In three years, Orlando "The Cuban Tree Stump" Sanchez has gone from an introduction in jiu-jitsu to becoming a brown belt and head instructor/owner of the Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu School in Pasadena.
"I am one of the fastest Americans ever to get a brown belt," said Sanchez, who graduated from La Cañada High in 2000. "I am just progressing at such an amazing rate."
The rapid growth is a credit to how important jiu-jitsu has been in Sanchez' life.
"It's been a driving force for really changing people's lives for the better," he said.
That's definitely the case with Sanchez.
Alberto Crane, a former Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion and two-time Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran, introduced him to jiu-jitsu a few years after he graduated from Azusa Pacific University at age 26. Sanchez had always been a competitor, primarily in football at La Cañada High and Azusa Pacific, but lost that competitive fire after college when he got into drugs and alcohol.