Gracie Barra EncinitasGracie Barra Encinitas

Jiu-Jitsu for Everyone

Team Members

Nelson Monteiro

Master 6th degree Black Belt

Nelson Monteiro


Professor Nelson Monteiro was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, the birthplace of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He started training when he was 13 years old under the direct tutelage of Master Carlos Gracie Jr. at the world-renowned Gracie Barra Academy. With unrivalled dedication, Professor Monteiro trained diligently until he was awarded the black belt in 1989; and in the same year, he received a bachelorʼs degree in physical education from Gama Filho University.

Professor Monteiro is one of the original pioneers of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in the United States. After receiving his black belt and graduating from college, Professor Monteiro moved to San Diego in 1990 and began teaching Jiu-Jitsu out of his garage in Encinitas. After steady growth in enrollment, Professor Monteiro moved to a larger space in Del Mar, where the academy continued to prosper. After the 1993 debut of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu experienced a meteoric rise in popularity. The world had now witnessed the effectiveness of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as the unassuming Royce Gracie used leverage and technique to defeat his larger and stronger opponents. People from all walks of life began to search for qualified instructors. As a result, the academy experienced even greater growth.

In 1995, a new student arrived at the academy. This new student would soon have a profound effect not only on Professor Monteiro but also on the future of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The new arrival was Sheik Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nayan, a prince of the United Arab Emirates. Bin, as his friends would call him, became a dedicated private student of Professor Monteiro. After training for 8 months, the prince invited Professor Monteiro to come to the UAE to become his private Jiu-Jitsu instructor. Professor Monteiro accepted.

While training the prince and other enthusiasts in the UAE, Professor Monteiro helped to form the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC), which would evolve into the most prestigious grappling tournament in the world, the Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling Championships. During this four-year period, Professor Monteiro also trained many champions in Vale-Tudo, MMA, and sport Jiu-Jitsu. With many accomplishments resulting form his stay in the UAE, Professor Monteiro decided to make his way back to Brazil.

In 2000, he and his family moved back to Rio de Janeiro. While living back in Brazil, Professor Monteiro opened a health club and continued his education in the field of sport physiology. In addition, Professor Monteiro continued his efforts in spreading Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by traveling around the world conducting seminars. After four years in Brazil, Professor Monteiro and his family decided to come back to San Diego.

In 2006, Professor Monteiro opened Gracie Barra Encinitas. Since its grand opening, the academy has become one of the most respected Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools in the San Diego area. Professor Monteiroʼs positive attitude, charismatic personality, and passion for Jiu-Jitsu have been an integral part of the academyʼs success. Professor Monteiro is still an active athlete, competing in many of the major Brazilian Jiu-jitsu tournaments worldwide. With over 25 years of experience, Professor Monteiro is one of the most knowledgeable instructors teaching today.

Rafael “Foca” Ramos

Professor – 4th degree Black Belt

Rafael Ramos

Professor Rafael started training at the age of 13 , under legendary Master Carlos Gracie Jr. at the original Gracie Barra School in Rio de Janeiro , Brazil. Under Master Carlos tutelage Rafaelʼs extensive knowledge of the “gentle art” was formed at the same mats of the best BJJ instructors and fighters ever known. As a competitor Rafael won and placed in the biggest events, including  multiple Brazilian Nationals, Rio de Janeiro State Championship, Brazilian Team, Pan American.

Today, Rafael Ramos assumes, as his main mission, the task of passing on to students the teachings and techniques accumulated over a life of arduous training under the tutelage of Master Carlos Gracie Jr. And he maintains close ties to the Gracie Barra academy, to which he is grateful for his apprenticeship, and for the family values he learned that are so important to him.

As he puts it: “This sport is too damn fun not to go as much as your life permits!!!”

 Matt Smith

 Professor Black Belt

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I’m a life long Martial artist.I have practiced Taekwondo for 30 years but there are no techniques on the ground in that style. So BJJ has allowed me to “fill the gap” in my own training. I have been teaching TKD for 20 years and the teaching methodology I use has transferred well to BJJ. Master Nelson and professor Rafael have had me teaching their children’s program and the adult fundamental’s program since 2007.

Jiu Jitsu is more than a sport or hobby. It is a lifestyle. Jiu Jitsu is the art form that has allowed me to express myself throughout my training, competitions, and most important teaching.

When i’m not on the mats, i enjoy Kayaking and snorkeling

Favorite Quote:

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” – George Herman “Babe” Ruth


Duane Dwyer

 Professor Black Belt

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Born in rural Virginia.Served as United States Marine.After Armed Forces I went to school and graduated and became a Commercial Diver .Employed in multiple overseas positions as a US Government Contractor.Co founder and CEO, Strider Knives Inc. Special Response Team Officer, Del Rey Oaks Police Department.I have been teaching as an instructor in our children’s and teens program for 3 years now and enjoy helping with the development of our program as well as facing the multitude of individual challenges involved in reaching the kids and ensuring they are building skill sets, having fun, and acting appropriately showing the discipline that Gracie Barra deserves and demands.

Jiu Jitsu is a family, a lifestyle, an educational institution, and a gym to me. It is alive and growing just like it’s students. It is a mountain to climb, a sea to swim, a road to run… It brings me to places where I feel challenged and motivated as well as places where I feel as if I am on top of the world. It is a personal journey that is only understood by others on that same journey.It changes all of us … For the better.

I enjoy many hobbies when i’m off the mats. Most involve the outdoors, the Oceans, the Mountains, the Jungles, the Deserts… They all offer great experiences! The other aspect of hobbies is the company with whom we share it. Equally as important as the event itself.

Favorite Quote:

“Officers wanted for hazardous journey. Small Wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”– from a recruiting poster by British explorer Ernest Shackleton for his 1914 Antarctica expedition.


Sean Conley

Professor Black Belt

sean face


I have been training in Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over 12years, mainly under the guidance of Master Nelson and Professor Rafael. I have been certified as a Gracie Barra Instructor for two years and in addition to my current role in sales and business development within the private sector, I also taught Middle and High School English and coached Football and Wrestling during my eight year tenure in the Central Islip Union Free School District in New York and the Poway Unified School District in California. In addition to earning my Black Belt under Master Nelson and Professor Rafael(11/12/11), I have earned a Master of Arts in Humanities from the State University of New York at Stony Brook as well as a Bachelor of Arts in English from The University of Iowa. I am most proud of being a Dad to my three children (Tatum, Piper and Finn).

Master Carlos Gracie Sr once said, “With Jiu Jitsu I learned above all the great lesson: which was to get to know myself profoundly.” I’ve been fortunate to establish unbreakable bonds with my Jiu Jitsu family members, who remind me through deeds, and not words, to be humble while keeping in mind the importance of service as a student, teacher and parent. In an age where instant and immediate gratification might seem to be the norm, lessons learned on the mat at Gracie Barra provides a sanctuary and path to improve mind, body, health and spirit.

My hobbies are: Yoga, Deep Breathing Techniques, coaching Youth Baseball and Basketball, reading

Favorite Quote:

“An optimist sees an opportunity in every calamity, a pessimist sees a calamity in every opportunity.” – Sir Winston Churchill

 Duayne Bowers

Professor Black Belt

Duayne Bowers

I was born and raised in Tampa Florida. I was a United States Marine. I went to jet mechanic school and I work as a jet engine mechanic at a repair facility in Kearny Mesa area. I trained in Muay Thai and boxing for almost 2 years before Jiu Jitsu. I eventually want to open my own Jiu Jitsu school.

I honestly don’t have the words to describe what Jiu Jitsu means to me. Jiu Jitsu has changed my life in more ways than I can imagine, it has given me confidence in my life off the mat. A goal and a direction in life, something to strive to become better at not just to become better at Jiu Jitsu but to become a better person. Jiu Jitsu makes me want to be a better person.

Some of my hobbies are: yoga, fishing, camping, taking my dogs to the beach and hiking. I am also get into hunting and archery.

Favorite Quote:

“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway”  John Wayne


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