Featured affiliated academy: The Misfits Club, BJJ California

The Misfits Club, BJJ California

Where is the gym located?
Crescenta Valley, Tujunga, California

How many people train there?

Is the gym growing – if so by how many new members each month or year?
10 a month

What are the highest and lowest belt grades training?
7 black belts – 45 white belts

When did The Misfits Club, BJJ California open?
May 27, 2023 in the current location. Established in 2019.


Some facts about you:

Name: James Martinez
Age: 48
Belt: 1st degree Black belt
Profession: Detective for LAPD
Years in BJJ: 25 years
Other martial arts: Muay Thai / Boxing
Currently living in: Los Angeles, California
Originally from: Los Angeles, California

Please tell us the story of how your gym came into existence
Prior to receiving my black belt, I had a major knee injury and stopped training for a year. Trying to avoid any further injury to my knee, I decided to quit BJJ and focus on Muay Thai. The Muay Thai gym I was training at wanted to start a BJJ program and traded free Muay Thai lessons for my family in return for teaching one BJJ class a week. Before I knew it, I was teaching 5 classes a week and we had more students than Muay Thai. Covid struck and our academy closed down but we continued to train both sports in the backyard of our home. Prior to winter we converted our garage into a gym where the student count grew as well as the number of black belts who joined us. At the end of 2022, we decided to open our own brick and mortar academy, already having over 25 students and 7 black belts that joined us on our venture.

Tell us about the people that train in the gym – who are they?
The majority of the students (60%) are women, the rest are mostly professionals over the age of 35 looking to train, stay in shape, and be in a friendly environment with like minded folks.

As a 25 year veteran of law enforcement and with prior military service, our academy has focused on teaching police officers and military service members how to defend themselves and find an outlet they may carry due to their profession. We offer reduced cost to them as they progress through their martial arts journey.

Why do they train in The Misfits Club, BJJ California?
We have a major focus on empowering women by not only having an all women’s class taught by a female 2nd degree black belt, but making it a goal to build their confidence to train in the co-ed classes. We make it a point to treat students not by their gender, but by their belt rank. Empowering them to roll against all kinds of body types and perfect their technique.

What are some of the challenges of running a BJJ gym in general, and in your area specifically?
Having students who transfer in from another academy expecting to get promoted on time and not skill level. We don’t have promotion ceremonies once or twice a year but have decided to award students the same way I was. At any given time any of the black belts can recommend any student for promotion to the next degree or belt at which time a vote is taken after all the black belts have rolled with the student. If the majority decides that the student is worthy of promotion, then their main instructor is authorised to promote that student. I have been vetoed by the majority and held a student an additional (6) months at their belt until another black belt brought their promotion back-up and we all agreed it was time.

How do you see the future for BJJ in your area?
We are surrounded by traditional martial academies such as Taekwando and Karate, and are attempting to break into a niche market by showing the self-defence aspects of our sport for children as well as adults.

What’s the best thing about your gym, The Misfits Club, BJJ California?
Training out of our home for over two years made us just not another school, but a family that would enter our home everyday that we trained. We celebrated milestones, birthdays and very often BBQ just to BBQ after training. We have brought that atmosphere with us by continuing the way we treat our students like family. We have open mat Sundays, cross training Saturdays where guest instructors are brought in free of charge and open to all, and most importantly we still BBQ, drink, laugh and have fun as a family.

What would you recommend Globetrotters to see in your area apart from the inside of your gym?
It’s Los Angeles….. I recommend see it all.


Thanks for sharing! If you’d like to visit The Misfits Club, BJJ California, you can contact them here.