Aaron Zaballos is a first degree black belt under Rafael “Formiga” Barbosa. Aaron started his martial arts journey in 2006 by training the first ever developed mixed martial art of Kajukenbo under Guila’s Hawaiian Kajukenbo and Kickboxing in Antioch, CA. After moving back to Santa Cruz, CA in 2008, he then found the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Aaron walked into Batata Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy and fell in love. He began his training with Sandro “Batata” Santiago and Julio Echeverria who built Aaron’s foundation. Aaron continued to train under Batata until he was a purple belt. Entering grad school in 2009 at University of San Francisco and graduated in 2011 with a Masters Degree in Sport Management, Aaron then moved to the East Bay and started to train at Caio Terra Academy (CTA) in San Jose. Training at CTA he crossed paths with many great instructors, however, one professor stood out and connected with him the most. The budding star, Osvaldo “Quiexinho” Moizinho, taught and trained with Aaron, groomed his game and built off his foundation. In 2015, as Queixinho left CTA, Aaron left as well. With the guidance from Queixinho, he introduced Aaron to the Soul Fighters and Formiga, finding his new home for the next five years, training and competing under the Soul Fighters.
Certified coach under California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), Aaron has a deep passion for coaching. Aaron initially thought he was going to follow his father’s steps by coaching basketball but the mat had a deeper calling than the basketball court. He then took that passion and started to focus on teaching and coaching people in Jiu-Jitsu. Aaron opened his first academy in 2012 and in 2015 founded ZMATA in Castro Valley, CA. Aaron continues to teach some of the best young talent in the competition scene and operates one of the top academies in the Bay Area.
Aaron is an IBJJF Master World Champ, Nogi World Champ, Pan Am Champ, Nogi Pan Am Champ, American National Champ, along with several other titles. With some major achievements on the mat his main goal is to continue building the next generation of champions.