Mountain Lion Academy is dedicated to representing the Jiu Jitsu handed down to us from Expert 4th Degree Black Belt Master Dustin”Clean” Denes.

Our MAIN MISSION is to prepare and educate our students through Jiu Jitsu. To teach them to to survive and capitalize against any and all adversity. We will make sure you receive the absolute best knowledge which has been passed down through a pure bloodline of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Come and train hard!! Learn the CHAMPIONS MINDSET, and make Jiu Jitsu a lifestyle, for a lifetime.

After Three years in the White Belt I received my Blue Belt in August  2014, and my Purple Belt in September 2019. I feel it is extremely important for me to be pure Chop Certified from White Belt to Black Belt, and beyond. Earning rank the old school way under Brazilian Jujitsu Legend Master Dustin “Clean” Denes

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_7448.jpg

My main purpose now is to build a team of Champions at Mountain Lion Academy through teaching Jiu Jitsu, and sharing all the things that I have learned through my journeys in life, and specifically via Jiu Jitsu Chop with our students. The lesson here is to Surround yourself with Champions!!!. No one gets there alone. Being part of a Team that strives for excellence is a powerful place for you to be, to become the best you can be.


In 1997 I was a roommate of Dustin Denes while in college . He had just started his journey in Jiu Jitsu at the time, but that didn’t matter he was a force of nature, and huge positive influence. When I was around him there was Zero non productivity, and every second of everyday was spent chasing excellence. Dustin was 1000% dedicated to becoming a world champion in Jiu Jitsu on day one . He would frequently travel several hours one way to Miami to train with the top Instructors . Then he’d return home to our living room Dojo with the latest, and most devastating techniques.  This was my very first taste of drilling , and being submitted by the true power of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He held me up to the highest standard whether it was early morning , or the midnight hours there were intense technique sessions that had to be fulfilled. We spent over a solid year under this kind of regimen, and this was the best foundation which set a future standard for me to follow . Cleans style of Jiu Jitsu was then, and is now the way and the truth.

Warriors Run

One early morning we headed out into the street in front of our house and took off on what was to be to this day an Epic run that only true gifted runners could pull off. The first five or six miles we paced at a sub six minute thirty second per mile pace. I do recall we were running through a pretty tough neighborhood that eventually led us into college town, and straight  into the football Stadium at Florida State University. Again, we hadn’t planned that it just unfolded naturally. Once inside, we attacked a huge amount of the bleachers top to bottom which in itself was high level near impossible for most considering the insane pace of the several miles we spent getting there. I remember leaving the stadium thinking where do we go now? It didn’t matter we were just heavy into the zone , no compass needed, just keep the engine fired up and keep moving, and we did. We continued on for another five or six miles still cruising at something like a seven and a half min per mile pace. This took us to the final upward grueling hill which led us to the last mile of the run. I remember some laughing between us as we realized how hardcore this run was, and how it was getting very tough to maintain the pace, and our composure. Obviously this last part back to the house is gonna be harder than what we had already done. Let me tell you when your body stops functioning, a mile is an epic journey in itself. Then Dustin pulled ahead, and I lost sight of him. I began to walk and run in spurts anything to keep moving, and even though my legs and body were starting to shut down I knew I would finish. Running hard side by side with Dustin “WARRIOR STYLE” remains a stellar memory for us both to this day.

The Military Edge

I bring huge life experience as an Instructor. Becoming A United States Infantry Paratrooper with The 82nd Airborne Division was an extremely difficult physical, and mental task to achieve. Trust me when you jump into the darkness out of a massive military aircraft fully armed wearing a hundred pounds of equipment with an elite team of soldiers you develop specialized skills on how to defeat the enemy, survive, and keep those around you safe . I will use this knowledge to condition our students minds and bodies in order to achieve a NEVER SAY DIE ATTITUDE.

Infantry Paratrooper 4/325 Gold Falcons 82nd Airborne Division


I was jumping into FT. Drum New York from Fort.Bragg N.C. out of the belly of a giant C141-Starlifter. Our mission was to execute a parachute landing then attack and defeat the 10th Mountain Division in a show of our capabilities. We were Paratroopers and they were Legs (legs are non airborne soldiers) we are highly trained as paratroopers, and are expected to out fight them.

We were at at 1,500′, and moving at 150 Mph through the pitch black of the early morning. We stood up, shuffled to the door and with green light on we jumped. Now usually when you exit the aircraft your main parachute deploys after a four count, then you look up and check your canopy making sure its fully open. The next step is to think about the landing by untying and releasing your weapons case, and seventy pound rucksack by pulling two quick release straps, and pushing them both down a 15ft chord which dangles below your body while descending. This is imperative, so you don’t land violently with all that gear still attached to your body. Most importantly you’ll know by hearing when your gear hits the ground that your 15ft. away from landing. That’s how a standard successful jump unfolds.

However that’s not how it went for me that night!. I exited into high winds which caused me to push my door exit extra hard. I ended up jumping out past the wind barrier arm causing my body to start somersaulting into the dark at 1500 ft, so when my parachute deployed I was Inverted. My weapons case and rucksack were now sitting on my face and chest permanently for the entire descent. It was then that panic set in it’s very confusing descending with you’re feet trapped up in the parachute cord above which holds you to the canopy. I could see my canopy was deployed, but my rate of descent was really fast, and I was oscillating because I could not control my left and right risers which is vital to control body position for the landing. Most soldiers would have lost their composure and made noise at this point, but my Captain gave the order for total silence on the drop, so that’s what I did. I landed upside down head first barely avoiding breaking my neck because I never could get my equipment free there was no 15′ notice of where the ground was, so the landing came without warning. Surviving the landing I freed myself from my entangled rig, and dawned my weapon quickly. Then I felt someone quickly low walking towards my position it was an Airborne Major. He had watched my descent, and saw me barrel in the last two hundred feet landing on my head. He grabbed my harness pulled me close and whispered ” Absolutely outstanding Airborne you kept serious DISCIPLINE and maintained silence, and did not jeopardize the mission ” in actual combat making noise like that could very well get your team killed.

Warning!!! You Are Now Entering Airborne Country Stand Tall link here!!!

The point of sharing this memory is that when I was confronted with great pressure and danger I trusted in the DISCIPLINE from my training, and it never failed me. Its the same in Jiu Jitsu when you find yourself out powered and under pressure you must remain calm, and keep the DISCIPLINE, and NEVER SAY DIE while searching for the techniques taught to you by your instructor in order to survive. Trust me it will never fail you.

Airborne Operations

The Apache Spirit Runs Deep for Paratroopers

I was so fortunate within my platoon to be brothers with two of the finest Warriors I’ve ever encountered. They were Apache from the Kiowa Tribe who were Legendary runners, and carried a reputation for fierceness, resourcefulness, and an almost super human stamina.

Apache Warriors could run up to 70 miles in a single day

Our unit honored them because many of our tactics for soldiering, and training methods came from them. I was extremely lucky to be in the same squad with them, and learn from them how the Apache trained for running. They could smoke everyone in our unit on the runs. Everyone but me that is , and because I could hang with them they were very curious about me. It is a one of a kind feeling to run as a third with the both of them an almost mystical experience that made me feel validated. I had spent my early childhood running free on the battlefields of the civil war, as early as twelve years old began competitions in cross country, and at 15 through 17 yrs old I set, and held two State records in Virginia for track and field. I was nineteen as a U.S. Paratrooper, and in my prime. I could run like a Gazelle. On multiple occasions I was named the best runner in the Company, but that all changed when the Apache Duo showed up. They were Majestic. I was so honored that after I proved my abilities to them they took me in like a brother, and taught me some specific Apache techniques which I still utilize to this day.


It all adds up to the present as I continue to strive for excellence, and bring my skills which I derived from these unique experiences to utilize as an Instructor. Mountain Lion Jiu Jitsu Honors our Native American culture, and I am ever grateful as I continue to learn from them about nature, and the spirit world around me.

Body Guard

It’s performing ones duty under pressure situations that develops Excellence. I was Personal Body Guard for A list Actor Laurence Fishburne. This experience proved I possessed the ability to execute decisions from instinct, and to foresee potential threats, and assets while conducting myself at the highest level of professionalism. I will use this knowledge to give our students THE WINNING EDGE

Me with Director Jason Cabell and Laurence Fishburne

There was only one choice for personal security for Laurence Fishburne while shooting the film RUNNING WITH THE DEVIL”. Mike Kirby is a consummate professional and a true warrior. He is a wonderful collaborative talent that is a joy to be around. Anything Mike is involved with will be a great success. I’m honored and humbled to call him a friend.”

JASON CABELL, Hollywood Writer/Director and retired Navy SEAL TEAM

Body Guard for Laurence Fishburne

The Golden Interview

In late 2018 I received a phone call from an Agent who was representing a very well known Hollywood Actor. He requested me to come down to the Andaluz Hotel in Albuquerque. There was a specialized position he felt I might have the potential skill set to fill based on a reference he received from a local movie industry source.

Greg the interviewer fired off the first question . “ Mike what is it that you do?” I replied “I WIN GOLD Medals Sir” it just came flying out of the Chop Certified vault! He looked at me and asked in what way?. I replied “ In Life Sir, in everything I attempt I strive to win the Gold. Being first counts second place doesn’t count. Greg if you melt those Silver and Bronze medals down you’ll get spoons and pennies right, and you cant do a dam thing with that. Only the Gold counts because it melts down to something you can truly count on”. I paused for a moment then continued.” I believe in life it’s  what you do when no one is watching that makes the difference. It’s the Day in day out sacrifices you make to achieve the things that are truly important that makes you who you are”. Inside my head I was a little nervous I had just gone against the normal grain, and answered him with some riddles that were embedded in my mind from constantly watching videos made by my Jiu-jistu Master. I didn’t know if he would end it there , or find my answers worthy to continue. He then leaned back in his chair with hands behind his head and said “ I love it man! That’s the most creative answer I’ve heard all day, Then we spoke  about my  past Military experience, Martial arts , my family history, etc… He was impressed I had the right pedigree to fill the slot, but I could tell it was the first answer the Gold medal story that had captivated his interest. Right then he said “Welcome aboard Mike your being hired as Personal bodyguard for A list Actor Laurence Fishburne, welcome to the team”.   I excelled at the job, and established a professional connection with Laurence Fishburne, and Director Jason Cabell which will undoubtedly open future doors to success.



Retan Rifles preparing for Battle

They say that winning is a mindset, and if its developed early on it can set a winning standard for life . For me it happened at age 15 when I was accepted to the top Military Academy in the United States, and earned my position on a very famous Drill Team. Out of five hundred cadets only twenty would be considered to represent the Academy at performances and competitions around the country. We performed for the President at the White house, and competed against the Old guard, and The Marine Silent Drill Team as well as other top Military Academy’s. We were the Retan Rifles, and for three years straight we won every competition we entered. Most called us the greatest Team in the Academy’s one hundred and twenty one year history. We used the real thing the Springfield 03A3 Bolt action Rifle with and without fixed bayonet. We were Master of Military Drill and Elite Spinning trained by Sgt. Major Hunt who was the leader of our unit. He was the real deal a Green Beret from 7th Group Special Forces Ft.Bragg N.C. who dedicated years to developing this special unit of cadets. We were set apart from the rest of the cadet core we lived in separate quarters, and had to train athletics in the form of long runs, calisthenics, and martial arts five days a week. We also spent 2-4 hours per day with our rifles drilling, and developing routines to be used in competitions. These rifles weighed 12 pounds, and we were required to throw them vertically four or five revolutions above our heads, then catch them in a locked position while maintaining a perfect Military posture. It took extreme hand, arm, and body strength to handle them in this way.

The Springfield 03A3

Precision, Timing, Coordination, always giving attention to detail, always gunning to beat the competition. This is why I have achieved, and continue to achieve great things because it’s in my blood programmed from an early age. My goal now is to build a team of Champions at Mountain Lion Academy through teaching Jiu Jitsu, and sharing all the things that I have learned.

The main lesson here is to Surround yourself with Champions!!!. No one gets there alone. Being part of a Team that strives for excellence is a powerful place for you to be, to become the best you can be.

Mission Accomplished Total Victory