Instructors

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       Head Instructor Tom Svingala

 

Coach Svingala has over 20 years of Martial arts/Combat Sports experience and has also been coaching sports and personal training for over 20 years. The son of a Basketball coach, he grew up playing traditional sports thru his high school years but always had a passion for combat sports and martial arts. Following high school , he became a certified personal trainer in a time when Mixed Martial Arts popularity blew up and he began practicing Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in his free time. His passion for Mixed Martial Arts grew and he began training in Muay Thai , Jiu Jitsu , Boxing and wrestling full time for the next 6 years. He practiced locally but also scoured the country for the best fighters and coaches to learn from directly. 

After opening his first Martial arts school he began traveling weekly to NYC to train directly under world renowned coaches Phil Nurse ( Muay Thai ) and Vitor "Shaolin" Ribeiro (BJJ) in order to bring the best instruction and curriculum back to his students. Svingala has coached over 30 Mixed Martial Arts fighters to date most notably Mike " Beastboy " Davis whom later went on to sign a contract and fight in the UFC. 

 Svingala himself is still training to this day under Matt Secor whom is regarded as one of the best Jiu Jitsu practitioners in the country. The Lions Den is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu affiliate with Matt and his school.

 Thru his years training Svingala has also  been able to learn from and work directly with UFC fighters such as Sean Sherk (UFC Champion)Matt Hughes(UFC Champion) Chuck Liddell(UFC Champion) Randy Couture(UFC Champion)George St Pierre(UFC Champion)Rashad Evans(UFC Champion)Rampage Jackson(UFC Champion)Rose Namajunas(UFC Champion) Tito Ortiz(UFC Champion)Frankie Edgar(UFC Champion) Dan Henderson(UFC Champion)Matt Serra(UFC Champion)Jon Jones(UFC Champion) Dean Lister, Wanderlei Silva,Brandon Vera, Urijah Faber, Pat Barry, Ben Askren , Thiago Alves,Jim Miller,Chael Sonnen, Dennis Bermudez, Mike Brown, Glover Texiera,Hermes Franca and Kenny Florian.    

 

As well as some of the top coaches in the world such as Renzo Gracie , John Danaher , Marcelo Garcia , Firas Zahabi ,Pablo Popovitch , Vitor Ribeiro and Andre Pederneiras.

                Trent Svingala

Trent began practicing Martial Arts at the age of seven and has over 12 years experience in Boxing, Muay Thai , Brazilian Jiu Jitsu , Wrestling and Judo. He has won many of the top tournaments in each of the sports/arts.Trent was a highly recruited wrestler coming out of high school being recruited by programs such as Iowa, Cornell, Navy, Army, Air force , Binghampton , Maryland , Virginia tech , Buffalo , Columbia , Harvard , Brown among others.  While Studying at Columbia University Trent was able to attend the Main Renzo Gracie Academy in NYC under the likes of Renzo Gracie, John Danaher and other top trainers in the world for the last 2 years .Trent now attends the University of Buffalo and Wrestles for the Division 1 Buffalo Bulls.  Trent also regularly trains with the UFC's top ranked talent and is constantly improving his game .

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - Brown belt (3 stripes)

8 time Grapplers Quest expert level champion 

21 time NAGA expert level champion 

IBJJF Pan Am blue belt Gold Medalist 

2 time NABJJF  expert champion 

 

Wrestling 

NCAA Division 1 starting Wrestler for Columbia and Buffalo University 

2 time New York High school State Champion 

3 time member of the NY freestyle & Greco Roman national team

High School All American (Akron 2017)

3 time USA wrestling Greco Roman NY state champion 

2 time USA wrestling freestyle NY state champion 

Gene Mills Eastern Nationals Champion 

War At The Shore Champion and Most Outstanding Wrestler

 

Muay Thai 

Record of 1-0 

 

MMA

Record of 2-0

Bantamweight Champion for Extreme Combat Promotions

 

Judo

Record of 24-2

Jason Morris Nationals Bronze Medalist 

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            Caleb Svingala

Caleb has been practicing martial arts for 14 years and competed and won many of the top tournaments in that time. He was the top youth competitor in the USA for many of years for his age group regularly tapping out the best competitors on the east coast.  After being highly recruited by many of the major D1 wrestling programs throughout the country, Caleb is now attending The University at Buffalo and  wrestling  for the MAC conference coach of the year John Stutzman and the Buffalo Bulls. Caleb was their starting 133lber in just his first season with the Bulls and is now preparing for his sophomore year.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Brown belt 

5 time Grapplers Quest expert level champion 

23 time NAGA expert level champion 

2 time NABJJF  expert champion 

 

Wrestling 

Divison 1 College starting wrestler for the University of Buffalo

4 time state Qualifier , State finalist and placer

member of the NY freestyle & Greco Roman national team 

Gene Mills Eastern Nationals Champion

Current 133lb starter for the Buffalo Bulls 

 

Judo

Record of 21-0

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                    Jason Morris

Jason is a 4 time Olympian and captured the Silver medal in Barcelona  in 1992 . He was also an Olympic coach in 2008. He is widely regarded as one of the top Judo coaches worldwide and has coached numerous olympians over the years , most notably, MMA superstar Ronda Rousey. He adds a tremendous value to our coaching staff as he is also a 2 time NYS champion wrestler and wrestled for Syracuse university under Coach Gene mills. When it comes to grappling he adds an incredible insight and his style of Judo is easily implemented into our wrestling , BJJ and MMA programs.

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              Jerrick Jones

Coach Jerrick has spent a lifetime in the sport of Boxing. Growing up as a child in Brooklyn , he was a childhood friend of Mike Tyson. He later on served in the Military and following his time serving his country he began teaching the " Sweet Science " of  boxing. He was a coach in Buffalo before coming to the Albany area and taking over the director position as the Albany Boxing club on Quail street where he trained the areas local talent for many of years. Jerrick has trained multiple world champion boxers and has coached on the highest levels and largest venues. In the last year he has cornered numerous pro boxers on Showtime Boxing and ESPN. You will not find a better coach at teaching the fundamentals all the way through to what you need to know as a seasoned Pro in our area. Whether you just want to learn the sport or if you want to compete , he will get you to your goal.

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      Jeremy Cavaretta

Jeremy has over 15 years of Martial Arts/Combat Sports experience. He grew up practicing and competing in Karate as well as wrestling for Central Valley High School. He then went on to serve our country in the Navy and while doing so became certified in Krav Maga instruction while serving in Italy. Following his service tenure he began training in Boxing , Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Jeremy now works in Law enforcement and knows the importance of staying in shape and knowing how to defend himself when the time arrises. Jeremy teaches a Youth Beginner Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class here at the Lions Den for us. 

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        Geoff Schielding

Geoff is one of our wrestling coaches here at the Lions Den. Geoff wrestled for Maple Hill in high school before going on and wrestling in college. His passion for the sport continued once he was finished competing and he went on to become Maple Hills wrestling coach. He is an asset to our program and our wrestlers are benefitting from his extensive knowledge of the sport along with the passion he has for it.

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               Kathleen Johnson

Kathleen teaches our Women's only Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes for us. Kathleen started out like many do in this sport. She was very apprehensive about starting , had her doubts , however knew she really wanted to do it. She reached out to us the way I wish most would before joining any martial arts school. She asked great questions such as looking into the background of our instructors , experience as well as if our program was more geared towards traditional BJJ or sport BJJ. Well , liked what she had heard and found her school 3 years ago and has been full go ever since. She has been coming to classes regularly as well as taking in private sessions ever since . She has also competed in and won at Numerous Naga tournaments . She currently holds the rank of Blue belt with 3 stripes and also trains Judo and has her yellow belt. 

 Kathleen's husband and son also train with us and have both competed themselves. They are also part owners of the Fort Orange Brewery in Albany and when Craig isn't working he can be found brewing up some of the best beer in the capital district.