About Us

Adult Jiu Jitsu


Welcome to Southern Soul Academy, your premier destination for Navarre Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) training and so much more. As a family-focused gym, we pride ourselves on creating a supportive and inclusive environment for practitioners of all ages and skill levels.

At Southern Soul Academy, we are guided by experienced instructors who are deeply passionate about BJJ. With their expertise and dedication, you can trust that you’ll receive top-notch coaching and guidance to help you achieve your goals, whether it be improving your skills or advancing through ranks.

But more than just a place to train, we are a close-knit community that values connection and camaraderie. We prioritize fostering meaningful relationships, encouraging teamwork, and uplifting one another through every step of our martial arts journey. From the first day you step onto our mats, you’ll instantly feel a sense of belonging and support from our extended family.

Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or taking your first steps into the world of Navarre Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Southern Soul Academy is here to support you every step of the way. Join our Navarre Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community today and embark on an empowering and transformative journey with us. Together, we’ll achieve greatness on and off the mats. Begin your journey today.

Our History

Our journey began as a group of dedicated veterans, united by our unwavering love for Jiu Jitsu. In May of 2023, we took a leap of faith and founded Southern Soul Academy, driven by a shared vision to make a positive impact on our community. We recognized the transformative power of Jiu Jitsu, not just as a martial art, but as a profound tool for improving mental health, fostering camaraderie, and nurturing personal growth.

At Southern Soul Academy, we are committed to providing a welcoming and supportive Navarre Brazilian Jiu Jitsu environment for individuals of all backgrounds and skill levels. Whether you are a seasoned practitioner or stepping on the mats for the first time, our academy embraces a community-centric approach where everyone is encouraged to grow together, forming deep connections, and supporting one another in our Jiu Jitsu journey.

Our Mission

Empower individuals to unlock their full potential through the practice of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. We strive to create a supportive and inclusive community that cultivates personal growth, mental resilience, and physical well-being. By providing expert instruction, fostering a culture of respect, and promoting continuous learning, we aim to instill confidence and self-defense skills in our members. Our mission is not only to develop proficient martial artists but also to nurture lifelong values such as discipline, humility, and perseverance. Through the pursuit of excellence on and off the mats, our Navarre Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym is dedicated to guiding individuals towards becoming the best versions of themselves. Check out our schedule or reserve your first class today.

Core Values

  • Empowerment

  • Growth & Personal Development

  • Inclusivity & Respect

  • Excellence

  • Collaboration & Teamwork

  • Lifelong Learning

  • Fun & Enjoyment

Meet Our Instructors

Shane Lees

Head Professor

Meet Shane, a dedicated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner with an impressive background and a passion for the gentle art. Retiring from the Army in 2015 after serving our country, Shane found a new mission in the world of martial arts.

His journey began at the age of 6 when he first stepped onto the wrestling mat, honing his skills and developing a tenacious spirit that would serve him well in the years to come. Shane took his expertise to the next level, stepping into the world of professional MMA, where he proved his mettle inside the ring.

As a testament to his commitment and expertise in combatives, Shane holds a distinguished Certified Combatives Brown Belt from Combatives University. This accomplishment speaks to his dedication to mastering various martial disciplines.

Since 2005, Shane has immersed himself in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He has diligently climbed the ranks, now holding the prestigious rank of black belt under the guidance of Professor Brian Marvin and Team Renzo Gracie.

Beyond the mats, Shane finds solace and enjoyment in our beautiful Emerald Coast beaches. Whether snorkeling the Gulf, paddleboarding, or even shark fishing, anything that involves the beach calls to his adventurous soul.

Above all, Shane cherishes his role as a parent, and enjoys spending time with his two daughters and one son. His love for family and community is reflected in the way he approaches training, mentoring, and supporting fellow practitioners.

With a remarkable history and an unyielding drive, Shane continues to evolve as a BJJ practitioner and a source of inspiration for those around him. His journey in Navarre Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a testament to the transformative power of martial arts, both on and off the mats.

Kevin Rutkowski


Meet Kevin, an exceptional individual who seamlessly blends the discipline of an active duty Air Force member with the artistry of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for over 6 years. Beyond his passion for martial arts, Kevin’s heart swells with love for his two adorable children, aged 6 and 1.5, whom he cherishes every moment with when he’s not perfecting his techniques on the mats.

Deeply invested in his community, Kevin has actively contributed to the growth of young talents as a coach for both football and basketball at the Navarre YMCA. His natural flair for working with kids shines through, as he effortlessly keeps them motivated and joyfully engaged, making every training session a delightful experience.

As Kevin prepares to transition from his distinguished military service in January, he envisions a new chapter in his life. Fueled by his fervent desire to help others, he has set his sights on pursuing a career as a Physical Therapist. Driven by his innate ability to inspire, his future patients are undoubtedly in good hands.

With Kevin, you have not only a dedicated Air Force member and a skilled BJJ practitioner but also a caring family man and a nurturing mentor to youngsters. His journey from military service to Physical Therapy exemplifies his unwavering commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of others. The Navarre Brazilian Jiu Jitsu community eagerly awaits the next steps in his remarkable journey, knowing that he will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark wherever he goes.

Lexi Rutkowski

Kids coach | Assistant Instructor

Meet Lexi, a remarkable Air Force Veteran with an unyielding passion for Jiu Jitsu, having devoted 3 years to mastering the art. Beyond her dedication to the sport, Lexi’s heart brims with affection for her two cherished children, aged 6 and 1.5, who fill her life with boundless joy and love.

When not grappling on the mats in Navarre Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Lexi showcases her creative flair behind a computer, diligently working on social media and marketing endeavors. Her captivating skills extend to photography, where she artfully captures life’s precious moments through the lens of her camera. Moreover, her adventurous spirit finds solace on the water as she explores on her paddle board, reveling in the beauty of nature.

Passionate about giving back, Lexi actively volunteers her time and talents to uplift her community. Her altruistic endeavors exemplify her unwavering commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of those around her. An avid supporter of various community initiatives, Lexi’s generous spirit resonates with all who have the privilege of knowing her.

With Lexi, you’ll discover a dynamic individual who embodies both strength and grace, a seasoned Air Force Veteran with an unrelenting dedication to Jiu Jitsu, an adoring mother, a creative powerhouse, and a devoted community advocate. Her multifaceted presence enriches the lives of those she encounters, leaving an enduring impression on all who cross her path. Whether on the mats, behind the screen, or out in nature, Lexi’s vibrant spirit and commitment to excellence shine through, inspiring others to follow in her formidable footsteps.