MMA through the eyes of Birchak

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Birchak motivating his class.

Unlike going to your traditional gym where you work out with weights and machines and run on treadmills, you can get a full-body workout learning new self-defense techniques and body-movement skills practicing jiujitsu.

Located at 4765 E. Speedway Blvd., 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu is home to many practitioners who want to keep evolving and challenge themselves through this martial art.

The gym offers discounts to University of Arizona and Pima Community College student first responders, as well as active-duty military and veterans. With access to over 100 gyms worldwide, there is unlimited training in jiujitsu, wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, MMA, strength and conditioning, and nutrition plans.

10th Planet Jiu Jitsu is owned and operated by American mixed martial artist Anthony Birchak, who has competed for the UFC, Rizin FF, Bellator MMA and MFC.

“We opened up after my final fight in the UFC and used that big victory as momentum in its launch,” Birchak said. “We officially opened up our doors three years ago in August 2016 with my partner, head coach and black belt, Casey Halstead. 

“With 10th Planet Tucson, we’re all in this together, gathering together to enjoy the sport of jiujitsu, learning self defense, getting fit and healthy and all with an easy going vibe that is inclusive and not elitist like some other gyms that might come off to newcomers.”

Instead of wearing a traditional Brazilian jiujitsu gi, the 10th Planet system, created by fifth-degree black belt Eddie Bravo, focuses on the advantages of training without a gi to implement as many techniques possible in mixed martial arts competitions. The system is to help prepare developing students for submission-only grappling rather than point-based fighting.

10th Planet Jiu Jitsu also sells CBD roll-on products by Elixicure, proteins and supplements by Onnit and official fight shorts from Birchak’s past fights.

Born and raised in Southern Arizona, Birchak was a wrestler who graduated from Sahuarita High School in 2004.

“I started at Pima CC,” he said. “Then I finished my year there and got a scholarship in Iowa at William Penn University, spent a semester there and then came back to Pima CC where I received another scholarship to GCU and finished my career out there until I had my first son.”

Aside from learning self defense and getting a workout, 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu is a great place to meet people. Part of what makes jiujitsu practitioners so easy to talk to is that they work out a lot of stress and they’re constantly being humbled on the mat, which keeps their egos in check.

Life’s stressful at times with school, work, bills and family. Training in jiujitsu can help alleviate stress by burning away that negative energy, feeling positive and clearing your mind.

At times, the struggle in jiujitsu will be painful, but the satisfaction and personal growth that one will achieve from overcoming it is rewarding and can help open eyes to new challenges in life.

Practicing something new can really test people’s comfort zones. It almost guarantees a struggle for a certain amount of time, but with top level coaching from athletes like Birchak and Halstead, improvements and growth are bound to happen sooner than later. 

Birchak won his most recent fight via TKO in round number one and currently holds an MMA record of 14-6. He has plans on fighting again in the near future.

“I actually had two offers sent to me,” he said. “One for May 11, in Idaho and the other is June 7, here in Tucson at Casino Del Sol for a major organization with TV air time.” 


10th Planet Jiu Jitsu is great for anyone interested in trying out something new, learning self defense, meeting new people and testing your comfort zone, which is all part of building self confidence.


Birchak works on a kimura as he drills submissions with his student Rich Galvan at 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu.

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