Balance Studios is widely regarded as one of the elite martial arts schools in the world. Currently representing nearly 30 affiliates world-wide, the ever-growing network consists of 4,000 students, all of whom have been carefully selected through limited enrollment to represent Team Balance.
The exclusivity of membership fosters a familial environment that is unrivaled amongst competitors, and much sought out by those eager to learn from the best. Team Balance fighters run the gamut from average enthusiasts to world champion Jiu-Jitsu competitors; some are professional fighters who have fought in esteemed mixed martial arts competitions like the UFC, while others have represented Team Balance at the prestigious ADCC championships.
The main hub of this top-notch school is located in Philadelphia, PA, and owned by Phil and Ricardo Migliarese, who are both 1st generation Gracie black belts. True American pioneers, the brothers have utilized their 40 years of combined martial arts experience, as well as the knowledge they gained while living and training with the legendary Gracie family, to build Team Balance into a multi-faceted university of the body and mind.
Gracie 717 Instructors:
Owner and head instructor Damione Puopolo started training while attending the University of South Florida. He was awarded his Black Belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu by world renown Relson Gracie Black Belts, Phil and Ricardo Migliarese.
Damione started instructing as a Blue Belt and is known by his students to be a patient and technical instructor stressing proper technique over strength. His instruction has helped produced many champions at the national and local levels in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Submission grappling and Mixed Martial Arts competition.
John Brennan is co-owner of Gracie 717 – Lititz, a professional MMA fighter, and a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt. He started training in BJJ and kickboxing in 2011 when he was a sophomore at Shippensburg University studying broadcast journalism and exercise science.
John and his wife moved to Lancaster in 2013 where he was introduced to Gracie 717 owner and head instructor Damione Puopolo. His first amateur MMA fight was in February 2014 for Xtreme Fight Events, which he won via knockout in the second round. He compiled a 6-3 record during his amateur career and won the World Cagefighting Championships featherweight championship and the Art of War lightweight championship. John made his professional debut for Art of War in November 2018 where he lost a split decision to Will Dill.
Although John is a professional MMA fighter, his true passion is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He has been an instructor at Gracie 717 Lititz since it opened in 2017, and he prides himself on his attention to detail and patience while instructing. He believes that consistent repetition of basic movements is the best way to build a strong BJJ base. John’s favorite submission is the D’arce choke, and his favorite position is half guard.
After starting his training in 2008, Zak had his first amateur kickboxing fight in 2010. He started training at Gracie717 in 2011 & started coaching in 2012. Zak is a 3x amateur kickboxing champion & 2x amateur MMA champion. He is currently undefeated as a professional & current pro USKA Kickboxing Champion!
Zak points out that Martial Arts saved his life when he was a troubled youth. He fell in love with coaching because it’s a way for him to give back. Zak says, “I love helping people reach their goals”. Whether it’s someone looking to compete or someone who wants to lose weight or just build some self confidence, he treats everyone the same and his goal is just to help make everyone better.