Our Teaching Staff

Romolo Barros

Professor Romolo Barros is a certified Black Belt under the legendary Rickson Gracie, and was one of the inaugural representatives of the Rickson Gracie International Jiu-Jitsu Association. Through a shared passion for Jiu-Jitsu and surfing, and over many years of loyalty and friendship, Romolo is most proud of his personal connection & relations with Rickson and his family. Born in Brazil and introduced to Jiu-Jitsu at a very early age, Romolo has been involved in the art of Jiu-Jitsu for more than 30 years. To pursue his second passion for surfing, Romolo moved to Hawaii in 1981, and for many years surfed the notorious waves on Oahu’s North Shore. After receiving his Black Belt in 1994, Romolo founded Brazilian Freestyle Jiu-Jitsu, opened Jiu-Jitsu academies on the islands of Oahu and Maui, and has since instructed and mentored hundreds of students through classes and seminars in Hawaii, the continental U.S., Europe, South Africa and Japan. In addition to his duties as the Head Instructor at Brazilian Freestyle Jiu-Jitsu, Romolo also dedicates much of his time promoting NHB, BJJ and Submission Grappling events. 


James Tanaka

James Tanaka first began his Jiu-Jitsu training in 1989 under Professor Relson Gracie, and was the first in the State to achieve the senior rank of Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Following some time off the mats due to injury, James returned under the guidance of Professor Romolo Barros; and after years of dedication, received his Black Belt in July 2004. James has over 30 years of combined martial arts experience, and also holds Senior Instructor Certification through the Hawaii Wing Chun Kung Fu Association, and the Jeet Kune Do/ Mixed Martial Arts curriculum of the IMB Academy. As a former Marine Recon veteran, James understands the meaning of team integrity and loyalty, and works hard to instill these same attributes with his new team of BJJ brothers. James enjoys music, surfing and spending free time with his wife, Gina, and children, Kellen & Karlee.


Gilson Souza

Gilson Souza first began his Jiu-Jitsu training at the Maui Academy in 1999 under Professor Romolo Barros. More bio to follow.

Jeff Tsuzuki

Jeff Tsuzuki is one of the premier Instructors of Brazilian Freestyle Jiu-Jitsu (BFJJ), and to this day, remains an active and highly competitive member of our Competition Team. As one of the founding members of Brazilian Freestyle, and after years of dedication and hard work, Jeff received the rank of Brown Belt in April 2004. Jeff continues to inspire, guide and challenge many of us with his solid game and continual growth. Over the years Jeff has competed and medaled in a number of National Jiu-Jitsu Championships, including Gold at the 2000 Rickson Gracie International Jiu-Jitsu Tournament, and medaling at the First American National Jiu-Jitsu and Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championships. When he’s not on the mats training, Jeff owns and operates a successful business as Vice President of Pinnacle Funding Group -- so if you're in search of mortgage financing or re-financing, come meet Jeff on the mats.


Ermin Fergerstrom

Ermin Fergerstrom is the Head Instructor at the Brazilian Freestyle Jiu-Jitsu Academy on Maui. Following Professor Barros' decision to relocate back to Oahu, Ermin took over the reigns and leadership role at the Maui Jiu-Jitsu Academy. Ermin was awarded his well deserved and hard earned Black Belt in November 2007. Ermin's extensive jiu-jitsu, submission grappling and no-holds barred (NHB) experience includes gold at the 2003 State Jiu-Jitsu Championships, silver at the 2003 NAGA State Championships, and winner of the 2000/2002 Warriors of the New Millennium (NHB) Middleweight Championships. Ermin's competitive and caring nature, backed by a team of dedicated and experienced Assistant Instructors (Purple Belts) such as Gilson Souza, Tyson Coloma Nahooikaika and Dylan Clay, ensures that Maui will always be represented with quality instructions and some serious training ethics.


Sidney Silva

Sidney Silva first began his Jiu-Jitsu training in 1998 under the tutelage of Professor Carlson Gracie in his home country of Brazil. The year following Sidney moved to the islands, and along with his wife and son, now calls Hawaii home. With a love & passion for Jiu-Jitsu, Sidney has continued his training here at Brazilian Freestyle, and was awarded his Black Belt in 2007. Sidney is an avid competitor with numerous BJJ, No-Holds-Barred (NHB) and Submission Grappling victories; most notable being impressive wins at local professional fight cards "Rumble on the Rocks" and "Shooto Hawaii". To ensure a multi-dimensional game, Sidney also supplements his core training in Jiu-Jitsu with stand-up skills at HMC Kickboxing under Haru Shimanishi. Sidney's fierce competitiveness, superb technical skills and humble personality are indeed a rare combination, and a true reflection of the art of Jiu-Jitsu. 


Jim Gallagher

Jim Gallagher has been involved in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for many years now, having first started his training under the guidance of Professor Relson Gracie back in 1992. Having continued his training through the years, both formally and informally, and under various roofs, we are fortunate that Jim has found a lasting "home" here at Brazilian Freestyle Jiu-Jitsu. Jim is one of the few in the Sate that boasts a resume which includes mat time with all of the today's legendary Gracie brothers, to include Relson, Rorion, Rickson, Royler, Royce and cousin Rillion. With the daily demands of balancing training with family responsibilities and a full-time profession (as a physical therapist), and following years of dedication and perseverance, Jim was awarded the long overdue rank of Purple Belt in April 2004.  In his free-time Jim enjoys spending time with his family, fishing, and rolling with his son, Jim Jr. 



Chris West

(Under Construction)