Our knowledgable team of instructors, strength trainers, and nutritionists come from a long lineage. Learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo from the top Black and Brown belt instructors in the WNY area.


Professor Michael Katilus

Michael Katilus is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under the founder of Alliance Jiu Jitsu, Romero “Jacare” Calvacanti. Michael was born and raised right here in Buffalo, NY. Michael’s competition experience with regards to Jiu Jitsu is unparalleled in the WNY region. Michael is the head instructor and operator of Lake Effect Martial Arts and has a goal of impacting others lives with Jiu Jitsu the way it has positively impacted his. Michael has spent nearly a decade as a social worker and is actively involved in his community. Michael has additional/prior experience in: boxing, kickboxing, mixed martial arts, wrestling and russian sambo (sport). Michael has experienced international competition success at virtually every belt color and was awarded his black belt in 2015, after nearly 11 years dedicated to the art. Most impmike2ortantly, Michael has a insatiable desire to improve at every opportunity to expand his and his students experiences. Some of Michael’s strongest teaching areas are: competition training, self defense, children’s classes and general classes with a emphasis on conditioning. Michael and his friend Josh Ketry (also a Buffalo area Black Belt in BJJ) with Fight Family started the Buffalo Classic International BJJ tournament. Michael is a certified personal trainer and also holds a strong background in exercise science. Michael attributes much of his success to his supportive wife and is proud to have a son, daughter and wonderful dog to always keep him company.

Lineage: Mitsuyo Maeda > Carlos Gracie > Helio Gracie > Rolls Gracie > Romero “Jacare” Cavalcanti> Michael Katilus


Professor Jarod Koopman

Jarod hails from the Finger Lakes, NY area and is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He began training in 2004 under Kyle Saunders (Saunders BJJ) where he received both his blue belt (2007) and purple belt (2010). In 2012, Jarod took a job opportunity within his career as a Federal Agent that required him to move to multiple cities throughout the US for the past 4 years. In doing so, Jarod lived in Arlington, VA where he trained under UFC Ultimate Fighter winner, Ryan Hall (50/50 BJJ); Chicago, IL where he trained under BJJ competitor Jay Valko (Valko BJJ) and Detroit, MI where he trained under 2nd degree De La Riva Black belt, Scott Zapczinski (Metro Detroit BJJ) where he received his brown belt. Professor Jarod Koopman received his black belt under Professor Fabio Clemente in December of 2017.

Along with BJJ, Jarod is an active fitness enthusiast and a proud husband/father of two – he was a 3x All-American lacrosse player at Nazareth College and has competed in triathlons and crossfit competitions. Jarod is also a current certified Firearms and Defensive Tactics Instructor and a law enforcement officer for the US Government. He is excited to be back in Western NY and looks forward to sharing his diverse experience.


image1(1)Professor DavID Szprygada

Dave is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has been studying the art for the past 8 years. David relocated from Buffalo, NY in 2012 to New York City and trained at the world renown Marcelo Garcia Academy with under instruction from Paul Schreiner, World Champion Bernardo Faria and Marcelo himself, until returning in 2015. Dave has traveled all across the country and often internationally to study and compete and has won championships at every belt level. Along with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, David has been involved in combat sports since 2003, including fights in boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts. David is also a current DCJS certified Defensive Tactics instructor and a Police Officer for New York State.


Joao Moreira

Joao Moreira is a true transplanted Buffalonian. He loves all things Buffalo. He originally hails from Brazil but has lived and traveled all over the world and has settled down in Buffalo for the past 11 years. He comes from a Judo and wrestling background and for the last 5 years has been dedicating most of his spare time to training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He wrestled for Binghamton University at a Division 1 level, is a Judo Black Belt with international competition experience and has won the Empire State Games several times and is a BJJ brown belt. A well rounded grappler, he will certainly help bring an unorthodox and unique style to your game. He loves to eat chicken wings, so if you ever want him to do you a favor, just bring him wings from anywhere!


Richard Lagowski

Born and raised in Western New York, Rick has a purple belt in BJJ. He has been competitive in sports his whole life, playing on various sports teams throughout high school.
With a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, Rick is attentive to details and is always solving problems, which lends itself well to his mindset both on and off the mat. His lanky limbs have also driven him to train in a unique way and use them to his advantage. Ultimately he believes you need to fight smarter, not harder. Rick is honored to be part of the LEMA team and looks forward to furthering his BJJ knowledge.