Holiday Closure: All Easton Schools Closed Dec.14 & morning classes cancelled Dec.15

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April 25, 2023

Amal Easton: A Seed That Sprouted A Community

Tatyana Grechina

Amal Easton: A Seed That Sprouted A Community

The name “Easton” has become synonymous with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (and now Muay Thai) across Colorado since the school’s doors first opened in December of 1998. Then, Jiu Jitsu was virtually unheard of.

Amal Easton had just moved to Colorado after spending the last three and a half years training with the renowned Gracie family in Brazil and, due to his own obsession, launched a school of his own. A long-time practitioner of Thai boxing and a multiple time competitor, Amal also included Muay Thai in the school’s curriculum shortly after opening it.

With his skills and ability to teach the art of Jiu Jitsu endorsed by Carlos Gracie, Jr. and legendary competitor and instructor Renzo Gracie, from whom Amal recieved his black belt, he became the first American Black Belt National Champion in 2002. He holds multiple wins as a Pan American and Worlds Masters champion.

[BJJ: A History of Our Contemporary Combat Sport]

From the mats of what became Easton Training Center when co-owner Elliot Marshall came on board in 2012, Amal has helped develop high-level grapplers and mixed martial arts fighters such as Shane Carwin, Elliott Marshall, Brendan Schaub, Nick Klein, Nathan Marquardt and countless others.

Humble beginnings

Born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico to parents who left the East coast to live off-grid, Amal spent the first years of his life in a teepee. As a kid, he fell in love with skiing and also got hooked on Thai boxing, studying from age 8 under Ajarn Chai Sirasuti and Doug Pandorf. However, he didn’t love school. So instead, he graduated at 16 and moved to a ski town to chase his dream of skiing every day.

[The Ultimate Guide to Muay Thai]

Amal did later attend University of New Mexico, where he studied Anthropology and Photography, as well as Environmental Studies at Montana State University, where he moved to ski. After returning to New Mexico, Amal received his Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine, with a focus on acupuncture.

Amal’s interest in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sparked in 1992 in Santa Fe after rolling with a blue belt, Marcos Gonzales, taught by the Machado brothers, cousins to members of the Gracie family. The former Navy Seal showed Amal how effective grappling could be in a combat situation.

Amal was hooked — he moved right to Rio de Janerio, Brazil, the heart of the Jiu Jitsu action. Amal lived, trained and competed out of the original Gracie Barra Academy for three and a half years, along with his good friend Alberto Crane of the Alberto Crane Show and Legacy Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Training with the Gracie family, Amal studying extensively with Roberto “Gordo” Correira, Rillion Gracie, Eduardo “Veio” De Lima. While in Rio, Amal earned his blue belt from the famous coach José Leão Teixeira (Zé Beleza) and his purple from Beleza and Hélio “Soneca.”

Growing Easton

After returning from Brazil, Amal established his first Jiu Jitsu academy in Boulder, Colorado. It was 1998 and he called it Boulder Brazilian Jiu Jitsu — later changed to Easton Training Center.

The academy grew rapidly, Amal teaching classes everyday, promoting the sport and school with flyers around town. He traveled to Brazil twice a year for three weeks at a time to stay current with his Jiu Jitsu, as well as NYC to train with Renzo Gracie, alongside students such as Matt Serra, John Danaher, Ricardo Almeida, Shawn Williams and more. 

By 2011, he was operating three academies: Boulder, Denver, and Centennial. That year, professional UFC fighter and Amal’s longtime student Eliot Marshall came on board, and Easton flourished even more, growing from three schools to eight across the Colorado Front Range.

[Why You’re Hearing More And More About Brazilian Jiu Jitsu]

Though highly focused on developing his students through Easton Training Center, Amal continued to compete, conquering numerous titles at the Pan American Championship, the largest Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament in North America held annually by the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) as well as at the prestigious International Masters & Seniors tournament.

Today, Amal continues to live in Boulder, Colorado with his two children, Ella and Nash. When Amal is not on the mat, he enjoys spending time outdoors dirt biking, mountain biking, surfing, kayaking, and skiing!


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