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Local veteran couple launches Virtus Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy 

The new studio features sub-floored regulation competition mats.

Grand opening celebration slated for July 22

– Retired sergeants Eric and Melanie Franco, a local veteran couple, have launched Virtus, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy designed to “create a community for the entire family.” The 3,400-square-foot academy is located in the Lowe’s and TJ Maxx shopping center at 2421 Golden Hill Road in Paso Robles.

The certified coaching staff, led by Professor Eric Franco and his wife Melanie, has many years of experience in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and martial arts. Many of them bring the wisdom and experience of military and law enforcement backgrounds and all are certified in CPR, First Aid and have completed background checks.

Eric Franco began his martial arts journey over 15 years ago in the military, ultimately earning his black belt through Gracie Barra.

“Virtus means ‘virtue’ in Latin. For the Francos and their team, virtue represents a host of qualities, including valor, excellence, courage, character, worth, honor, and humility. These are our core principles, which will be incorporated into our training with the goal of creating a solid foundation for the whole person through the medium of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.” said Eric Franco, owner and lead instructor.

“These core tenets are our building blocks and training is their expression. The end goal for our students – both kids and adults – is for them to become a resilient person who is ready to face the challenges of life.”

Creating this community for their hometown of Paso Robles was a natural next step for Melanie and Eric, they say. “We truly love this community and are so honored to be a part of it. Our vision for ‘Next Level’ Jiu-Jitsu is a way to help shape how we contribute to the world and help one another, our neighbors and our world,” said coach Melanie Franco, co-owner and instructor.

“Virtus BJJ Academy goes way beyond the traditional martial art of Jiu-Jitsu. It is much more than just training, or mats, it is a way of life. We work as a community to support one another, and focusing on ‘next level’ jiu-jitsu allows us to create a healthy lifestyle and a family-centric community.”

Designed for a new beginner all the way up to the most serious Jiu-jitsu competitor, Virtus BJJ Academy is designed for all ages and stages of life.

“The immense talents of our competition students combined with our training methodology and coaching expertise has provided a platform for our students to compete and receive high accolades and success against the best,” said Eric Franco. “This, combined with our goal of creating a community for all ages and stages, is what makes Virtus much more than just a training facility. It is a true community built on a foundation of respect and ethics.”

Virtus welcomes the public to its grand opening on July 22. Intro classes, raffles, and refreshments from Off the 46 and Cal Coast will be available. To reserve a spot in the intro classes for either kids or adults, call (805) 244-5566.



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