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       Head Instructor Tom Svingala


Professor Svingala is a Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He 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. Over the past 20 years he has trained directly with and learned from the top Fighters and Coaches in the world!! 

After opening his first Martial arts school he began traveling weekly to NYC to train directly under many world renowned coaches such as Phil Nurse ( Muay Thai ) and  Renzo Gracie (BJJ) among others 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. Tom and his son Trent were Matt's first 2 black belt students. 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 Dan Severn (UFC Champion/HOF) Mark Coleman (UFC Champion/HOF) Jake Shields (Strikeforce Champion/UFC)  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) Valentina Schevchenko (UFC Champion) Cat Zingano, Shane Burgos , Jimmie Rivera , 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, Joe Warren (Bellator Champion) Eduardo Dudu Dantas (Bellator Champion) 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.

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                Trent Svingala

Professor Trent Svingala  began practicing Martial Arts at the age of seven and has over 15 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. Trent went 2 full years in High School going undefeated while winning 2 state Championships. What set him apart from many was his wrestling style which incorporated Judo and Jiu Jitsu. Following high school he attended and wrestled for Columbia University in the NCAA Division 1 Ivey League. He started numerous matches as a freshman. While Studying and wrestling at Columbia University Trent was also 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 2 years . Unfortunately Covid struck following Trents 2nd year of College and Columbia as well as the rest of the Ivey league chose not to wrestle that year. and Columbia the year after as well. Trent decided to move on to attend and wrestle for the University of Buffalo and the  Division 1 Buffalo Bulls with his brother Caleb. Trent is now back home and teaching classes here at the Den as he splits time teaching and working as a NYS Trooper.  Trent  regularly trains with the UFC's top ranked talent and is constantly improving his game . He is 2-0 in MMA and finished both opponents in the 1st round via Knockout and Submission. 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - Black Belt

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 



Top 5 in  NYS in  wins All Time ( 250 )

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 

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Record of 2-0

Bantamweight Champion for Extreme Combat Promotions



Record of 24-2

Jason Morris Nationals Bronze Medalist 

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            Caleb Svingala

Professor Caleb Svingala has been practicing martial arts for 15 years and has 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 chose to attend The University at Buffalo and to  wrestle  for the MAC conference coach of the year John Stutzman and the Buffalo Bulls. Caleb started for the UB Bulls at 133lbs and wrestled for the team for 2 years. Caleb is currently back home at the Den and teaching many of our classes while he splits time as a City of Rensselaer Police Officer. Caleb recently had his first MMA fight and took on Edward Brown from American Top Team. Brown is also the Street Beefs triple champion with over 20 martial arts fights. Caleb won the fight in the first round by TKO.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black belt

5 time Grapplers Quest expert level champion 

23 time NAGA expert level champion 

2 time NABJJF  expert champion 



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 


Record of 21-0


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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 ,she liked what she had heard and found her school 4 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 Purple Belt in BJJ and also trains and holds rank in Judo under Jason Morris.

 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. 

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                   Terry Hastings

Coach Terry has been with us for over 3 years now. In that time he has been one of our hardest worker in the room, regularly attending classes 4-5 times per week. Terry is a 4 stripe Blue belt and has competed in and won numerous tournaments. Terry has also traveled abroad and trained at other top schools around the country and attended seminars with some of the worlds best. Prior to joining us at the Den , Terry did a little Jiu Jitsu years before and also grew up wrestling and was on the Hoosic Falls wrestling team in High School. Terry's passion for the sport is unmatched and we are lucky to have him. Terry coaches kids and Adults BJJ on Sundays.


                     Gary Goodermote

Gary started with us over 10 years ago when he was still in High School. He began coming to better prepare himself for wrestling in his Junior and Senior years at Averill Park and then also began competing in MMA while still in HS !! 

Gary was an accomplished High School wrestler and went on to coach the Averill Park youth program for multiple years before coming back to us to teach here at the Den. Gary coaches one of our Monday night Wrestling practices. He comes to us with many years of experience in BJJ ( Blue Belt) wrestling and MMA and has competed in all 3.


                         Rob Van der kar

Rob teaches our Sunday kids and Adult BJJ classes with coach Terry. Fun story , these 2 were actually High School friends and teammates on the Hoosic Falls Wrestling team. Still great friends they now teach our Sunday BJJ classes together as a team and they work very well together. Rob began BJJ with us over 3 years ago and has been a regular on the mat consistently ever since. Rob is also an avid runner whom has done Marathons including the Boston Marathon as well as competing in Triathalons. He is an incredible athlete and BJJ came naturally to him. He is one of our toughest competitors on the mat and a great teacher.


                     Mike Alessi 

Mike began his Martial Arts path as a young child taking Karate classes. Later in life he took an interest to mixed martial arts competition. At the time (2009) his area did not offer a martial arts school which lead to its local fight enthusiasts training themselves in an old abandoned elks lodge. Mike had reached out to Coach Svingala to stop by and help prepare him for his upcoming fight. Coach Svingala stopped by and the place (Elks Lodge) was a mess,lol. The prepared for the fight in which Mike won along with his next 2. Mike trained at American Martial Arts / Death Roll Fight Team under Svingala over the next 3 years going 3-1 in MMA competition and winning his 1'st NAGA BJJ tournament . Upon Svingala's southern Martial Arts location closing Alessi continued training over the next 10 years at another location. He became a purple belt in BJJ prior to returning to train under Svingala here at the Den. Mike teaches BJJ on Mondays and Wednesday in the afternoons. Mike is also a certified USA Boxing coach. He brings a lifetime of Martial Arts experience to his classes.

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                                Jenn Forand

Jenn Started with us in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 3 years ago. She fell in love with the sport of Jiu Jitsu and the many benefits that come along with it. She has been a regular in all of our classes and always working hard at the craft. She has attended numerous seminars here at the Den with Top UFC stars and BJJ legends. She has also traveled abroad to participate in Womens BJJ retreats. All of the instructors here at the Den are battle tested and Jenn herself has also competed in multiple tournaments in BJJ. Her Daughter Lydia also attends classes here at the Den. Jenn has been an assistant in our BJJ Kids classes for the past year and now is also a substitute instructor for for us. She has a great way of breaking down techniques in a way for the kids to easily understand and is a great asset to us.


                 Steve " Tha Thriller " Miller

Coach Miller is a United States Army Veteran whom started his martial arts Journey back in 2019. He began mostly training in Muay Thai while dabbling in Jiu Jitsu. Steve came to us in 2021 and began training in wrestling , BJJ , Muay Thai, MMA and boxing since. He has competed and won tournaments in BJJ. He has also competed and won MMA fights as well as Muay Thai fights. Steve coaches Muay Thai for us here at the Den and still trains and competes regularly. Steve also travels the country to learn and train with some of the top UFC fighters in the world today. This year alone Steve has worked with Frankie Edgar, Demetrius Johnson and Valentina Shevchenko just to name a few. Steve's diverse experience in both training and competition makes him a huge asset to us here at the Den.

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