Professor Erik Klinger
Professor Erik Klinger, founder of Level Up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, began his martial arts training over 35 years ago at age seven. His first experience with martial arts was sitting on his mothers lap and crying through an entire class without even joining until the very end. Once he had gained enough courage to participate he fell in love with the art and has never stopped training since.
Even with his passion for martial arts, the young Erik began to gain interest in other things as he continued to grow but his parents constantly encouraged him to stick with the discipline he had found in martial arts. While growing up he played other sports but took to wrestling as it gave him a similar feeling to his martial arts training. Continuing his martial arts practice mainly in Shotokan Karate, Erik became a teacher at an early age helping his teacher teach classes to adults and children at the age of 13 years old. He took so much to teaching that after a while he was given his very own kids class at a local community center near his hometown of Palo Alto, California.
After reaching the age of 16 Erik had been teaching kids for many years but now he was forced to make a life changing decision. The community center program where he was teaching the children, was running out as Summer was coming to an end. The major decision facing the 16 year old was that he could either quit teaching altogether, or he could continue with his passion and decide how to teach the children in a more professional manner. Many of the kids that he had been teaching at that point were enjoying his classes. The parents loved the classes that Erik was teaching and wanted him to continue there simply wasn’t anywhere to go once the Community Center program ran out. At that point some of the parents came forward and it turned out that some of them were Professors at Stanford University and they realized that there was an unused recreation room in one of the buildings there that they could probably gain access to. At that point they invited Erik to continue teaching the kids but now on Stanford University campus. This was Professor Erik’s first experience as a professional martial arts teacher. Earning wages and doing what he now found to be his passion; martial arts and teaching.
At 18 years old another opportunity presented itself for Erik to move to Chico California and help his instructor open a new Karate school there. He moved to Chico where he continued his training, competing and teaching alongside his instructor as well as studying at Chico State University in their newly developed Asian Studies program. After six years of teaching in Chico and competing around the country, and the world, it was now time for a new phase. Erik, then 25, decided to move to Japan where many of the great martial arts of the world had been created and mastered. This had been a long time dream of his to move to the homeland of martial arts development as he saw it at the time. So he moved to Okinawa, Japan where Karate and many other martial arts originally developed.
Once arriving in Japan Professor Erik fell in love with the island and began training diligently and even opened a Karate club for Junior High School students at a local school where he became the head coach. After only a few months he even became part of a new campaign put on by several P.E. teachers to help re-introduce traditional Karate into the Junior High School P.E. program for schools on the island. The introduction was a huge success and to this day due to the efforts of several teachers including Professor Erik Klinger, Physical Education in Okinawa Junior High Schools now includes the traditional art of Karate.
While in Japan, Professor Erik explored other Martial Arts. He began training at a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) gym with professional and amateur fighters from the Japanese Panacrase organization. Being amazed with the efficiency of ground fighting techniques, he decided to dedicate himself to the study of Submission Grappling and Mixed Martial Arts. He enjoyed the training so much he began to fight in the different levels of the Pancrase MMA amateur circuit. While training and beginning to enjoy the MMA so much he started a Mixed Martial Arts club for the Junior High School students in the village he was staying and where he also taught and helped the children with their English. After 3 years of teaching training and fighting in Japan, Prof. Erik moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil to continue his Martial Arts training by studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. After visiting several of the best Jiu Jitsu academies in Sao Paulo, he chose to study under 4-time world Jiu Jitsu champion, Professor Fabio Leopoldo at his academy, Gracie Morumbi under the famed Ryan Gracie team. After only two years of training Professor Erik became an instructor at Gracie Morumbi leading group classes and teaching private lessons. After three years he was awarded his brown belt and shortly after Professor Fabio Leopoldo invited him to move back to the U.S. to help in opening a new Gracie Morumbi in Ventura, California.
Today, Professor Erik is the first non-Brazilian promoted to black belt under Professor Fabio Leopoldo. Eventually Professor Erik began to train privately with Master Joe Moreira, one of the most well respected Jiu Jitsu teachers outside of the Gracie family. Master Moreira is an 8th degree black and red coral belt, UFC veteran, and leading authority in the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Master Moreira is a direct student of Grandmaster Francisco Mansor, 9th degree red belt student of the late Grandmaster Helio Gracie. To this day Professor Erik trains directly under Master Moreira and currently holds the rank of 2nd degree black belt under the master.
Although his passion for teaching has lead him away from the ring and competition, Professor Erik Klinger is also an accomplished competitor in several disciplines including becoming champion in the 2004 Okinawa Open Grappling Tournament, runner-up vice-champion in 2003 Okinawa Open Grappling Tournament, #1 ranked amateur Pancrase open weight competitor in 2004 (Okinawa, Japan Mugen league), 2-time gold medalist at the USA National Karate Championships, 2-time medalist at the Gracie Nationals (Ohio), silver medalist at the Brazilian National Team Championships in 2006 held in Rio De Janeiro, and earning a gold medal at the 2007 Sao Paulo State Jiu Jitsu Championships in Brazil. He has also earned black belts in Shotokan Karate, Shorin-ryu, and Okinawan Kobudo as well as competing in and studying Kyokushin Karate.
In addition Professor Erik Klinger is a graduate of California State University, Chico with a bachelor’s degree in Asian Studies.
After teaching, training, and competing literally around the world, Professor Erik Klinger began to form a certain vision of the way that he thought martial arts should be taught and delivered to students and the public. Through his vision Level Up Brazilian JiuJitsu was born. The belief and movement itself can be described in the Level Up core statement of purpose, “Through great teaching and great service, we can make a great change in the world.” This embodies the true goals of the Level Up philosophy and of Professor Erik Klinger’s vision to have world class classes for children and adults and to deliver a service unparalleled to students, parents, and families looking to better themselves, their community and in fact, the world.
Level Up Brazilian JiuJitsu has three locations across the Greater Los Angeles area and provides traditional Brazilian JiuJitsu classes for children as young as 2 years old and adults as old or young as you can imagine. Classes are divided by age and are taught based on a standard curriculum developed and perfected to bring an appropriate experience to each student based on their martial arts experience, level, age, and ability.
LEVEL UP INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT
Our mission is to instill passion and caring in others through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and martial arts teaching. Through this we have set up various projects around the world starting with Guatemala and Brazil where we help to hire professional Jiu Jitsu instructors who teach underprivileged children confidence, discipline and self defense skills under the Level Up system and philosophy. This can be seen through our core statement of purpose, “Through great teaching, and service, we can see great change in the world.” Currently we have Level Up affiliate academies in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Guatemala and the international Level Up family is growing every day.
LEVEL UP NONPROFIT WORK
Level up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu International has been spreading it’s non for profit mission throughout the world by establishing sister schools in impoverished communities and through sponsorship of under privileged children training at our headquarters in West Los Angeles. Level Up also supports the work of the International Jiu Jitsu Education Fund (IJEF) and other organizations such as PATH (People Assisting The Homeless), and the Youth Justice Coalition L.A., in order to promote better communities and to give back to children and families in need.
Some of our current sister schools around the world include, Level Up Guatemala, Level Up Brazil, and Level Up Inglewood. The children training at these schools train for free and are sponsored by the support of both Level Up Social Outreach Program and the IJEF foundation. The children currently training in Guatemala and Brazil live in very difficult situations and have very little activities available outside of their Jiu Jitsu training. Through the effort of IJEF and the Level Up Social Outreach Program, the children their are provided with a full time professional Jiu Jitsu coach, Jiu Jitsu uniforms, mats and even facility to train in.