Monday will mark a dream come true moment for Guam’s Michael Carbullido – the official opening of his own jiujitsu academy and its first day of classes at ATOS Jiu-Jitsu Guam.
Carbullido’s jiujitsu journey started on Guam 16 years ago. He relocated to the west coast at an early age where he started learning from one of the best jiujitsu fighters in the world in Andre Galvão, the co-founder of the world-famous ATOS Academy.
Carbullido earned his blackbelt under Galvão as he proudly represented the ATOS Academy. He also served as the professor for 8- to 12-year-old students for more than a decade. The bond between Carbullido and Galvão only grew through the years. Galvão was best man at Carbullido's wedding and the Galvão family are godparents to the Carbullido's son, Zomu.
Carbullido and his wife, Kristy, made a big decision in 2020 to move back to Guam after spending the last decade in the mainland. The Carbullido family landed on island last October and quickly began framing the groundwork for starting ATOS Guam.
“It was just time. With everything going on in the world, with us missing our family, we felt it was time to start that next chapter on our journey. We want to do as much as we possibly can to help jiujitsu grow, not just on island, but overall,” said Carbullido on his returning home.
The support Carbullido got from his professor and lifetime friend Galvão to bring ATOS to Guam is a gesture not many people get to experience in a lifetime, and to the Carbullido family it means more than anything.
“From the beginning until now, we’ve been family. To be able to be a part of what professor Andre has done throughout the world for the jiujitsu community is amazing. I’m honored and humbled to be able to bring (ATOS) to Guam,” Carbullido said.
Building ATOS Guam
The Carbullidos started building up hype for the gym in January after the social media launch of ATOS Guam. In February, they found a venue at Blue Lagoon Plaza in Tumon, taking over the former Aji-Ichi restaurant. After a complete overhaul, the space was transformed.
As soon as you walk through the doors you see tatami-style mats, which will be the main instruction area. The ground is triple reinforced for safety which was one of the biggest points of emphasis for Mike Carbullido.
“In order to have consistency in teaching jiujitsu we have to make sure everyone who steps on the mat is going to be safe every single time,” he said.
To the left of the entrance is a staircase that leads to an upper level where you see the same tatami-style padding, about a third of the size of the main floor, which is where classes for kids ages 5-8 will be.
The gym’s aesthetics are subtle, but sharp, from the open area to the locker rooms.
“That’s all (Kristy’s) touch,” Mike Carbullido said, laughing.
Ready, excited for opening day
Carbullido said he had humble expectations when he opened up pre-registration the week before his first classes, but gathering 60-plus members in a matter of days was a humbling experience for the new head instructor.
“We’ve been open for less than a week and everyone is showing their excitement to be able to be on these mats, which is humbling to us and it makes us even more excited!,” said Mike.
Carbullido and his wife, Kristy, who started her jiujitsu journey in 2018, will be taking on all the teaching/instructing for the gym. The Carbullidos are ready for the challenge.
“I’m nervously excited,” Mike Carbullido said, laughing. “It’s been tough and I know that once we open it’s going to get tougher, but we’re motivated and humbly confident that we’re going to do a great job. Our goal is just to support jiujitsu and support Guam and we know it’s going to be tough, but we can do this.”