IBJJA Instructors

James Clingerman

Coach James Clingerman, Indiana Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu AcademyJames got his start in Martial arts at the age of 13, when he began studying Karate. Not being satisfied with the effectiveness of the art, he ventured out and began studying many forms including Japanese JuJutsu, Judo, Kickboxing and Jeet-Kune-Do.

After Experiencing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for the first time in 1997, James fell in love with the art and came to realize that due to it’s effectiveness, it was the one most suitable for him. Since then, James has become a diligent student of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Along with holding a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Mario Roberto, James also holds a Brown Belt in Judo, under 7th Dan Virgil Bowles and has practiced Boxing & Muay Thai Muay Thai with former Heavyweight Champ Scott Sullivan, Striker’s Journal Creator, Chris Papandria, and MMA standouts Julie Kedzie and Darrell Smith, to name a few.

James has had well over 200 combined competitive matches in BJJ, Judo, Submission Grappling and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). He is constantly adding to his already impressive list of tournament wins.

A believer in continued education, James is always learning and developing new techniques for his own personal use and to provide the most advanced and practical techniques to his students.

Mr. Clingerman is also considered one of the Midwest’s top Authorities on Mixed Martial Arts. He is certified to perform all duties under the International Sport Combat Federation (ISCF) and is one of the most in-demand MMA referees in the Midwest. James has refereed events such as International Fight League (IFL), Legends of Fighting Championship (LFC), United Fight League (UFL), Cage Rage, Elite Cage Fighting (ECF), Colosseum Combat and many others.

James is the Author of many Instructional DVDs including; The BJJ Foundation (The World’s Most Complete BJJ Fundamentals Curriculum), The Cyclone Submission Series, Mastering the Von Flue Choke, Peruvian Dozen 2.0, and countless others.

Darrell Smith

Indiana Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy coach Darrell SmithDarrell “Bulldog” Smith, like so many others, comes from a wrestling background. After 9 years experience in wrestling, Darrell joined the Army National Guard because they would make him “get up and run in the morning”. Darrell began his MMA career in 2000 fighting in an event in Indiana. He has since fought all over the US, in many different events, including Bodog (Costa Rica), Hook’N’Shoot, AFC, Cage Rage, King of the Cage and many others.

“Bulldog”, a name given to him by a fight promoter who couldn’t remember his name, began training in Kickboxing in 2003. This is about the same time that he was introduced to the Indiana Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy and began training Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts with James Clingerman.

Darrell has over 40 MMA fights with wins of notable fighters such as UFC’s Brian Geraghty, IFL’s Bart Palazweski, and WEC’s Sherron “Rob Roy” Leggett.

Darrell has also created a DVD that features his Unorthodox fighting style, Bulldog’s Unorthodox MMA!

Justin Curtis

Indiana Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy coach Justin CurtisJustin began competing in freestyle wrestling at the age of six, winning numerous local and state level tournaments. After high school he missed competing in and training for sports, Justin began training Shoot fighting, Kali, and Jeet Kune Do under Jason Winkle and eventually began training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Jack McVicker in Terre Haute, IN. Using his love for competition and a natural grappler Justin excelled in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, placing on the National Level multiple times, winning large tournaments like Naga and Grappler’s Quest as well as the Indiana State Championships.

About the same time he earned his Blue Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu he began competing in Mixed Martial Arts. To quote Justin “I never was a tough guy or a fighter, I just wanted to see if I could use Jiu-Jitsu while some one was trying to punch me”. Justin has amassed a 13-4 record with nine of his wins by submission.

A big believer in cross training and taking what is useful Justin has and continues to cross train and earn rank in multiple disciplines Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under James Clingerman, Assistant Instructor in Jeet Kune Do, Assistant Instructor in Kali, Brown Belt in Hapkido, Brown Belt in Martial Concepts Hybrid Grappling, Level 4 Martial Concepts Ring Fighting.

Also a devoted fitness “buff” Justin is a certified Personal Trainer under both the National Academy of Sports Medicine and the American Council on Exercise.

Aaron Johnson

Indiana Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy coach Aaron Johnson.Aaron graduated with a BS in Exercise Science from IUPUI in 2004. Aaron wrestled for 3 years at the University of Indianapolis from 1994-1997. He spent 6 years training at Foxcatcher, the Olympic Training Center. Aaron is a 4x All-American in wrestling at Junior and University levels in Greco Roman. Aaron coached wrestling at Pike High School from 2000-2004 and at University of Indianapolis from 2004-2007.

Matt Stratta

Indiana Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy coach Mat StrattaMatt began his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in November of 2000. He started training in Franklin, Indiana under Eric Sullivan, a Mario Roberto Brown Belt and IBJJA’s assistant instructor, James Clingerman. Ever since his first class with Eric and James, Matt has been a dedicated and loyal student of the sport and IBJJA. Even though Matt has received continuous beatings at the hands of Mr. Clingerman, they have become life long friends.

In the fall of 2002, Matt moved to Bloomington, Indiana to acquire his B.S. in Elementary Education. While at Indiana University, Matt enrolled in the BJJ courses and trained with the IU BJJ Team, which is a Caique affiliate. Soon after, he became an assistant instructor for IU’s BJJ Classes. The years at IU produced invaluable personal and professional relationships with Tim Sledd, IU’s BJJ Coach and Julie Kedzie, current fighter for Team Jackson.

Matt has also traveled abroad to teach and has had the opportunity to compete and place in tournaments in Australia and Korea. He also holds a Black Belt and Instructor Certificate in Tae-Kwon-Do.

Matt is now an Assistant Instructor for IBJJA/Team James Clingerman. Coach Stratta became James Clingerman’s first Black Belt in 2015!

Chris McKarski

Indiana Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy coach Chris Mckarski.Chris McKarski began training in Martial Arts in 1990 when he was at a local Tae Kwon Do school. He continued to train in Tae Kwon Do until he was 13 when he was introduced to Muay Thai. He trained in Muay Thai off and on over the course of the next five years.

Upon graduating high school, Chris joined the Marine Corps and was shipped off to boot camp in November of 2002. While in the Marine Corps, Chris qualified for a wide variety of specialized training in armed and unarmed combatives that included, The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, Military Operations in Urban Training, Cold Weather Survival, Land Navigation, and other specialized training. In late 2004, Chris was medically discharged under Honorable conditions and returned to Indiana. While in the Marine Corps, Chris had been introduced to the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by a friend who trained with Jean Jaques Machado in Torrance, California. Chris attended a few classes at the Machado Academy before returning home to continue his education and Jiu Jitsu training.

Since returning to Indiana, Chris has earned a Bachelors degree in European History and is scheduled to attend Graduate school for Medieval Theology in the near future. While attending school he also pursued his passion for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. After bouncing around from academy to academy, Chris found a home at the Indiana Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy under the tutelage of James Clingerman.

Chris has been training at the IBJJA since 2006 and is now a Brown Belt under James. In May of 2009, Chris had his first MMA fight on the UFL “Lights Out” show. He won with a triangle choke in 1:29 of the 1st round. Chris plans on continuing to fight and compete in MMA and BJJ in the future while developing and furthering his skills in the two prospective sports.

AJ Clingerman

Indiana Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy coach AJ Clingerman.AJ Clingerman got her first taste of Martial Arts studying Karate in College. Since then she has been more behind the scenes in the Martial Arts.

AJ is Co-Owner of Fight Hub LLC with her husband, James. She has trained in BJJ and Kickboxing and competed in a many grappling tournaments. In 2015, AJ was the IBJJF’s #1 ranked Female Masters Blue Belt, in BOTH Gi and No-Gi!

While AJ has been involved in the Academy since it’s inception, her focus is in keeping the Fight Hub Headquarters running like a well-oiled machine.

AJ does take a break from her busy schedule of organizing the Fight Hub Academy and the EXTREME GRAPPLING OPEN (EGO) Tournaments, to teach the Tuesday morning conditioning class at the Greenwood Academy.


Here at IBJJA we have the most qualified instructors to teach all of these practical arts! There is no hype here! only REAL Martial arts that works in the REAL world and we have REAL results. We have programs that are made for everyone! The goal of the IBJJA is to promote athleticism, health, self-control and discipline, while providing he most advanced training for self-defense and sport competition.

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