William Bernales began training martial arts with Korean Tang Soo Do at the local Chuck Norris School of Karate in Norfolk, Virginia, when he was 11 years old. As a teenager, he discovered Muay Thai, the Filipino Martial Arts, and Jeet Kune Do (JKD) from Ajarn Frank Cucci of FDC Academy of Martial Arts (now Linxx Academy of Martial Arts). After receiving black belts in these systems and working as an apprentice instructor at FDC Academy, Mr. Bernales moved to Utah in 1996 to train under Pedro Sauer, one of the most sought-after Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Instructors in the world.
The Founding of BIMA
Mr. Bernales founded Kalista Academy of Martial Arts in 1999, where he taught Muay Thai, Kali, and JKD, and once he received his black belt in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, changed the name to Bernales Institute of Martial Arts. He has been teaching and training in multiple martial arts for more than 25 years and is an active member and instructor in five international martial arts organizations. He is also experienced in the design and implementation of highly customized tactical defense and combatives training for military and law enforcement.
During his time in Utah, Mr. Bernales has coached and cornered for professional and amateur fighters and competitors in the field of MMA, Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and Muay Thai kickboxing. He continues to train and maintain his own martial arts certifications in every organization for which he is a member. For example, he has attended 13 of the last 15 years of the World Thai Boxing Association’s Annual Pacific Northwest Muay Thai Camp, missing only twice because of the births of his daughter and son (he has also received Outstanding Instructor/Most Dedicated Instructor awards at this camp 10 times). In 2010, he co-founded the Wasatch Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Youth Tournament in order to provide his young students with more opportunities to gain tournament and competition experience. He has been happily married since 2006 and has two wonderful children, Lila and Rhys. When the snow is deep, he also tries to track frequent powder mileage along the Wasatch Front’s finest snow with a snowboard. Carpe diem.
- Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Third Degree Black Belt (Professor) - Under Master Pedro Sauer (8th Degree Black Belt under Master Rickson Gracie and Grandmaster Helio Gracie)
- Thai Boxing/Muay Thai Kickboxing Ajarn (Master Instructor) - World Thai Boxing Association under Sardsadajarn (Grandmaster) Surachai Sirisute
- World Thai Boxing Association - State Representative for Utah, 1996-present
- Combat Submission Wrestling (CSW) Lead Coach - CSW Association under Sensei Erik Paulson
- Combat Submission Wrestling Association - State Representative for Utah, 2008-present
- Filipino Martial Arts (Kali, Eskrima, Silat) Senior Associate Instructor Level 6 - Inosanto International Martial Art Instructors Association (IIMAIA) under Guro Dan Inosanto
- Jun Fan Gung Fu/Jeet Kune Do Senior Associate Instructor Level 6 - Inosanto International Martial Art Instructors Association (IIMAIA) under Sifu Dan Inosanto
- Pekiti-Tersia Kali Certified Instructor - Pekiti-Tirsia Global Organization under Supreme Grand Master Tuhon Leo T. Gaje, Jr.
- Black Belt Instructor – Linxx Academy of Martial Arts, Norfolk, VA, under Ajarn Frank Cucci
Mr. Bernales' daughter, Lila, in the Tiny Tigers class