KGUN 9NewsCommunity Inspired JournalismSouthside News


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Coach shares his story that brought him back to his Southside community

Eyrie Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu owner Phillip Aguilar shares why he wanted to make his mark on the southside
Eyrie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Posted at 8:37 AM, Mar 14, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-14 12:14:59-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The jiu-jitsu community is strong in Tucson, with a few gyms available in any given part of town.

In Phillip Aguilar's experience, that wasn’t always the case. He’s a jiu-jitsu coach and owns the Eyrie Brazilian jiu-jitsu gym. He started doing jiu-jitsu at the age of 19, and never stopped. Growing up on the Southside, it was difficult to chase his passion.

“When I first started jiu-jitsu, there were maybe three schools in town. They were either in Midtown, or Eastside, or on the Northside, so my goal was when I'm established, I'd have to open up a gym on the south side to give back,” said Aguilar.

His work was focused on providing an outlet and opportunity for Southside kids, but his gym grew quickly. Now, his Eyrie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gym serves families that drive from all parts of Tucson.

“He is wonderful with the kids, he has inspired a lot of kids, especially on this side of town who didn’t know what jiu-jitsu was. Muay Thai, boxing, anything of the sort, so he’s built a great community here, it’s fun, it’s a home away from home and I never want to leave it,” said gym member Rachel Hoffman.

Many gym members spoke to their commitment to going to this gym specifically.

“We pass three other gyms and we love it here and we’ve been here almost three years now,” said Marla Frost-Alperstein, a mom to two gym members.

One of those members is AJ Frost-Alperstein. She shared her dedication to jiu-jitsu and her school work, and how Phillip Aguilar always encourages her and others to succeed in both.

“If you're doing good in school, he wants to know about it. he wants to congratulate you, he wants to make sure you know that this kid is a really great student and is doing good in school, but also in jiu-jitsu,” she said.

If that’s not the case, Aguilar makes sure the students know his expectations when it comes to being able to practice jiu-jitsu.

“If you’re not getting it done at school, you’re not getting it done at home, you can’t come to jiu-jitsu. And they love to come to jiu-jitsu, and I love that they love to come to jiu-jitsu, but you gotta get those things done first,” said Aguilar.

The Eyrie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gym is located at 918 W. Irvington Rd. For more information, visit

Reyna Preciado is a reporter for KGUN 9, she joined the KGUN 9 team in July of 2022 after graduating Arizona State University. Share your story ideas with Reyna by emailing or by connecting on Instagram, or Twitter.