Daimyo Brazilian Jiu-Jistu

Marana-area residents up to the challenge should look no further than Daimyo Brazilian Jiu-Jistu.

Jeff Gardner

Daimyo Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu opens third location

Manuel Flores is a sergeant at the Tucson Police Department. But when his work there isn’t quite hard enough, he wrestles and pins friends to the ground in one of his three Brazilian jiu-jitsu gyms. Or better yet, he teaches his friends to wrestle and pin him to the ground—and maybe instill a bit of confidence in them while doing it. 

“I think, through jiu-jitsu, I can leave this world a better place than when I came into it,” Flores said.

Daimyo BJJ, part of the Paragon organization, recently opened its third location. This expanded their brand into Marana, with their new “Daimyo BJJ Twin Peaks” studio, adding to the family of over 10 jiu-jitsu gyms in the greater Tucson area.

“I think Tucson’s very unique there’s such a good relationship between all the jiu-jitsu gyms,” Flores said. 

Flores was born in Mexico, where his love of martial arts began when he competed with a state-sponsored wrestling team. He then moved to the U.S. and took up kickboxing. Already entrenched in multiple fighting styles, everything changed for Flores when he saw the first the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993. In that event, hosted at Denver’s McNichols Arena, the world first saw the power of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu when Royce Gracie won the final fight by choking out a much larger opponent in under two minutes. 

“I jumped onto jiu-jitsu as soon as possible when I saw that,” Flores said. “And I’ve been doing it for over 20 years ever since.” 

Flores, his sons and his wife have all competed in the Pan-American Championships. Medals and awards line the walls of the gym, just beneath the flags of the United States, Mexico, Japan and Brazil. In only eight years, Daimyo BJJ grew from a single studio of 800 square feet to three locations of almost 9,000. 

“We started so small, but we’ve grown so much,” Flores said. “I think people are excited to join because jiu-jitsu creates a formula that’s as close to real life as possible. It’s a system of technique, patience and leverage where you don’t necessarily have to be athletic or muscular or a physically intimidating figure to succeed.” 

Manuel’s son, Yeshua, is also active in jiu-jitsu, both at class and competitions.

“We’ll do tournaments with other gyms around Tucson,” Yeshua said. “It’s a good community around here. I’m thinking it’s because it’s such a realistic exercise and everyone knows what it is, now.” 

Daimyo offers classes for every experience level, from black belt to beginner. They even have a “fundamentals class” for brand new students.

“Some people don’t have a positive experience when they start jiu-jitsu because they’re forced into fighting right away,” Flores said. “This is to help get people started.” 

Betsy Donahue has only been with Daimyo for a few months, but from what she’s experienced so far, she’s impressed.

“I just walked in one day to check it out and they welcomed me with open arms,” Donahue said. “Everyone here wants everyone else to succeed. It’s so motivating that they really want you to grow.” 

For the May 5 grand opening of their new location, Daimyo is hosting an open mat for those interested, plus a gi raffle and more. 

“Give me two hours a day for a few months and I’ll turn you into a badass,” Flores said. “How can you argue with a formula like that?” 

The grand opening ofDaimyo BJJ’s is this Saturday, May 5 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 8567 N. Silverbell Road #225. For more information, visit daimyobjj.com.

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