Gracie United Team Jucao St. John

Instructor Joey Girard

CPR Certified
Founded Gracie United-Team Jucáo St. John and lead Instructor

I was born and raised in LaPlace, La and made my home on the north shore for the past 19 years.

In September 2014, my sons Justin and Joey Girard started training under Black Belt World Champion Rafael Ellwanger.

I started training different styles of martial arts from the age of 4 till the age of 15. I held on to the regret of quitting for many years. I have had a love for MMA and Jiu-jitsu, especially after watching the first 2 UFCs. We finally were able to see what truly works in a fight.

One day, Professor Rodney Gemar asked me why I did not train in the adult class. It was like the invitation I had been waiting for all these years to give me the ability to cover that regret with pride and knowledge.

Shortly after bringing my sons to their first Jiu-jitsu competition, I started to form ideas and dreams of owning my gym. I wanted to help others find the passion and pride my sons gained from competing. These are the accomplishments that gave them confidence for their future.

I'm married with 4 kids and my whole family trains Jiu-jitsu and they have all brought home medals.

My youngest, Jemma Girard, started training in Aug 2016 for the first three-year-old class at GU headquarters. She was literally beside the mats watching her brothers for 2 years, yearning to get on the mats. My family and I were in the gym for 3 or more hours a night, a minimum of 4 days a week. We were all hooked.

My wife Christina started training in May 2017 and now has come back to continue her journey in Jiu-jitsu. My oldest daughter, Maddie Jane, started training seriously in 2022, but she truly grew up around the gym in the GU family.

Now I have come back to LaPlace to share the love I have for Jiu-jitsu with the River Parishes. My dream of creating a safe atmosphere of learning where you can still be pushed further than you ever thought you could. Turn your losses into gains and become the best version of you you can be.

Coach Tom Boesen

Founded Gracie United-Team Jucáo St. John, and lead coach.
  • Purple belt under Professor Rafael Elwanger
  • Two time IBJJF World Masters Champion (2019, 2021)
  • IBJJF European Champion
  • IBJJF Pan Jiu-jitsu Champion
  • Collegiate and high school wrestler


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1720 Carrollwood Dr, Suite A
Laplace, LA 70068