The jiu-jitsu community is strong in Tucson, with a few gyms available in any given part of town.

In Phillip Aguilar’s experience, that wasnt always the case. Hes a jiu-jitsu coach and owns the Eyrie Brazilian jiu-jitsu gym. He started doing jiu-jitsu at the age of 19, and never stopped. Growing up on the Southside, it was difficult to chase his passion.

When I first started jiu-jitsu, there were maybe three schools in town. They were either in Midtown, or Eastside, or on the Northside, so my goal was when I’m established, I’d have to open up a gym on the south side to give back, said Aguilar.

His work was focused on providing an outlet and opportunity for Southside kids, but his gym grew quickly. Now, his Eyrie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gym serves families that drive from all parts of Tucson.

He is wonderful with the kids, he has inspired a lot of kids, especially on this side of town who didnt know what jiu-jitsu was. Muay Thai, boxing, anything of the sort, so hes built a great community here, its fun, its a home away from home and I never want to leave it, said gym member Rachel Hoffman.

Many gym members spoke to their commitment to going to this gym specifically.

We pass three other gyms and we love it here and weve been here almost three years now, said Marla Frost-Alperstein, a mom to two gym members.

One of those members is AJ Frost-Alperstein. She shared her dedication to jiu-jitsu and her school work, and how Phillip Aguilar always encourages her and others to succeed in both.

If you’re doing good in school, he wants to know about it. he wants to congratulate you, he wants to make sure you know that this kid is a really great student and is doing good in school, but also in jiu-jitsu, she said.

If thats not the case, Aguilar makes sure the students know his expectations when it comes to being able to practice jiu-jitsu.

If youre not getting it done at school, youre not getting it done at home, you cant come to jiu-jitsu. And they love to come to jiu-jitsu, and I love that they love to come to jiu-jitsu, but you gotta get those things done first, said Aguilar.

The Eyrie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gym is located at 918 W. Irvington Rd. For more information, visit