RENZO GRACIE ACADEMY PORTLAND
OUR TEAM, OUR HISTORY, OUR LINEAGE
Aaron Milam is the head instructor at Renzo Gracie Academy Portland and the co-founder of Workshop Jiu Jitsu. He began training Jiu Jitu in Los Angeles under Carlson Gracie legend Rey “The King” Diogo in 2000, a time when Carlson Sr. was frequently in the gym with Rey. In 2005, graduate school brought him to New York city where he continued to train on Renzo Gracie team with John Danaher, under whom he was given his black belt in 2008. During this time period in New York, Aaron was described as “the most diverse and creative black belt under Danaher at the time”. Aaron also holds a black belt in Judo.
Throughout his years of training he has competed in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, and submission grappling, regionally and internationally. Aaron holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in philosophy.
Aaron’s style uniquely combines these two branches of the Gracie family as well as incorporating the best elements of wrestling and Judo. His academic background and close training under Professor Danaher have helped him to develop an advanced teaching ability rarely found in the jiu jitsu community. He is a former featured instructor at the BJJ Globetrotter camps, and invited outside expert on The Grappler’s Guide.
Aaron headed the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu program at a NYC multi-discipline combat sports gym for about 8 years before partnering with his teammate Jin Yung and rebranding that team as Workshop Jiu Jitsu. This team, Renzo Gracie Portland is also Workshop Portland. Workshop Jiu Jitsu now has schools in Honolulu, Des Moines, Seattle, Ann Arbor, Kaiserslautern, Cologne, and Shanghai.
Workshop – Portland / RGA PDX was founded in 2013. Since opening, we have attracted some of the most talented local athletes and instructors as well as being the home of the Portland Fire grappling team. We pride ourselves on maintaining the finest instruction available and in fostering a school culture where everyone can develop towards their own personal goals , whether that is high level competition, recreation, self-defense, or general fitness.
Renzo Gracie Academy Portland has built itself at the center of the Portland jiu jitsu community; for years we hosted the weekly all city open mat and Portland Judo’s monthly Shiai Judo tournament as well as our own seasonal tournament – the Portland Sunday Open.
Trevor Pettigrew started his martial arts journey in 2006 under Lotus Club Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) black belt, Pete Loncarevich (Joe Moreira), under whom he earned his blue and purple belts. In 2012, Trevor moved to Seattle for graduate school. During this time, Trevor studied with BJJ black belt Andrew Perkins (Dave Ginsberg), and was awarded his BJJ brown belt in early 2014. Trevor earned his black belt from Aaron Milam in 2018. Trevor’s Jiu Jitsu style combines a sweep oriented bottom game with heavy pressure guard passing and dynamic submission attacks. Trevor also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Doctorate degree in physical therapy.
Mario Shonkwiler started training Jiu-Jitsu in 2015, and attained his blue belt in 2015. He started training at Renzo Gracie Portland in 2017, receiving his purple belt from Aaron Milam, followed by his brown belt in December of 2021.
Jess trained in many other martial arts before discovering Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 2004. He began his training with Marcus Soares (Carlson Gracie) from whom he received his blue belt. Jess went on to train in many different cities and countries. His teachers along this path include Daniel Thomas, Eben Kaneshiro, Kurt Shrout, Josh Botkin and Eric Hemphill. Jess came to RGA PDX in January of 2017. As soon as he began the fundamentals class he knew he had found his home. He is interested in athletic longevity and Jiu-Jitsu for self-defense.
Shawn has been a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner since 2011 and is a brown belt under Aaron Milam. He has been teaching since 2018 and takes a principles-based approach in his instruction to help students develop skills and knowledge for sport and self-defense. In his own training, he strives for longevity and employs the philosophy of moving with each other rather than against one another, seeing every position as an opportunity for a deepened understanding of the art. Off the mats, Shawn can be found exploring the mountains of the Pacific Northwest showing off his sneaker collection to bears.
Born with a passion for martial arts, Ruben has been training in jiu jitsu every day for the past 5 years and holds the rank of brown belt from Aaron. Ruben takes great pride in his jiu jitsu journey and loves sharing their knowledge and skills with his students. His passion for jiu jitsu shines through in every class he teaches, inspiring students to push beyond their limits and reach their full potential.
Prior to his jiu jitsu journey, Ruben served over five years of in the third battalion 5th marine regiment, where he honed his skills in discipline and commitment to excellence. As a recipient of a black belt in the marine corps martial arts program, he has demonstrated his mastery of hand-to-hand combat and physical fitness. Additionally, he has over 15 years of experience in Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and bodybuilding, Ruben is a dedicated athlete who is continuously pushing himself to reach new levels of strength and conditioning.
Edlyn is a dedicated and skilled jiu jitsu practitioner who has been training for the past five years alongside her husband, Ruben. Her love for the sport is evident in every class she takes, and she is especially passionate about working with children. As a result, she has taken on the role of an instructor for the kids classes alongside Aaron and is the leader for the women’s team.