Our Coaching Staff

John Martinich

Austin Jiu-Jitsu Head Coach John Martinich is a Brown Belt under founding coach David Thomas. John is known for his incredible technical ability and passion for dissecting technique and sharing his greatness. As a native Austinite and Computer Science grad from UT, John has balanced his life well between family, work and play. Joining Austin Jiu Jitsu in 2003, he has developed a passion for the sport through coaching and competition. BJJ is a lifestyle for John through stress reduction, exercise and friendships. When he’s not at the gym, he’s at home with his wife and grappling with his two boys.

Dan Borth

Austin Jiu-Jitsu Coach Dan Borth is a Brown Belt under founding coach David Thomas. Dan is known for his innovative approach that has led to creation of numerous amazing submission moves. He cross trains with some of the best coaches in Austin, including NCAA All American Wrestler Jason Carr.

Dave Thomas–Austin Jiu-Jitsu Founder

Dave Thomas of Seattle, WA is founding coach at Austin Jiu-Jitsu (Self-Defense Mentor, LLC). While Dave now trains and works out of Seattle, he is proud to have built Austin Jiu-Jitsu from a small group of friends in his garage to a thriving community of dedicated students from 2003 – 2017. He visits the gym when he comes to town to roll with his students and friends.

Some of Dave’s contributions include

  • His student-centric approach, helping them on their personal journey toward mastery.
  • His highly technical skills
  • An unconventional, creative fighting style
  • Development of a successful women’s program, which enjoys a significantly high ratio of women to men – which is unusual in BJJ
  • Developing the talent of his team of coaches
  • His prolific writing on training, coaching, and service toward the student in his blog, Jits Happens
  • The creation of BJJTech.com, the largest single-sourced collection of BJJ techniques on the web.

Accomplishments and Qualifications

  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt (under Carlos Gracie Jr. Black Belt Travis Tooke). Coaching since 2003, training since 1995.
  • 2008 North American Grappling (NAGA) Champion, Brown and Black belt Division (160 lb and under, Director, Gi)
  • 3 Black belts, including BJJ, Japanese Karate (AAKF, JKA Shotokan)
  • State, national, and international-level competition experience
  • Certified USA Wrestling Coach for competitive youth wrestling programs. 3 seasons.
  • Ground fighting trainer for law enforcement, EMT, and military personnel
  • Experienced referee in local and state-level BJJ and Submission Grappling competitions
  • MMA instructor 2008 – 2012
  • Diverse martial arts training background including MMA, Thai Boxing, Jeet Kune Do, Karate, Aikido, and Judo
  • Licensed by the Texas Department of Public Safety Private Security Bureau (2005)
  • Licensed by the Texas Combative Sports/Boxing Commission as an MMA Cornerman (2009)
  • Developed BJJTech.com, the largest single-sourced collection of BJJ techniques on the web.

Our Administrative Staff

Julie Espy

Julie Espy, along with her husband Sabumnim James Espy, is a co-founder of Traditional Martial Arts Academy (TMAA), home to Austin Jiu-Jitsu.  Julie’s official role in the school is administrator and enrollment director.  She is warm and extremely approachable, attributes that will make your introduction to our school a wonderful experience.  She will serve as your guide as you learn about our programs and how we can best serve you and your family.

Julie can be reached at [email protected]

James Espy, Sabumnim

James Espy (Sabumnim) is co-founder of Traditional Martial Arts Academy.  Click here to learn more.