Meet The Team


Here at Underground Jiu-Jitsu, our staff is the secret to our student success. We are proud to have a team of highly experienced and dedicated instructors who are passionate about sharing their knowledge and helping our students grow. Each instructor has a rich background in the Jiu-Jitsu industry and is eager to train the next generation of martial artists. Meet the team below!


Professor/Head Coach/Co-Owner
Women's Coach - Assistant Coach
Little Warriors Coach/Kids Assistant Coach
Co-Owner/Strength and Performance Coach

More About Our Instructors

Underground Jiu-Jitsu

Diego Santana Do Espírito Santo

Professor/Head Coach/Co-Owner

Martial arts had always been a big part of Diego’s life. Born in São Paulo, Brazil, he started training in 2003 at the age of 14 in Muay Thai. In 2006 when Diego was 17, he was invited by a friend to do a trial Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class and he fell in love with the sport and the lifestyle, leaving Muay Thai to start his Jiu-Jitsu journey.

In 2008, Diego began his training under Luciano Nucci “Casquinha”, founder of the gym “Alliance Mooca” and accomplished black belt under Ryan Gracie. It was at this time that he dedicated himself fully to the BJJ lifestyle.

Since then, Diego has stuck with his lineage and roots, competing and medaling in the South American Championships, winning international competitions such as American Nationals Championship, Pan American Championships, and many national International Opens through the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF).

In 2019, Diego received his black belt from Casquinha and has since won gold at all IBJJF Championships in the state of Texas, a winning streak in which he has dubbed “Texas Golden”, and has competed in televised and streamed events like KASAI Grappling (1-1) and Fight 2 Win (4-2), both in Gi and No-Gi.

Diego holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of São Paulo, one of the most accredited universities in South America. On the weekends, you’ll find him exercising outdoors or barbecuing with friends and family.

He is a dog lover and also a proud father to his son Leo. While we have different programs and coaches at Underground Jiu-Jitsu, Diego is our head coach and builds all of our curriculums.

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Diego’s Achievenents & Titles

Achievements and Titles:

– IBJJF 2024 Pan American Bronze Medalist – Black Belt
– IBJJF 2024 European Championship Bronze Medalist – Black Belt
– IBJJF 2021 World Master Bronze Medalist – Black Belt
– IBJJF 2021 International Master Silver Medalist – Black Belt
– IBJJF 2019 Pan American Champion – Brown Belt
– IBJJF 2019 American Nationals Double Gold(Weight and Open Class) – Brown Belt
– 2x IBJJF South American Championship Medalist – Purple Belt and Brown Belt
– IBJJF 2021 Oklahoma Open Double Gold Champion – Black Belt
– 6x IBJJF Dallas Open Champion – Black Belt and Brown Belt
– 2x IBJJF Austin Open Champion – Black Belt
– 4x – IBJJF Houston Open Champion – Black Belt
– IBJJF San Antonio Open Champion – Black Belt
– IBJJF Waco Open Champion – Black Belt
– IBJJF New Orleans Open Champion – Black Belt
– IBJJF Sao Paulo Open Champion – Brown Belt
– 2x IBJJF Curitiba Open Champion – Purple Belt and Brown Belt
– UAEJJF Brasilia Pro International Champion – Brown Belt
– UAEJJF South America Continental Bronze Medalist – Brown Belt
– IBJJF Sao Paulo BJJ PRO Bronze Medalist – Brown Belt
– IBJJF Rio BJJ PRO Bronze Medalist – Brown Belt
– IBJJF Sao Paulo Open Bronze Medalist – Purple Belt
– ACBJJ Berkut South American Bronze Medalist – Brown Belt

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Sydney Yao

Women’s Coach

Sydney started her training in 2018. A Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym had opened down the road from her workplace and a co-worker dragged her over during their lunch break to give a trial class a try. Almost immediately, she fell in love and signed up that day.

Prior to that, Sydney had done a bit of ballet, a bit of figure skating, piano, violin, and whatever else parents usually sign their kids up for. In 2016, she started Cross-Fit but didn’t really get into fitness until that first Jiu-Jitsu class.

Today, she holds the rank of Purple Belt in Jiu-Jitsu and in just 3 years, transformed her life into one that revolves around fitness, strength and conditioning, and healthy eating. She competes regularly in local Jiu-Jitsu competitions and trains alongside her husband, Diego. She is currently the coach for the Women’s Only classes offered at Underground Jiu-Jitsu and focuses on building a safe training environment for women to learn self-defense, fitness, and community-building.

Sydney received her Undergraduate Degree in Business Administration and Marketing from the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), and works as a Budget Analyst in local government.

She is also the proud mother to her and Diego’s baby boy, Leo.

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Courtney Duva

Little Warriors Coach/Kids Assistant Coach

My jiu-jitsu journey began when a friend invited me to come try out jiu-jitsu, which had enriched her life, and she hoped would do the same for me. I instantly fell in love with both the martial art, the culture and most importantly the people, and is where I met Coach Diego and his future wife Sydney who was a white belt at the time.  

I received my Blue Belt under Coach Diego in 2019, but unfortunately life got in the way, and needed to take a step back from training for personal reasons. Fast forward to 2022, Coach Diego reached out to invite me to his new school, Underground Jiu-Jitsu, and I am forever thankful he did. 

Most recently I was promoted and received my Purple Belt under Coach Diego, and I have taken the amazing opportunity to be an assistant coach for the Kids Jiu-Jitsu classes (7-12 years old) and the primary coach for the Little Warriors class (4-6 years old); these kids have literally ‘rolled’ themselves into my heart. 

Outside of Jiu-Jitsu: 
  • Master Hairstylist (14 years)
  • Dread Technician
  • Certified Yoga Instructor (200 hrs): currently working on my 300 hr certification on the road to 500 hr Y.T.
  • Reiki Master
  • Advanced Crystal Master
  • Artist
  • Violinist
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Steve Trentham

Co-Owner/Strength and Performance Coach

Affectionately known as ‘Coach’, Steve is the co-founder of Underground Jiu-Jitsu, and works behind the scenes to keep everything moving smoothly and you will mainly see him behind the desk when you walk in.

Steve handles the day-to-day operations of Underground Jiu-Jitsu including sales, marketing, administration, and is the main point of contact for both students and parents.

As the Head Coach and Owner of Underground Strength and Performance, formally Dallas Underground Strength and Fitness, Steve trains athletes to improve their strength and aerobic fitness to be their best come game day. He routinely speaks to groups and companies how adopting a fitness based lifestyle will not only improve their productivity at the workplace, but will improve their personal lifestyle with family and friends as well, and has presented at conferences including the IDEA & ACSM Health and Fitness Summit, Fitness Revolution and NSCA. He spent 16 years as a wrestler and trained in a variety of martial art styles including Taekwondo, Shotokan Karate, and Krav Maga to name a few.

Outside of being at the school, you generally will find Steve spending time listening to music from the greatest decade of all, the 80’s of course, spending time and cooking with his wife Christina, or outside on his bike getting miles improving his aerobic fitness.

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About Our


In addition to their technical expertise, our instructors are also excellent teachers who know how to create a supportive and challenging learning environment. They understand that every student is unique and tailor their approach to meet the needs of each individual.

Our instructors also prioritize safety, ensuring that all students learn and practice techniques in a safe and controlled manner. They are committed to helping our students build strong foundations in Jiu-Jitsu, and are always available to answer questions and provide feedback.

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Not at all! Jiu-Jitsu is safe, fun, and an effective workout for all ages. Techniques can be modified to better accommodate any injuries or chronic pain you may have. Full on sparring at our gym is typically not done until the student has more experience and technique under their belt. Communication is key. Let your instructor know what you are and aren’t comfortable doing and what may be within your limitations. Did you know that one of the founders, Helio Gracie, trained until his passing at 95 years old?

No. Jiu-Jitsu is great for fitness and we can help you reach your goals. Whether it be for weight loss, endurance training, or mental conditioning, we will assess your current fitness levels and with time, get you where you need to be. If you start to feel tired during warmups, you can always slow down. If you feel gassed during sparring or specific training, let our instructors know and you are more than welcome to rest a round. We have had several students lose more than 25 lbs within their first two months of training while going at a level they are comfortable with.

On Gi days, please wear your gi. It can be an Underground Jiu- Jitsu gi or one that you’ve purchased from a gi retailer. The only thing we ask is that you not wear another gym’s patch on your gi and if possible, please keep gi colors limited to white, black and blue (as funny as it would be, we don’t want to see anyone consistently training in a tie-dye gi). On No-Gi days, we do require sweat absorbent shorts/spats that don’t have pockets and a form-fitting rash guard. Please no loose fitting t-shirts. We do not want people’s fingers and toes getting caught.

We will usually start with a simple warm up. Some days, warm ups will be more “traditional” where we will focus on fundamental movements like front rolling, back rolling, hip escapes, etc. Other days, we will just do a lighter warm up. Next, we usually go straight into teaching a technique or a speed drill. After our instructors show the move, we will usually have students drill it for around 15 minutes. After that, our coaches will usually show a second technique or a variation to the first, followed by another 15 minutes of drilling. Lastly, we will have students do specific training (a lighter and more controlled version of sparring) in the Beginners Class and full on sparring in the Advanced Class. After the class is over, students are free to socialize, drill, spar, or ask our instructors any questions they may have about techniques. For the Kids Class, we have much of the same things, except we will also add in games that help with balance and coordination.

Absolutely! Jiu-Jitsu is about the art of using technique and leverage against a bigger opponent. This is a great form of self-defense for women. We have a Women’s Only class available Tuesdays and Thursdays but if you want to train in our co-ed Beginners Classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but don’t feel comfortable training with a member of the opposite sex, please communicate that with our coaches. We usually have other women training in our co-ed classes as well.

There are only five belt levels for adults in Jiu-Jitsu: White, Blue, Purple, Brown, and Black. There are fewer colors than other martial art programs and because of the nature and extensive knowledge that is needed in Jiu-Jitsu, you may spend more years at one belt level than at another. It can take anywhere between 10 to 12 years going from a white belt to a black belt, and that is with frequent training with no long breaks in between. We recommend not focusing too much on your belt color and instead, focus on training, learning the techniques as best you can, working towards your personal goals, and most importantly, having fun.

First and foremost, Jiu-Jitsu is used as a form of self-defense. Second, Jiu-Jitsu helps build confidence. We discourage any of our kids to go looking for fights. Instead, we teach them how to de-escalate a hostile situation, build up their confidence so that they may stand up to bullies and if needed, learn how to defend themselves if a bully were to get physical with them. Fortunately, we have been able to help many of the kids in our classes stop and prevent bullying through de-escalation tactics alone.

Most of our membership plans do not limit the amount of classes that you can train. If you are a beginner and you see that there are three “All-Levels” classes for that day, you are more than welcome to train all three. We typically limit beginners to start training in our Advanced Classes once they’ve earned their first two stripes, unless otherwise invited by our head coach. Advanced students are also allowed to train in any of the All Levels classes.

Kids under 13 will usually stick with the Kids Classes. There are times when our head instructor will make exceptions and invite them to train with the adults, such as when a child ends up being much bigger than the other children or if the child is showing exceptional skills and advancement. Of course, this will be something that will be discussed with the parent first.

For both adults and children, we recommend training at least 3 times a week to really get the most out of our lessons and to be able to retain the techniques.

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Get Started Today

Are you looking for a Women’s Program, growing Kids Jiu-Jitsu program, or anything in between? Underground Jiu-Jitsu invites nearby communities including Richardson, Garland, and Wylie to join us in Downtown Plano today!

Class Schedule!

Stay up to date on class times! Contact us if you have any questions about our classes.