Joe Cunningham, affectionately known as “Joemoplata”, has been a student with the Yamasaki Academy since 1998. His interest in the sport started after watching Royce Gracie dominate opponents in the early Ultimate Fighting Championships using techniques that, at the time, were widely unknown to most people in the United States. Like most students of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu usually find, once he started training he was quickly hooked and began spending as much time as he could at the Yamasaki Springfield academy learning from the instructors and students. He has competed in various Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Grappling tournaments including NAGA, Grapplers Quest, US Grappling, and the Pan American Championships.
Coach Joe has received all of his belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu directly from the Yamasakis. He was awarded his Black Belt in December of 2010 and is currently ranked as a 2nd degree Black Belt. Joe has also trained extensively in Muay Thai and Judo and is ranked as brown belt (Ikkyu) in Judo with the International Freestyle Judo Alliance. He works closely with the other coaches as part of the MMA program to help the fighters be as well rounded as possible.