and amicable but also an incredibly smooth training partner, helped to usher us from a “the strong will survive” type of martial arts school to a place where everyone is welcome, regardless of whether you are a competitor or a casual martial artist. Antony is one of those students that we can pair with a newer student, and we know that he’ll not only take care of them and keep them safe but help them to feel right at home on the SBG mats.

    Woo Ko

    Woo and his family have been with us since the end of 2014. Woo was initially a part-timer with us, as he was still enlisted in the Marines and typically in Tennessee during the week. When he retired from the military, he became a fixture on our mats, so much so that Woo and his family became our very first Legacy students in 2015 (something that is reserved for our students whom we hold in the highest esteem).

    Because of how much respect Woo had earned from his peers and coaches, he became SBG Buford’s first (and only) General Manager in 2018. When Coaches Phil Gentry and Jim Sheppard opened Straight Blast Gym Atlanta in 2022, Woo was really put to the test, as he would now be running and overseeing all aspects and departments of the Buford location. Woo rose to the challenge and has done an incredible job as the SBG Buford tribe leader, maintaining the quality and community our students have come to expect. In addition to running SBG Buford and coaching Jiu Jitsu classes, Coach Woo also runs shooting and gun safety sessions with many of his students on the weekends.

    Mike Greene

    Legacy student Mike Greene is the epitome of consistency. Mr Greene has gone from white belt to black belt at Straight Blast Gym in just a little over eight years, despite not even starting the sport until he was 32 years old. One of Mike’s highlights at Straight Blast Gym came in 2017, as a Jiu Jitsu blue belt, when he accepted an MMA fight on 2 weeks’ notice, despite doing very little striking training in his time at SBG Buford. Despite that, Mike won one of the most lopsided mixed martial arts fights in Atlanta history, with the judges scoring the rounds 30-24.

    Over the past 8 years, Mike has become one of the most respected students in our gym, so it was no surprise to any of his friends and teammates when it was announced that he would be receiving his black belt in February. Mike’s wife, Dani, also trains at SBG Buford and received her purple belt on the same day that Mike received his black belt. Mike also owns Mosquito Masters and treats the homes of many of his teammates and coaches that live in the Buford and Atlanta area.

    Jim Sheppard

    is one of the co-owners of Straight Blast Gym Buford and Straight Blast Gym Atlanta. He has been training / coaching / competing in Muay Thai since 2013 and holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.