Michael Akitoshi Stinson


Full Name Michael Stinson
Nick Name Akitoshi
Class Lightweight
Weight 165lbs
Rank Blue Belt
Height 5'10"
Association Stephen K. Hayes Quest Center Gracie Certified Training Center


Michael has been involved with the Martial Arts for more than 24 years. He is a 4th degree black belt in the art of To-Shin Do, a blue belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu and a purple belt in Gustavo Dantes Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Michael opened Quest Martial Arts in 2002 where he began teaching the art of To-Shin Do. Michael began pursuing his studies in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 2008, and soon after discovered the Gracie Combatives program being offered via DVD in 2009. After several years of working with the DVDs, training at the Gracie Scottsdale Academy and taking frequent private lessons with a local Gustavo Dantes black belt, Michael decided it was time to take his relationship with Gracie Jiu-Jitsu to the next level.

Michael attended the Instructor Certification Program in July 2014 and soon after launched the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Chandler Certified Training Center. Michael has a passion for helping others achieve their highest potential and for seeking out truth in all things


Q&A Session Between Michael Stinson and Elite Sports

Question: Who inspires you, past or present? Why do they inspire you?

Answer: Every person brave enough to step through the door of a dojo and onto the mats. I am inspired everytime I get to put a new white belt on a student. My wife inspires me everyday to be a better person. My kids inspire me to be a better father. The bad people of the world inspire me to be a better person. My students continually inspire me to get better so I can keep up with them

Question: What are your goals for this year? Next 3 years? Next 5 years?

Answer: Pretty cliche, but simply to continue to learn and improve. I would like to I would like to match my Gracie rank with my Gustavo Dantes relatively soon, but its not really a huge deal to me. The color belt around my waist is fun, but doesn't really change what I know or can do. I would definitely like to hit black belt but I won't put a timeframe around it. I also want to get my Jiu-jitsu program for both adults and kids at least doubled in size this year!

Question: Any major accomplishments you’ve been able to achieve in that time?

I have achieved a purple belt under Gary Matsch who is a student of Gustavo Dantes, a blue belt with the Gracie Academy and I completed the Gracie Certified Instructor training program.

Question: What inspires you about BJJ?

Answer: The vastness of it all. Everytime I think I understand something, someone comes along with a new way to do it, break it, counter it, etc. I don't believe its possible to ever learn everything. You can go as long as you want and keep growing and learning. I love puzzles and BJJ is a constant puzzle. Nothing to me is cooler than when you get 'that flow' and something just happens. It's such an amazing experience its worth all the struggling, tapping and getting smashed

Question: What sort of gear do you usually keep in your gym bag before hitting the gym? Do you have different items for specific days

Answer: I own the dojo so I dont really carry much around but a clean Bjj uniform. If I am visiting someone else unless there are specific tool requirements I normally just bring mouth guard, BJJ belt, gloves and Jiu Jitsu uniform

Question: How long have you been training?

Answer: I have been training in Japanese Jujutsu for 24 years and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for about 7 or 8 depending on if you count the year or so I spent training in the 10th Planet system.

Question: How often do you train?

Answer: Just about everyday in some fashion. I am either doing private lessons with my students, jumping in during our basics class or training with our advanced class. I also do private lessons with a local black belt, attend as many seminars as I can and head out to Torrance several times a year to train at the Torrance Gracie Academy. Just recently all of the local Certified Instructors have also been getting together once a week here in Phoenix to train, exchange ideas and just hang out.

Question: Do you have a go-to finishing move?

Answer: I really try to avoid having favorite 'moves'. My view of jiu-jitsu is that it is really about the principles of movement. Whenever I search for techniques I miss them. If I just roll and move without too much intent things will appear. I don't always catch them of course, but I notice them more frequently. If I do find myself doing the same thing too often I deliberately try to avoid it for a while.

Question: What do you think it takes to be a champion in your sports?

Answer: I don't think I can really answer this question as I am not into the sports side of Jiu-Jitsu. I think its very cool, but my own journey started off with a need for self-defense and really hasn't left that. To be successful overall though I would say consistency and patience. I am also a huge proponent of drilling. I believe in the concept of, "Don't be the guy that drills it once or twice and waits for the instructor to show the next thing. Be the guy that drills it until the instructor makes you stop to show the next thing."