Local Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Instructor Continues Legacy of the Gentle Art
By Allison Williams
Photos provided by Andrew Kinchen
Andrew Kinchen, a Polk County resident has been training for the past 14 years to reach his goal. He achieved his black belt in December of 2019 and is now a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) Black Belt under Rafa Santos, Owner/Head Instructor of Carlson Gracie Winter Haven and Instructor at Carlson Gracie Lakeland.
“Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a predominantly ground-based martial art, using the principals of leverage, angles, pressure and timing, as well as knowledge of the human anatomy, in order to achieve a non-violent submission of one’s opponent,” Kinchen explained. “Unlike other martial arts that focus on strikes and/or kicks, jiu jitsu focuses on close-contact ‘grappling’ holds and techniques, and the application of chokes and joint-manipulations.”
He adds, “The more obvious physical benefits of BJJ include incredible cardio workouts (burning upwards of 700-1000 calories in a one-hour class), self-defense, and conditioning for any kind of physical contact. Some of the less obvious benefits are mental threat assessment, confidence, and many times BJJ takes on a therapeutic effect. Many studies have been done on the effects of BJJ and how it helps with PTSD (an article was written on our Lakeland Location featuring our First Responders).”
Kinchen grew up locally and attended school in Frostproof. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Laura, and they have three children. Kinchen not only has his black belt, but he has also competed and medaled in several IBJJF Tournaments and local tournaments throughout the state.
He got involved with Carlson Gracie through his instructor, Rafa Santos who received his Black Belt from Ricardo De La Riva Black Belt who is one of the original Carlson Gracie Team members out of Brazil.
“We offer Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Striking, MMA, First Responder, women’s only classes and general fitness classes,” Kinchen said. “We have classes for students from four years old through adult age.”
Besides marrying his wife and having his children, Kinchen considers receiving his Black Belt one of the highlights of his life.
“The day I received my Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu marked the next step in 12 years of study of the Gentle Art and one of the greatest days of my life,” Kinchen said. “Throughout my journey training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu I not only witnessed it change me for the positive but watched the people around me become more focused confident versions of themselves. I get to now help people who walk through our doors unlock a part of themselves that they never knew existed.”
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) helps people find the potential they have inside.
“BJJ allows anyone to understand the true potential within them whether it be for Self Defense, Competition training or general fitness,” Kinchen said. “Joining a BJJ school brings you into a family of martial artists that all unite under the commonality of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. In addition to Andrew the Carlson Gracie Coaching Staff consists of Rafa Santos (Owner of Carlson Gracie Lakeland), Melvin Thompson (Black Belt Instructor), James Bennett (Black Belt Instructor and Founder of Central Florida MMA), Derek Walker (Kids Instructor) and Zac Kluytenaar (Professional MMA Fighter and Instructor), we offer the most diverse Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Instruction available in our area. Our students are not only members of our local Gym but part of a family that not only includes schools in Lakeland (Rafa Santos) and Plant City (Sam Kimmel), but schools throughout the world.
To learn more, visit http://www.cgwinterhaven.com/ or call (863) 210-8728
Carlson Gracie is located at:
622 Ave O SW
Winter Haven, FL 33880
Facebook: Carlson Gracie Winter Haven