Chris Papandria –
Chris grew up in New Jersey and at the age of 9 started training in Judo. At one of the numerous Judo tournaments Chris had competed in, he met a martial arts instructor that was there doing a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu demo. Chris thought that Jiu-Jitsu would be a perfect compliment to his judo, so he instantly signed up. The instructor, Alex Wilkie, and Chris immediately hit it off. Chris then split his time between the Judo school and the American Freestyle school which Wilkie owned. While training with Wilkie he was exposed to numerous martial arts, including Kickboxing, Aikido, Stick Fighting, and of course Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
By the time Chris was a junior in high school he had earned a brown belt in Judo as well as a purple belt in American Freestyle. Towards the end of his junior year, Chris entered the New York State Judo Championship. Before his first match, his instructor, Yoshisodo Yonezuka, had told him that if he won his division, he would be promoted to Black Belt. Chris then went on to win his entire division including a back and forth final match with the previous year’s champion. While standing on the podium, he not only received his gold medal, but also his black belt in Judo.
Chris then took time off from martial arts to focus on his studies at The University of Hawaii (where he was also quarterback for the football team). Unfortunately during his sophomore year, he suffered an extensive back injury that could have ended his martial arts career as well as his ability to walk. After a year of rehab, Chris regained the ability to walk and decided to put all his time into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing. After placing well in many local grappling events, including NAGA and Grapplers Quest, Chris was awarded his Black Belt in American Freestyle, by Alex Wilkie.
Eventually, Chris made the decision to expand his Jiu Jitsu training by going to train at Renzo Gracie Black Belt, Ricardo Almeida’s school. Through the next few years, Chris was exposed to classic Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as well as being able to be on the mat with top Black Belts like Renzo Gracie, Ricardo Almeida, Igor Gracie, Dante Rivera, Shawn Williams, John Danaher, and most notably, his close friend and main training partner Joe Vanbrackle.
Chris earned his Blue Belt under Almeida and made the tough decision to relocate to Indianapolis to be with his family. The minute he got here the first thing he did was look for a Jiu Jitsu school. After stopping in and training at the IBJJA one time, he knew that this was the school for him. He felt the level of training and attention to detail was the biggest selling point in staying at IBJJA. Chris has since become one of the Coaches at the IBJJA and has shared his knowledge of Kickboxing in his DVD set the Striker’s Journal!