Meet the Instructors
Owner - Coach - Instructor
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Blackbelt
I have a wide background in several different disciplines and martial arts with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is my foundation. I’ve also developed a real passion for the striking in our art. The biggest asset that I bring to the table is my experience. I am an active fighter that has had the privilege to fight some of the best on the planet, and I plan on having a lot more fights under my belt before my career is over. I always bring my learned experiences back to the fighters coming up behind me so they don’t make the same mistakes I did. I also travel to train and study fighting constantly so that I can bring the best knowledge from the best teams back to Pura Vida. I am always an open book to my students, from the hobbyist to the competitor, and you will get all of my secrets!
I think Pura Vida can be a great fit for any individual. If you’re someone who wants to get in shape and get exercise while learning skills in a fun environment, or if you want to work your way up to becoming a professional fighter on our fight team, you’ll fit in here. My advice is to get in a dojo and try it! Even if it isn’t ours, you’re going to be happy you took that step. You only live once! I thought about it and put it off for almost two years before I took the plunge and I regret missing out on that training. I’ll never get it back. If you ask any long-time practitioner what they regret, they will almost all tell you it’s that they didn’t start earlier. Get in!
Owner - Instructor
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Blackbelt
I wrestled for 14 years. I started at 5 years old and continued wrestling up to and through my freshman year of college. I had varying levels of success as a wrestler, and got to experience the sport as both a winner and as a kid who struggled. Wrestling really helped define my early years of life. I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2000 and did a combat tour in 2004-2005. When I got back I was searching for an adrenaline rush of sorts. I was lifting weights and playing football. I made it through training camp for a Professional Arena Football team before being cut, so that was my failed shot at glory on the football field. While I was playing, I still craved something. I always looked for tough things to do to prove to myself that I was… I don’t know. Tough. Something. I had heard that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu had a lot of similarities to wrestling so I dropped into a class at Henry Matamoros’ gym in Milwaukee back in 2008. It was love at first choke! I eventually made the move to Mixed Martial Arts, and have been teaching, competing in and coaching various forms of martial arts ever since!
We call ourselves “Pura Vida” because when you’re here, you can’t help but live it. There is no drama in the dojo. No hate or anger. All of your problems get left at the door, because if you bring them onto the mats you’re gonna get choked! It’s hard to spend time worrying about your problems when you’re in the gym because you’re so hyper-focused on the training. If I’m fighting off a choke, I can promise you that I’m not thinking about filing my taxes or anything other than that moment! Your body will feel better. Your mind will be challenged. Your spiritual and emotional self will grow. Getting away from the stresses of life is life, and you’ll get to feel that on your first day!
Mixed Martial Arts Coach
Advanced Kickboxing Instructor
My name is Solo Acosta. I started training around 6 or 7 years old. I always wanted to be a ninja! I would look up martial arts schools in the phone book. My mom took me to the martial art school next to “Toys R Us” and I made it all the way to my white belt! My father’s friend who studied martial arts offered to give me private lessons. I remember watching a lot of old fights on VHS. That’s all this guy would have me and two other guys do for what I felt like was forever. Now I look back and I recognize that it was old Muay Thai fights he had us watching. From there I got involve in traditional boxing, which I participated in off and on until my late teen years. I got into Mixed Martial Arts because a childhood friend of mine (Chico Camus) called me and asked me to join an MMA fight team his friend was putting together. I accepted and went to the gym he told me to come too. I walked in and standing on the mat teaching class was Anthony Pettis. After class Chico formally introduce us. We both recognized each other from training at another gym. He asked me if I was interested in sparring and with no hesitation I said yes. After we sparred he asked me if I was interested helping him coach his students and again with no hesitation I said yes, and here I am today.
I am teaching striking classes and coaching MMA at Pura Vida. I have been coaching and training fighters ever since I got into MMA, and I am very passionate about creating world champions. For me, striking in MMA is science, math, reading… everything you told your parents you would never need to know, I teach my students to apply to their striking. There is nothing like reading a fight, and understanding on the inside what is happening. First, we find out what the words on the paper say, then we figure out how to write the story ourselves! I love working with fighters, and I love working on fights.
Beginner Kickboxing Instructor
Strength & Conditioning Instructor
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt
I first started at Pura Vida in 2015 through their beginner BJJ class offered through UW-M’s Sports and Rec classes. After dealing with a few injuries that kept me from grappling, I was able to pick up a pair of boxing gloves and learn striking and kickboxing. Where jiu-jitsu is like a puzzle, kickboxing too has its own intricacies that are far different that I wanted to try and solve.
Since 2015, I've found the gym to help bring peace and balance to my life in all aspects, as well as give me the confidence I need to set out and accomplish my goals in life, all while getting in the best shape of my life. I enjoy being an instructor because I want to be able to help other achieve peace and confidence in themselves, and to be able to share my knowledge and skills with others. I'm an instructor for beginner kickboxing and strength and conditioning classes.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Instructor
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Brownbelt
I started Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in 2012 and loved it ever since. I enjoy learning it, teaching it, and finding fun ways to adapt it. I've since added wrestling and kickboxing into my game, but BJJ is still my favourite. It's been life-changing for me in the best way possible, and I want to share that with as many people as I'm able.
Kids BJJ Instructor
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt
Courtnie is a 1st degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. She was the 4th woman in Wisconsin to earn her black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and the 4th woman in the world to earn her ranking under the renowned Master Pedro Sauer.
Over her 18 years of training and coaching, she has competed and trained around the world and believes in making Jiu-Jitsu accessible to all learners. Under Courtnie's leadership and expertise, we will see our kids' BJJ program elevated to a new level.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Instructor
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Bluebelt
I was first introduced to Pura Vida and the sport of MMA when an uncle of mine brought me with him to the gym, it quickly became a second home. I was 13 years old and hooked, every day there was a strive to get better at it. My focus has always been to help people and be a role model to potentially new students that walk through the door especially to the younger generation.