Living the Dream

World champion martial arts master Aurelio Gallegos Jr. leads the charge at Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, the local authority on martial arts.
By: Sarah Tindall
Photo by: Dustin Ashcraft

Aurelio Gallegos Jr. is living the “do what you love, love what you do” dream. For the past 14 years, the Corpus Christi native has owned and operated Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, located on the city’s south side at 6313 Wooldridge Road. He started practicing Jiu-Jitsu as a hobby after a friend introduced him to it 18 years ago.

“I was working at an engineering firm, and I had been skateboarding and riding BMX bikes,” he says. “I didn’t know what I was going to do next, and I got hooked on Jiu-Jitsu. We were training every day in the living room, in the backyard, and it literally changed my life.”

He trained for years after work and on weekends and was working in the legal industry when he quit to dedicate himself fulltime to opening his own studio. “I had a passion to teach and help others,” Gallegos says. “During one year’s time, I quit my job, got married, had a kid, built a house, bought a car and started a business. I would not recommend it to anyone, but that’s what I like about Jiu-Jitsu. It teaches you to take calculated risks and live with the consequences – to go down fighting and die with your boots on.”

And the risk paid off. Paragon was the first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu studio to open in the Coastal Bend, and his school has won the Texas State Championships for the last two years running. His students are loaded with awards, including Pan American Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu U.S. Open Championship and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Championship awards.

Gallegos himself has become the local authority on martial arts and defense tactics, and as such, is a Level III certified U.S. Army Modern Arts Combatives instructor; he travels all over the world training troops, as well as Corpus Christi Police and Sheriff’s Department officers and personnel. He is a world champion and a black belt himself, and he has 10 black belts training underneath him.

Paragon classes encompass the scope of martial arts training. Adult classes include Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as Submission Wrestling, Mixed Martial Arts, Muay Thai and Kickboxing. Private instruction, personal training and in-house seminars by world champions are also offered.

A typical Jiu-Jitsu class consists of four parts. The first is intense body weight and calisthenics training, focused on getting the body in shape and the cardiovascular system running smoothly. According to Gallegos, “this part of class is why the public has been saying Paragon BJJ has the most intense martial arts academy in Corpus Christi.”

The second part of class consists of wrestling and judo takedowns, and the third is self-defense and all levels of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The last part of class consists of physical submission grappling, or as some would say, “open mat.” Students practice the position or submissions technique taught either that day or at a previous class.

Women and men train together, but Paragon also offers free rape prevention seminars. “Jiu-Jitsu is one of the best methods to combat rape,” Gallegos says. “Rape is all on the ground, and we teach women how to defend themselves in a struggle like that.” Paragon also offers women’s empowerment (WE) classes focused on intense cardio training fitness boot camp exercise.

Gallegos encourages anyone to join any time, and at any fitness level. “People always say, ‘let me lose a few pounds or get back in shape and then I’ll start,’” he says. “But this is how to get in shape. We start you at the level you’re at, and you progress from there.”

Kids participate in the Paragon kids’ program, which offers classes for 5- to 10-year-olds and 11- to 15-year-olds. The focus for this program is teaching kids valuable life skills including self-defense, focus, concentration, how to set and attain goals and self-confidence.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is called the “gentle” martial art because there is no striking or kicking in the practice of the sport. Kids are taught to grapple with opponents in order to subdue them. This is especially important in bully prevention techniques: Children are able to subdue a bully and hold him or her down until a teacher or other adult can intervene.

Paragon offers bully prevention classes on Wednesdays for the 11- to 15-year age group, as well as free bully prevention seminars for children during the summer. All of the classes are high-intensity and offer great cardio workouts for the kids.

“We kick inhalers all the time,” Gallegos says. “That’s what we do: We kick those inhalers.” Offering children this outlet for aggression and hyperactivity is also beneficial, he says, using the example of an autistic student who had a compulsive habit of pulling the sides of his hair out. “Now he’s a gentle giant,” Gallegos says. “All of his aggression goes to Jiu-Jitsu, and he’s not pulling his hair or acting out any more.”

Gallegos’ “common sense before self-defense” mantra is one the kids learn early, and he says the kids are not taught martial arts to be mean and aggressive. “We are more laidback, like a family,” he says. “We teach them joint manipulations and chokes and positions that are the best self-defense for kids. It helps them build self-confidence and self-esteem. We focus on teaching these kids healthy eating habits and diabetes prevention, as well as how to listen and take instruction, all of which are life skills that help them forever.”

New equipment for the hundreds of people who attend classes daily has been a priority for Paragon, and they recently added a 20-foot rig and squats rack, as well as the Muay Thai bags, bands, bars and plates already in use. Kids and adults can sign up any time, and classes are offered throughout the summer for kids and adults who want to join.

For more information about Paragon Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, visit www.ccparagonbjj.com, go to the studio at 6313 Wooldridge Road, Ste. 8, in Corpus Christi or call 549-3597.

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