Dr. Geoff Balme | 2nd Degree Black Belt

2nd Degree BJJ Black Belt | Dr. Geoff BalmeOur lead instructor, Dr. Geoff Balme PhD is a second degree black belt under Roberto Maia (5th dan of Boston Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Carlos Gracie Jr. and most recently Renzo Gracie). Over the years, he has also trained with many legends in the sport such as Professors Craig Kukuk, Rickson Gracie, Carlos Gracie Jr., Marcio Feitosa, Roberto "Gordo" Correa, and Kenny Florian before Kenny became a UFC legend!

Professor Geoff has been practicing and teaching Brazilian Jiu-jitsu for over twenty years and has trained high-level Pan Am competitors, police, and military, as well as lots of folks who are just looking for a fun pastime that provides exercise.

Dr. Balme has connections to, and has trained most of the major instructors in the area. 

Today Geoff, along with student friends and premier martial arts contemporaries, is extending his martial arts instruction to you through terrific facilities in North Raleigh and Apex, NC.


Jason Jelen | 2nd Degree Black Belt

Jason Jelen

Jason, a 2nd Degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt, began training in BJJ under Renzo Gracie in 2000. He trained several times a day at Renzo’s Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Manhattan, NY using his time between classes as training opportunities while attending design school in Brooklyn.

A year later, Jason moved to California to complete his education. Shortly after settling into life in California, Jason continued his training at Ralph Gracie’s main academy in San Francisco where Kurt Osiander was the head instructor.

After 9 years of training with some of the top names in the Northern CA BJJ scene, Jason moved to North Carolina. In 2017, Jason joined the Apex Martial Arts/Open Guard BJJ team to further his own training and to teach Adult BJJ classes.


Josh Leonard | 1st Degree Black Belt

BJJ Instructor Josh LeonardJosh Leonard started as a wrestler and took his wrestling experience into BJJ tournaments and eventually into the cage, winning the Welterweight Title for the Elite Championship Cage Fighting (ECCF) Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotion.

It was during this time that Josh trained under Professor Rubao Carioca, where he earned his BJJ Black Belt, and eventually his 1st Degree. Josh also trained under Professor Shawn Burton in Concord, NC.

Josh joined the Open Guard BJJ team in November 2017 and now teaches a no-gi class on Monday nights.




Wayne Spinola | Black Belt

BJJ Instructor Wayne SpinolaWayne began his martial arts journey in 1992 under Martial Arts Hall of Fame instructor Sensei Chris Scura. In 1998, he received his Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do from Sensei Scura and went on to win 2 National Free Fight Championships.

Wayne also has Black Belts in American Kempo and Japanese Jiu Jitsu under 7th Degree Black Belt Robert Hansen, and trained in various other martial art disciplines including:

Boxing – with legendary boxing trainer and cut man Al Gavin at Westbury Boxing.

Kickboxing – with 3 time world champion Bobby Campbell at Campbell Kickboxing.

Muay Thai – with Doug Cota at the Evolution Combat Club. Doug is a WMTC certified Muay Thai instructor, a USA Boxing certified coach.

Wayne’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training started with Grand Master (9th Degree Red Belt) Francisco Mansor at Kioto Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Sayville, NY. After reaching the rank of Blue Belt, he moved to train with former UFC World Champion Matt Serra. Wayne achieved his Black Belt in BJJ in 2016 under Professor Geoff Balme at Open Guard BJJ.

For over 10 years, Wayne trained and taught for the Serra BJJ Academy and had the opportunity to train with several world champions including, Matt Serra, Nick Serra, Chris Weidman, Frankie EdgarRenzo Gracie and dozens of current and former UFC fighters.

John Knight | Black Belt

John Knight has been training in martial arts for over 20 years. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Professor Geoff Balme. He is also very skilled in Mixed Martial Arts and Kickboxing.

John works as a sheriff's deputy and he also volunteers for the Police Athletic League in Harnett County, providing BJJ, boxing, and kickboxing classes for children within his community.

John is the lead instructor for our law enforcement training programs.






Mike Heydlauf | Black Belt

Mike is a Royce Gracie brown belt and now a black belt under Professor Geoff Balme. He's been training in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu for over 15 years. He is a lifelong grappler, having started wrestling as a child in pee wee programs in Pennsylvania before becoming a standout high school recruit and then division one college wrestler at Lehigh University.

After college, Mike moved to Boston to start his software development career and to coach high school wrestling in Newton, MA. He moved to North Carolina in 1998 where he met Professor Geoff Balme who started training him in his new grappling passion, Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.

Over the past two decades in North Carolina, Mike has put a lot of time in on the mat. He coached high school wrestling at Broughton and Cary Academy, trained BJJ for 14 years under Royce Gracie 2nd degree black belt Billy Dowey, and most recently under Roberto Maia black belt Neal Weaver before finally reuniting with Geoff to join the team at Apex Martial Arts/Open Guard BJJ.

Don Rodger | Kickboxing

A former United States Marine, Don Rodger is the President of Open Guard BJJ/Apex Martial Arts Center and runs the day-to-day operations. Don also oversees the kickboxing program, and coaches the teen and adult Cardio Kickboxing classes and the Competition Kickboxing team.

Don began his official martial arts journey in 2010, training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with Professor Geoff Balme, Wayne Spinola, and Neal Weaver at the TFTC Academy in Clayton. While at TFTC, Don trained in kickboxing under Neal Weaver and Chad Boykin. Don fell in love with the sport of kickboxing and attended every seminar and clinic he could find. He also took private lessons with some of the area’s most recognized and respected Kickboxing and Muay Thai instructors.

In 2016, Don created Triangle Kickboxing Promotions to give amateur and professional kickboxers a venue to showcase their talent. As the first kickboxing promoter in NC in more than 13 years, Don worked with the NC Boxing Authority (NCBA) to create a uniform set of rules. Don continues to work with the NCBA to refine the rules and regulations for the sport of Kickboxing and Muay Thai in North Carolina. Since his first event in 2016, subsequent shows have tripled in size and now showcase some of the best local and regional athletes.

Don is presently an official with the International Kickboxing Federation (IKF), and was selected as one of two regional judges for the 2017 IKF Worlds in Orlando, Florida. Don is also the regional promoter for IKF Point Kickboxing Tournaments (PKB’s) in the Raleigh-Durham area. Don’s passion and dedication for the sport of kickboxing is evident whether he is teaching a class, cornering fighters, working with the NCBA to improve competition kickboxing rules & regulations, or working with amateur and professional fighters as a matchmaker and kickboxing promoter.


Leon Nelson | Kickboxing

Leon Nelson At a very early age, Leon began training with 10th Degree Black Belt John Izzo of John Izzo Okinawan Karate and Kenpo in Schenectady, NY. He earned a three-stripe brown belt in Kung Fu and Kenpo.

In high school, he trained at Faragon’s Karate and kickboxing in Albany, NY where he studied under World Kickboxing Champion Andy Faragon, a 4th degree black belt in Karate and Kickboxing. Leon traveled back and forth from the State University of Canton where he was attending college to Andy’s gym in Albany where he achieved his 1st degree black belt. He became one of Andy’s top instructors and eventually earned his 2nd degree black belt.

In 2002, Leon moved to North Carolina where he worked with disabled adults and children in Chapel Hill. In 2006, he started a new career as a Holly Springs police office, where he’s also a defensive tactics instructor for his department. Leon is a State and federally certified Defensive Tactics instructor.

Leon continued training in American Kickboxing and is currently a 3rd degree black belt in American Karate and Kickboxing under Sensei John Maynard. He’s also a certified Law Enforcement Offensive Strategic Body Defense instructor under Sensei Maynard.

Leon's passion for the sport of kickboxing is evident the minute you see him teach or talk about the sport.


Robbie Adams | Kickboxing

Robbie started martial arts training in American Karate, and soon after moved to Shotokan Karate. In 1997, he trained in Muay Thai under Scott Francis. He also trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with Greg Thompson, and in 1999, he earned his blue belt in BJJ. Now training under Professor Geoff Balme, Robbie earned his BJJ Purple Belt.

Robbie has competed in Muay Thai, MMA, BJJ, and submission grappling tournaments. He won numerous MMA and Thai Boxing Tournaments and in 2001, he won the Elite Vale Tudo in Virginia, and went on to challenge - and win, the MMA Lightweight Title.

Robbie also trained and competed in San Shou Kickboxing, Knockdown Karate (Kyokushin styles), and Judo. Along the way, he won the Arnolds Kickboxing Gold Medal, a silver in the Open Weight US East Coast Ryukyukan Knockdown tournament, a bronze medal in the US East Coast Sabaki Challenge, and a bronze in the US Nationals Masters Judo Championships, as well as numerous other local titles and tournaments.

Robbie has taught combatives to various Special Forces Units within the US Army. He was a Sheriff Deputy where he studied law enforcement combatives and had many real-world situations in which to apply his training.

Robbie is a Master Kickboxing Instructor under Scott Francis and a Muay Thai, Kickboxing, and Knockdown Karate instructor at Open Guard BJJ.


Mark Cain | Kickboxing

Mark started martial arts with Taekwondo training. He then moved to Nippon Kokusai Karate. In 2010, he started training with 3rd Degree American Kickboxing Black Belt Leon Nelson and Master Kickboxing Instructor Robbie Adams.

In 2017, Mark received his 1st Degree Black Belt in American Kickboxing from Leon Nelson and Robbie Adams.

Mark assists with the teen and adult Kickboxing programs, and runs a brutal Cardio Kickboxing class that is guaranteed to get you fit!


Contact Us

Tel: 919-230-9583
737 Center Street, Apex, NC.

Class Schedule

Kids Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Apex
Mon & Wed: 6:30pm-7:30pm
Sat: 10:00am-11:00am

Adult Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Apex
Mon - Thur: 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Sat Open Mat: 9:00am - 11:00am
Sun: 10:00am-11:00am

Kids Kickboxing in Apex
Mon & Wed: 5:30pm-6:15pm
Sat: 9:00am-10:00am

Teen Kickboxing in Apex
Tue & Thur
(13-17yrs of age): 6:00pm-7:00pm
Sat: 9:00am-10:00am

Level 1 Kickboxing in Apex
Tue & Thu: 7:30pm - 8:30pm

Competition Kickboxing in Apex
Tue & Thu: 6:15pm - 7:30pm

* see full schedule for details & limitations!