Cassio Werneck 13238877_10210264658921686_1688143934007066961_nbegan his life as a martial artist at 11 years old, practicing Capoeira for 4 years. He would make the switch to grappling in 1991, moving to a Judo club where he was coached by sensei Miura. Cassio was exposed to more of the self-defense aspect of  jiu-jitsu through Professor Sardella, a member of the Federal Police. But it was a memorable class in 1993 that sent him down his path in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu (BJJ).

On that day, a new brown belt visited from Rio de Janeiro. Cassio had been doing well against the Judo brown belts and was very confident in his ne-waza (Judo ground work).  After 5 minutes of training with this new brown belt he realized that his ground game did not compare. After being submitted several times Cassio asked where the guy trained and found out he did Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Ricardo Reis (commonly known as “Tanque” in Brazil) became his Jiu-jitsu coach, and Werneck trained with Tanque until the day he received his black belt in 1998.

Cassio and Hilza move to the U.S.

He came to the U.S. for the first time in 1996, where he stayed for a few months. He opened a training center there with the help of Terry Maxwell and left his brother Roberto coaching while he returned to Brazil. Werneck returned several times to compete, give seminars, and teach at that same school. Eventually he was invited to come and coach full time at an academy in Sacramento (Kovar’s Karate). In 2003 Cassio and his wife Hilza made Sacramento their home. He opened his own academy in 2005.

From it’s inception, his program has continued to grow. As a World Champion, Cassio is the most highly regarded BJJ Professor in the Sacramento Area. Many elite athletes such as Randy Couture, Urijah Faber, Dan Henderson, and Frank Mir have trained with him. Indeed, most of the BJJ Black Belts teaching in the greater Sacramento area received their belts from Cassio!

The success of his school isn’t just because of his competition accolades, however. Cassio is a passionate instructor who enjoys sharing authentic Brazilian Jiu-jitsu with his students, whether they aspire to be a champion, or are just looking for a fun way to stay in shape. Ask any of the students currently training at Werneck Jiu-jitsu, and they will tell you it’s like family. We come from all walks of life, but on the mat, we’re all students of Brazilian Jiu -jitsu. We push one another to our very limits, learn and grow. Cassio is the superlative leader; he is always there, teaching and training, leading by example.

Just as the Werneck Jiu-jitsu family has grown, so too has Cassio and Hilza’s own. they have made the Sacramento Valley their home, where they are raising their four beautiful children. In 2016 the Werneck family became naturalized citizens of the United States.

1st 2017 Pan-American Championship
1st 2016 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship Masters
1st 2015 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship Masters
2nd 2013 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship Masters
1st 2013 Pan-American Championship
1st 2012 World Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi Championship
1st 2012 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship Masters
1st 2010 Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championship
1st 2008 Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championship
2nd 2005 Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championship
1st 2005 Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championship Brazilian Team
2nd 2004 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship
2nd 2004 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Cup
1st 2004 Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championship Brazilian Team
1st 2003 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship
1st 2003 Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championship
1st 2002 U.S. Open, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
1st 2002 Brazilian Cup
3rd 2001 Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championship
3rd 2000 Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championship
3rd 1999 Brazilian National Championship
3rd 1998 Brazilian National Championship
1st 1998 Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championship
1st 1997 Pan American Jiu-Jitsu Championship
2nd 1997 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship
3rd 1996 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship
3rd 1995 Brazilian National Championship
1st 1995-2000 Regional Jiu-Jitsu Championships
1st 1994-2000 Brazilian State Champion

BJJ Lineage: Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Reyson Gracie > Osvaldo Alves > Fabrício Martins > Ricardo Reis > Cassio Werneck


Darren Figgins started training in Taekwondo in Montana in 1983. The part-time hobby eventually became a full-time pursuit. All through college, he trained and competed, and started teaching the children’s classes at the club where he trained. His obsession with martial arts would eventually lead to the decision to change career paths, and after short stints teaching English in Korea, and public school in Montana, he opted to try his hand at teaching martial arts professionally. In 1995 He relocated to Roseville, CA where he taught for and trained under 1988 Olympian Jay Warwick. He managed, and eventually purchased the U.S. Taekwondo Center which he owned & operated until selling in 2004.

The move to California was a turning point in his career. While he got to dabble in Aikido & Judo at the University, the rich martial arts environment of California was an entirely new world. Here he could train not only with a world class taekwondo coach, but with world class Eskrimadors, and more importantly, world class BJJ practitioners. Over time, Brazilian Jiujitsu became his primary focus, second only to his family.

Darren met his wife Agnes in Roseville, where they’ve made their home. Roseville is the perfect place for raising their three amazing daughters. Here there is ready access to all the comforts of the suburbs, a wonderful multi-cultIMG_7920ural populace, and good schools. Plus, in just a short drive they can get a healthy mountain “fix:” hiking, backpacking, and skiing.

When not busy as a father of three, Darren can be found on the mat, both as a student and as a teacher. Learning and sharing the martial arts with others is his passion, and every day provides him the opportunity to grow and pass it on.

2014 World Masters Jiu-Jitsu Championship

BJJ Lineage: Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Reyson Gracie > Osvaldo Alves > Fabrício Martins > Ricardo Reis > Cassio Werneck > Darren Figgins