Professor David Ginsberg

Professor Dave GinsbergDavid Ginsberg is a 4th Degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, ranked by the legendary Master Mario Sperry. Professor Ginsberg (“Coach Dave”) is amongst the highest ranking Americans in the Northeast, as verified by the USBJJF and IBJJF. He has been a full time BJJ and MMA instructor since 1997 and coached gymnastics and fitness as far back as 1988. He was the first or among the first New Englanders to receive a Black Belt in BJJ (2003), to win back to back Gold Medals in The Pan American Games of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (2002 & 2003), to win multiple matches and medal on the Black Belt Level in International Competition (2004), to coach a student to a World Title at the IBJJF World Championships, to be appointed as a licensed MMA official in Massachusetts, and to judge a UFC Title Fight. Coach Dave also owns numerous NAGA, New England and Grappler’s Quest No Gi titles from 1996 to 1999. He has trained Olympians in Judo and Synchronized Swimming and professional athletes including NBA player Glen “Big Baby” Davis.

Coach Dave’s martial arts teaching style is informed by his background in gymnastics and dance and his degree in Buddhism & Creative Writing. In gymnastics, he is a title-holder on the still rings & floor exercise & he was coached, over the course of a decade, by 3 Olympic coaches. His academic studies included numerous merit-based scholarships and coursework at Oxford University, The Central Institute for Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, India and Amherst College, and culminated in his graduating Summa Cum Laude from U Mass Amherst, and he was granted membership into the country’s oldest honors society, Phi Beta Kappa. Coach Dave believes in tailoring martial arts, techniques and movement to suit the needs of the practitioner, and he is honored to be a part of the wellness and self-empowerment process of individuals who are starting a martial arts practice or hobby for the first time as well as lifelong martial artists.

Coach Dave’s extensive personal experience in competitive athletics and his interest in wellness, spine and joint health and longevity have led him to develop close professional relationships with many in the Sports Medicine Community including a leader in his field, Jake Kennedy. He believes that more important than the short gain of a great martial arts technique or fitness circuit is that one’s martial arts practice be conducive to long term health and injury-prevention. Longevity, healthy posture, and knee, spine and shoulder health are of utmost importance on the mats and off. Coach Dave’s personal philosophy on competing is that it is for those who chose to challenge themselves in that way, but it is by no means a requirement or something that people should be pressured to do. His personal philosophy on MMA is that it is for those who are drawn to it and have a deep desire to compete in it; and although he enjoys training lightly and with control, he has never been interested in competing on a high level because it goes against his personal practice of non-violence.

Coach Mike Mena

Mike MenaMike has been involved in sports and martial arts since his youth, training in karate, wrestling, Jeet-Kune Do, and boxing, in addition to competing at an amateur level in mixed martial arts (mma) and over a dozen Brazilian Jiu Jitsu tournaments. Having been raised in Hawaii, Mike is also an avid surfer, surfing all over the Pacific Ocean, including in Fiji, Hawaii, Guam, and throughout California. Through his years in martial arts, he has had the pleasure of training with UFC, Strikeforce, Pride FC, and Gladiator Champions and veterans, including Bobby Southworth, Lil’ Dave Velasquez, Brian Johnston, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts Erik Benaquisto, Claudio Franca, and the former boxing coach for the University of Santa Clara California boxing team, Jose Uribe. Mike is also a Personal and Group Fitness Trainer. Mike is also a 2 time NAGA champion and regular competitor.

Professionally, Mike has over 15 years experience as an Urban Planner and Zoning Inspector managing and permitting a wide variety of development projects and currently works for the Town of Watertown.

Coach Jon Cheng

Jon Cheng Jon has studied Brazilian Jiu Jitsu since 2010 and began his journey at 10th Planet Van Nuys. After relocating to Cambridge, he founded the Harvard Jiu Jitsu club, and joined Ginsberg Academy, later receiving his blue belt and purple belt under Coach Dave. Jon is constantly seeking new techniques to add to his arsenal and draws from a wide variety of influences including the x guard of Marcelo Garcia, leg attacks from modern no gi competitors, and most recently Coach Dave’s unique butterfly guard and heavy control style.

When not on the mats, Jon is a software engineer and startup founder focusing on augmented reality games.

Coach Alex Berrios

Alex Berrios

Assistant Coach Leslie Snapper

Leslie snapperLeslie started training in martial arts at age nine when she began taking classes in Tae Kwon Do with her older brother, and she continued to enjoy many years of training alongside her family. By the time she was 14, Leslie reached second Dan and was teaching kids and adults classes at all levels. While attending Boston College, Leslie started a martial arts club with a fellow classmate where she continued to teach TKD in addition to starting to practice in Karate and Muay Thai. After graduating, she decided she wanted to expand her martial arts discipline and started training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Coach Dave. Leslie has also taught self defense based classes and hopes to continue to learn and teach basic self defense. She has always enjoyed training amongst the guys (and is a powerlifter outside of martial arts training), but Leslie also hopes to motivate more women to get involved in martial arts.

Professionally, Leslie is working towards earning her PhD in clinical psychology and expanding her knowledge of how exercise can help treat mental illness. Leslie hopes to find a way to combine psychotherapy with exercise therapy as a form of treatment and to help improve general health and wellness. Currently she works at Massachusetts General Hospital doing research on genetics and cellular models of neuropsychiatric illnesses.

Friends of Ginsberg Academy

Coach Mike Harmon

Mike HarmonMike started training BJJ at the age of 14 with David Ginsberg. In addition to coach Ginsberg, he has spent time training with some of the other leaders in the sport, including Marcelo Garcia, Renzo Gracie, Jean Jacques Machado, Ricardo “Franjiha” Miller, Gordo, Gordinho, John Danaher, Eddie Bravo. Currently attending graduate school in Austin, Texas he trains with the local Paragon Academy and frequently comes home to train with Coach Ginsberg.

Mike was awarded his Black Belt in Dec. 2012 from David Ginsberg after winning the IBJJF No-Gi World Championships at Brown Belt. He has been actively teaching and competing for years. Some of his competitions titles include:

No-Gi World Champion (IBJJF, Adult Brown, 2012)
2 x No-Gi Pan Am Medalist (IBJJF, Adult Brown, 2011, 2012)
Multiple time NAGA Champion
Texas State Champion (Brown/Black, 2013)
Fight To Win Champion
Multiple time IBJJF Medalist