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Enjoy San Joaquin Valley Living

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Training with Elite Team Visalia

Dec 28, 2018 11:00AM ● By Enjoy Magazine

Rise Above

January 2019
Story by Natalie Caudle 
Photos by Kelli Avila

TOM KNOX HAS FOUND great success in professional skateboarding and jiu-jitsu, two unique sports from very different worlds. Knox picked up a skateboard at 11 years old and quickly climbed from amateur to professional by age 16. Known for his unique style and innovative skills, the first to do a kickflip to a wallride, Knox gained fame and a following. After enduring a few injuries, Knox returned to the world of Judo, a sport in which he had successfully trained since early childhood. It was there that Knox was introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is one of the fastest growing combat sports involving ground fighting, grappling and control. A weaker opponent can be victorious with the use of techniques such as chokeholds and joint locks. There are four typical levels of achievement for adults, from blue belt to black belt. Again, Knox proved to have a natural talent when earning his black belt in 2009 and is currently ranked number two in the world in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His passion inspired him to open a gym in downtown Visalia to bring high-level training to the community.

In 2008, Knox opened Elite Team Visalia, training students and preparing serious athletes for competitions throughout the world. When Knox first created Elite Team, he hoped his gym members would find inspiration and reach new goals through quality classes and conditioning. Before long, the excitement of the gym and success at competitions became contagious. Elite Team now offers four classes a day, impassioning members to push their limits and break records individually and worldwide.

Elite Team has become an atmosphere of community and encouragement. Justin Mosley has been training with Knox for six months and finds great personal value in the gym. “This is the best thing I’ve ever done,” Mosley says. “Elite Team is a diamond in the rough, a welcoming and family environment; it changes your life.” Elite Team has 250 consistent students who train on 3,000 square feet of mats. The gym is open seven days a week and caters to all ages and genders. Knox encourages anyone, no matter their athletic background, to train. “I don’t care if you want to be a champion, you just want to get in shape, you just want to learn self-defense or you just want to have a good time,” he says. “Everyone can train like they’re going to be a champion.” And, indeed, Elite Team has created worldwide champions.

Elite Team has helped produce phenomenal athletes who compete at the highest levels. Teenage brothers Jacob and Josh Cisneros have trained under Knox for six years and are both considered the best in the world in their weight class. In addition to Knox, Jacob and Josh will be competing in January in the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation European Championship in Portugal. A handful of Elite Team athletes are headed to competitions on the world stage in Europe, Japan and South America in 2019. 

Knox loves to see his students rise to unbelievable levels, but finds great joy through encouraging all of his students. “It’s nice to see the transformation of people and the confidence people gain,” he says.  •

Elite Team Visalia • 760 E. Center St., Visalia • (559) 303-9008

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