Black Belt, First Degree/Head Instructor
Kevin Howell started jiu-jitsu for all the wrong reasons. His competitive nature drove him toward the sport, but his love for the art of jiu-jitsu has kept him invigorated for the past 20 years.
He grew up in Huntington Beach, and moved to Hawaii for college because he couldn’t find another school with better surf. There, he trained jiu-jitsu, surfed some more, and met his wife Haley in a series of circumstances that can only be described as fate.
After undergrad, Kevin moved back to Huntington Beach and dove face-first right back into jiu-jitsu. He attended grad school at CSULB and earned a Masters degree in Political Science with an emphasis on International Relations. He taught college-level Poli Sci for awhile, but lived like a mat rat as he trained jiu-jitsu like a madman and wrote jiu-jitsu books, including the all time best-selling books Jiu-Jitsu University and Drill to Win, as well as jiu-jitsu articles for magazines and websites.
After teaching college kids, Kevin realized his driving passion was for teaching jiu-jitsu and serving as a mentor to the next generation of jiu-jiteiros. He opened The Jiu-Jitsu League with Haley and hasn’t looked back. He earned his black belt under his jiu-jitsu mentor, friend, and legendary head-coach of team Atos, Andre Galvao. Now, he does jiu-jitsu for many reasons, among them, being a “positive role model and outlet for my two sons, Oliver and Milo.”
When he’s not at the academy, you can find him at the beach or in the mountains and he always has a smile on his face. He loves to surf and snowboard, and tinker with his Harleys. You can almost always find him at The Jiu-Jitsu League, though, sharing his insane breadth of knowledge in his daily Advanced-level classes, as well as in the Tuesday and Thursday AM All Levels classes. He tries to bring a breath of fresh air to his curriculum, so you just never know what you’ll stumble upon when you show up to his class, but you can always expect to have a great time!
Judge him by his size, and you’re sure to be in for a big surprise. Arun Paberzis isn’t the tallest instructor at The Jiu-Jitsu league, but he might be the strongest, pound-for-pound. He has lived about 10 lives in just his 33 years, but you’d never know just from meeting him. He always wears a smile and cares more about how your day is going than his own, but if you have a chance to share a conversation with him over some coffee, you won’t be sorry.
He grew up in Thailand and is responsible for the Muay Thai program at The Jiu-Jitsu League because he’s fought 200+ professional fights. His Muay Thai instruction is par to none, but he’s also an amazingly patient jiu-jitsu kids coach. It’s probably because he’s just a big kid himself.
He runs, and swims, and has abs for days, and he’s also the most humble martial artist out there. He’s a talented jiu-jitsu competitor and MMA fighter, and he’s an even better student. Even at black belt, you can see his brain working in class, and he’s always learning. You can find him teaching Muay Thai classes daily, and he’s also the Kids (ages 6-13) professor Monday through Friday. If he’s not teaching, he’s most likely taking classes and attacking the famed “Arun-bar”.
Haley Howell started training because she was tired of getting rolled up at home while dating Kevin. Her competitive nature brought her to the academy, where she decided to learn as much as she could to try and beat her boyfriend at his own game. Now, married to Kevin with two sons, she does jiu-jitsu to stay in shape and keep up with her young boys.
She grew up in San Diego, spent some time in New York and Hawaii, and finally settled in Long Beach with her family. Together with Kevin, she runs The Jiu-Jitsu League and teaches Women’s Only classes on Friday evenings. Though she’s married to el jefe, don’t sleep on “Whoosks”, with over ten years dedicated to the art she has the skill and experience to make her classes a huge hit with the ladies.
Also known as Neo, Vincent Sloan is always in the Matrix and can do ANYTHING on a computer, even from his phone. He started training jiu-jitsu because he was in search of The Gentle Art, and while it’s not always gentle, Vince definitely makes jiu-jitsu look effortless. His cerebral approach to jiu-jitsu lends to his ability to be a great teacher for beginners. He is the guy to ask if you wonder why you do a move a certain way because he thinks about every part of a technique and the mechanics that go into performing it.
In his spare time, he likes to paddle board, rock climb, and camp with his lovely wife Nicole and adorable daughter Sonia. You can find him at The Jiu-Jitsu League teaching Basics classes in the evenings, and an All Levels class early in the morning. And if you want to get a cheeky smirk out of him, just call him Coach Rio.
Finance by day, jiu-jiteiro by night, Mike Byun is living the dream. He’s mellow in a way that makes you want to hang out all day, but you also want to hang out with him because he knows where to find the best Korean BBQ in town. Even if he had a stressful day at work, you’d never know because his demeanor is calm and collected, no matter the day he had. He’s up on current events, and you can have an interesting conversation with him about pretty much anything. When he’s not eating KBBQ or reading The Economist, you can find him teaching classes at The Jiu-Jitsu League in the early AM hours. And if you do decide to roll out of bed at that hour, you’re in for a treat; Byun is easily one of the most fluid and technical students at the academy and is a favorite training partner of everybody.
Mike Hofer may be the only guy at the academy to wear a fanny pack (or at least the only one to admit it), but don’t hold it against him. His style is innovative, and he is always adapting his jiu-jitsu style to keep up with it. He’s a go-getter that is always working, if not his day job, he’s often working to advance the jiu-jitsu community and sport; he loves jiu-jitsu that much.
When he’s not entrenched in jiu-jitsu, Hofer is at the beach. He likes to start his day with an early morning body-boarding session to wake up his mind and body.
He’s become quite a presence at The Jiu-Jitsu League - he practically lives here! You can find him teaching early AM classes, evening Basics classes, and the Kids class (ages 3-6) Monday through Friday.