Leah Letson

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Purple Belt, Instructor, Invicta FC Bantamweight

When did you start training in martial arts, and can you tell me a little about your story?

I grew up in Janesville, WI and at just 5 years old, martial arts became a part of my life. I started with Karate; I earned my 2nd degree black belt at age 11. I then transitioned to Tae Kwon Do and earned my 3rd degree at age 14.

After graduating high school, I moved to Milwaukee to attend UWM and also enlisted in the Wisconsin Air National Guard. Prior to leaving for Air Force Basic Training, I decided to take a cardio kickboxing class through the university to get in shape. It was then that I met Jake and Zak. They invited me to come check out their gym and after a few months I finally went. I immediately fell in love with the puzzle that is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I started training 5 times a week for about 4 months before leaving for basic training. The very first night I got back to Wisconsin I was back in the gym again. After training 6 days a week for a month and a half, I got a call from Jake telling me to pack my bags because I was fighting in less than 24 hours. I ended up winning my very first MMA fight. Ever since then, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I went on to be undefeated in both kickboxing (3-0) and MMA (5-0) as an amateur. I am now a top 15 world ranked professional fighter working on getting into the UFC!

What do you teach at Pura Vida BJJ & MMA and tell us about your expertise in it:

I teach kickboxing and kids classes. With my karate, tae kwon do and kickboxing background striking has always come very naturally to me. Because of my diverse striking experience, I have a unique blend of styles that helps keep me unpredictable. I love being able to share my knowledge and help others develop their own striking styles.

I think teaching Jiu Jitsu is a great way to help others while also enhancing my own skills. I absolutely love teaching the children’s Jiu Jitsu classes. Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” I find this to be very true. Teaching children not only helps me better understand moves, but also helps me be able to better explain techniques to the adults I teach. It is also extremely rewarding to watch shy, bullied, and/or rebellious kids transform into well-behaved, confident and respectful children. Martial arts changes you for the better no matter what your age. I love that I can help make that positive impact on people’s lives.

Jake "Ender" KlippLeah Letson